Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is leaving for the United States on a visit, the main event of which will be his meeting with President Joe Biden. The decisive event in Kyiv’s relations with its main ally will take place in the extreme conditions of the end of the 20-year American presence in Afghanistan and the threat of new terrorist attacks.
The failure of the Afghan campaign has pushed the US Ukrainian agenda to the background. In turn, Kyiv expects that Joe Biden, who desperately needs a quick diplomatic victory, will become more accommodating on issues of cooperation in the field of security and will meet halfway on the issue of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline.
The working visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States, which begins on Monday, will be the final stage of his diplomatic marathon at the end of August: it was preceded by negotiations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Kyiv and the holding of the Crimean Platform international forum there (Kommersant wrote about this).
Preparations for the visit, which Kyiv has been eagerly awaiting all year, began in the first days of August when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba and head of the President’s office Andriy Yermak flew to Washington. “The presidents have a number of big topics. But whatever they are, there will be no “raised tones” or any kind of blackmail.
There will be a conversation between the allies, who are working together to resolve the complex problems of security and prosperity of Ukraine, Europe, and the Euro-Atlantic space, ”Dmitry Kuleba promised then. He made it clear that Kyiv does not intend to focus on disagreements with the US administration over the painful issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, although he expressed his disappointment with Joe Biden’s agreements with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Of course, I am not delighted with this agreement, if I can call it that, and the format in which it was reached,” Volodymyr Zelensky said after that in an interview with the Washington Post.
During a meeting at the White House, Mr. Zelenskiy promised to once again ask Joe Biden to prevent the pipeline from starting up.
Already before the departure of Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy promised that the visit would be as eventful as possible. “The program in the USA is scheduled by the minute. For the first time in 30 years of independence, the President of Ukraine will visit the west coast, namely the state of California. The state of California is the hub of the IT giants and the aerospace industry.
At the scheduled meetings, they will talk about investments in the IT-sphere and the space industry, ”Dmitry Kuleba explained to the Ukraine 24 TV channel, promising to sign a number of documents on cooperation in the field of security, defense, and trade, which“ will bring relations between Ukraine and the United States to a new level “.
According to the deputy head of the presidential office, Roman Mashovets, who met on Friday with the US Embassy’s Defense and Defense Attaché in Kyiv, Brittany Stewart, three documents on defense partnership will be signed in Washington.
In addition, as reported with reference to the office of President Zelensky, Ukrainian media outlets, during a trip to California, Volodymyr Zelensky may meet with entrepreneur Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as deliver a lecture at Stanford University about the Babi Yar tragedy.
In general, the Ukrainian side identifies three blocks of issues for discussion in Washington.
As part of the political bloc, Volodymyr Zelensky will seek to achieve a new level of a strategic partnership with the United States, which has been in effect since 2008.
Discussion of the second, economic block is intended to stimulate the flow of American investments to Ukraine, including in the aerospace industry and the military-industrial complex.
The third block concerns the intensification of bilateral defense cooperation to contain Russia. “This is opposition to the Russian aggressor, the issue of Donbas, the issue of Crimea, where and how we will move. We will be discussing a few very specific ideas, I cannot share them yet. The conversation on this issue was substantive, ”explained Dmitry Kuleba.
The expectations of the American side from the meeting of Joe Biden and Vladimir Zelensky were outlined last Friday at a briefing at the White House by the press secretary of the US President Jen Psaki. “The visit will reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in Donbas and Crimea, our close cooperation on energy security, and our support for President Zelenskiy’s efforts to implement reforms and fight corruption,” said Ms. Psaki.
On the same day, US President Joe Biden ordered to allocate assistance to Ukraine in the amount of up to $ 60 million at the expense of the Pentagon. President Biden said in a statement: “With the power, I have in accordance with the US Constitution, I delegate to the Secretary of State the authority to spend up to $ 60 million on defense products and services of the Ministry of Defense, as well as on military education and training to assist Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, the decisive event in Kyiv’s relations with its main ally will take place in the extreme conditions of the end of the 20-year American presence in Afghanistan and the threat of new terrorist attacks after a series of attacks last Thursday, for which the terrorist organization Islamic State, banned in Russia, claimed responsibility and carried away lives of 13 American servicemen.
On Sunday, the day before the start of President Zelensky’s visit to the United States, the Pentagon announced a drone strike on a suicide bomber who was preparing a new terrorist attack in Kabul.
Considering the multiply increased threat to US security and the need to take urgent measures in order to minimize the huge costs of the Afghan fiasco, the course of Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to the United States will largely depend on the events in the Afghan direction that will take place before and during his stay in the country.
The meeting was initially postponed from August 30 to August 31 – the “historic day” of the end of the 20-year American military presence in Afghanistan and the completion of the evacuation of civilian personnel from the country. Meanwhile, on Sunday evening there was information that the negotiations were postponed again. Now on September 1st.
The Afghan fiasco will stimulate Washington to seek some kind of quick diplomatic PR victory, ”said Konstantin Eliseev, the former deputy head of the presidential administration of Ukraine.
According to him, Volodymyr Zelensky should use this situation “to advance the security interests of Ukraine, including through the status of a special ally and a bilateral security deal.”
However, as Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kyiv Center for Political Studies and Conflictology, explained to Kommersant, in the current situation there is not a single direction in which the US administration could playback its failure in Afghanistan in the Ukrainian direction. “It is no longer possible to block Nord Stream 2, and the United States cannot guarantee the prolongation of the transit of Russian gas. As for Donbass, the United States cannot go against its European allies and give Kiev the go-ahead to abandon the Minsk agreements, ”the expert notes.