This week Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine, the first time a senior U.S. official has visited Ukraine since Russia’s invasion almost a year ago. The surprise visit to Ukraine and by extension, Poland, came at a critical time for the European Union (EU) following the important summit held in Brussels earlier in February. The purpose of this visit is simple – support for Ukraine. The President’s speech, which addressed the ongoing war and the need for EU members to work together with their Eastern European counterparts, set the tone for what would be an intense show of solidarity and support from other EU Member States America’s allies.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a major source of tension, with many EU members concerned about Russian aggression against their Eastern neighbors. In his speech, Biden stressed that “Europe is stronger when all of its parts—East and West—are united” and called on EU nations to show solidarity and support for Ukraine as it struggles against Russian encroachment. This message resonated with EU leaders, who were eager to demonstrate their commitment to protecting both Ukrainian sovereignty and European unity. Biden also urged member states to take collective action against threats posed by Russia, stating that “inaction or half measures will not do; we must act together.” He emphasised the importance of collaboration among member states, noting that individual countries could not face this challenge alone and could only be successful if they worked together as a unified front. This message was particularly effective given recent tensions between some Eastern European nations over migration issues; Biden reminded them that fighting external threats required internal unity within Europe. He went further to pledge a new military aid package worth $500 million. This comes on top of the more than $50 billion already provided in US assistance. There is the need for restraint. Biden finally cautioned European leaders against taking any rash or aggressive action against Russia without first engaging diplomatically; he noted that “the only way forward is through diplomacy backed by strength.”
This call for restraint was especially relevant given recent accusations, specifically targeting Hungary and Spain, of Russian interference in their internal affairs. By urging caution instead of provoking further conflict with Moscow, Vice President Biden gave EU leaders much-needed perspective on how best to manage their relations with Russia going forward. President Andrzej Duda of Poland after a bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden, thanked the US President for his visit to Kyiv. He said “It was spectacular, indeed. A very strategic and very political move. Very crucial indeed. That was a political signal. Especially for Ukraine, of course, to a large extent, it has boosted their morale — I’m convinced about that — the morale of the defenders of Ukraine and all those who today decide about the defense of Ukraine — like my friend, President Zelenskyy, and his team.”
Joe Biden’s trip to Kyiv and remarks from his speech served as an important reminder that Europe is stronger when it acts as one unified front against external threats such as Russia’s attempts to destabilize certain member states. His message of restraint also provided much-needed perspective on how best to handle difficult diplomatic situations without escalating tensions further or putting any single nation at risk of retaliation from Moscow. By stressing both solidarity among member states and caution when dealing with Russia, President Joe Biden provided an invaluable call to unity of purpose among America and its allies in helping Ukraine.
By Jesse Cheto