Biden to extend support to front and central Ukraine during Zelensky visit

Biden to extend support to front and central Ukraine during Zelensky visit

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander civil rights leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House August 5, 2021 in Washington DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will unveil a comprehensive humanitarian and military aid package to Ukraine on Wednesday during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the White House.

The package includes $ 60 million in newly designated military aid, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, small arms and ammunition. Biden informed Congress late last week that he intended to release funds to help Ukraine defend its eastern border against Russian-backed separatists.

A White House official, who requested anonymity to preview the visit, said an additional $ 45 million would be spent in humanitarian aid to Ukrainians affected by separatist guerrillas.

The official said in the fight against Covid-19, the United States will announce $ 12.8 million in additional aid to Ukraine, in addition to the $ 55 million in Covid-related aid that the administration Biden has already provided.

Zelensky’s meeting with Biden comes as the White House faces a dual crisis at home and abroad.

In Louisiana and Mississippi, more than one million residents suffered power outages Wednesday morning as a result of Hurricane Ida.

Abroad, a humanitarian and border crisis looms as the Biden administration steps up a massive effort to process and resettle thousands of Afghan refugees forced out of the country as part of a US military withdrawal.

The White House official said Zelensky was originally scheduled to meet with Biden on Monday, but his visit was postponed to give him “the attention it deserves”.

When the two leaders sit down on Wednesday, Zelensky will ask Biden for assurances that US support for his country remains constant as Ukraine enters its seventh year of guerrilla warfare with Russia.

The White House official said Biden would announce a series of measures aimed at deepening the already close ties between Washington and Kiev.

One of them would be to revive the US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission, which has not met for three years, the official said.

Biden and Zelensky will also announce new energy initiatives, including a strategic dialogue on energy and climate under the leadership of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

At the end of August, Granholm led an American delegation to Ukraine to mark the 30th anniversary of the country’s independence.

However, energy security could prove to be a strange subject for Biden and Zelensky.

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Ukraine still strongly opposes the near-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline project between Russia and Germany, which Kiev sees as a major strategic victory for the Kremlin.

Biden has said he largely opposes the project, and Washington has lobbied for years that Berlin does not increase its energy dependence on Russia.

But in July, the Biden administration issued a joint statement with the German government essentially acknowledging that the pipeline was inevitable.

The statement was a diplomatic coup for Ukraine, which expected the United States to use sanctions and other economic levers to effectively force Germany out of Nord Stream 2.

Another potentially embarrassing topic for Biden and Zelensky will be the ongoing anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, an issue Biden has personally invested in since his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration.

“We firmly believe that Ukraine can and should make further reforms to strengthen its democracy,” said the White House official.

But as Ukraine moves towards a stronger rule of law under Zelensky, its parliament and criminal justice system are mired in corruption.

Critics accused Zelensky of using his presidential powers to target high-ranking members of opposition political parties.

In 2019, Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, attempted to use his own presidential powers to target Joe Biden, his main political rival at the time.

In a now infamous phone call with Zelensky in August 2019, Trump threatened to withdraw US aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky asks state prosecutors to launch a bogus investigation into Biden and his son. , Hunter Biden.

This conversation then became the cornerstone of his first two impeachment proceedings against Trump in the impeachment case.

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