President Biden will meet at the White House with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Aug. 30, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
The visit will affirm the nation’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” Ms. Psaki said in a statement.
The visit also will rekindle criticism of the Biden family’s cozy relations with Ukraine. During the campaign, Mr. Biden weathered criticism about his son Hunter Biden making $1 million a year for serving on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The younger Biden scored the gig while his father spearheaded Ukraine policy as vice president in the Obama administration.
Ms. Psaki said the meeting also will focus on energy cooperation and efforts to tackle corruption in Ukraine.
The visit was originally scheduled to take place in July, but the White House pushed it back to August.
The last time Mr. Zelensky pressed to get a White House visit in 2019, it precipitated a phone call that ultimately led to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment. In the July 2019 call, Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation in the Biden’s dealing in Ukraine.
The House impeached Mr. Trump for abusing the power of his office. He was acquitted by the Senate.
This time, the White House is trying to keep the focus on U.S. policy in Eastern Europe.
Tensions remain high between Ukraine and Russia including friction over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Ukraine has raised alarms about the project, which would deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany via a pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Mr. Zelensky has said the project undercuts Ukraine’s role as a leading energy producer in the region.
But Germany and Russia have pushed for the completion of Nord Stream 2. Germany says the pipeline is necessary for its energy needs, while Russia sees it as a way to exert increased influence over Europe.
The Biden administration this week asked Ukraine to pipe down about its objections to the pipeline, angering some Ukraine officials, according to media reports.
The administration, which has opposed the pipeline, is said to be close to reaching an agreement with Germany and fear Ukraine‘s complaints could upset delicate negotiations.
Administration officials even urged Ukrainian officials not to vent their frustration to members of Congress for that reason, Politico reported this week.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, slammed the Biden administration for hosting Mr. Zelensky during the August recess when Congress is not in session.
“The White House pushed the visit from July to the August recess. President Zelensky won’t be able to engage members of Congress, who on a bipartisan basis oppose Biden‘s surrender to Putin on Nord Stream 2. Probably just a coincidence,” he tweeted.