Ukrainian President Zelenskiy says Biden should have met him before Putin summit

WION Web Team
Kiev, UkraineUpdated: Jun 14, 2021, 11:01 PM IST
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This combination of file pictures shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden Photograph:(AFP)

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Zelenskiy said he received assurances that Biden would not use Ukraine as a bargaining tool in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky Monday said US President Joe Biden should have met him before his high-profile summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin as they could resolve nothing on Ukraine without Kiev at the table.

The 43-year-old leader spoke to journalists as the US and Russian presidents prepare to hold their first summit meeting in Geneva on Wednesday. 

"It would be better to have this meeting before the summit of the two presidents," Zelensky said in an interview.

Zelenskiy said he received assurances that Biden would not use Ukraine as a bargaining tool in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.

He called on the United States to provide economic support to Ukraine and urged both Biden and the International Monetary Fund to be understanding of Ukraine's problems before placing "unfair" reform demands on his presidency.

"If we are talking about NATO and the MAP, I would really like to get (from Biden) specifics - yes or no," Zelenskiy said, referring to the Membership Action Plans given to candidate countries, which Ukraine has long sought. "We must get clear dates and the likelihood of this for Ukraine."

Zelenskiy was speaking on the same day as NATO members met for a one-day summit in Brussels. Ukraine has expressed disappointment in not being invited to the meeting.

Zelenskiy has urged NATO members to accelerate Ukraine's entry into the alliance after a standoff with Russia this year that saw Russia mass additional troops and military equipment near Ukraine's borders.

"Every day we prove that we are ready to be in the alliance more than most of the countries of the European Union," he said.

Zelenskiy said most of Russia's troops had yet to withdraw, and that Russia was dragging its feet on facilitating a meeting with Putin for no clear reason. About 11,000 troops had left and 95,000 remained, he estimated.

Biden and Zelenskiy spoke by phone last week ahead of Biden's summit with Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

Zelenskiy was finally granted a long-sought for invitation to the White House in July though he said he regretted not being able to meet Biden in person before Biden met Putin.

"He (Biden) said 'I will never trade ... Ukraine's interests'," Zelenskiy said.

Zelenskiy said Ukraine had done everything necessary to earn a NATO membership plan, which Ukraine sees as a vital deterrent against Russia but Moscow fiercely opposes.

He expects Ukraine to secure a much-delayed IMF tranche to be disbursed by the autumn though added that Ukraine could still "live normally" without one.

Zelenskiy said an eventual meeting with Putin was "inevitable". He did not rule out another flare-up in the coming months though in his assessment Russia was not looking to provoke a "full-scale war".

Ukraine has fought Russian-backed forces in a conflict in the eastern Donbass region that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.

(With inputs from agencies)