WASHINGTON, Sept 1 – U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday met with President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time, reassuring the U.S. ally of strategic partnership between the two nations.
Ahead of the meeting, the While House announced a new $60 million military aid package for Ukraine that includes supplies of anti-tank missile systems Javelin, aimed at countering Russia amid its occupation of Crimea.
The pledge of support for Ukraine is important in the face of the Russian aggression in eastern parts of the country Donetsk and Luhansk. It comes after chaotic end to the war in Afghanistan with some critics saying the U.S. has abandoned some of its local Afghani allies after withdrawing troops.
The U.S. has also agreed to provide pathways for energy incentives, seeking to offset losses related to the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will deliver natural gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea—bypassing Ukrainian-controlled gas lines.
“Our shared values and commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, democratic, and at peace provide the basis for our strategic partnership,” according to Joint Statement on the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership released by the White House. “We are working together to address shared global challenges, including energy security and diversification, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The U.S. and Ukraine have agreed to reinvigorate the Strategic Partnership Commission (SPC), reoriented and resourced to meet 21st century challenges. “To memorialize the elevated status of our partnership, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister intend to approve a new Charter at the SPC’s meeting in Washington this fall,” according to the statement.
Russia’s aggression, including the war in eastern Ukraine and its seizure of Crimea in March 2014, has claimed more than 14,000 Ukrainian lives, destabilized Europe and the Black Sea region, and threatened the global rules-based order.
“The United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea and reaffirms its full support for international efforts, including in the Normandy Format, aimed at negotiating a diplomatic resolution to the Russian-led conflict in eastern Ukraine on the basis of international law, including the UN Charter,” according to the statement.
“Together, we call on Russia to recommit to the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and engage genuinely in conflict resolution efforts to end the war,” the statement said.
The U.S. and Ukraine have finalized a Strategic Defense Framework that creates a foundation for the enhancement of U.S.-Ukraine strategic defense and security cooperation and the advancement of shared priorities, including implementing defense and defense industry reforms, deepening cooperation in areas such as Black Sea security, cyber defense, and intelligence sharing, and countering Russian aggression.
“The U.S. is announcing a new $60 million security assistance package, including additional Javelin anti-armor systems and other defensive lethal and non-lethal capabilities, to enable Ukraine to more effectively defend itself against Russian aggression,” the statement said.
The U.S. has committed $2.5 billion in support of Ukraine’s forces since 2014, including more than $400 million this year alone. (tl/ez)