Ukrainian Leader to Get First Trump Meeting With ‘Drop-In’

  • Poroshenko meets Trump, Pence at White House in Washington
  • Visit comes before planned meeting between Trump and Putin

Ukraine’s leader met President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, a visit that could reveal more about the level of U.S. backing for the former Soviet republic and its efforts to repel a Russian-backed insurgency in its east.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Pence had a “drop-in” on a meeting Tuesday between Trump and his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, in the U.S. capital. The talks, the first between the two leaders, took place before Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he’s said he’d like to improve ties.

“Ukraine has fantastic support in the U.S.,” Poroshenko said Tuesday on Facebook. “And it’s very important that my meeting in the White House will be earlier than Putin’s. It’s necessary so everyone is armed with information and there’s no chance for unfairness.”

Trump told reporters at a photo session with Poroshenko in the White House Oval Office that his advisers and the Ukrainian president have “had some very, very good discussions.”

“It’s going to continue throughout the day. I think a lot of progress has been made,” Trump said.

Poroshenko said he hopes for “effective collaboration” with the Trump administration. “I’m absolutely confident that Ukraine is a story of success,” he said, adding that he believes the U.S. and the Trump administration are a “co-sponsor” of that success.

History of Support

Ukraine relied heavily on Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, for support as Russia annexed Crimea and stoked the three-year conflict on the two nations’ border. The U.S. was instrumental in the Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its conduct. It also provided billions of dollars in aid along with some nonlethal military equipment. While Trump suggested during his election campaign that he would consider recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and relax the sanctions, probes into his team’s relationship with Russia have delayed any detente.

While Poroshenko was in Washington Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury issued a broadened list of Russian people and entities sanctioned for involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to widen sanctions on Russia and to give Congress the power to review any attempt by Trump to unilaterally rescind them. Lawmakers said the move was a reaction to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which Russia denies.

Trump may meet Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in July. Russia complained Tuesday that Ukraine hasn’t been fulfilling its obligations under a stalled 2015 peace accord to end the separatist conflict.

“We’d like to hope that these high-level contacts will be used by our American colleagues to send a powerful signal to Kiev on the implementation” of the agreements, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

— With assistance by Stepan Kravchenko, Chelsea Mes, Justin Sink, Ilya Arkhipov, Dick Schumacher, and Jennifer Epstein

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