"Clown" in the Looking Glass
The dream of a pop "jester" came true. Vladimir Zelensky finally visited the White House, even received a long-awaited audience with the US president.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Grenholm attended the talks on the American side, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, U.S. Chargé d'affaires in Ukraine Christina Queen, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council for European Affairs Amanda Slot and Director of the National Security Council for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus Christopher Smith, reports The Moscow Post correspondent.
The team is solid, corresponding to the "weight" and the role of Ukraine in the stability of the post-Soviet space and, accordingly, the security of Europe. A spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Peskov the day before this meeting said that US President Joe Biden, during talks with the leader of Ukraine, could encourage him to follow the Minsk agreements.
"We are very carefully, of course, monitoring the results of this trip from the point of view that the United States can really use its influence on Mr. Zelensky in order to encourage him to nevertheless follow the path of implementing the Minsk agreements, as well as the agreements that were later reached in Paris," said Peskov.
He noted that Biden could also encourage Zelensky to abandon actions that could harm the Minsk settlement process. This is perhaps the main thing that interests the Kremlin and the inhabitants of Donbass.
Zelensky in the "parallel" reality
Unfortunately, the interests of the Kiev elite and the president of Ukraine representing it diverge from these guidelines.
"Today we will discuss how the United States can continue to support Ukraine as it moves forward, implementing a democratic reform program," the head of the White House said for a start and conveyed the word to the guest. After that, Biden, tired of issues of evacuation from Afghanistan, listened to a long "wish list," which was announced by the Ukrainian leader he invited. Minsk agreements or others reached in Paris were not on the list.
Zelensky's press conference to ask him why "the agreements were not on the list," observers also did not wait. Maybe it was the recommendation of the host party. The US journalistic community is burrowing, Biden and Afghanistan are all hearing. In some headlines, hatred runs through the White House. The provincial from Kiev, American journalists could easily "spin" so that the US president would also get.
And Biden already got it. The guest spoke for a long time about what was to be talked about together in the negotiations. Sovereignty, two million doses of donated vaccine, $60 million in military aid, condolences for the death of American soldiers in Kabul. It was in such a sequence, without pauses, that Zelensky tartoril passed through a comma, passing through a pre-prepared "leaflet of desires and expectations."
We also lose our heroes in the Donbass, "he added, apparently hoping to console the depressed leader of the superpower. More recently, Zelensky's mild warning that Ukraine and America will have to find answers to questions that interest Ukraine in the closed part of the negotiations. Back in June, Zelensky told reporters that he wanted Biden to say a clear yes or no regarding providing Ukraine with a plan to join NATO.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki answered this question at a regular briefing. Trying to imitate Dmitry Peskov and Maria Zakharova at the same time and taking the fire on herself, she said how she cut off: "The United States believes that Ukraine should fulfill a number of conditions for meeting the country's standards of the North Atlantic Alliance, while Washington cannot single-handedly decide on the membership of the state in NATO."
But the guest continued to nudge, calling security a priority, mentioning Donbass, Crimea, as well as the seas that wash them, inviting the United States to try its hand in these areas, as well as contribute to the release of Ukrainians from prisons in Donetsk and Moscow! Biden, tired even more, emphasized that the United States is still firmly committed to ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and automatically called the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass "Russian aggression."
The agreements reached in Minsk and Paris were not mentioned, at least in the open part of the negotiations. There was also no information on anti-corruption measures in Ukraine, although the White House has repeatedly emphasized that it expects tangible results from Ukraine in the fight against this evil. Apparently, the most interesting presidents left for private conversation.
As for security cooperation, the Biden administration has decided to support the provision of additional military assistance to Ukraine in the event of a possible escalation of its conflict with Russia. In addition, Biden expressed his intention to provide Ukraine with additional military equipment in the amount of $60 million. According to one of the sources, the package will include anti-tank systems, other "defensive lethal and non-lethal means."
According to administration sources, the United States and Ukraine will announce the resumption of the activities of the Strategic Partnership Commission established in 2008, which has not been convened for the past three years. Then Biden did not forget about this commission!
It is also reported that the US and Ukrainian ministries of defense signed a framework agreement on the strategic foundations of defense partnership.
Regarding Kiev's fears about Russia's use of natural gas as a weapon, the American side limited itself to promising "further efforts" to minimize the consequences of the Nord Stream-2 project. Earlier, a White House guest called Washington's inability to block the construction of a Russian gas pipeline to Germany to transport the "dirtiest gas in the world" a gross political mistake.
As a consolation, the United States offered Ukraine additional assistance in connection with the pandemic in the amount of $12.8 million. Earlier, Washington provided Kiev with assistance in the fight against the pandemic in the amount of 55 million dollars and handed over to Ukraine almost 2.2 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19.
Vladimir in the country of opportunities and promises
We may never know whether Vladimir Levinsky (as he was neglected or mistakenly named) managed to have fun with security, energy and gas pipelines. But inviting Americans to help in the economic transformation of the once rich "non-foreign" they should have flattered.
Volodymyr Zelensky presented the United States with a "ten-year plan for the transformation of Ukraine," worth $277 billion. The document entitled A Greater Justice and Opportunity - Building Prosperous and Resilient Ukraine, according to Zelensky, defines the development of Ukraine for the coming years as "an outpost of security, digital, infrastructure and agrarian hub."
The plan contains more than 80 "ambitious projects" that provide for financing from the state budget of Ukraine, as well as attracting international assistance programs, loans, investments, the Ukrainian president emphasized. Zelensky did not specify which programs include the plan.
But the visit to the United States still brought Zelensky relief. First, according to the Ukrainian leader himself, Biden personally supports Ukraine on the possibility of its entry into NATO. He stated this after negotiations with Biden, talking with reporters.
Secondly, in a joint statement on the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States, it was nevertheless noted that "Kiev and Washington are still opposed to the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, considering it as a threat to European energy security."
Moreover, at a meeting with the US Secretary of Energy, it was possible to note the importance of tripartite consultations with Germany and the United States on the continuation of gas transit through Ukrainian territory and thus ensuring the same energy security in the same Europe. Everything is slender, logical and, most importantly, understandable!
Thirdly, when you still have to visit the Pacific coast of the United States and run in the morning in shorts almost in front of the White House itself.