Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine speaking in the "Special Address by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine" session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, January 22, 2020. Congress Hall World Economic Forum / Boris Baldinger

The two Presidents met today in the White House, where the U.S. President guaranteed to stand behind Ukraine in its current conflict with Russia. 

The meeting had been underway for months with the Ukrainian side hoping to achieve both security guarantees against Russia and economic support from the U.S. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today met with the U.S. President Joe Biden in the White House, where Biden made it clear that Ukraine has the support of the U.S.

“The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and our support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Biden told the Ukrainian president in the Oval Office, according to Radio Liberty, “The partnership between our nations grows stronger, and it’s going to even become stronger than it has been.”

Biden, however, also made it clear that Ukraine isn’t ready for NATO membership. Previously, Ukraine had been pushing for membership and Zelensky has said that Ukraine is indeed ready and has done much more to achieve membership than some current NATO members. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also made it clear after the meeting that Ukraine still has much to do such as fighting corruption within the country. 

Zelensky had also hoped that the U.S. would be willing to get involved in direct peace negotiations with Russia in the so-called Normandie Format with Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia. Biden, however, did not indicate that he is willing to enter these negotiations. 

After the meeting, the White House, however, released a statement saying that the U.S. will support Ukraine with another military aid package of $60 million, which comes on top of the annual $400 million provided to help the Ukrainian military. 

“Russia’s buildup along the Ukrainian border has highlighted capability shortfalls in the Ukrainian military’s ability to defend against a Russian incursion,” the White House said in the statement, “… Ukraine’s significant capability gaps must be urgently addressed to reinforce deterrence in light of the current Russian threat.”

Will help tackle corruption

While Biden was reluctant to grant Ukraine NATO membership, he said that he will do what he can to support Ukraines “democratic reforms agenda and movement toward being completely integrated in Europe.” The U.S. also said that it will provide Ukraine with more Covid-19 vaccines.

UBN writes that the U.S. and Ukraine also signed a Strategic Defense Framework agreement, which will increase cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense with focus on a future NATO membership. Among other things, the U.S. will help train Ukrainian soldiers, help develop the Ukrainian defense industry and support the needed reforms of the Ukrainian Armed Forces – also with focus on the Black Sea. 

The two parties also signed an agreement about cooperation in the field of science and the development of technology with focus on the military. Furthermore, the two parties will also deepen their cooperation in the field of space technology. 

The U.S. and Ukraine will also start a dialogue on the issues of energy and climate. Ukraine is trying to transform its energy sector to meet the future demands for green energy and the U.S. could play a role in this. Zelensky had prior to the meeting said that he also wanted to discuss the issue of Nord Stream 2 with Biden, and, according to UBN, Biden said that it is important to prevent Russia from using its gas as a weapon against Ukraine.

On top of that, the two parties also agreed to enhance border security such as the sharing of information about travellers to screen them and identify potential terrorist threats and criminals. Zelensky also had a meeting with the President of the World Bank. The World Bank agreed to support Ukraine with its landreform and the agricultural sector overall plus its infrastructure, banking sector and energy programs.