Day 362 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Biden visited Kyiv and Promised more Aid (UPDATED) –

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Zelensky: If China allies with Russia, there will be a world war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned China in an interview published Monday in Germany’s “Die Welt” not to support Russia in its war against Ukraine, saying it would lead to a world war.

Zelensky‘s comments came as China said the United States was in no position to make demands after Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned his Chinese counterpart over the weekend that Beijing should not provide weapons to Russia in its war in Ukraine.

It is important for us that China does not support the Russian Federation in this war,” Zelensky told Die Welt. “In fact, I would like it to be on our side. However, at the moment I do not think it is possible… But I see an opportunity for China to make a pragmatic assessment of what’s going on here,” he added. “Because if China were to ally with Russia, there would be a world war, and I really think China is aware of that.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned China’s top diplomat Wang Yi of the consequences if China provided material support for Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, saying in an interview after the two met in Munich that Washington was concerned that Beijing was considering supplying weapons to Moscow.

China and Hungary are ready to work with other countries to stop the current hostilities,” Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi said in Budapest on Monday ahead of a visit to Moscow. “China and Hungary are peace-loving countries, so I am glad to meet you again,” Wang Yi said in a Facebook video during a meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó.

Commenting on Moldova, Zelensky told “Die Welt” that Ukraine had given Moldovan President Maia Sandu intelligence suggesting that Russia was planning a coup in Moldova.

Maia Sandu never asked me for help, but she thanked me for the information. She knows our situation very well. Ukraine will always be ready to help Moldova,” he added.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Russia‘s relations with Moldova were very strained and accused Moldovan leaders of pursuing an anti-Russian agenda, a week after Chisinau said it had thwarted a Russian coup attempt.

Biden surprisingly arrived in Kyiv

US President Joe Biden is on an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, almost a year after the start of the war in Ukraine. Footage of Biden walking with his colleague Volodymyr Zelensky in the center of the Ukrainian capital also appeared on social networks.

Biden was expected to visit Ukraine‘s neighbor Poland today, and his program will begin later today. Instead, local and international journalists reported of blockades in the streets of Kyiv awaiting an “important guest“, without specifying who he was.

Joseph Biden, welcome to Kyiv! Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians,” reads Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s Telegram profile in Ukrainian and English, and a photo of their handshake is also published there. Zelensky later described the visit as “the most important in the entire history of US-Ukrainian relations” and a way to highlight “the results we have already achieved.”

Biden also announced an additional 0 million in aid to Kyiv, noting that details are forthcoming.

Americans are with you, the world is with you. Kyiv has captured a part of my heart,” Biden said in a joint statement at the Mariinskyi Palace in Kyiv. He also stated that he was shaken by the unity that Ukrainians continue to show in the face of the threat.

On that dark night a year ago, the world was literally preparing for the fall of Kyiv. It seems like a long time ago, but think about it, just a year ago. Even for the end of Ukraine. A year later, Kyiv resisted. Ukraine resists. Democracy endures.”

The visit comes a day before Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s speech to parliament on February 22. The Russian media are already describing the visit as proof that the West is waging a proxy war with Moscow in Ukraine. An expert was quoted by RIA “Novosti” as saying that the Kyiv authorities represent “a tool of the collective West” and confirmed that it is a side in the conflict: “We are not at war with Ukraine, even less with the Ukrainian people.”

A government spokesman in Berlin called the visit a “good sign,” but did not specify what it was for.

More weapons and sanctions

According to the White House, Biden is expected to announce more arms shipments and new sanctions against Russia. “I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelensky and to confirm our unwavering commitment to the democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Biden was quoted as saying. According to the announcement, support for the country will be discussed in Kyiv. “I will announce further deliveries of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition and air surveillance radars to protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardment.”

Байдън изненадващо пристигна в Киев

In addition, later in the week “we will announce more sanctions against elites and companies that try to avoid or support Russia‘s military machine.”

