Espreso. Global

Biden's visit to France set as likely backdrop for meeting with Zelenskyy. Vitaliy Portnykov’s column

6 June, 2024 Thursday

Today, US President Joseph Biden begins his multi-day visit to France. This is a state visit of the American president to France, alongside his participation in commemorations for the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy, a pivotal event in World War II


However, Biden's visit will also likely serve as a backdrop for his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Moreover, a trilateral informal summit of the presidents of the United States, France, and Ukraine may take place during Biden's visit.

The heads of state have a lot to talk about. It would certainly be important for Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ask Joseph Biden what he meant when he said that it is not necessary to accept Ukraine into NATO to end Russia's war against Ukraine and to keep Ukraine on the political map of the world. And here, of course, the question remains: how does the US president see the preservation of Ukrainian statehood and guarantees that Russia will not continue the war, agree to suspend it, and will not start it again if Ukraine does not have any effective security guarantees from the civilized world?

After all, since World War II, NATO membership has been a cornerstone for ensuring a country's presence on the political map of the world. While there are neutral states entirely surrounded by NATO countries, Ukrainian political geography presents a different scenario.

The leaders of Ukraine, the United States, and France should also discuss another fundamental point related to French President Emmanuel Macron's statements about the possibility of NATO troops being present on Ukrainian soil. As you know, the French president made this statement on the second anniversary of Putin's major attack on our country. And later he emphasized that such a presence could take place if the very existence of the Ukrainian state is threatened by an existential danger and if the Ukrainian government asks its allies for such a presence.

Let me remind you that the destruction of Ukrainian statehood and the annexation of Ukrainian lands to Russia has been and remains the main political goal of the Russian leader and tens of millions of his compatriots who are sincerely convinced that historically Russia should exist within the borders of the former Soviet Union. And this, by the way, is already being openly discussed by Western politicians who realize Putin's true goal and the extent of his revanchist ambitions. However, President Joe Biden remains among those Western leaders who rule out the possibility of Western troops on Ukrainian soil. And we have not heard a clear endorsement of this proposal from the president of Ukraine either.

These are just a few of the fundamental issues that should have been agreed upon between the presidents of the United States, France, and Ukraine. I'm not talking about the issue of allowing Western weapons to be used to strike the so-called sovereign territory of the Russian Federation. Now there is talk that Ukrainian troops can use such weapons to destroy Russian forces in the border regions with Ukraine. However, Russia's entire military potential, aimed at destroying a neighboring state, remains intact on the territory far from these borders.

The United States also does not allow long-range missiles to be used to strike Russian territory. And this raises the question: how much longer will we live in a world of political schizophrenia when Ukraine is free to use Western weapons for any strikes on its own occupied territories, which, from the point of view of Russian constitutional law, are the same territory of the country as Bryansk, Kursk or Voronezh regions, and will there be a moment when we realize that the destruction of the entire Russian military and economic potential, burning factories, airfields and military units is a direct path to the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war, to Putin and his inner circle realizing the futility of continuing hostilities and betting on a war of attrition for Ukraine. This is also a very important point to mention when analyzing the agenda of the meetings between the presidents of the United States, France, and Ukraine.

Of course, the heads of state also need to coordinate their positions on how they see the situation with regard to Western support for Ukraine. The meeting between the Presidents of the United States and France and the President of Ukraine will take place just before the Group of Seven Summit in Italy. It is clear that this summit will also coordinate joint actions of the countries of the civilized world to further confront Russia. This summit will also be attended by influential leaders of the Global South, such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose economic cooperation with Russia affects Russia's energy potential and its ability to turn oil into military plants, airplanes, tanks, and shells. And here, too, the influence of Western countries on the countries of the Global South is quite important. Because we understand that if there is no such influence, if the countries of the Global South continue to have fruitful economic cooperation with Russia, this will at least allow Putin to conclude that a long-term war with Ukraine is possible and that the effect of Western sanctions against Russia will be minimized.

Of course, the trilateral summit of the presidents of the United States, France, and Ukraine, if it takes place during Joseph Biden's stay in France, will be just one of the important pages related to US-Ukrainian cooperation. And there will be a lot of questions about the period that the United States is currently going through, a period of fierce election campaigning. After all, the US president is returning to the US immediately after these European meetings to take part in a campaign rally to raise funds for his election campaign. This ultimately demonstrates today's American political priorities, what will happen until November 2024. And it is also very important for us that during this difficult period, the US administration does not forget about Ukraine or fear that the Ukrainian issue will somehow interfere with the election campaign of the current US president.


About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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