Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Washington for a meeting with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Wednesday garnered significant attention in the international media.
Reports mostly focused on the modest and visibly stilted character of the exchange between the two heads of state, the latest round of U.S. sanctions against the Kremlin and the wider context of trilateral relations between the United States, Ukraine and Russia.
USA Today noted the stark differences between Poroshenko's and Trump's comments at a press briefing regarding the nature and substance of the meeting. "Poroshenko thanked the United States for its support in its struggle with Russia, saying, "I'm absolutely confident that our effective coordination will bring peace to our nation, to our land and can support our territorial integrity and sovereignty." Trump was less specific in his own remarks about Ukraine and the on-going conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the country's eastern Donbas region. Trump cryptically described the country only as "A place that we’ve all been very much involved in (sic)” and later vaguely added, “You’ve been seeing it and everybody has been reading about it," without providing specifics about his comments.
Focusing on the new round of tough U.S. sanctions on Russia The Washington Post said the two president's brief private exchange came on the heels of the U.S. Congress' decision to slap Moscow with punitive sanctions aimed at punishing the Kremlin for its activities in Ukraine and for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. "The White House meeting began shortly after the Trump administration announced it would impose new sanctions on two Russian officials and more than three dozen other individuals and companies over Russian activities in Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the new penalties are "Designed to maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution." In all, Tuesday’s action targets 38 individuals and firms. Any assets they have in the U.S. are now blocked...Americans are prohibited from doing business with them. The Russian officials affected are Moscow’s envoy for overseas Russians and its chairman for humanitarian assistance in separatist-held, eastern Ukraine," according to the Post's article.
Radio Liberty added that the White House had been modest in its evaluation of Poroshenko’s visit – something that many outlets described as a "drop-in" and "low-key affair" that came after lengthy conversations with Vice President Mike Pence. "On the eve of the White House visit, Poroshenko specifically pointed to the fact that he had met the U.S. leader before Putin did, calling it "very important". The White House, however, described the events more modestly, saying Trump would be meeting with his national security adviser "with a drop-in" by Pence and Poroshenko. Trump told reporters, briefly allowed into the room, that "a lot of progress has been made" in the relations between the United States and Ukraine. The White House also put out a short, direct official read-out of the meeting, noting that the two spoke about a "peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as Poroshenko's reform agenda and anti-corruption efforts."