US President Joe Biden will assure his Ukrainian counterpart Volodimir Zelensky that he wants to counteract Russian expansion into Eastern Europe. Biden and Zelensky meet for the first time at the White House on Wednesday, after a few phone calls earlier this year.
At an international summit in late August, Zelensky emphasized his claim to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia seven years ago. He said, “counting down to the end of the occupation”. Zelensky is seeking support from the United States for this. He also wants clarity from his American colleague about a possible NATO membership for Ukraine. Biden demands in return, among other things, a tougher approach to corruption.
Ukraine is also concerned about the Russian gas pipeline Nordstream 2. Currently, Ukraine is an important transit country for gas from Russia to Europe, but Nordstream 2 goes to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Ukraine fears that if gas is no longer pumped through the country, Russia can use Nordstream 2 to power.
Biden is expected to announce a $60 million security package for Ukraine after the meeting. The US had pledged $400 million in security aid to Ukraine earlier this year. Biden also wants to offer $12.8 million in corona emergency aid to Ukraine.
Zelensky is in a remarkable position vis-a-vis the US. He was instrumental in the first impeachment case against former US President Donald Trump. In addition, he had urged Zelenski in 2019 to investigate Biden and his son Hunter for possible corruption. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company accused of corruption from 2014 to 2019. If Zelensky refused to comply with the request, Trump would freeze $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.