Considered unusual measures that were taken to transfer the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky From Ukraine to the American capital is a sign of how important the relationship is for both countries.
But how did the Ukrainian president manage to travel amidst these strict measures to protect him, especially since it was the first time he had left Ukraine since the start of the Russian military operation last February (2022).
Night trip by train
After visiting the front line in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, Zelensky’s trip to Washington, D.C., began with an overnight train trip to Poland before boarding a US Air Force jet, backed by a NATO spy plane and F-15 fighter jet. C” British.
Reports of the visit to Washington began circulating early this week, but were not confirmed until early Wednesday morning, when US officials felt certain the Ukrainian leader was safely on his way to the US capital.
The visit was discussed for months, but final preparations were quickly made, with the two presidents talking about it on December 11 and Zelensky being invited three days later. Only once the visit was confirmed were the final plans for the details of the visit put into action.
Unsurprisingly, no official information about the trip has been revealed. Security is tight around presidential visits even in times of peace, but for Zelensky, whose country is at war, the stakes are still higher.
And with the threat of Russian missiles making air travel over Ukraine perilous, Zelensky appears to have taken a secret train trip across Ukraine to Poland, where he was spotted early Wednesday at a railway station in the border town of Przemysl.
Images from Polish television showed an entourage including the Ukrainian president walking along a platform with a blue-yellow Ukrainian train in the background.
The group then enters a convoy of waiting cars, including a black Chevrolet Suburban, the US government’s favorite model.
On an American plane to Britain
Shortly thereafter, flight data showed a US Air Force Boeing C-40B – believed to be transporting Zelenskiy – taking off from Rzeszow Airport about 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the west.
In addition, the plane headed northwest toward the UK, but before entering the airspace over the North Sea, a NATO spy plane surveyed the area where Russian submarines are known to patrol the sea.
An American F-15 fighter jet, which took off from a base in England, accompanied Zelensky’s flight for part of its journey.
Finally, around noon in Washington and after about 10 hours of takeoff and many more hours of travel for the Ukrainian president, the plane landed near Washington.
Getting to Washington
Upon his arrival, he was given Secret Service protection, as are all visiting heads of state, but Zelensky’s status as the leader of a country at war with Russia meant security officials were more vigilant.
The visit seemed to go smoothly, and by Thursday Zelensky had already returned to European soil, posting on Telegram that he had stopped in Poland to meet his counterpart, Andrzej Duda.
He has now reportedly crossed the border into Ukraine, but US security officials will not rest until he is safely back in Kyiv.