Ukraine’s president implores Biden to meet him before summit with Putin
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in an interview with Axios published on Sunday, implored President Biden to meet with him before Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he would meet “at any moment and at any spot on the planet.”
Zelensky told Axios that the Biden administration had not informed him that Biden would be waiving sanctions against the Russian pipeline, which Ukraine sees as a threat to national security, instead learning of Biden’s decision through the news.
The pipeline — Nord Stream 2 — is being built through Germany and is reportedly nearing completion. It will allow Russia to send gas to western Europe without passing through Ukraine, isolating the nation. Zelensky said the U.S. is the only power capable of stopping it.
“This is a weapon, a real weapon … in the hands of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky told Axios. “It is not very understandable … that the bullets to this weapon can possibly be provided by such a great country as the United States.”
Biden is scheduled to meet with Putin in Geneva on June 16.
According to Zelensky, Biden had offered “direct signals” that the U.S. was ready to block the pipeline before news of his waiver broke. The Biden administration had cited a need to preserve good relations with Germany.
Zelensky said he understood the importance of preserving good relations, but added, “How many Ukrainian lives does the relationship between the United States and Germany cost?”
The Ukrainian leader added that he still believed Biden could stop the pipeline.
“I still believe, after all, that Biden is a Jordan in politics,” Zelensky said, referring to NBA legend Michael Jordan and how he could lure opponents into a “false sense of victory.”
“If this is not the case, that will be a great pity, not only for me,” Zelensky said of the pipeline waiver. “There will be a feeling that in these circumstances Russia will have a great chance to prevail over the United States.”
A White House spokesperson told Axios: “The State Department has regularly engaged with Ukrainian officials regarding Nord Stream 2. Prior to the transmission of the most recent report to Congress, the State Department notified the Ukrainian ambassador in Washington and senior officials in Kyiv, including the president’s chief of staff, of the contents of the report.”