KYIV – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday he welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s tough messaging when he met President Vladimir Putin this week and said now was the time to make Russia withdraw from Ukraine.
In the first high-level Ukrainian government reaction since the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva on Wednesday, Kuleba told Reuters that the talks had not caused any concern for Kyiv.
“This summit demonstrated that America is back, and now it’s time to make Russia pull back from Ukraine,” Kuleba said in an interview, adding that Moscow has no power of veto over Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
Kyiv had been wary of the prospect of Biden and Putin cutting a deal about Ukraine’s future without it being present at the table.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Reuters this week he had received reassurances from Biden that Ukraine would not be used as a bargaining tool. But Zelenskiy added that there was “a little scepticism” about whether the Biden-Putin summit would benefit Ukraine.
Zelenskiy has urged NATO members to accelerate Ukraine’s entry into the alliance after a standoff with Russia this year that saw Russia mass additional troops and military equipment near Ukraine’s borders.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that this would be a ‘red line’ for Russia.
“President Putin saw… no invitation to bargain from the United States on the Ukrainian matter,” Kuleba said. “And this is a matter of principle because we agreed with the United States that no deals on Ukraine will be made without Ukraine, and America kept its promise.”
Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are among a number of factors that have badly strained relations between Russia and the United States in recent years.