Monday, November 28, 2022

Zelensky, Biden discuss security, diplomacy, aid to Ukraine

by Igor KossovJanuary 28, 2022 12:57 am
President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) talked with U.S. President Joe Biden (R) over the phone on Jan. 27. (Ukrainian President's Press Service/The White House)

President Volodymyr Zelensky held a phone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden late on Jan. 27, their second conversation in January and fourth overall.

"President Biden reaffirmed the readiness of the United States along with its allies and partners to respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," said the White House readout published after the call.

"U.S. has provided Ukraine with over half a billion dollars in development and humanitarian assistance in the last year, and is exploring additional macroeconomic support to help Ukraine’s economy amidst pressure resulting from Russia’s military build-up," the statement said.

The State Department confirmed the allocation of a $200 military aid package to Ukraine during U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv on Jan. 19. The package was approved in addition to the $300 million in military aid that the U.S. decided to provide in December.

Read More: Blinken visits Kyiv, warns Russia might attack ‘at very short notice,’ asks about reforms

According to Zelensky, the two presidents "discussed recent diplomatic efforts on de-escalation and agreed on joint actions for the future."

Biden expressed support for the revival of Normandy Format talks. Representatives of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany met on Jan. 26 in Paris for low-level talks amid Kremlin’s growing military buildup along the Ukrainian border.

“The fact that we restored the Normandy Format is a positive signal,” Zelensky's Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said after the meeting in Paris.

Earlier, Zelensky's spokesperson Sergii Nykyforov said "topics such as peace, security, energy, defense cooperation, macroeconomic support and anti-oligarch reform" were to be discussed during the phone call.

The call came amid the growing uncertainty surrounding the ongoing Russian military buildup. ​​This was the third phone conversation between Zelensky and Biden since the start of the most recent Russian escalation in late October.

According to the latest intelligence data, Moscow has concentrated over 120,000 troops in regions surrounding Ukraine and deployed a substantial number of combat-ready weaponry and military hardware near Ukrainian borders moved from Russia’s far east districts.

On Jan. 26, the U.S. gave Russia a written response to its security demands, saying that Washington "will uphold the principle of NATO’s open-door policy."

The Kremlin demanded a written response to its proposed security grantees on Jan. 14, which included banning Ukraine from NATO for life and pulling allied troops out of eastern Europe. The U.S. and its NATO allies said these demands are non-starters.

The White House said Kyiv saw the reply and approved of its contents prior to the response being delivered to Moscow, which the Ukrainian side confirmed.

U.S. Diplomat Victoria Nuland told reporters on Jan. 27 that Russia will need time to study it. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov already made a statement saying that Russia’s main demands went unaddressed.

Meanwhile, CNN has reported, citing its sources in the Ukrainian government, that Zelensky and Biden disagreed on the likelihood of a Russian full-scale invasion. The U.S. is confident Russia will further invade Ukraine, a notion Kyiv doesn't share, according to CNN.

The U.S. Defense Department came out with a statement on Jan. 27, saying that Russia has once again increased its military presence near Ukraine's border.

"We continue to see, including in the last 24 hours, more accumulation of credible combat forces arrayed by the Russians in, again, the western part of their country and in Belarus,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Igor Kossov
Igor Kossov

Igor is a reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He has previously covered conflict in the Middle East, investigated corruption in Ukraine and man-made environmental damage in Southeast Asia. He has a Master’s in Journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and was published in the Kyiv Post, USA Today, The Atlantic, Daily Beast and Foreign Policy.

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