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how joe biden reached Kyiv



Dark Plane, Silent Overnight Train: How Joe Biden Got to Kiev

Biden last visited the Ukrainian capital when he was vice president. (file)


President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to wartime Kiev on Monday morning began at midnight in a military airport hangar outside Washington.

At 4:00 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Sunday — unbeknownst to the world’s media, the Washington political establishment or the American electorate — the 80-year-old Democrat boarded an Air Force Boeing 757, better known as a C-32.

The plane, a smaller version of one US presidents typically use on international trips, was parked far from where Biden usually boards. And one notable detail: The shade on every window was pulled down.

Fifteen minutes later, Biden, a handful of security personnel, a small medical team, close advisers, and two reporters sworn to secrecy left for a war zone.

The US President is probably the most constantly scrutinized person on the planet.

Members of the press follow Biden wherever he goes – whether to church or international summits. Every word he utters in public is recorded, transcribed, and published.

In this case, however, the usual pool of reporters, which would compromise 13 journalists from radio, TV, photo and written press organizations for foreign trips, was cut down to one photographer and one writer.

Sabrina Siddiqui, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, revealed – once given permission by the White House to publish the details – that she and the photographer were summoned to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington at 2:15 am.

Their phones were confiscated – they would not be returned until Biden arrived in Ukraine’s capital about 24 hours later.

He flew for about seven hours from Washington to the US military base in Ramstein, Germany, to refuel. Here also the window shades remained down and they did not come out of the plane.

The next flight was to Poland, landing at Rzeszow-Jecionka Airport. It may be a Polish airport, but since the Ukraine war it has also become an international hub for a US-led effort to funnel billions of dollars of arms and ammunition to Ukrainians.

‘good to be back’

Up to this point, Siddiqui and the photographer, the Associated Press’ Evan Vucci, had not seen Biden himself. That didn’t change at the airport or when they boarded the convoy of SUVs.

Reporters traveling with Biden often go on motorcycles, but something was very different about this one: There were no sirens or anything else to announce that the US president was going to Przemysl Głony, a Polish train station near the Ukrainian border. Were.

It was 9:15 pm local time as they hopped on a train. Reporters were asked to board, still with their eyes fixed on Biden.

Running on a route that carried untold amounts of aid to Ukraine and untold numbers of Ukrainian citizens fleeing the other way, the train had about eight cars. Most of the people on board were “heavy security”, Siddiqui said.

Biden is an admitted train buff.

He likes to recall his years commuting by rail between home in Washington and Delaware when he was a senator, bringing up two young sons after their mother died in a car accident. One of his nicknames is “Amtrak Joe”.

This 10-hour trip to Ukraine, however, was unlike any trip taken by a modern American president – ​​traveling to an active war zone where, unlike presidential visits to Afghanistan or Iraq, US troops are not providing security. Are.

The train rolled into Kiev with the rising sun.

Biden, who last visited the Ukrainian capital when he was vice president under Barack Obama, landed at around 8:07 am.

“It’s good to be back in Kiev,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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