President Biden’s surprise Monday trip to Ukraine was actually an operation that began under the cover of darkness early Sunday morning, and included a plane ride on an Air Force C-32 jet, a motorcade on an empty Polish highway and a long overnight train ride into the war-torn country.
The small two-person print press pool accompanying Biden on the trip found out it was happening just days before, and had to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland in the wee hours of the morning before being forced to hand over their phones before boarding the C-32, a much smaller plane than the usual Air Force One Boeing VC-25.
The plane was parked in the dark next to a hangar away from the tarmac with the shades drawn, waiting for Biden’s arrival. He arrived around 4:00 a.m. ET and the plane departed at 4:15 a.m. ET.
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The plane stopped to refuel at Ramstein Air Base in Germany at 5:13 p.m. local time on Sunday after an approximately seven-hour flight, before continuing on to Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland. During its roughly one hour and 15 minutes on the ground, the plane’s shades remained drawn.
It landed in Rzeszów, Poland at 7:57 p.m. local time. The airport was clear at the time of Biden’s arrival, and the press pool was quickly ushered to a designated SUV as part of a motorcade estimated to contain approximately 20 cars.
The motorcade began rolling at 8:12 p.m. local time and began a roughly one-hour long journey on a family empty highway to Przemyśl Główny train station. No sirens were used during the drive to avoid drawing attention.
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It arrived at the near empty Przemyśl Główny train station at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time, where Biden was dropped directly in front of his train car at the already waiting train. It contained approximately eight cars, according to a security officer on the train, and had a heavy security presence.
The train departed the station at 9:37 p.m. local time. According to an agent on the train, it crossed into Ukraine at roughly 10:00 p.m. local time. Much of the journey took place in the dark and lasted roughly 10 hours, while stopping a handful of times for unclear reasons except to pick up additional security on at least one occasion.
The sun had risen by the time the train approached Kyiv and came to a stop at the Kyiv-Pasazhyrsky station at roughly 8:00 a.m. local time. The area around the platform had been cleared and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink awaited Biden and his staff at the station.
Biden reportedly said “it’s good to be back in Kyiv” when he stepped off the train.
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Biden departed the train at 8:07 a.m. local time and entered another motorcade that departed the station at 8:18 a.m. local time en route to Mariinsky Palace where Biden was greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Fox News’ Erin McEwan contributed to this report.