Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet with President Joe Biden in August, the White House announced Wednesday amid renewed arguments about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The meeting, scheduled for Aug. 30, comes amid rising tensions over the pipeline, which Zelensky says threatens to cut Ukraine out of the regional energy market. The pipeline would extend between Russia and Germany, allowing for the transfer of cheap oil to the latter.
The U.S. has long criticized the project, now 98 percent complete, but Biden’s administration withdrew obstacles to its construction earlier this year. (RELATED: ‘Terrible Mistake’: Tom Cotton Blasts Biden Admin Over Nord Stream 2)
The announcement coincided with Wednesday joint statement from the U.S. and Germany, pledging that they would respond to any Russian attempts to wield energy as a weapon moving forward, Reuters reported.
“The United States and Germany are united in their determination to hold Russia to account for its aggression and malign activities by imposing costs via sanctions and other tools,” the statement read. “This commitment is designed to ensure that Russia will not misuse any pipeline, including Nord Stream 2, to achieve aggressive political ends by using energy as a weapon.”
The U.S.-Ukraine relationship has strained in recent years thanks to a streak of scandals involving both Biden’s and former President Donald Trump’s administrations. Both have faced accusations of corrupt dealings in the country, leading to Trump’s first impeachment.
The Biden administration denied reports in June that it had withheld roughly $100 million in military aide from Ukraine. Biden’s National Security Council had supposedly ordered officials to put together the aid earlier this year when Russia was amassing troops on its border with Ukraine, Politico reported at the time. White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied the reports entirely, calling them “nonsense.”
“The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week—in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia Summit—we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance,” Psaki said in the statement. “We have now provided the entire amount appropriated by Congress through the Ukraine security assistance initiative.”