Joe Biden could go to Kyiv to hold in-person talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a report, as the White House weighs sending a high-level delegation to emphasize U.S. support for Ukraine.
Biden had last visited the Ukrainian capital as vice president, in January 2017 – three days before leaving office.
It was his sixth official visit to Ukraine, where he was hoping to prevent Russia from consuming more of the country after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Biden has since Christmas been warning of Russia’s intentions in Ukraine, and has made the United States by far the biggest source of military aid to the embattled country since the war began on February 24.
While both Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, have been to neighboring Poland, neither have been to Ukraine since Russia invaded.
European leaders such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have all visited Zelensky in the past week.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that the White House was considering staging a similar show of support.
Joe Biden is pictured on Tuesday in Iowa, having just declared that Russia was committing genocide in Ukraine. The White House later said a genocide determination would require a legal process. Biden is reportedly considering a trip to Kyiv
Volodymyr Zelesnky, the Ukrainian president, is seen on Wednesday during his meeting with Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Latvian President Egils Levits and Estonia’s President Alar Karis in Kyiv
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, is pictured on Saturday in Kyiv with Zelensky
Karl Nehammer, the Austrian chancellor, traveled to Kyiv on Saturday
Biden is pictured in January 2017 in Kyiv – his most recent visit – with Petro Poroshenko, the then-president
Two U.S. officials told the site that, while Biden and Harris were being considered for the trip, it was far more likely that Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, or Lloyd Austin, the Defense Secretary, would go.
The visit would also come after Biden authorized an additional $800 million in military assistance, putting the total U.S. aid to Ukraine above $3 billion since the his administration came to power.
President Bill Clinton visited Kyiv three times. George W. Bush became the first U.S. president to visit, in March 2008.
Biden on Tuesday said for the first time that Russia’s invasion amounts to genocide – a term that French President Emmanuel Macron rejected, saying on Wednesday that ‘an escalation of rhetoric’ is harmful.
The White House later added that a genocide determination would require a legal process.
Zelensky, however, praised Biden for calling the Russian actions genocide.
‘True words of a true leader @POTUS,’ he tweeted.
‘Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil. We are grateful for US assistance provided so far and we urgently need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities.’
Ukrainian service members pose for a picture in a front of a damaged Russian tank T-72 BV on Wednesday
The debris of a destroyed Russian tank is seen in the yard of a house in Bohdanivka village, northeast of Kyiv, on Tuesday
On Wednesday, the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia met Zelensky in Kyiv and called for Russia to be held accountable for the actions of its troops on the ground.
Their visit came as Ukraine warned that Russia was ramping up efforts in the south and east as it seeks full control of Mariupol, in what would be the first major city to fall.
Russia said it had taken control of Mariupol and that more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines had surrendered, but the Ukrainian government has not confirmed the status of the embattled port city.
Russian television broadcast clips of what it said was the surrender.
In the footage, unarmed men in military fatigues were visible walking with their hands up along a grass- and tree-lined path towards masked soldiers cradling assault rifles.
Zelensky is continuing to warn that Russia is preparing a massive onslaught in the east of the country, aimed at capturing entirely the restive Donbas region.