A little while ago, a comment about the visit appeared on Biden’s Twitter account, reminiscent of the words of Vice President Kamala Harris: “When Putin began his invasion almost a year ago, he thought that Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought that he might outlive us. But he was terribly wrong.”

Biden’s visit is the first to Ukraine since Russia invaded it almost a year ago. Asked months ago if such a visit was on the agenda for him, a Biden spokesman dismissed the idea.

Това бе първият кадър от срещата на Байдън и Зеленски в Киев.

A well kept secret

This is the first visit of an American president to Ukraine in 15 years. The previous one was in April 2008 of George Walker Bush talking to President Viktor Yushchenko.

Байдън изненадващо пристигна в Киев

Last week, White House national security spokesman John Kirby dismissed the possibility that the president’s trip to Poland would include a stop in Ukraine.

The New York Times reports that the secrecy, dictated by security concerns, prompted the White House to discuss his schedule Sunday night (the president was expected to be in Warsaw in the morning) with the clarification that he was preparing to depart, when in fact was already “half a world away“. He left for Kyiv on Saturday evening without notice, after one of the few evenings out with his wife.

Biden actually arrived in Poland, but from there he traveled by train across the border. The White House confirmed the visit only after photos appeared on social media in Ukraine.

The newspaper also writes that it is not known how the visit to Kyiv will affect his schedule in Warsaw, where he, after a meeting (on Tuesday morning) with his Polish colleague Andrzej Duda, had to deliver a speech in the afternoon – on the same day that he spoke about Ukraine and the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin.

According to the Guardian, which cited a journalist familiar with the trip in advance, Biden was presented with a number of options for the visit, including a meeting at the Polish-Ukrainian border or in Lviv, but the president insisted on Kyiv as a symbol of resistance to the invasion.

Байдън изненадващо пристигна в Киев

Biden has been to Kyiv six times so far, but not as president. Other heads of state and government have also visited the country in the last year. At the same time, “the fact that the American president is meeting with the leader of Ukraine in the heart of the capital in the midst of a full-scale conflict is significant and symbolic,” notes the BBC.

Zelensky was in the US at the end of December – his first known visit abroad since the war began. Two days ago, he warned participants at the Munich Security Conference about the risks of international “fatigue” over support for Ukraine and the need for unity.

Kuleba: Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv is a signal that “no one is afraid of Russia

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kulba said US President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv on Monday clearly signaled to Russia that “no one is afraid of it,” while he hailed the visit as “a victory for the Ukrainian people and for President Volodymyr Zelensky“.

In a statement on Facebook, Kuleba also said that the visit was “historic” and that both Biden and Zelensky were satisfied with today’s talks, Reuters reported.

This visit is a victory for the Ukrainian people and for President Zelensky. It was held despite everything and in the name of the victory of Ukraine and the entire free world. This is a clear signal to the swamp – no one is afraid of you!“, he wrote on social media.

His comments come after Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv earlier Monday before his trip to Poland and pledged to provide Ukraine with new military aid and impose additional sanctions on Russia.

Russian propaganda shocked by Biden’s visit: It’s not true, his plane is at home

It took hours for the Russian propaganda to collect itself and take a position in the information trenches after the reports of the world agencies about the surprise arrival of the American President Joe Biden in Kiev. The visit caught two of the main blades of the Kremlin, Vladimir Solovyov and Margarita Simonyan, and even the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, unprepared.

The timeline of Russian obfuscation can best be traced in the anti-American Telegram channel „Американский номеръ“. At 10:19 a.m.Moscow time, when Joe Biden had been holding meetings in Kyiv for more than 2 hours, the channel wrote:

In the Telegram channels, information is blowing up that Joe Biden has come to Kyiv. This, of course, is not true, the closure of the city’s streets is connected with the arrival of an Israeli delegation. Biden himself will not go to Ukraine, his advisers recommend that he not make such a visit for security reasons.”

