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Remarks by President Biden and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine in Joint Statement
February 23, 2023

The White House

February 20, 2023

Mariinsky Palace

Kyiv, Ukraine

10:49 A.M. EET

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, thank you very much, Mr. President.   You know, it was — it was one year ago this week that we spoke on the telephone, Mr. President.  It was very late at night in Washington, 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 the 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 know that you 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.  That dark night, one year ago, the world was literally, at the time, bracing for the fall of Kyiv — it 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.  And 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 we’d — the election were 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 honor me here in Kyiv with you today to meet with your military, your intelligence folks, your diplomatic teams, community leaders who have stepped up and — to help their country in their hour of need.

It’s astounding who stood up.  Everybody.  Everybody — women, young children — trying to do something.  Just trying to do something.  Pulling people out of apartments that are being shelled and — literally what I think is a war crimes.

It’s astounding.  And the whole world — the whole world sees it and 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 the 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, a confident democracy, a secure and independent state?

When united, Americans of all political backgrounds decided that they would step up.  The American people know it matters.  Unchecked aggression is a threat to all of us.

We built a coalition of nations, from the Atlantic to the Pacific: NATO to the Atla- — in the Atlantic; Japan in the Pacific.  I mean, across the — across the world, the number of nations stood up — over 50 — to help Ukraine defend itself with unprecedented 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 thousands of armored vehicles, 1,000 artillery systems, more than 2 million rounds of artillery ammunition, more than 50 advanced launch rocket systems, anti-ship and air defense systems, all defend U- — to defend Ukraine.  And that doesn’t count the other half a billion dollars we’re going to be — we’re announcing with you today and tomorrow 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, anti-armor systems, air surveillance radars that’ll protect Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments.

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 a bipartisan support in Congress, this week we’re delivering billions in direct budgetary support — billions in direct budgetary support — which the government can put to use immediately and 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.  They’ve been met, but they’ve been far too great.

We mourn alongside the families of those who have 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 its territory it once occupied.  Young, talented Russians are fleeing by the tens of thousands, not wanting to come back to Russia.  Not fl- — 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.

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.  He was 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.  God knows what he’s thinking, but I don’t think he’s thinking that.  But he’s just been plain wrong.  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, quote, “We have no fear, nor should anyone in the world have it.”  End of quote.

You and all Ukrainians, Mr. President, remind the world every single day what the meaning of the word “courage” is — from all sectors of your economy, all walks of life.  It’s astounding.  Astounding.

You 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.


PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

11:07 A.M. EET

Read the full Joint Statement here

President Joe Biden travels to Kyiv, Ukraine Monday, February 20, 2023. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)