US Secretary of State Visits Kyiv, Reconfirms US Support for Ukraine
31 January, 2020
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) meets U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Kyiv, Ukraine on January 31, 2020. Office of the President of Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kyiv on January 31, meeting with various top Ukrainian officials, including the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The meeting, which lasted for an hour, discussed the Donbas conflict, military aid to Ukraine, and growing American investment in the country.

“You know, relations between Kyiv and Washington remain strong, and they’re based on total trust, understanding, and our long-standing mutual strategic interests,” said the Ukrainian president at a press conference following the meeting, adding that U.S. aid to Ukraine in 2020 will total approximately $700 million. 

Zelenskyy also raised Ukraine’s purchase contract for U.S. anti-tank Javelin missiles, calling it a “historical milestone” and setting the purchase as a “new form of partnership” between the two countries. This would mark the second purchase of Javelins from the U.S. However, the first batch of missiles has not been used in the six year Donbas conflict in the country’s east against Russian forces, but instead are subject to Trump administration restrictions that only authorize their use in the case of a major escalation of the conflict.

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“The Ukrainian government today has not a single doubt towards the strategic partnership with the United States of America,” added the president.

Pompeo, during the press conference, reaffirmed the official U.S. position of supporting Ukraine, calling Ukraine’s role as a “fortress between Europe and authoritarianism.” Pompeo also affirmed U.S. support for Ukraine’s goals for joining NATO and the E.U., and stated that the “U.S. will never recognize the annexation of Crimea.”

And when the press conference turned to questions on impeachment, Zelenskyy was careful to state that the “relations between our two countries are very good,” pivoting the answer to reemphasize the “numerous new contracts” signed at the meeting.

“We’re doing everything to deepen our relationship. We’re doing everything to increase investment,” stated Zelenskyy.

Pompeo, answering a question about a possible White House meeting between U.S. president Donald Trump and Zelenskyy stated that “there were no conditions” in order for the two to meet. This has been an oft-repeated line of defense by the Trump administration against accusations, raised in Trump’s impeachment trial, that Zelensky’s government would first need to announce an investigation into energy company Burisma and Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. But evidence provided in the impeachment trial has contradicted the Trump administration’s statements, and further reporting has established that Zelensky had in fact been preparing to go on U.S. news network CNN to announce the investigations, prior to whistleblower allegations about undue pressure by Trump. 

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Zelenskyy stated that he was “ready to go [to the White House] tomorrow,” but pointed out that this meeting should not simply occur for the sake of appearances, and only when there are specific questions and proposals to discuss.  

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/By Romeo Kokriatski