At 11.42 a.m. the channel confidently continued:

Some mass media are spreading reports about the arrival of US President Joe Biden in Kiev. These messages are probably false. The plane of the American president is located in the place of his permanent dislocation. Of course, the elusive Biden could arrive in Kiev secretly, using one of the military transport aircraft that daily transfer American cargo to Poland.”

It wasn’t until 11:51 a.m. that the „Американский номеръ“ gave in:

Biden is in Kyiv. It seems, the old grandpa crept in. Very unusual.”

Even the expert “Rybary” preferred not to comment, but to share what was written by „Американский номеръ“. Margarita Simonyan immersed herself in both of her channels – her personal one and one for sharing fiction. The talkative Volodymyr Solovyov was content to play on his channel what was written by „Белый Филин“:

Apparently, things are quite bad now that the United States has decided to use such a trump card. After all, the grandfather is old, he doesn’t care.”

Solovyov also released several pro-Russian memes that appeared after Biden’s arrival in Kiev, and at 14.02 p.m. he took a break:

Biden left Kyiv“.

The spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, who is on the US sanctions list, commented on the photo of Biden and Zelensky near the cathedral “St. Archangel Michael”: “Which of the two is Orthodox?” and with that, by 2 p.m. in the afternoon, her activity was exhausted.

On the air, the Russian television stations switched to a real-time commentary mode, where the wittiest concluded that the State Department probably sent Biden to Ukraine to be liquidated there along with Zelensky. “Maybe they are pushing us towards a big accident like on September 11, when Zelensky will also fall there and… can you imagine if something explodes there in the square, can you imagine what will happen?” – says a participant, to which the presenter adds: “I mean is it possible that they did all this to remove them?“.

The American military, services and their partner structures in Europe have been put literally on their toes, if even the official sources of information are followed. According to the Flightradar24 portal, throughout the morning Eastern Poland between Warsaw and Rzeszów over Lublin. The Associated Press, for its part, reports that immediately before Biden’s visit to Ukraine, the United States contacted Russia in order to “preclude conflict situations.” On the air of “Россия 1”, the favorite of the Kremlin, Olga Skabeeva, became furious that it was Russia that allowed Biden to visit Kiev. “We could have threatened him, of course, but we gave him security guarantees,” commented retired military man Yevgeny Buzhinsky, which further angered Skabeeva. She pointed out that someone is constantly threatening Putin, and additionally the West is to blame for blowing up the Nord Stream

The US president’s trip to Ukraine was kept a deep secret until the last moment. “Biden left Washington without warning after dining with his wife at a restaurant on Saturday night,” the New York Times wrote. The US president landed in Rzeszów in eastern Poland, home to a US logistics hub for Ukraine, from where his train journey to Kiev began. The White House published on Sunday evening a misleading schedule of the president for Monday, according to which Joe Biden should be in Washington all day and only fly to Warsaw in the evening. “While in reality he was already half a world away,” commented the New York Times.

Prigozhin: We don’t have shells because of people from the upper floors who send their granddaughters to Dubai

We don’t have shells because of people from the upper floors who send their granddaughters to Dubai.”

This was announced by the head of the private military group “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin in a 7-minute audio recording published by the “Кепка Пригожина” channel on “Telegram”.

In it, he criticized unnamed figures from the Russian Ministry of Defense, who explained to him that he was already disliked by the people “above” and that first “you must apologize and submit and then your fighters will receive ammunition.”

Thanks to Zhenya Poddubny (Evgeny Poddubny – Russian military correspondent) who raised the topic of ammunition to the level at which it should be heard. He had a reason to raise it – he entered hell, saw and understood what the situation was. He is aware of all our problems. As they say: ‘shit boils, blood boils’, but the questions I asked about ammunition, unfortunately, remain absolutely unresolved. This is the most serious problem“.

He points out that there is enough ammunition in the country and that he even knows where the “warehouses” are where they are kept.

