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Zelensky: Joe Biden Doesn’t Control His Own Schedule

In an interview with the New York Post that came out on Tuesday, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, said he hoped his left-leaning American counterpart, Joe Biden, would visit his country, but he didn't think Biden was in charge of his own travel plans.

When asked if he was "hopeful" that Biden would show up in Kyiv, Zelensky said, "I don't know, that's up to him. I mean, it's not even his choice; it's about his safety, and it's up to them."

Zelensky has asked Biden to come to Ukraine many times, but Biden has refused. Last year, Zelensky asked Biden to meet with him to talk about a possible invasion. Instead, Biden chose to meet with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

In the interview, which Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska also took part in, Morgan seemed to try to put Zelensky down in front of his wife several times. He asked Zelensky to apologize to his wife for not telling her he would run for president of Ukraine in 2019, asked if their marriage is tense, and then asked Zelensky if he knew his wife was too beautiful for him. Morgan also asked important questions about how the war was going and how the U.S. related to Ukraine.

Zelensky told Morgan that if Biden came to Ukraine, it would be a "great sign" of support for the people there.

“This would be the highest support. And we had huge support from the first lady. She met with Olena, and it was the correct visit,” the president said, referring to First Lady Jill Biden’s surprise Mother’s Day visit to Kyiv in May. “Very, I would say, unexpected. I would say we were waiting for it a lot, but we didn’t expect it to happen. These are very important things.”

Zelensky said he would like a visit from Biden "very much," but "that's up to him." I mean, it's not even his choice; it's about his safety, and it's up to them." Zelensky said that he thought Biden would come if he could make his own plans.

In the interview with tabloid journalist Piers Morgan, Zelensky admitted that he had had conversations with Biden that were less than "diplomatic." He also said that no help from the U.S. would be enough for Ukraine until the latest invasion by Russia was over. Russia first invaded and colonized parts of Ukraine in 2014.

“I can tell you that the help would not be sufficient until the war is over, and until we win,” Zelensky said. “A few times I’ve spoken with President Biden and I told him about our people and about our country, I said, ‘Forgive me if I’m quite firm in my position’ — maybe some things are not very diplomatic, but he gave me quite a dignified response, that he understands and he would do the same in my place.”

Since Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including bombing the capital Kyiv, was announced in February, the Biden administration has given Ukraine more than $7 billion. This money came from the American taxpayers.

Americans are worried that Vice President Joe Biden is spending too much money to protect Ukraine while ignoring the many economic and social problems at home that have gotten worse while he has been in office. When asked to respond, Zelensky dismissed the idea that Americans have problems that need more of Biden's attention than Ukraine's.

“As long as we are resisting it [the invasion], the integrity of the United States will continue, therefore we are giving our lives for your values and the joint security of the world,” Zelensky said. “Therefore, inflation is nothing, [Chinese coronavirus] is nothing. Ask those people who lost their children, their peace, their property at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. Who is thinking about masks and [Chinese coronavirus]? Who is thinking about inflation? These things are secondary.”

Putin took over the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine in 2014 and has supported a war between the government and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region for the past eight years. Putin denied that Ukraine had any "tradition" of being a sovereign state when he announced the new "operation" in February. Since then, he has acknowledged the "sovereignty" of the separatist groups, which call themselves the "People's Republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk.

This year, the war got worse after Biden did two big things that seemed to give Russia permission to be more aggressive: he lifted sanctions on the Nordstream 2 pipeline project that had been put in place by Trump, which would have strengthened Russia's grip on the European natural gas market if it had been finished, and he said in January that the U.S. would not object to a "minor incursion" into Ukraine.

"If Russia invades, it will have to answer for what it does. And it depends on what it does. "It's one thing if it's a small invasion and then we argue about what to do and what not to do, etc.," Biden told reporters.

“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelensky responded at the time.

Zelensky later expressed frustration with Biden consistently talking about a potential invasion publicly, telling reporters that same month that Biden’s “panic” had cost Ukraine nearly $500 million in foreign investment.

“I mentioned this to President Biden … we need to stabilize the economy of our country because of those signals which say that tomorrow there will be war,” Zelensky said, “because these signals were sent by even leaders of the respected countries, sometimes they are not even using diplomatic language! They are saying, ‘Tomorrow is the war.'”

The "minor incursion" mess came after Biden and Zelensky had been fighting in public for months about the Nordstream 2 sanctions. Midway through 2021, Biden lifted the sanctions. This made Zelensky very angry, and he told the Washington news outlet Axios that he was "unpleasantly surprised" and "disappointed" by Biden, both because he lifted the sanctions and because he didn't talk to Zelensky's government before doing so.

In December, Zelensky warned again that if sanctions are lifted, Russia will see that as a sign to invade more, and that any sanctions put in place after a full-scale invasion "won't matter."

“Our state is interested in a strong sanctions policy that would precede a possible escalation, and then, I suggest, this escalation might not even occur,” Zelensky said at the time.

“Sanctions are considered to be a preventive tool because they can be applied and then lifted. If there is an invasion by Russia, do you introduce powerful sanctions after we might have already lost several territories?” Zelensky once again asked in January, shortly before the latest round of invasion began. “Once you introduce sanctions, what will Russia do?”

The postbellum sanctions, as Zelensky predicted, do not appear to be making any significant dent in the Russian economy.

“Russia’s economy is estimated to have contracted during the second quarter by less than previously projected, with crude oil and non-energy exports holding up better than expected,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) explained in its World Economic Outlook report published Tuesday, stating that “the Russian central bank and the Russian policymakers have been able to stave off a banking panic or financial meltdown when the sanctions were first imposed.”

Energy prices, it added, are “providing an enormous amount of revenues to the Russian economy.”


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