President Barack Obama will begin his four-day European tour on June 3 by meeting leaders of Central and Eastern European countries in Warsaw. At all his meetings with European leaders in Warsaw and Brussels as well as in Paris and at the Normandy Allied Landings 70th anniversary celebrations, he will deal with the issue of stabilization processes in Ukraine and the role of Russia, which despite the Geneva agreement has made no effort to stabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine.
Formally, the American president’s visit coincided with the official ceremonies held by the Polish government to mark the 25th anniversary of the first free elections in Poland. It is expected that on the first day of the American president’s stay in Warsaw, both during his bilateral talks with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and at a multilateral meeting of the heads of states of Central and Eastern Europe, they will discuss the situation in Ukraine as a major topic, in addition to the US’s assurances for its allies.
Early on Wednesday, June 4, Obama will meet the newly elected President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko for the first time. As noted at a White House briefing by the American president’s deputy adviser for national security affairs Ben Rhodes, these bilateral negotiations will be “a timely opportunity for Obama to reassure Poroshenko of our commitment to the Ukrainian people.”
Commenting on Ukraine’s expectations from Poroshenko’s first meeting with Barack Obama, a source close to the president-elect told The Day that the Ukrainian side was seriously preparing for the meeting with the American president. “First of all, this meeting will last for an hour and it will discuss the security issue in the first place. Secondly, the meeting in Warsaw may be continued in Normandy. This is an important point because it will be an intermediate stage of negotiations with the state leaders on the security algorithm and solutions for eastern Ukraine, which were discussed at earlier meetings. A very important point is even the very fact of holding such a full-fledged meeting,” said the source.
The G7 summit, now without Russia, will take place in Belgium, for the first time since the expulsion of that country from G8, and leaders of top powers will discuss there Europe’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, as well as possible new sanctions against Russia.
The Day asked an expert what opportunities could arise for Ukraine following Poroshenko’s first meeting with Obama in Warsaw and his participation in the Normandy celebrations.
“THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH OBAMA, PREFERABLY ONE THAT WILL BE TRUSTING AND FRIENDLY”
Oleh SHAMSHUR, former Ambassador of Ukraine to the US:
“Opportunities are obvious here. First of all, Poroshenko as the new president of Ukraine has an opportunity to establish a relationship with Obama, preferably one that will be trusting and friendly. This will depend on the content of their conversation, and whether there will be a necessary ‘chemistry’ emerging in the two leaders’ relationship. Secondly, it is a chance to establish practical cooperation between the new president of Ukraine and the US government. It is very important for it not to be restricted to just general declarations. Obviously, they will discuss some specific issues related to the provision of assistance from the US, above all, concerning the aggression of Russia, as well as America’s aid in the development of the Ukrainian economy and Ukraine as a democratic state. It is important that Poroshenko and Obama discuss the cooperation in military and military-technical spheres and respective assistance from the US.
“I think that compared to his first visit to Europe, Obama has drawn his conclusions, primarily from Ukraine’s behavior. Now we hear, at least from Washington, increasingly frequent statements about the need to strengthen the partnership between the US and Europe, and special attention is paid to the region of Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. It is evolving in a positive direction, which has been caused, in particular, by the dramatic events in Ukraine.
“Speaking of Poroshenko’s participation in the celebrations in Normandy, I would say the following. Firstly, the invitation sent for the Ukrainian president to attend these events was a thoroughly correct step, because Ukraine made one of the largest contributions to the victory over Nazism. Secondly, it is an opportunity to communicate with world leaders. Thus, it is an opportunity for contacts, personal relationships and cooperation to be established between our president and the governments of Western countries.
“Regarding possible Vladimir Putin-Poroshenko meeting in Normandy, I have always stressed that any meeting makes sense when there is a willingness of the other party to engage in a constructive dialog and when it is clear what the subject of discussion is. Russia imposing their agenda on our relationship, which they want to do, is a great danger for us.”