I know where everything is and I know we have ammunition. I can’t solve this problem despite all my connections and contacts. No decisions are made. Generals, officers, in the headquarters, in various positions – they help in whatever way they can. They are trying, sometimes in violation of the laws of war, to provide us with the extra ammunition we so badly need. No one understands how these limits were reached. Where did the extra procedures to get (the ammunition) come from.”

The businessman is outraged by the attitude of the employees who were responsible for the shells.

Everybody points to the upper floors and says, ‘You know, Yevgeny Viktorovich, you have a complicated relationship there,’ while pointing up and rolling his eyes. ‘That’s why you need to apologize and obey, and then your fighters will get ammunition.’ apologize? Who should I obey? 140 million Russians, please tell me who should I apologize to, so that twice as many of my fighters die as it is happening today? Every day twice as many fighters of ‘Wagner’ and it’s not just them – other military units are also being killed that we are not able to provide cover. Because of the so-called ammunition starvation until we are supplied with what is in stock. One decides according to the mood whether to provide us with shells.”

These thick-skinned Russians did not care that “in the meantime, a specific person is dying, lying in the trenches and an enemy shell is flying towards him“.

We cannot stop the enemy’s artillery because we do not have the means to hit it. This particular person lost two legs or two arms. A particular wife, son, daughter, or mother lost a loved one. We put him in a zinc coffin and take him to the cemetery to bury him. Don’t you have a conscience to stop smacking yourself like a fly on glass. Stop plotting!“.

Prigozhin points out that Russian soldiers are not fighting for him, but for the motherland.

While the head of the army was General Surovikin (08.10.2022 – 11.01.2023), regardless of the rumors that spread about our relations – I met him only when he came to inspect the front, or I called him for certain questions. We didn’t have problems with munitions then, although the industry was still creaking. Those who are interfering with us trying to win this war, they are absolutely directly working for the enemy. They are helping the enemy break Russia‘s back.”

He emphasized that “the Russians are dying, but they are not surrendering.”

And Russians die, but not for the home and the motherland. Half of them die because military functionaries are not able to lift their asses and realize that they should not be capricious. They cannot be capricious while the country is in danger. No I’m not blaming anyone in particular. I just want to say: stop your whims, stop your principles and give ammunition. I’m not commenting on the fact that you have breakfast, lunch and dinner on gold dishes and send your daughters and granddaughters on vacations to Dubai with no qualms of a Russian soldier dying on the front. I’m just asking: give ammunition. This is not an extremist statement or an attempt to offend anyone. I apologize if something is wrong. Give ammunition in necessary quantities, as they are in stock.”

Japan offers Ukraine .5 billion in financial aid

Japan will offer Ukraine new financial aid worth 5.5 billion dollars, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, quoted by AFP.

It is still necessary to provide assistance to people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the war and to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure. We have decided to provide additional financial assistance in the amount of 5.5 billion dollars,” he said.

US warns China about weapons for Russia, Beijing will announce “position” on the war

The United States has accused China of considering whether to provide weapons to Russia to support its war in Ukraine.

The words came from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference yesterday. Blinken warned that the consequences of this escalation would mean “serious consequences” for China.

Beijing denies that Moscow has ever sought supplies of military equipment. The Asian giant does not show an unambiguous attitude to the war – it does not join the Western sanctions, but it does not give it explicit support, and although it buys oil and gas at a discount, some Chinese companies stopped work in both Russia and Belarus. At the same time, China, given its good relations with Russia, does not condemn the war, but insists that it is neutral and calls for peace.

We talked about the war being waged by Russia and the concerns we have about the fact that China is considering providing lethal aid to Russia,” the head of US diplomacy told CBS. Asked to elaborate, he replied tersely, “Mostly weapons.” It is about Chinese companies, but, “of course, in China there is no distinction between private companies and the state“.

