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First Thing: Joe Biden arrives in Kyiv in surprise visit

US president meets Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy ahead of anniversary of invasion. Plus, the disruptors who want to make death greener.

Joe Biden has arrived in Kyiv to meet Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Biden’s public itinerary had suggested he would be visiting Poland, but the US president arrived in Ukraine’s capital this morning and has been spotted on a walkabout in the country’s capital.

In a statement, the US president said he was there to announce “another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems and air surveillance radars” as well as more sanctions.

The New York Times is reporting that Biden travelled to Kyiv after a hours-long train ride from the border with Poland. He and Zelenskiy visited Saint Michael’s monastery as an air raid warning sounded across the city. The newspaper described the visit as “a demonstration of his administration’s resolve in the face of Russia’s year-long invasion of the country”.

The White House has issued a statement about Biden’s visit to Ukraine this morning. It reads: “As the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelenskiy and reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the west was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong.”

What else is happening? The EU foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, backed a call from Estonia for the bloc’s members to buy arms jointly to help Ukraine – an approach officials have said would be more efficient than EU members placing individual orders. EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the plan in Brussels today. He said the war was over unless the EU boosted its military support.
How would it work? Borrell said he would table plans at the meeting to use the existing €3.6bn (£3.2bn) European peace facility for the EU to procure ammunition jointly on the model of the procurement of vaccines during the Covid crisis.

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