WASHINGTON — President Biden on Monday invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit the White House sometime this summer, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
The announcement came after Zelensky, a former comedian who was elected president of Ukraine in 2019, aired his grievances to the press over the weekend with regard to Biden’s decision making on Russia.
He condemned Biden’s failure to stymie development of a major Russian pipeline, and urged the U.S. president to meet with him before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16, the final stop on Biden’s upcoming European tour. Biden has said his trip to the continent is about “rallying the world’s democracies.”
Zelensky told Axios he was surprised and disappointed that Biden had not done more to prevent the development of Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline that would allow Russia to further isolate Ukraine. Zelensky called the project “a real weapon ... in the hands of the Russian Federation.”
A White House spokesperson told Axios that the administration regularly consults Ukrainian officials about Nord Stream 2 and will continue to do so.
On Monday afternoon, during the daily White House press briefing, Sullivan told reporters that he had just left the Oval Office, where Biden had been on the phone with Zelensky.
During the preplanned call, Sullivan said, “they had an opportunity to talk at some length about all of the issues in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and President Biden was able to tell President Zelensky that he will stand up firmly for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its aspirations as we go forward.”
Since 2014, when Moscow invaded the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine has been in conflict with Russia. The standoff has heated up in recent months as Russia amassed a large military force along the Ukrainian border. Russia has long posed a threat to Ukraine, ranging from disinformation to active fighting. As a result, Zelensky has pushed for a pathway for Kyiv to join NATO. During Monday’s briefing, Sullivan declined to comment on whether Zelensky had asked to join NATO during his call with Biden.
Biden will host NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on Monday afternoon, prior to a June 14 meeting in Brussels between all 30 members of the military alliance, which was originally established to defend Western Europe against potential invasion from the Soviet Union.
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