- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2021

Maybe it’s safer to be the host, not the guest.

An attempt to secure an Oval Office visit for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy landed Ukraine smack in the middle of President Trump’s first impeachment drama in 2019, so Ukraine’s top diplomat said Thursday the push is on to get President Biden to come to Kyiv instead.

Speaking to a webinar organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis, Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmitro Kuleba said it would be a top priority of Kyiv’s new ambassador to Washington to extend an invitation for the new U.S. president to visit.

“We haven’t had the pleasure of hosting an American president since 2008,” Mr. Kuleba said. “Given our dynamic partnership, we believe it is high time we do that.”

He noted that Ukraine is marking the 30th anniversary of its independence, achieved with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There was no word from the White House on a possible trip. Mr. Biden held his first “virtual” summit with a foreign leader just this week, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Both Kyiv and Washington may have some sensitivities about a face-to-face meeting, despite strong bipartisan support for Ukraine in the face of pressure from Moscow.

Mr. Zelenskiy’s persistent efforts to secure the White House meeting — in large part as a signal to Russia of U.S. support — became entangled in Mr. Trump’s push for more information on Mr. Biden’s own dealings with Ukraine as vice president and the business interests his son Hunter Biden had established in the Ukrainian energy sector.

Mr. Zelenskiy’s June 2019 phone call to Mr. Trump after the U.S. put a freeze on a major arms package was the spark for an investigation that led to the first of two impeachments, both of which led to the president’s acquittal. Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelenskiy eventually had a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the September 2019 U.N. General Assembly gathering in New York.

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