U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet Wednesday with his Ukrainian counterpart in Washington as the Biden administration seeks to demonstrate support for the country in the face of Russian aggression while also pushing its leaders to carry out Western-backed reforms.
Blinken’s talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and other high-ranking officials follows on an agreement reached between President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in September to relaunch the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said it had been an important mechanism for the United States and Ukraine “to communicate and collaborate on shared priorities across a broad range of issues.”
Price said the meeting on November 10 and other meetings were an “important opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to — and support for — Ukraine’s independence, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity, including in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.”
Washington has provided diplomatic and political support and arms for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia’s increasingly aggressive stance in the region. The United States has at the same time pressed Kyiv on the importance of Ukrainian efforts to tackle corruption and carry out reforms.
During the commission’s one-day meeting, high-level delegations will work on the three most important tracks of the strategic partnership: security and counteracting Russian aggression, democracy and rule of law, and economic transformation, a Ukrainian official told RFE/RL.
Kubela is the head of the delegation, which includes Deputy Economic Minister and Trade Representative Taras Kachka, Deputy Minister of Justice Valeria Kolomiets, and Deputy Minister of Defense for European Integration Anatoliy Petrenko.
“Ukraine is facing two challenges: aggression from outside, coming from Russia, and in effect aggression from within, coming from corruption, oligarchs and others who are putting their interests ahead of those of the Ukrainian people,” Blinken said during a trip to Ukraine in May.
Blinken at the time told Kuleba that Washington will “work with you and continue to strengthen your own democracy, building institutions, advancing your reforms against corruption.”
One of Zelenskiy’s reform priorities is ridding the country of the influence and corruption surrounding oligarchs, and last week signed a new law that provides a definition for an oligarch based on several criteria, including wealth in the tens of millions of dollars, monopolistic-like control of an industry, possession of media assets, and political activity.
The legislation is aimed at preventing oligarchs from using their power to wield undue influence over Ukraine’s government and economy or to stymie Ukraine’s reform progress and democratic potential.