Biden's surprise visit to Kyiv hailed by Ukrainian Catholics for bravery, 'amazing boost of hope'

KYIV, Ukraine (OSV News) -- U.S. President Joe Biden's unexpected Feb. 20 visit to Kyiv, calmly walking alongside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as air raid sirens wailed in the capital, is being hailed as a surprise and a signal to the world, Ukrainian Catholic leaders told OSV News.Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. President arrived in Kyiv at 8 a.m. local time, following an unannounced 4:15 a.m. Eastern time departure the day prior from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.Biden spent more than five hours in Kyiv, meeting with Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace and walking to key sites in the city, including St. Michael Cathedral -- with air raid sirens sounding."We wouldn't expect that President Biden would come to the capital. Maybe Lviv, as it's safer, but Kyiv? It's really an amazing boost of hope and strength for us," Auxiliary Bishop Jan Sobilo of Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia told OSV News. "People were shocked. Some even thought this was an early April fool's (joke), but it is for real, and somehow we all got the positive feeling that maybe war is finally coming to an end."Biden and Zelensky laid wreaths at Kyiv's Wall of Remembrance, which honors Ukrainian soldiers killed since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 by annexing Crimea and igniting a separatist movement in Ukraine's Donbas region.Addressing reporters during his visit, Biden declared that "one year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you."MORE TO COME