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Biden’s Ukraine visit slipped past Kremlin’s censors, expert says

President Joe Biden visits Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine on Feb. 20, 2023. (The White House/Released)

It seems President Biden’s trip to Ukraine had Russian propagandists so rattled they told the truth.

“The visit made such a powerful image, not only obviously on the Ukrainians, but — interestingly — in Moscow,” Igor Lukes, a professor of history and international affairs at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, told the Herald.

“It made an impact, even in Russia, to such a point that the state’s well-oiled machinery was briefly confused,” he said.

While Biden’s wartime trip to Ukraine Monday is no doubt notable for a number of reasons — Lukes said it is certainly historic — perhaps a little anticipated windfall was the surprise with which the president’s stroll through Kyiv took Russian government-owned media.

According to the professor, two state-run newspapers inadvertently published accurate accountings of Biden’s activities in Ukraine, leaving them up for hours before government propagandists intervened to offer Kremlin-approved context.

“Curiously enough the Russian state media, like (Rossiyskaya) Gazeta and Komsomolskaya Pravda, were clearly so confused by it that they briefly published remarkably accurate accounts of what happened in Kyiv during the visit. They quoted accurately from what each side had said. They even included unedited videos of Biden,” the professor said.

Biden’s visit comes as Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine nears its second year and the number of displaced civilians grows over 14 million, the largest such displacement of a European population since the Second World War.

The president left the White House at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, arriving via an unremarkable Air Force C-32 in Kyiv 20 hours later with no announcement to the Ukrainian public.

Biden is scheduled to be in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, and so his unscheduled visit to the threatened Ukrainian capital — air raid sirens rang out while the President of the United States was inside St. Michael’s Cathedral — is perhaps less surprising than its clandestine nature. It is, according to White House, the first time in modern history a president was outside the protection of the U.S. Military.

Despite secrecy among the public — both domestically and internationally — the Kremlin was apparently made aware of Biden’s visit in an effort to prevent any incident which may cause the two nuclear powers to begin their own conflict.

“We did notify the Russians that President Biden will be traveling to Kyiv,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters.


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