US President Joe Biden will meet today in the White House with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
Biden and Zelensky are expected to discuss a wide range of issues affecting Ukraine, including sovereignty in the eastern province of Donbas and Russian occupied Crimea, energy security and anti-corruption measures.
On energy security, Zelensky is likely to reaffirm his opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will transport Russian natural gas across the Baltic Sea to Germany. Kiev says the pipeline poses a strategic threat because it bypasses Ukraine entirely and will enable Moscow to cut off gas supplies to Western Europe for political reasons.
Expect Biden and Zelensky to be at odds over Nord Stream 2. Although Washington and Berlin signed a joint agreement in July pledging to prevent any weaponization of the pipeline against Kiev, Washington has signalled that it will be willing to tolerate its existence. For instance, it has recently levied criticism at Ukrainian energy giant Naftogaz—chief critic of the pipeline—for failing to meet Western corporate governance standards. With a German court ruling last week that the pipeline violates EU anti-trust law, expect Zelensky to come to today’s talks in a relative position of strength.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.