On August 31, the Russian news agency TASS quoted Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on the topic of the first meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Peskov claimed the U.S. could encourage Ukraine to fulfill the Minsk II accords – the peace agreement from 2015 aimed at ending war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
"We are not in a position to interfere in the affairs of two sovereign countries – the United States and Ukraine – and we are not going to do so," Peskov said.
"But we keep a very close watch on the results of this trip, from the standpoint the United States can use its influence on Mr. Zelensky to persuade him to follow the path of implementing the Minsk agreements, as well as the agreements that were concluded in Paris, and to give up actions that might cause tremendous harm to the entire Minsk settlement process.”
The claim that Russia is “not in a position to interfere” in Ukraine’s affairs is preposterous.
Since 2014, Russia has interfered in Ukraine militarily by occupying the Crimean peninsula and fomented the ongoing conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region, providing troops, mercenaries, arms and other war-making supplies.
The Minsk II agreement, signed between Ukraine, Russia, and the latter’s two proxy states, the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, included conditions to be fulfilled by both sides to end the fighting, which began in the spring of 2014.
At the time it was signed, Ukraine was facing a renewed Russian offensive and some of its forces were surrounded in the key town of Debaltseve. The Minsk II protocol called for a total ceasefire. However, when the deadline came, Russian forces and their proxies continued fighting until they had secured Debaltseve.
Since then, ceasefire violations have occurred regularly along the lines of contact.
On September 1, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted a meeting with Zelensky at the White House, the first such meeting for the Ukrainian president since he took office in 2019.
“And the United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and — and — our support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Biden said before the bilateral meeting.
“Today, we’re going to discuss how the U.S. can continue to support Ukraine as it advances its democratic reforms, agenda, and movement toward being completely integrated in Europe.”
One of the first agreements signed that day was a $60 million military aid package, which includes lethal weapon systems such as the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missile. The Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske also reported on the signing of deals totaling $2.5 billion between U.S. defense contractors and the Ukrainian state defense contractor Ukroboronprom.
At the White House, Zelensky also told Biden that he was seeking U.S. assistance in freeing 450 Ukrainian detainees held by Russia, in occupied Crimea, Donbas and within the Russian Federation’s legally-recognized territory.