On June 16, U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first summit in Geneva. It came five months into Mr. Biden’s term and 21 years after Mr. Putin was first elected president. Most reports from the summit saw only modest outcomes, as the two presidents discussed nuclear arms and diplomatic relations between the two historic adversaries.
Just days before Ukraine kicked off competition in the delayed Euro 2020 soccer championship, which was previously schedule to take place last year but was moved to June 11-July 11 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andriy Pavelko, the president of the Football Federation of Ukraine, unveiled a new national team jersey on June 7 that featured a patriotic slogan and an outline of Ukraine that includes Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators recently travelled to Kyiv, where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other government officials. The group – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who also sit on the same committee – urged Ukrainian officials to strengthen democratic institutions, clamp down on corruption and reduce the influence of oligarchs. The group also sought to assure Mr. Zelenskyy that Washington would continue to provide help countering Russian aggression.
Much has been written recently regarding the decision by U.S. President Joe Biden to waive critical sanctions tied to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Biden administration did sanction several companies and ships that have continued to work on the project, but it decided to waive sanctions on the main company behind the project, Nord Stream 2 AG, and the company’s chief operating officer, Matthias Warnig.
A story on page 9 of this week’s issue of The Ukrainian Weekly provides yet another example of the amazing work that members of our Ukrainian diaspora continue to take on despite the difficult circumstances surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 11 the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) conducted a search of the Kyiv home of Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch, politician and millionaire who is widely regarded to be sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin is, after all, godfather to Mr. Medvedchuk’s daughter and Mr. Medvedchuk has long been known to harbor sympathy for the Kremlin even before Ukraine’s ongoing war against pro-Russian and Russian-backed separatists began in the east of the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Kyiv on May 6, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It marked the first visit to Ukraine by a senior official in the administration of President Joe Biden, and Mr. Blinken reaffirmed the position that the United States believes Ukraine is a key ally in the fight against Russian aggression.
Thirty-five years ago, on April 26, 1986, during a test meant to simulate an electrical outage, power to the No. 4 reactor at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant unexpectedly dropped to a near-zero level. Reactor operators, who were not scheduled to work and were not properly prepared to run the test, tried to restore power. The core of the reactor, which had become unstable and suffered from various design flaws, exploded twice, spewing radioactive material across a large swath of Europe.
News broke just several hours before The Weekly’s deadline on April 22 that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had ordered Russian troops to start returning to their permanent bases, seemingly deescalating a situation that heightened tensions with the West over Moscow’s military buildup near the border with Ukraine, as well as in Russia-occupied Crimea.