President Biden is set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on Wednesday – a visit that is expected to build on and amplify the bilateral relationship, and to underscore the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to Ukraine’s security and sovereignty, senior administration officials said.
The two leaders have spoken twice by phone – once in April, and once in June before Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
Senior administration officials said Biden and Zelensky will chair an expanded bilateral meeting with their key advisers, and will later transition to a one-on-one conversation, giving them “the space to communicate with one another more directly.”
Officials said Biden will convey his “ironclad commitment” to Ukraine’s security, sovereignty and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Biden is also expected to discuss the security situation that Ukraine is facing, as the nation continues to see acts of Russian aggression in the region.
Biden also will discuss ways in which the U.S. could continue to provide security assistance to Ukraine, officials said – noting that the U.S. will provide a new $60 million security assistance package for Ukraine that will include additional Javelin anti-armor systems and other defensive lethal and non-lethal capabilities.
So far, the U.S. has committed $2.5 billion in support of Ukraine forces since 2014, including more than $400 million in 2021 alone.
As for reform, Biden is set to discuss the ways in which Ukraine has made “progress on governance, rule of law, and anti-corruption reforms since 2014.” Biden, while serving as vice president for former President Obama, was tasked with overseeing the administration’s Ukraine policy.
The president is also expected to discuss cooperation efforts to bolster collaboration on shared energy and climate goals,, including through a reinvigorated Strategy Energy and Climate Dialogue, which officials say would give a “strong” platform to “advance energy security objectives, enhance economic ties, and achieve ambitious climate targets.”
As for the coronavirus pandemic, officials said the U.S. has “stood shoulder-to-shoulder” with the Zelensky administration, and has already provided $55 million in COVID-related assistance, and donated nearly 2.2 million doses of COVID vaccines to Ukraine.
“We intend to continue providing assistance to Ukraine, including cold chain storage support and an additional $12.8 million in COVID-related assistance,” an official said.
Officials said the U.S. will also provide an additional $45 million in humanitarian assistance to help address Ukrainians who remain impacted by the crisis with Russia.
Meanwhile, senior administration officials said that after the meeting, the U.S. and Ukraine will announce the reinvigoration of the Strategic Partnership Commission, which they say has not met in three years.
Senior administration officials said they anticipate a meeting this fall between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine’s foreign minister to approve a new charter between the U.S. and Ukraine that will “set out the parameters for how we can work closely together to meet these 21st-century challenges.”
“We believe this meeting comes at a pivotal moment in the bilateral relationship as we continue to build on ties that bind our two countries together and really seek to take our strategic partnership to an elevated level,” an official said, adding that the administration has “really tried to look at the relationship in a very holistic way and to find areas for closer cooperation, as well as to revitalize and re-strengthen that cooperation across the full range of sectors, from the political and strategic side to the security side, as well as to the energy and economic side.”
After the meeting between Biden and Zelensky, the two are expected to release a comprehensive joint statement articulating “our shared values and our strategic priorities, as well as a list of concrete deliverables touching on every aspect of our bilateral relationship,” a senior administration official said.