President Joe Biden ignored a plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to meet with him before his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zelensky publicly urged Biden to meet with him in person in an interview with Axios, offering to meet him “at any moment and at any spot on the planet.”
Biden will travel to Europe Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with Putin on June 16.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed during the daily press briefing Monday that Biden spoke with Zelensky earlier in the day, but indicated that an in-person meeting before his summit with Putin would not take place.
Sullivan told reporters that Biden told Zelensky “he looks forward to welcoming him to the White House here in Washington this summer after he returns from Europe.”
He also said Biden promised to “stand up firmly for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity” during his meeting with Putin.
Sullivan said Biden valued a personal meeting with Putin to explain exactly where America stood on key issues.
“Being able to look President Putin in the eye and say, ‘This is what America’s expectations are. This is what America stands for. This is what America is all about,’ this, we believe is an essential aspect of U. S.-Russia diplomacy,” he said. “Because President Putin is a–a singular kind of personalized leader and having the opportunity to come together in a summit will allow us to manage this relationship and stand up and defend American values most effectively.”