Ukraine Slams Biden for 'Absurd' Jab at Zelenskyy That 'Needs to Be Clarified'
U.S. President Joe Biden said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “didn’t want to hear” American warnings about Russia invading Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s aides said the claim was “absurd.”
Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Los Angeles on Friday, Biden said the U.S. knew before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February that Russian President Vladimir Putin was going to “go in off the border,” Newsweek reported.
“I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating and Zelenskyy didn’t want to hear it,” Biden added.
But Zelenskyy spokesman Sergei Nikiforov noted that the Ukrainian president discussed the impending invasion in detail in “three or four telephone conversations” with Biden before the war began.
“Therefore, the phrase ‘didn’t want to hear’ probably needs to be clarified,” he said, according to Russian-language Ukrainian news outlet LIGA.net.
“If you remember, the president of Ukraine called on partners to introduce a package of preventive sanctions in order to encourage Russia to withdraw troops and de-escalate the situation,” Nikiforov added.
An adviser to Zelenskyy, Mikhail Podolyak, said Biden’s comments about Zelenskyy were “not entirely true.”
Podolyak said Zelenskyy was “well aware that Russia was developing various expansion scenarios.”
“Zelenskyy always had relevant analytics on his desk, based on high-quality intelligence,” he said. “The president also carefully reacted to all the words and warnings of our partners.”
“It is absurd to blame a country that has been resisting a superior aggressor for more than 100 days when key countries were unable to prevent the Russian Federation [from invading],” Podolyak added.
Though Biden has taken issue with Zelenkyy’s preparation for war, the U.S. is supporting Ukraine’s defense efforts with funding and weapons.
At the end of May, the Biden administration approved a $700 million package of military equipment for the country.
That package included advanced rocket systems, anti-tank missiles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters and ammunition.
“We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” Biden wrote in a Op-Ed for the Times.
In the meantime, Russia has been advancing.
Zelenskyy told a security summit in Singapore on Saturday that his country is facing fierce attacks in the eastern region of Luhansk, according to Newsweek.
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