Joe Biden has taken a risk that American presidents have seldom dared. His predecessors also traveled to war zones, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. They all entrusted their safety to American troops on the ground. Joe Biden and his security advisors in Ukraine could not count on them, the planning for this visit took months.
And yet Joe Biden pushed for this visit to mark the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
He travels to the country at what was, for him, a pivotal moment in the war, at home and abroad. Some countries are already urging Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, even if it means giving up territories. In Germany, a strange alliance from Sarah Wagenknecht to Alice Schwarzer is talking louder and louder about starting peace negotiations. And in the US, the new Republican speaker in the House of Representatives is calling for an end to the "blank check" for aid to Ukraine. The Americans seem increasingly war-weary, only 48 percent are in favor of supplying arms to Ukraine. In May it was still 60 percent. The right wing of the Republicans is already threatening not to agree to any further aid.
However, Biden still has the support of the majority of Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican heavyweight, even recently praised Biden for his Ukraine policy: "He brought our national interests together well in this fight and made it clear that it's good for the world if Russia doesn't succeed," he said . And then pushed the hidden threat: "This will be one of the decisive moments of his presidency."
Biden has been in business long enough to know the power of symbolism. The pictures from Kiev show a strong American president who is taking any risk to strengthen the western alliance. This determination will probably help him at home, and the visit to Kiev provides the images that should make it clear to Americans why it is in America's interest to support Ukraine.
Here Joe Biden is probably right with his Republican opponent Lindsey Graham: It is one of the defining moments of his presidency.