Biden Affirms Military Support For Ukraine Ahead Of Putin Meeting

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The U.S. will deliver 900,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to Ukraine and will continue to support the country’s sovereignty against Russian aggression, President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a Monday phone call.

The U.S. has promised to send 80 million coronavirus vaccine doses as aide to nations across the globe. Biden’s call with Zelensky comes roughly a week before he is scheduled to meet face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16. (RELATED: REPORT: ‘A Gift To Putin’: GOP House Members Rip Biden For Scrapping Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Sanctions)

“President Biden affirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggression in Donbas and Crimea,” the statement read.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a joint news briefing with Polish President Andrzej Duda (not pictured) as they meet in Kyiv, Ukraine October 12, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Pool/File Photo

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a joint news briefing with Polish President Andrzej Duda (not pictured) as they meet in Kyiv, Ukraine October 12, 2020. (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Pool/File Photo)

Putin ordered a military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern border in April, alarming both Ukrainian and U.S. military officials. Putin had annexed parts of Crimea in a 2014 conflict during President Barack Obama’s presidency. Putin backed off and deescalated the buildup by the end of April, however.

Putin has also begun posturing ahead of the June 16 meeting, attacking the U.S. as hypocritical on human rights due to its treatment of pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Zelensky told Axios on Friday that he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by Biden’s decision to waive sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany.

“When President Biden meets with President Putin in Geneva, he will stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as he has done in both of his earlier calls to President Putin,” a White House spokesperson told Axios, according to the report.

Biden plans to press Putin on Ukraine as well as recent hacking attacks against the U.S. that have originated from Russia-based hacking groups, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

The U.S. has named a number of hacking groups based in Russia as responsible for ransomware attacks against Colonial Pipeline and JBS, the world’s largest meat producer. Psaki declined to say whether Russia has offered any assistance in tracking down the hacking groups. (RELATED: Biden’s Intel Chief Releases 2020 Election Report Confirming Russian And Iranian Interference)

“Is it President Biden’s view that President Putin can stop these attacks, these hacks, from occurring if he wanted to?” a reporter asked during Wednesday briefing at the White House.

“President Biden certainly thinks that President Putin and the Russian government has a role to play in stopping and preventing these attacks,” Psaki said.

Republicans members of Congress sent a letter to Biden on Monday criticizing the administration’s decision to lift sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“Waiving sanctions for Nord Stream 2 ‘because it’s almost completely finished’ is the wrong message to our allies and partners and undermines our credibility and global leadership,” the 68 members of Congress wrote.