Inside President Biden’s long train ride to and from Kyiv

Biden's trek took him from Poland into the heart of Ukraine's capital city.
Joe Biden
Posted at 8:04 AM, Feb 21, 2023

Details from President Joe Biden’s trip to Kyiv emerged hours after he left the Ukraine capital on Monday following his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The details were shared by the Wall Street Journal’s Sabrina Siddiqui, one of two reporters allowed on the trip. She was the pool reporter on the trip. Siddiqui said she was required to turn in her cellphone for nearly 24 hours as part of the security protocols before heading there.

Biden was on board a train that took him from Poland to Kyiv for nearly 20 hours – about 10 hours each way.

Biden US Ukraine
President Joe Biden sits on a train with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan as he goes over his speech marking the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine after a surprise visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Kyiv. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

According to the White House pool report, Biden arrived at Poland’s Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport around 7:57 p.m. Sunday. Using a nondescript motorcade consisting of an estimated 20 vehicles, Biden was transported for about an hour to the Przemyśl Główny train station. At about 9:37 p.m. Sunday, the train started rolling, crossing into Ukraine around 10 p.m.

It would not be until 8 a.m. before Biden arrived in Kyiv. Kyiv is one hour ahead of Poland.

In another nondescript motorcade, Biden left the train station en route to Mariinsky Palace to meet Zelenskyy. During Biden’s trip, he also participated in a walkabout of St. Michael’s Cathedral with Zelenskyy. Biden then visited the U.S. embassy in Ukraine.

After five hours in Kyiv, Biden was back on the train again for another nearly 10-hour trek to Poland.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden arrives for a surprise visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Kyiv. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

Alexander Kamyshin, CEO of Ukranian Railways, was tasked with helping Biden arrive in Kyiv on time while keeping the train system on track.

Kamyshin apologized that about 10 percent of his system’s schedule was not on time on Monday.

“Out of 24 hours, president Biden spent 20 on the train (both directions), and only 4 in Kyiv. That's why it was important for us to care about him in a proper way,” Kamyshin said. And we did. I will not tell much more about this mission. Just believe me, it was quite a complicated project for us.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. notified Russia of Biden's trip to Kyiv hours before his arrival for deconfliction purposes.

Biden is spending Tuesday and Wednesday meeting NATO allies in Poland.