US President Joe Biden on Thursday said he has not yet made a decision on whether a senior US official will be dispatched to Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters before he boarded Air Force One for a trip to North Carolina, Mr Biden was asked whether he was ready to dispatch such a high-level emissary as a show of support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine’s armed forces as they continue fighting back against an unprovoked invasion by Russia.
“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Mr Biden said.
He added that he and his advisers were “making that decision now”.
Asked if he was ready to go himself, he replied: “Yeah”.
Mr Biden’s remarks come amid calls for him or an appropriately high-ranked official to visit Kyiv in the wake of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s headline-grabbing walkabout with Mr Zelensky in the Ukrainian capital last week.
Though Mr Biden and Mr Zelensky met in Washington last August, giving the Ukrainian leader the White House visit he was denied under Mr Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, the two leaders have not met in person since, and Mr Zelensky has remained in his country while his defence forces have worked to repel Russian invaders with a significant degree of success.
As a result, the two leaders have only been able to meet virtually, even as the leaders of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — Nato members all — traveled to Kyiv by train on Wednesday to meet with Mr Zelensky in person on the same day of his latest virtual meeting with Mr Biden.
Following that virtual meeting, Mr Biden announced authorisation of a new $800m defence assistance package to provide Ukrainian defence forces with “new capabilities” including artillery systems and rounds, armoured personnel carriers, and helicopters.