Biden to Meet With Zelensky as Ukraine Seeks Revival on Battlefield

Biden to Meet With Zelensky as Ukraine Seeks Revival on Battlefield

President Biden plans to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Friday at a critical juncture in the war with Russia as the two allies seek ways to reverse the momentum on the battlefield.

The two presidents are to sit down in Paris where they are participating in ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that helped turn the tide against Nazi Germany in World War II. Mr. Biden will travel later in the day back to Normandy to deliver a speech honoring U.S. soldiers and linking that long-ago war to today’s conflict in Ukraine.

The meeting, the first between the American and Ukrainian leaders since December, comes just days after Mr. Biden gave permission to Ukraine to use U.S.-provided weapons to fire into Russian territory, a reversal after more than two years of limits intended to avoid an escalation with a nuclear-powered adversary.

But Mr. Biden loosened the restrictions only enough to authorize strikes against military targets just over the border in the northeast to defend Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Long-range strikes deeper into Russia are still banned.

Mr. Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials remain frustrated at the restraint and are seeking more latitude from Mr. Biden. The Ukrainians are also disappointed that Mr. Biden will not attend a peace summit in Switzerland on June 15 organized by Mr. Zelensky. Vice President Kamala Harris and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, are to attend instead.

Even though it did not meet all of Mr. Zelensky’s wishes, Mr. Biden’s reversal on the use of U.S. weapons against targets inside Russia — a tactic also endorsed by other NATO countries — provoked a predictably prickly response from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who suggested a tit-for-tat retaliation.

Speaking with reporters in St. Petersburg, Mr. Putin suggested this week that such a move meant that Russia had “the right to send our weapons of the same class to those regions of the world where strikes can be made on sensitive facilities of the countries that do this against Russia.”

The United States has been the most important supplier of arms to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. But Mr. Biden has at times been slow to provide more sophisticated weaponry for fear of provoking an escalation with Moscow, and House Republican leaders blocked additional military aid for six months, leaving Ukrainian defenders scraping for ammunition and weapons just as Russia was pressing forward with fierce assaults.

Congress finally passed a $61 billion aid package in April and the weapons are now flowing again.

The session with Mr. Zelensky will be the first of two in coming days for Mr. Biden, who also plans to see his Ukrainian counterpart at the Group of 7 meeting later next week in Italy.

“It’s a signal of the depth of our commitment to Ukraine at this vital moment,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters this week. “And this opportunity for the president and Zelensky to sit down twice will really allow them to go deep on every aspect and every issue in the war.”

Mr. Biden’s speech on Friday afternoon in Normandy is meant to further link the struggle to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny with the effort to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression eight decades later, extending a theme he articulated at a ceremony on Thursday.

He will speak from Pointe du Hoc, where Army Rangers scaled 100-foot-tall cliffs on D-Day to take out a suspected German gun emplacement, one of the most daring moments of the invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944.

In doing so, Mr. Biden will follow in the footsteps of President Ronald Reagan, who delivered one of the most memorable speeches of his presidency at Pointe du Hoc in 1984, and make a similar case for American leadership and democracy on the world stage at a time of isolationist strains at home.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optimized by Optimole