Zelensky meets with Harris: Ukraine army ‘defending all of Europe’

Vice President Harris met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany, where she reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine as tensions with Russia continue to mount. 

Harris and Zelensky, along with their aides, sat across from each other and engaged in a brief dialogue in front of press before a closed-door meeting to discuss the situation in Ukraine.  

The vice president told the Ukrainian leader she looked forward to “hearing what your concerns are” and reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine.

The White House said Saturday that the two sides discussed recent developments and assessments of Russia’s massive military buildup around Ukraine.

“The Vice President underscored the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They discussed the united Transatlantic approach if Russia further invades Ukraine, and the Vice President outlined the swift and severe economic measures that have been prepared alongside our Allies and partners,” the statement added.

The White House also said Harris and Zelensky agreed on the importance of “diplomacy and de-escalation.”

Zelensky told Harris, via an interpreter, that “the only thing we want is to have peace.”

“This is our land, we understand what is happening. The only thing we want is to return peace to our country, and in this situation, we are very grateful to you, the United States, as our ally and partner, we are grateful to President Biden,” Zelensky said, according to the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine News Agency.

“We’re very grateful to the United States, to you personally and President Biden,” he added while noting the bipartisan support in the U.S. for his country.

He said, however, that he needs “specific steps,” a comment that suggests he may ask for additional aid from the U.S.  He added that Ukraine’s army is “defending all of Europe.”

The meeting included Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba and Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov as well as a number of other U.S. and Ukrainian officials. 

This meeting was scheduled before Harris departed the U.S. and comes after the vice president in a speech at the conference Saturday morning sought to convey complete unity between the United States and its allies. In prepared remarks, she said that the U.S. and its allied will impose harsh costs on Russia should it choose to invade Ukraine.  

Harris added that U.S. support for the NATO alliance is “sacrosanct” and pledged that Russia would face “unprecedented” economic penalties in the event of an invasion. 

Additionally, she said Saturday that the U.S. and its European allies remain open to resolving the crisis through diplomacy while being prepared to penalize Russia in the event of an incursion.   

The U.S. has estimated that Russia has between 169,000 and 190,000 troops amassed around Ukraine, and Biden on Friday said that he is “convinced” Putin has decided to invade the former Soviet state. 

Updated: 11:50 a.m.

Tags Joe Biden NATO Russia Ukraine United States Volodymyr Zelensky

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