Psaki says Biden will not visit Kyiv during Europe trip, despite Zelenskyy aide dare to be ‘brave’

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Two days after a top Ukrainian official essentially dared President Joe Biden to visit Ukraine during his trip to Europe this upcoming week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that the president will not in fact be traveling to Ukraine.

“We will have additional details of @potus trip to Europe to announce later today. The trip will be focused on continuing to rally the world in support of the Ukrainian people and against President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but there are no plans to travel into Ukraine,” the press secretary tweeted Sunday morning.

The announcement provoked a flurry of responses, some of them motivated by what Ihor Zhovka, the deputy head of the Ukrainian office of the President (i.e., Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office), had said on CNN two days earlier.

“Well, you know, just this week, three prime ministers of our three friendly nations, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia, visited personally Kyiv, and they met personally with President Zelenskyy, so why not President Biden comes to Ukraine to meet with my president?” he’d said to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

He’d been correct about three prime ministers having visited Zelensky to show support.

“Well, that would be pretty dangerous though, don’t you think?” Blitzer had asked in response.

“Well, definitely it is dangerous when you have a war against my country, a war in Europe. So, one should not be afraid. If you are brave, you have not to be afraid, you win the war,” Zhovka had replied.

But if one is “brave” for visiting Kyiv despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, what is one who refuses to visit?

(*Language warning)

The irony is that Biden’s Europe trip, which was announced last Tuesday by Psaki, is supposed to be at least partly about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The President will travel to Brussels, Belgium, later this month, where he will join an extraordinary NATO summit on March 24th to discuss ongoing deterrence and defense efforts in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine, as well as to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our NATO Allies,” the press secretary said during a briefing last week.

“He will also join a scheduled European Council summit to discuss our shared concerns about Ukraine, including transatlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support to those affected by the violence, and address other challenges related to the conflict.”

Critics say that’s a lot of talk about Ukraine from a president seemingly too scared to travel to Ukraine like other world leaders.

Even CNN, known for usually defending the president, has been critical.

“Biden’s European trip will be heavy on displays of Western unity but could be light on actions to stop Putin’s Ukraine war,” a headline from the left-wing outlet reads.

The piece notes that the president hasn’t lived up to what Zelensky and his top officials have expected of him.

“Biden was publicly challenged by Ukraine’s leader last week to assume responsibility for bringing an end to the fighting. In an emotional address to Congress, in which he called for a no-fly zone and help procuring fighter jets, President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke directly to Biden, who was watching from his private library on the third floor of the White House,” CNN notes.

“‘Being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace,’ Zelensky said in English. Biden was also challenged by Ukraine’s former President, Petro Poroshenko, to visit Ukraine as a ‘symbol of our solidarity’ during his trip to Europe this week.”

Dovetailing back to Zhovka’s remarks to Blitzer, he also slammed Biden and the rest of NATO for not doing enough for Ukraine.

“[M]y president is really disappointed by the reaction of NATO and institutions or some member states refusing to provide a humanitarian no-fly zone over Ukraine. Once again, we’re doing more or less fine on the ground, we’re fine with our ground forces, but what we really lack is the support in the air,” he said.

“So, if NATO is not able to provide us with humanitarian no-fly zone, at least provide us with fighter jets, at least provide us with anti-missile defense, air defense systems.”


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