Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 16 June 2021
Ukraine Is Afraid of Biden-Putin Meeting
Ukrainian state authorities are right to be fearful of the outcomes of the meeting of the U.S. and Russian leaders. Earlier, the U.S. administration had given the green light to Russia to complete Nord Stream 2 without notifying Ukraine. The U.S. leader Joe Biden also ignored an appeal from Volodymyr Zelensky for a meeting before talks with Vladimir Putin. Ukraine said it would not accept any agreements reached in discussions in Geneva.
A day before the Geneva summit, Ukrainian top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv was not expecting any deals on Ukraine reached during the Biden-Putin meeting. “We have made it very clear to our partners that we will recognize no agreements on Ukraine reached without Ukraine,” Kuleba said at a joint press conference with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde. Kuleba added that Moscow pulled nearly 12,000 troops out of 100,000 of the border and occupied Crimea and Donbas. Right before the meeting in Geneva, Washington made some decisions that Kyiv might have seen as mild towards Russia. For example, it lifted sanctions on the company constructing Nord Stream and its chief executive and a former East German intelligence officer. Another example is an amended readout from the Ukrainian government on the phone call between the U.S. and Ukrainian leaders on June 7, 2021. Zelensky’s office initially reported on its official website that Biden had “highlighted the importance of providing the Ukrainian state with a NATO Membership Action Plan.” Yet the White House said in a statement Biden had made no mention on the MAP, but affirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.” In consequence, Ukrainian state authorities corrected the record. Moscow was pleased with the incident although Biden invited Zelensky to the White House in July. On June 14, Zelensky told major news agencies that it would be better if Biden met him before the summit with Vladimir Putin, and not after, as the U.S. leader had announced. If the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline were completed, Ukraine would like to receive guarantees of its security, in particular by withdrawing Russian troops from its territory, Kuleba said on June 15. He assessed that the main obstacle in providing the Ukrainian state with the MAP is the reluctance to send this signal to Russia. At the latest NATO meeting, its leaders reiterated the decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance with the Membership Action Plan as an integral part of the process. One is particularly important here. The U.S. decision to send U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon to the Black Sea has not drawn protest from Russia. This is as if the Kremlin was not afraid of a real enhanced U.S. military support to Ukraine.
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