US President Joe Biden made an unannounced trip to Kyiv early Monday for the first time since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago.

Biden arrived in Kyiv at 8 a.m. local time (1:00 a.m. ET), according to reporters traveling with him inside the country, and was greeted by the US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink. His motorcade arrived at the Mariinsky Palace just after 8:30 a.m. local time. He was greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska.

“Thank you for coming,” Zelensky said, shaking Biden’s hand.

The pictures below show Biden’s meeting with Zelensky, which took place as air raid sirens could be heard ringing out while the two leaders walked around the city.

US President Joe Biden declared from Kyiv on Monday that a year after invading Ukraine, “Putin’s war of conquest is failing.”

“Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided,” Biden said standing alongside Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. “He thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now.”

“He’s just been plain wrong,” Biden said of Putin. “One year later, the evidence is right here in this room. We stand here together.”

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Biden’s visit to Ukraine, his first since the invasion, was a highly symbolic moment meant to demonstrate lasting American support for the country and its people.

He harkened back to the start of the war, when the world was anxiously watching the buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border.

In his speech, Biden recalled how he and Zelensky spoke by phone as “Russian planes were in the air and tanks were going across your border.”

“You told me that you could hear explosions in the background,” Biden said. “I’ll never forget that.”
“The world was about to change,” he said, recalling what Zelensky asked him to do on that phone call: “Gather the leaders of the world. Ask them to support Ukraine.”

“You said that you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again. That dark night one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden said. “Perhaps even the end of Ukraine.”

“One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” he declared. “The Americans stand with you and the world stands with you.”

Biden said that Kyiv has “captured a part of my heart.”