Like buying a ticket for the Titanic

If China were to provide weapons to Russia, it would be a “serious problem for us and in our relationship,” Blinken said, amid worsening bilateral relations over the Chinese balloon – which Washington claims was a spy balloon – shot down by the US on February 4. .

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also commented on the “catastrophe” that could follow in US-China relations if Beijing made such a decision:

It would be like buying a ticket for the Titanic after seeing the movie.”

At the same time, the State Department described the conversation between the two as “frank and direct“, a day after US Vice President Kamala Harris already questioned China’s neutrality in her statement at the forum.

China with a new position

China’s foreign ministry stressed Beijing’s commitment to talks and explained that Wang rejected “finger-pointing and coercion by the US” when it comes to Russian-Chinese ties. According to Reuters, Wang said in Munich that China “neither stands idly by nor adds fuel to the fire” of the war in Ukraine.

According to Beijing’s first diplomat, the publication of a document to settle the conflict is pending.

I suggest that everyone should start thinking calmly, especially our friends in Europe, what steps we can take to stop this war,” Wang said. According to Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, President Xi Jinping will deliver a “peace speech” on the anniversary, February 24, in which he will call for peace but without condemning Russia.

ISW: The Russians have no reserves and are unprepared for a major offensive

The main phase of Russian offensive operations continues in Luhansk Oblast, but Russia does not have enough spare reserves to dramatically increase the scale or intensity of its offensive. This is according to a new report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Due to the unpreparedness of Russian forces for active operations, analysts believe that a significant increase in their offensive operations this winter is unlikely.

ISW notes that Russian ground forces tend to operate in conventional doctrinal formations and units, rather than battalion-tactical groups or other special structures.

The absence of some critical tank units shows that the Russian military continues to try to replace equipment, especially tanks, lost during previous failed offensives. It is almost certain that the Russian forces still have some recovered mechanized units in reserve, but sending these limited reserves to the front line in Luhansk region is unlikely to fundamentally change the current offensive,” the analysts note.

According to the ISW report, Russian troops operating on and near the frontline in Luhansk Oblast are drawn almost entirely from the Western Military District, with some reinforcements from other groups.

This shows that the Russian military command has returned to the traditional military district management structure, according to which all units in a separate geographical area fall under the responsibility area of a single military district,” the analysts wrote.

ISW also writes that the return to doctrinal structures is a breakthrough in Russia‘s force structure and campaign plan. Currently, the Russian Ministry of Defense is conducting a number of reforms to formalize and professionalize Russia‘s armed forces and prepare for a protracted war in Ukraine.

The Russians are deriving less benefit from this return to normal military operations than they might have hoped because of the greatly degraded condition of their forces. They have not allowed themselves sufficient time to train their mobilized reservists to a standard sufficient to maintain of large-scale offensive mechanized maneuver warfare; and clearly do not have the necessary equipment to man their reconstituted units,” ISW notes.

Zelensky: Macron is wasting time considering dialogue with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview that French leader Emmanuel Macron was wasting his time considering some kind of dialogue with Russia.

Zelensky, interviewed by Italian daily Corriere della Sera, reacted to Macron’s suggestion that Russia should be “defeated but not crushed” and that the conflict in Ukraine should be resolved through negotiations.

This will be a useless dialogue. In fact, Macron is wasting his time. I have come to the conclusion that we are not able to change the Russian position,” Zelensky told the Italian newspaper.

If they have decided to isolate themselves in their dream of restoring the old Soviet empire, there is nothing we can do about it. It is up to them to choose or not to cooperate with the community of nations on the basis of mutual respect.”

He dismissed any suggestion that it was Western sanctions that had isolated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Instead, the decision to start the war was what marginalized Putin,” Zelensky said.

On Friday, Macron called on his allies to increase their military support for Ukraine.

In an interview with the Le Journal du dimanche, he also said that he does not believe in regime change, that there is little chance of a democratic solution by Russian civil society, and that there is no alternative to Putin’s return to the negotiating table.

