Inside incredible plan to get Zelensky to US using secret train, anti-sub spy planes and armed-to-the-teeth fighter jets | The Sun
A TOP secret mission was launched to get Volodymyr Zelensky safely to Washington for his historic address to Congress.
His sneaked out of Ukraine in the dark before a high security VVIP jet flight guarded by an anti-submarine spy plane and a fighter escort to ward off any threat from Russia.
It was the first time the president – who is under constant threat of assassination – has left Ukraine since the Russian invasion.
After his epic journey he was greeted with a standing ovation as he likened Putin to Hitler and defiantly said his nation was "alive and kicking".
Zelensky also handed over a Ukrainian flag – a symbol of the country's survival – which he had personally collected from frontline troops 24 hours earlier.
Sources said Zelensky had been hoping to visit the US for months and now was finally "the right time".
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is said to have initiated talks to make it possible at a conference in Croatia in October.
Then last week Zelensky formally accepted an invitation from Joe Biden – although it was not announced over fears he could be targeted on the way.
Once confirmed, the elaborately executed plan by US and Ukrainian officials came together in a matter of days, security sources said.
Only a few key people are believed to have known the visit was happening.
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On Tuesday Zelensky made a surprise visit to Bakhmut in Ukraine's far east – the scene of the most intense fighting of recent weeks.
He handed out medals to soldiers and received a battered blue and yellow national flag which had been autographed by the city's defenders.
Zelensky's private train – containing an office on wheels disguised as a normal low key carriage – carried him back towards his war HQ in Kyiv.
But under the cover of darkness, the train continued west and discreetly crossed the border into Przemysl in Poland.
Video footage shows him marching from the train station with his bodyguards early yesterday.
He was accompanied by Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Ukraine, reports AP.
From there a US embassy vehicle whisked him and his team to an airport in Rzeszw where a US Air Force C40B executive jet was waiting on the tarmac..
The Boeing plane – a smaller version of Air Force One – is normally used by US cabinet secretaries on foreign visits.
Authorities still feared the plane could be vulnerable if Russia had got wind of the plans.
Its fight path took it out across the North Sea – a hotbed of activity for Russia ships and submarines.
The second part of the plan swung into action as Zelensky took to the air at 8.15am local time.
From the Nato base at Geilenkirchen in Germany, an E-3A Sentry spy plane was launched to clear the skies over Western Europe.
Britain also uses the eye-in-the-sky surveillance jets which are bristling with anti-submarine measures.
Meanwhile an advanced F-15E Eagle fighter jet of the US Air Force took off from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.
It met the VIP flight over the North Sea midway between Yorkshire and the Netherlands, according to flight data.
The White House did not announce Zelensky's visit until 1am US Eastern Time when it was sure the president was safely out of Ukraine.
His non-stop flight landed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland around noon on Wednesday.
From there the Security Service took over in line with other visits by heads of state.
'Symbol of our victory'
Still in his trademark khaki T-shirt, Zelensky met Mr and Mrs Biden outside the White House.
The US president unveiled another $1.85 billion in military aid for Ukraine including Patriot air defence missiles.
And he told Zelensky: "Its an honour to be by your side in united defence against what is a brutal, brutal war being waged by Putin."
He then gave his rousing speech to Congress in a historic visit compared to Winston Churchill's in 1941.
Senators and congressmen gave him a thunderous ovation as he declared Ukraine will "never surrender" and warned more than just the fate of his nation was at stake.
He said: "Against all doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine did not fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.
"We defeated Russia in the battle for the minds of the world."
He also presented the war-battered flag covered in signatures by Ukrainian troops on the front.
He said: "They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the US Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators whose decisions can save millions of people.
"So let these decisions be taken. Let this flag stay with you.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this flag is a symbol of our victory in this war."
After just ten hours in the US he flew back to Poland for meetings with his allies there.
While Zelensky was received as a hero in Washington, cowardly Putin was hiding from his own people.
His showpiece state of the union speech was mysteriously postponed yesterday.
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