The United States is considering sending a senior official to Ukraine’s capital Kiev in the coming days as a sign of support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, according to a person familiar with the internal discussions.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both made high-profile visits to Ukraine’s neighbors in the past month as the war raged. And other top US officials have made similar visits, some close to the border. But no US official has publicly visited Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February.
It is highly unlikely that Mr Biden or Ms Harris would go to Kiev, according to the person familiar with the deliberations. The security requirements for the president or vice president in a war zone are enormous and it would take a huge number of American personnel and equipment to make the journey.
But it’s possible that another official — perhaps a chief of staff or a senior member of the military — could make the trip safely with a smaller security entourage.
Top officials – including some world leaders – from other countries have made official visits to the Ukrainian capital since the start of the war. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to Kiev on Saturday. The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia visited Kiev on Wednesday.
A possible visit by a senior US official, previously reported by Politico, would be intended as another show of solidarity with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. But it would also be a risky mission, endangering Americans and potentially risking a direct confrontation with Russian forces that Biden has repeatedly vowed to avoid.
No decision has been made yet and the government is unlikely to announce a visit in advance, given security concerns. Previous visits by senior US officials to other war zones, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, were usually not announced until after the official had arrived in the country – and sometimes even after the official had left.