Zelensky Felt Humiliated In The First Meeting With Biden

The first meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky was not good. The two leaders apparently got off on the wrong foot when they first met in the White House back in 2021, The Guardian reported on Wednesday, citing an upcoming book by journalist Franklin Foer.

Citing ‘The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future’, the British daily said: Washington was left bewildered by Kiev’s demands for swift NATO accession, while Zelensky felt “humiliated.” The book is scheduled to hit shelves next week.

the last politicianThe two presidents seemingly failed to form a good relationship when Zelensky first visited the U.S. in early September 2021, some five months before the Ukraine war broke out. At the time, Ukraine’s assessment of its NATO prospects was viewed as “absurd” in Washington.

“Even Zelensky’s most ardent sympathizers in the Biden administration agreed that he had bombed,” wrote Atlantic staff writer Foer.

Zelensky, in turn, reportedly harbored “lingering resentment from the episode” and seemingly blamed Biden personally “for the humiliation he suffered, for the political awkwardness he endured.”

According to Foer, Zelensky seemed to blame Biden for the “humiliation” he suffered during Trump’s first impeachment, which centered around claims Trump had abused his power by threatening to withhold military aid for Kiev until Zelensky’s government relaunched a probe into Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who in 2014 had been the head of Washington’s Ukraine policy and a board member of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, respectively. This, Foer said, contributed to the “political awkwardness” of the 2021 encounter.

Zelensky, A Comedian

Biden “did not think much of his Ukrainian counterpart,” referring to Zelensky as a “slapstick comedian,” according to Foer. He noted that Biden had also been “deeply involved in Ukrainian politics longer than Zelensky” due to his role in U.S.-Ukrainian relations under former president Barack Obama.

Foer added that Biden saw Zelensky, who had previously been an actor and not a politician, as an “amateur” for having unwittingly played a part in U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) antics regarding blocking State Department nominees over the sanctions waiver.

“To be fair, Biden did not think much of his Ukrainian counterpart, either,” Foer added, noting that Biden was more comfortable with fellow lifelong politicians than slapstick comedians.

Biden Expected Gratitude

Biden expected “gratitude” from Ukraine for his support, but Zelensky “crammed his conversations with a long list of demands,” Foer wrote, adding that NATO had become a particularly contentious topic for the two presidents.

NATO, Obsolete Organization, Feels Zelensky

Zelensky’s frustration occluded his capacity for logic. He supposedly initially demanded his nation be accepted into the bloc, but Biden rejected the idea, citing a lack of support among NATO members. The response reportedly prompted Zelensky to lash out and declare the U.S.-led organization obsolete.

“It suggested more difficult conversations to come,” Foer added.

“After begging to join NATO, he began to lecture that the organization is, in fact, a historic relic with waning significance. He told Biden that France and Germany were going to exit NATO,” Foer wrote. “It was an absurd analysis and a blatant contradiction. And it pissed Biden off.”

Kiev’s ambition to swiftly join NATO has been weighing on Ukraine’s relations with its Western backers for quite some time. The latest flare-up broke out at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, when Zelensky lashed out at the bloc over its “indecisiveness,” calling the lack of a roadmap towards accession “unprecedented and absurd.”

His comments reportedly infuriated Washington, with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also saying he would like to see some “gratitude” from Kiev for what Western nations had already done for it.

During the first meeting between Biden and Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader had been in office for three years, and by that point, he had only met Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, but never visited the U.S. capital city some 200 miles to the southwest.

Biden Is Weak, Feels Zelensky

Foer also writes that Zelensky saw Biden as weak after having decided to waive sanctions against the Russian company building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was part of an attempt to assuage the government of then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which had banked heavily on the new gas line to meet German energy needs.

In his book, Foer does not use direct quotes or cite sources, but according to the book’s publisher, Penguin Random House, the text is based on “unparalleled access to the tight inner circle of advisers who have surrounded Biden for decades.”

Ukraine Stands No Chance Of Becoming A NATO Member, Says EU Commissioner

Ukraine stands no chance of becoming a member of NATO as long as it is locked in a military conflict with Russia, European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton has recently predicted.

The EU official explained that if Kiev were to be admitted into the U.S.-led military bloc now, it would automatically lead to all of the other members getting directly involved in the fighting.

In an interview with France’s LCI TV channel on Monday, Breton said: “As long as the conflict continues on European territory, Ukraine cannot become a member of NATO,” noting that “otherwise, under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, this will mean entry into the conflict of all of the countries in the alliance.”

One Million Artillery Shells Within A Year For Ukraine

An earlier media report said”

The EU commissioner praised Brussels for the way it was keeping its promise to provide Kiev with one million artillery shells within a year, adding that the bloc is planning to ramp up ammunition production on its territory in the long term as well.

Speaking at a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as the alliance wrapped up its summit in Vilnius in July, Zelensky said: “Some are afraid to talk about our membership in NATO, because no one wants to start a world war.”

Zelensky added that “Ukraine understands that it cannot be a member of NATO as long as the war continues.”

Earlier, the Ukrainian head of state slammed the military bloc over its “indecisiveness” and “weakness” – much to the annoyance of the U.S. delegation, as several media outlets claimed at the time.

Commenting on the prospect of Ukraine’s immediate accession, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan argued at the time that, at the moment, granting Ukraine NATO membership would lead the US-led military bloc “into war with Russia.”


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