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Ukraine president seeks less controversial relationship with Biden

Sep 01, 2021

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House Wednesday.

President Zelenskyy’s name first popped up in U.S. headlines shortly after he took office in May 2019. The Ukraine president was quickly caught up in Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s first impeachment inquiry.

The inquiry came following a 2019 phone call in which Former President Trump asked Zelenskyy to investigate then-candidate Biden and his son Hunter. Hunter had served on the board of a Ukranian energy company.

Trump was eventually impeached but acquitted in the Senate.

Now, the Ukraine president is seeking increased military aid from the U.S., as well as Biden’s support of the Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership. “Well, I have a very big agenda for our relations, maybe not for this meeting, which is too short to answer all the questions, but they are all of big importance for both countries, I believe,” Zelenskyy said at the meeting.

That military aid is already expected to go to Ukraine. Ahead of the Wednesday meeting, senior Biden administration officials announced a $60 million security assistance package for the country.

The money is intended to help Ukraine maintain its sovereignty in the face of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and other “acts of Russian aggression in the region”. Currently, NATO members are wary of giving Ukraine membership due to the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

“Thus far, the U.S. has committed $2.5 billion in support of Ukraine forces since 2014, including more than $400 million this year alone,” senior Biden administration officials said.

As the newest Ukraine president, Zelenskyy is the latest to promise to fight corruption in the country.

“Ukraine has already made tremendous progress on governance, rule of law, and anti-corruption reforms since 2014,” administration officials said. Biden and Zelenskyy were expected to discuss “the comprehensive reform program that President Zelenskyy is continuing to develop and implement” Wednesday.

“This includes steps to protect the independence of the anti-corruption institutions, legislation on human rights, as well as other pending legislation and reforms that the Ukrainian government is working on,” administration officials said.

Wednesday’s meeting was postponed two days while Biden and his national security team focused on the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The withdrawal left behind many Afghans who now fear Taliban rule. This led to criticism that the U.S. was an unreliable international partner.

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Joe Biden, U.S. President: “As we celebrate 30 years of Ukrainian independence, the partnership between our nations grows stronger and it’s going to become stronger than that. Ukraine and the United States have similar value system and the strong commitment to the fulfillment of a promise that we hope all will come forward and that is a Europe whole, free and at peace. And the United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and and our support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President: “Well, I have very big agenda for our relations, maybe not for this meeting, which is too short to answer all the questions, but they are all of big importance for both countries, I believe. But at least we have to focus very much and on the security issues, which is the most important on this agenda. And security in Donbas, Ukrainian Donbas, in the Ukrainian Crimea temporarily, as we believe, occupied by the Russian Federation, security in the Black Sea and security in the Azov Sea region. And of course, the security issue. Energy security at this time, because we are very much concerned, as you are, with the commissioning of a possible commission of the Nord Stream 2. And I would like to discuss with President Biden here his vision, his government’s vision of Ukraine’s chances to join NATO and the timeframe for this accession if it is possible.”


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