TALLINN, Estonia (HPD) — Russian officials and state media downplayed US President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine on Monday, portraying Kiev as a US puppet and saying Moscow’s forces will prevail despite Washington’s promises to send more weapons to Ukraine.
Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital in a show of Western solidarity with a country that continues to fight what he called a “brutal and unjustified war” days before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.
The visit also came on the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address, which some in Russia hope will set the tone for next year, including the stalled campaign in Ukraine.
Biden spent more than five hours in kyiv, where he consulted with Zelenskyy on next steps, paid tribute to soldiers killed in action and visited with US embassy staff.
He announced a new package of $500 million in US aid — on top of the more than $50 billion already provided — for howitzer shells, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radar and other aid, but no new advanced weaponry.
Russian state television covered the visit extensively, with presenters saying it was clear Biden is “running things” in Ukraine, which fits into the Kremlin’s narrative that the Zelesnkyy government is a US puppet.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in the occupied Zaporizhia region, said Zelenskyy “looked like a servant next to Biden.”
Other commentators noted that Biden could seek re-election in 2024 and said his visit to kyiv kicked off his campaign.
“Biden launched his election campaign in Kiev in the most heroic setting to show everyone that he can still ‘do it like old times,’” Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Telegram, adding that “Kiev didn’t have no choice but to lead people to a senseless killing spree as part of Biden’s election campaign.”
Pro-Kremlin pundits on state television also alleged that Biden received security guarantees from Moscow ahead of the visit. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US government notified Moscow of Biden’s visit to Kiev shortly before his departure from Washington “for purposes of détente” in order to prevent any miscalculation that could bring the two nations into direct conflict.
“Everyone knows that if Russia says that it will not attack Kiev during the visit of some statesmen, it means that it will never happen, because we are the ones who keep our word, the ones who are on the side of good and civilized”, said pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov at a political talk show on the state-owned Russia 1 television channel.
The vice president of the Russian Security Council and former president, Dmitri Medvedev, also claimed on Telegram that Biden had received “security guarantees.”
Medvedev said Biden “pledged allegiance to the neo-Nazi regime” — as Kremlin officials refer to the Ukraine government — and promised him more weapons, but the millions leaving Ukraine answer “the question of whose future belongs ”.
And state television journalist Andrei Medvedev said on Telegram: ”Will this visit influence the final outcome of the war? No ”, although he admitted that it would influence“ the course of hostilities at the moment and the morale of Ukrainian citizens ”.
Political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya said the Kremlin will regard Biden’s visit as “further proof that the United States has bet on Russia’s strategic defeat in the war, and that the war itself has irrevocably turned into an inter-Russian war. and the West”.
Stanovaya said Putin’s speech on Tuesday was presumed “to be very harsh, aimed at defiantly breaking relations with the West,” but after Biden’s visit to Kiev, “edits can be made to make it even tougher.”