President Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House later today for their long-awaited – and previously postponed – first in-person meeting.
During the sit-down, Biden is expected to push the Ukrainian leader to tackle corruption — despite claims of Ukraine-based corruption involving his own son Hunter Biden — and show support for the country’s sovereignty in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Crimea.
Biden also plans to reassure Zelensky that the US will help protect Ukraine’s energy security.
Meanwhile, Zelensky, who found himself embroiled in Donald Trump’s first impeachment, is seeking increased military aid and backing for Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership.
The meeting was postponed two days ago as a result of the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Zelensky, who took office in 2019, is just the latest Ukrainian president to promise to tackle corruption.
Ukraine’s widespread corruption has been a thorny matter for Biden.
As vice president, Biden led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy as his son Hunter Biden earned a reported $83,000 per month on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma — despite having no industry experience.
In 2019, Biden declared: “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”
Documents from a laptop formerly belonging to Hunter Biden, however, suggested he had introduced his father to a Burisma executive during a visit to the US back in 2015.
Emails published by The Post indicated the elder Biden attended a dinner at DC’s Cafe Milano with the Burisma exec, and Hunter Biden business associates from Russia and Kazakhstan.
Zelensky found himself ensnared in Trump’s 2019 impeachment after the then-president suggested Ukrainian authorities should investigate the Bidens for alleged corruption. The Senate late acquitted Trump of allegedly abusing his power.
During Wednesday’s White House meeting, Biden wants assurances from Zelensky that he remains committed to tackling systemic corruption and following through on a range of reforms, according to a senior U.S. administration official.
Zelensky is looking for new economic and military assistance in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Crimea and backing of armed separatists in the country’s east.
Prior to the meeting, the Biden administration had already said it was committing up to $60 million in new military aid to Ukraine.
Zelensky has indicated he wants a clear statement from Biden on whether he supports eventual NATO membership for Ukraine.
The US official, however, refused to say whether Biden would support Ukraine’s NATO aspirations.
In April, Russia sent a fleet of over 20 warships to launch multiple cruise missiles in the Black Sea — days after defying President Biden’s demand that the nation drop its military offensive against neighboring Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently closed off the Kerch Strait to foreign warships until next fall.
The Kremlin has continued to increase its military presence in the region, specifically with its naval ships in the Black Sea.
This month, the Kremlin and the Chinese Communist Party also held a large-scale joint military exercise in north-central China involving more than 10,000 troops.
With Post wires