Biden holds first phone call with Ukraine president

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President Biden on Friday spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and affirmed U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

The phone call was Biden’s first as president with the Ukrainian leader, who nearly two years ago faced pressure from then-President Trump to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.

“President Biden affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea,” the White House said in a readout of Biden’s call with Zelensky. “He emphasized his administration’s commitment to revitalize our strategic partnership in support of President Zelenskyy’s plan to tackle corruption and implement a reform agenda based on our shared democratic values that delivers justice, security, and prosperity to the people of Ukraine.”

“The leaders agreed these reforms are central to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. They also discussed the importance of close United States-Ukraine cooperation to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen democracy in the region,” the White House readout continued.

The phone call follows reports of Russian troop buildup in the Crimea Peninsula, the Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, where 4,000 Russian troops are said to have been deployed.

Biden’s call with Ukraine’s president came later than his engagement with some other world leaders. Biden held a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in January during which he affirmed U.S. support for Ukrainian sovereignty, according to the White House.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in touch with his Ukrainian counterpart earlier this week to express the “unwavering” U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity amid continued Russian aggression around Crimea.

The U.S. relationship with Ukraine was strained during the previous administration as Trump faced impeachment over his July 2019 phone call with Zelensky, during which the former president raised unfounded corruption allegations about the Bidens and asked Ukraine’s leader to look into them.

The Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump for abusing his power and obstructing Congress after an investigation into the conversation. The GOP-led Senate eventually acquitted Trump of the charges in February of last year.

Asked later if Trump or the investigation he sought into the Bidens came up, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she was “not aware of that coming up on the call.”

Tags Antony Blinken Donald Trump Jen Psaki Joe Biden Trump–Ukraine scandal Ukraine Ukraine–United States relations Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky

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