Biden’s speech during his historic visit to Kyiv — transcript

21 February, 03:40 PM
Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on February 20, 2023 (Photo:Evan Vucci/Pool via REUTERS)

Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on February 20, 2023 (Photo:Evan Vucci/Pool via REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden visited Kyiv with anunannounced visit on Feb. 20, met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and honored the country's fallen soldiers. Biden's visit was the first by a serving US leader since 2008.

NV provides the full transcript of Joe Biden’s speech at a press conference in Kyiv.

… Thank you very much, Mr. President. I know, it was one year ago this week that we spoke on the telephone, Mr. President. It was very late at night in Washington and very early in the morning here in Kyiv. Russian planes were in the air and tanks were rolling across your border. You told me that you could hear explosions in the background. I’ll never forget that. And the world was about to change. I remember it vividly. Because I asked you. I asked you next. I asked you: “What is there, Mr. President? What can I do for you? How can I be of help?” And I don’t really remember what you said to me. But you said and I quote: “Gather the leaders of the world. Ask them to support Ukraine. Gather the leaders of the world and ask them to support Ukraine.” And you said that you didn’t know when we’d be able to speak again.

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That dark night, one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv. Seems like a lot longer ago than a year, but think back to that year — perhaps even the end of Ukraine. You know, one year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you. And the world stands with you.

Kyiv has captured a part of my heart, I must say. I’ve come here six times as vice president, once as president. And in 2009, as vice president, when I first came here, then back in 2014, I came three times in the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity. And I again came in 2015 to address the Rada about the work of building a strong democracy. And I came in 2017, just before I left office as vice president. I knew I’d be back but I wanted to be sure. Even though with the election over, Barack and I were out of office, I decided to make one more trip before the next President was sworn in — to Kyiv.

So, President Zelenskyy, you deeply honored me here in Kyiv with you today, to meet me with your military or intelligence folks, your diplomatic teams, community leaders who have stepped up and helped their country in the hour of need. And it’s astounding who stood up! Everybody. Everybody, women, young children, trying to do something.

It’s astounding. And the whole world, the whole world sees it. And it looks at it. This is the largest land war in Europe in three quarters of a century. And you’re succeeding against all and every expectation except your own.

We have every confidence that you’re going to continue to prevail. You know, from the moment I first received an intelligence report in the fall, about a year ago, we were focused on determining how do we rally the rest of the world? How do I help you with the promise you asked me to make to rally the world? Well, how do you succeed? How do you ever get a world to respond to a prosperous economy, confident democracy, a secure and independent state? When united Americans of all political backgrounds decided they would step up. American people know it matters: unchecked aggression is a threat to all of us. We build a coalition of nations from the Atlantic to the Pacific, NATO (…), across the world. (Over 50) nations help Ukraine defend this unprecedent military, economic, and humanitarian support. We united the leading economies of the world to impose unprecedented cost that are squeezing Russia’s economic lifelines.

Together, we’ve committed nearly 700 tanks and 1000s of armored vehicles, 1000 artillery systems, more than two million rounds of artillery ammunition, more than 50 advanced launch rocket systems. (…) The other half a billion dollars (…) that’s going to be coming your way. And that’s just the United States in this piece.

And just today, that announcement includes artillery ammunition for HIMARS and howitzers, more Javelins and their anti-armor systems, their surveillance radars that help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardment.

Later this week, we will announce additional sanctions against elites and companies that are trying to evade sanctions and backfill Russia’s war machine. And thanks to bipartisan support in Congress, this week, we’re delivering billions in direct budgetary support, which the government can put to use immediately, to help provide for basic services of citizens.

The cost that Ukraine has had to bear has been extraordinarily high. And the sacrifices have been far too great. We mourn alongside the families of those who’ve been lost to the brutal and unjust war. We know that there’ll be very difficult days and weeks and years ahead.

But Russia’s aim was to wipe Ukraine off the map. Putin’s war of conquest is failing. Russia’s military has lost half the territory it once occupied. Young, talented Russians are fleeing by the tens of thousands, not wanting to come back to Russia. Not from not just fleeing from the military, fleeing from Russia itself. Because they see no future in their country. Russia’s economy is now a backwater, isolated and struggling.

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Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. As you know, Mr. President, I said to you at the beginning, he’s counting on us not sticking together. He was counting on the inability to keep NATO united and he’s counting on us not to be able to bring in others on the side of Ukraine.

He thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now. But he’s just been plain wrong. And one year later, the evidence is right here in this room. We stand here together. Mr. President, I’m delighted to be able to repay your visit to our country. In Washington, not long ago, you told us, you told the Congress: “We have no fear, nor should anyone in the world have it.” You and all Ukrainians, Mr. President, remind the world every single day with the media what the word “courage” means. All sectors of your economy, all walks of life. It’s astounding. Astounding. Remind us that freedom is priceless. It’s worth fighting for, for as long as it takes. And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr. President, for as long as it takes.

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