President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv, Japan announced a generous financial aid package, and a “people’s court” put Russian President Vladimir Putin on trial for the crime of aggression Monday as the war with Ukraine followed up the one-year mark with no end in sight.
“As we approach the anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, I’m in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Biden said in a Twitter post.
“Joseph Biden, welcome to Kyiv!” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky wrote on his official Telegram channel.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he made a decisive move because of “strong concern that Ukraine may be tomorrow’s East Asia.”
The “people’s court” in The Hague, Netherlands, has no legal powers. But prosecutors said they would present evidence that Putin committed the crime of aggression by unleashing a devastating war that has killed thousands and left towns and cities in ruins.
►Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he believes the West will transfer combat aircraft to Kyiv within one or two months. Biden and other Western leaders have thus far rejected Ukraine’s plea for aircraft.
►King Charles III met with Ukrainian troops undergoing five weeks of basic training in Wiltshire, England.
STUNNING KYIV VISITORS:President Biden makes a surprise visit to Ukraine ahead of the Russian invasion anniversary
Zelenskyy ecstatic as Biden makes pilgrimage: ‘Welcome to Kyiv!’
Several European leaders have visited Kyiv since the war began, but Biden’s trip could be unprecedented. There are few, if any, examples of US presidents traveling to an active war zone where there is no US troop presence.
“Joseph Biden, welcome to Kyiv!” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky wrote on his official Telegram channel. “Your visit is an extremely important sign of support for all Ukrainians.”
It was Biden’s first visit to Ukraine since Russia launched its war a year ago this week. It came ahead of a three-day visit to Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor and most committed ally. It was also symbolic because it comes as Ukraine has been intensely lobbying the US for more weapons to help it fight back against Russia’s latest offensive.
Biden announced half a billion dollars of additional security assistance to Ukraine and said more details would be released in the coming days and that additional sanctions on Russia would be announced this week. Read more here.
Mercy Corps seeks access in Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine
The global humanitarian aid agency Mercy Corps urged the Biden Administration, EU and UN to broker a deal securing access to Ukrainian territories currently held by Russia. The non-governmental organization says 4 million people in Ukraine are currently trapped behind front lines while aid deliveries face “insurmountable” barriers.
“Any solution for aid agencies to access these areas would be fragile,” said Michael Young, Mercy Corps Country Director for Ukraine. “But it must be attempted if the international goodwill towards the Ukrainian people is not to fail.”
Japan to mark war anniversary with Group of Seven summit, Zelenskyy
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced $5.5 billion in financial aid for Ukraine and will mark the first anniversary of the war Friday by hosting an online Group of Seven summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Kishida, speaking at a global forum in Tokyo organized by a Japanese think tank, said Ukrainians are suffering and need help to rebuild their daily lives and the infrastructure badly damaged by Russian attacks. As this year’s president of the G-7, Kishida said he will host an online summit to be joined by Zelenskyy on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.
8 MILLION REFUGEES:They counted the days until they could return to Ukraine. Now, they’re not sure they’ll go back
Fate of 8 million Ukrainian refugees unclear one year into war
One year after Russia’s invasion sparked Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, more than 8 million refugees remained scattered in Europe, the US and beyond. As the conflict they fled grinds on, their new roots grow deeper. Amid new jobs, languages and lives hangs a consequential question: Not just when to go home, but whether to go back at all.
How many ultimately return to Ukraine is a question with important ramifications for refugees, including those with temporary immigration status; for host countries that see tensions as new residents add to their workforce but strain their housing and schools; and for Ukraine’s capacity to rebuild its country and economy.
“The longer it lasts, the greater chance that people really start to envision and build up a life (outside of Ukraine) and not go back,” said Hanne Beirens, who heads the Migration Policy Institute of Europe. Read more here.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Live Ukraine updates: Biden in Kyiv, Putin faces ‘people’s court’