President Joe Biden will speak for the first time as president with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday amid mounting tensions with Russia.
Politico came forward for the first time the development after key US officials had been in contact with their Ukrainian counterparts during the week, as videos showed Russia sending trains with tanks and military vehicles to Crimea and Donbass, Ukraine’s easternmost region bordering Russia.
Ukrainian officials have been asking Washington for a call between Biden and Zelensky for weeks, but the US president is keeping his Ukrainian counterpart at bay as he pushes for more reforms in the country, Politico said.
Former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment came after a phone call he made to Zelensky in July 2019 pressuring him to announce an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, as the now-president is a formidable political rival. seemed to be.
Russia has used trains to transport huge military vehicles to Crimea and in Ukraine’s easternmost region, Donbas, which the Pentagon now believes was a military exercise, but Ukraine’s president considered it a “threat.”
A column of tanks and trucks lining the way as they head for the conflict zone
Tanks are transported by freight train at a station bound for the separatist area on the border with Ukraine
The Kremlin said on Thursday that Ukraine and the West need not worry about Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border (photo, a tank of pro-Russian militants from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic)
Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company.
Trump insisted Hunter Biden enrich himself with his family name.
The ex-president alleged that Vice President Biden withheld loan guarantees to pressure Ukraine to fire prosecutor Viktor Shokin to prevent an investigation into Burisma and protect Hunter and his business dealings.
Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin, but because he did not do enough to eradicate corruption – the views of the United States government, the European Union, the World Bank and then the International Monetary Fund.
Trump called Zelensky and demanded an investigation in exchange for the $ 400 million in military aid that Congress had allocated to Ukraine.
Since taking office, Biden’s national security team has maintained relations with Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday, confirming the United States’ ‘continued support’ for Kiev in light of ‘Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea’. reported CNN
National security adviser Jake Sullivan made a similar phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart on Monday.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke with the Supreme General of Ukraine and also with Russian General Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff of Russia.
Details about Milley’s call with Gerasimov have not been made public.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that the West should not be concerned about Russian troop movements on the Ukrainian border, but there are concerns that the situation could develop into another conflict.
CNN reported that the Pentagon is concerned about an escalation, as military intelligence officials said about 4,000 heavily armed Russian troops had seen moving into Crimea.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed during a phone call on Wednesday the United States’ ‘unwavering support’ for Ukraine
“It was not entirely clear what they were planning,” an official told the network, adding that the US now thinks it may have been part of a Russian military exercise.
Zelensky said on Thursday that he believes the movements were a threat.
“Playing with muscles in the form of military exercises and possible provocations along the border is a traditional Russian affair,” Zelensky said, according to Reuters. ‘In this way, [Russia] strives for an atmosphere of threat and at the same time of pressure during the negotiations on the ceasefire and for peace as our value. ‘
The US agreed with Ukraine’s assessment that two mortar and machine gun fire incidents that led to the deaths of four Ukrainian soldiers last Friday constituted a violation of a ceasefire agreement.
Russia blamed Ukraine for the renewed fighting.
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not confirm troop build-up at the border, saying Moscow was free to move troops across its territory.
“The Russian Federation is moving its forces within its territory at its discretion,” said Peskov. “It should not be a concern to anyone and does not pose a threat to anyone.”
As for the participation of Russian forces in the armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine, Russian forces never took part in it, he added. ‘And [they] don’t do it now. ‘
President Joe Biden has taken a tougher approach to Russian than former President Donald Trump, labeled Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “ murderer ” and imposed sanctions on Russian officials and entities for poisoning Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
More santions are expected due to election interference and SolarWinds’ cyberattack, CNN said.
Russia’s major military exercise on the Ukraine border could send a message to Biden, demonstrating the country’s military dominance in the region, CNN’s Pentagon source said.
This week, Moscow and Kiev blamed each other for an increase in violence between government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine (pictured, volunteers take an oath of allegiance before leaving for Donbas to fight pro-Russian separatists )