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Biden’s visit to Ukraine aimed to encourage Kiev to start offensive soon — analyst

According to Dmitry Suslov, supplies of long-range missiles are more important than supplies of aircraft
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and US President Joe Biden Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and US President Joe Biden
© Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. Dmitry Suslov, a deputy director of the Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, on Monday said that US President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine was designed to encourage Kiev to start a counteroffensive as soon as possible.

The analyst told TASS that Biden’s visit was meant to underscore the importance of the current moment and reaffirm Washington’s commitment to support Ukraine over a long term.

"The United States has recently been constantly saying that the military conflict in Ukraine has reached a pivotal phase and a turning point. Therefore, the West transfers to Ukraine a much larger number of weapons at the moment than it did last year. Quantitatively, the supply of weapons at the beginning of this year has increased significantly, and they have also increased qualitatively: tanks are now being transferred, and there’s talk of long-range missiles. The United States constantly says that right here and now, no later than the beginning of spring, no later than March, the Ukrainian armed forces should start a decisive counteroffensive," he said.

"I think Biden's visit is designed to stimulate Kiev to go on the offensive earlier. Second, to signal the United States' commitment to protecting and supporting Ukraine in the medium and long term," Suslov added.

The analyst said it’s possible that some "sensitive issues" were discussed during the visit, such as providing planes by third countries and donations of longer-range missiles. Suslov also said there’s a chance the sides discussed political and diplomatic settlement.

According to the analyst, supplies of long-range missiles are more important than supplies of aircraft.

"With aircraft, it’s necessary to train pilots, and that’s a long process. Ukraine doesn’t have the appropriate infrastructure to accommodate and maintaining these aircraft. There’s a lot of technical issues. I think there may be an announcement of aircraft supplies, but after the end of the conflict. And as for long-range missiles, some decisions can be made. At least they tend to think in Kiev that the conditions for the decision about tanks and Washington's agreement to provide Ukraine with tanks occurred during the visit of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to Washington, and that during Biden's visit to Kiev now there’s also potential to make serious progress with respect to long-range missiles," the analyst said.

Biden’s visit

On Monday morning, Ukrainian news media reported that traffic in Kiev seized up due to some foreign visitors. Later, the media published a video in which Biden and Zelensky are on the square near St. Michael's Cathedral, owned by the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Then Zelensky himself published a photo with Biden, who on the occasion of his arrival wore a tie in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The leaders of the two countries also held talks. The visit of the US president to Kiev was not officially announced in advance.

Biden's arrival in Kiev on Monday is his first visit to Ukraine since his election as US president. On December 21, 2022, Zelensky, at the invitation of Biden, came to Washington, leaving Ukraine for the first time since the start of the Russian special military operation on February 24 last year.