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30 Aug, 2021 12:32

Biden-Zelensky meeting postponed AGAIN after Ukrainian president blasts Western states for not sending leaders to Crimea summit

Biden-Zelensky meeting postponed AGAIN after Ukrainian president blasts Western states for not sending leaders to Crimea summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's team has revealed that the politician's long-awaited meeting with his American counterpart, Joe Biden, will have to be put off yet again, as other matters are prioritized in Washington DC.

Mikhail Podolyak, one of Zelensky's top advisers, revealed on Sunday that the visit to the US would not be going ahead as planned, the date being pushed back on the eve of departure. The tete-a-tete will now take place on Wednesday.

The news comes after the White House had confirmed earlier this month that it would be postponing from the Monday until the Tuesday of the chosen week. The trip has reportedly taken more than two years to agree, with Zelensky having failed to to secure a meeting with Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump.

On this occasion, however, recent international developments are said to be the cause for the last-minute change of plans, with the implication that the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan takes precedence. The White House reportedly made the request since the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is to be completed on August 31.

“Given the unpredictability and intensity of the situation in Afghanistan, there can be no ambiguities about the fact that the American side needs to focus on this topic on this day,” Podolyak told RBC-Ukraine. He said meeting a day later would have its advantages, as “Ukraine will become a key newsmaker on the American agenda.”

This alteration in the schedule comes after both sides assured each other and the rest of the world that the meeting would not be delayed further. “As of now, there are no indicators from Washington about the possibility of postponing the visit,”  Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Kuleba said last week. “Yesterday, Washington continued active preparations for the visit of the President of Ukraine from the American side.”

As for the focus of the summit, Kuleba noted that documents in the fields of trade and defense are ready for signing and that the meeting “will bring relations between Ukraine and the United States to a new level.”

The alteration in the agenda has apparently caused clashes with other meetings that Zelensky was due to have. "Some will take place earlier than originally planned, others later," the president's spokesman said. "The program has completely changed, but this does not mean that anything has been dropped."

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Last week, Zelensky criticized a number Western nations for not sending their top leadership to a conference organized by Kiev to discuss re-taking the Crimean peninsula, re-absorbed by Russia in 2014. According to him, international support is required to “force Russia to sit down at the negotiating table.” However, “Many leaders are very afraid,” Zelensky said. “You know all the leaders who support Ukraine... sympathize with this cause. But for the Crimean Platform, we invited these leaders to attend. And so you can see they are afraid, they are afraid of Russia."

While a number of countries, including Poland and the Baltic nations, were represented at presidential level, most other European states elected to send a foreign minister instead. Germany and the US deputized the visit to their energy ministers.

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