Those comments prompted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to say that France should remember Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat in Russia in the 19th century.

Macron has drawn criticism from some NATO allies for sending mixed messages about his policy on the Ukraine-Russia war.

In describing their conversation on Sunday, Zelensky did not mention Macron’s latest comments. The French and Ukrainian leaders have discussed strategies, including joint decisions, which Zelensky said should be taken before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion this week.

Ahead of his brief visit to Paris this month, Zelensky said the French president’s tougher stance on Russia in recent months showed he had undergone a significant change.

The war in Ukraine in the focus of the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels

The war in Ukraine is the main topic of the Foreign Affairs Council today in Brussels. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba will also attend the meeting.

The member countries will consider Estonia’s proposal for the joint purchase of ammunition to provide military aid to Ukraine. The foreign ministers will also discuss the tenth package of sanctions against Russia. It is not clear whether it will include new restrictive measures against Russian energy.

At the last European Council, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev threatened a veto if a ban on the import of nuclear fuel from Russia was requested. Later it became clear that Bulgaria and several other countries were hinting at a derogation. The next sanctions package is due to be announced around February 24, the one-year anniversary of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.

The situation in Moldova will also be the subject of discussions at the meeting. It will also be attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country, Nicu Popescu.

A week ago, pro-Western Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned. She was succeeded by another pro-European – Dorin Recean. On February 13, President Maia Sandu accused Russia of planning a military coup in the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, said his country was ready to continue the defense of the eastern city of Bakhmut, but not at any cost, given the potential human casualties. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Zelensky was asked whether Ukrainian soldiers should remain in the city, which has been almost destroyed by Russian shelling.

According to foreign analysts, Bakhmut has more symbolic than strategic value as a gateway to other cities to the west in the Donetsk region.

70,000 people lived there before the war, but now, according to Ukrainian authorities, fewer than 5,000 civilians remain.

Zelensky said the Russians were determined to advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, further west in the Donetsk region. He stated that Ukrainian forces would hold their ground and prepare a further counterattack.

The US is preparing new sanctions against Russia

The administration of US President Joe Biden plans to impose new export control measures on Russia that will affect its energy sector as well as its military-industrial complex, Bloomberg reported, citing its sources.

The restrictive measures are expected to affect “Russia‘s defense and energy sectors, financial institutions and a number of individuals.” In addition, new measures are being prepared to prevent attempts by third countries to circumvent the sanctions regime and provide aid to Moscow, BTA notes.

Kadyrov announced plans for a private army to rival Prigozhin

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has announced plans to create a private military company to rival that of “our dear brother” Yevgeny Prigozhin, PMC Wagner.

This happened with a post on his Telegram channel praising Wagner and its “very impressive” results in the war in Ukraine. Its assault brigades took on “an extremely difficult part of the work” and seemed to achieve “the objective in every situation“.

According to him, “Wagner” has proven its effectiveness and put an end to the need for the PMC (private military companies remain outlawed in Russia).

Therefore, “when I finish my work in the civil service, I seriously plan to create competition for our dear brother Yevgeny Prigozhin and to create a private military company“, Kadyrov continues.

“Meduza” notes on this occasion that the high efficiency of PMC “Wagner”, which is talked about, rests on the high tolerance for losses: according to the latest US data, they amount to 30 thousand, according to British intelligence – to 50% of all joined its ranks. Most of the mercenaries are prisoners, the kind Wagner lost the right to recruit, but with whom the Ministry of Defense continues to work.

On Saturday, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggested that if Kadyrov did not support Prigozhin in the new information confrontation with the Russian Defense Ministry, that would not help Prigozhin maintain his waning influence. ISW recalls that Prigozhin assured on Saturday that “Wagner” had “no relation” to the Russian army. However, the “formal ties” with the Kremlin are probably the reason why Kadyrov distanced himself from these attacks, because his benefits from them are greater than from relations with Prigozhin.

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