Security Concerns Dominate World Leaders’ Visits to Ukraine

Reuters file photo
U.S. President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv on Feb. 20.

Security has been the key concern for Group of Seven leaders who have visited Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

After traveling secretly to neighboring Poland, they usually enter Kyiv by train with a small group of high-ranking officials to minimize their time in the country. In February, U.S. President Joe Biden flew into Poland on an Air Force plane that is not the usual presidential plane. He then traveled to Kyiv by rail.

Ukrainian airspace is threatened by Russian fighter jet incursions and other dangers, making air travel impossible. There have been reports that the U.S. Air Force flew airborne warning and control aircraft.

Only three senior officials reportedly accompanied Biden, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Biden’s stay in Kyiv was said to have lasted only about five hours.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited Ukraine four times, the most of any G7 country. On his first visit to Ukraine last April, Johnson was accompanied only by a private secretary and security guards and reportedly stayed about five hours.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Kyiv by train in June last year with the German and Italian prime ministers.

Macron’s security guards reportedly entered the country 10 days prior to his visit to confirm the safety of the destination and evacuation routes. There are also reports that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who visited May last year, was accompanied by his own special forces.