President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Monday and invited him to the White House this summer, offering a show of support for Ukraine ahead of a high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“They had the 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,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday.
“He also told President Zelensky that he looks forward to welcoming him to the White House in Washington this summer after he returns from Europe,” Sullivan said.
Biden is scheduled to travel to Europe for his first foreign trip as president on Wednesday. He will meet with Group of Seven (G-7) countries in the U.K., attend a NATO summit and meet with European leaders in Brussels and finally travel to Geneva where he will meet face to face with Putin on June 16.
In an interview with Axios published over the weekend, Zelensky urged Biden to meet with him before meeting with Putin next week.
Biden’s decision to call Zelensky in advance of the trip represented an effort by the White House to demonstrate support for Ukraine and signaled that Biden would defend Ukraine and raise concerns about Russia’s continued occupation of the Crimean peninsula during his meeting with Putin.
Biden spoke with Zelensky once before in April and has raised concerns with Putin about Russian aggression in Ukraine, particularly as Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s border earlier this year.
Despite Zelensky’s appeal for a meeting, Sullivan did not say that Biden would meet with him before the summit with Putin.
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