Vice President Harris met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the Munich Germany Security Conference on Saturday, where she reiterated US support for Ukraine as tensions with Russia continue to mount.
Harris and Zelensky, along with their aides, sat across from each other and engaged in a brief dialogue in front of the press before a closed-door meeting to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The vice president told the Ukrainian leader she looked forward “to hearing your concerns” and reiterated US support for Ukraine.
The White House said Saturday the two sides discussed recent developments and assessments of Russia’s massive military buildup around Ukraine.
“The Vice President underscored the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They discussed the united transatlantic approach if Russia further invades Ukraine, and the Vice President outlined the swift and tough economic measures that have been prepared alongside our allies and partners,” the statement added.
The White House also said Harris and Zelensky agreed on the importance of “diplomacy and de-escalation.”
Zelensky told Harris, through an interpreter, that “the only thing we want is to have peace.”
“This is our land, we understand what is happening. The only thing we want is to bring peace to our country, and in this situation, we are very grateful to you, the United States, as a ally and partner, we are grateful to you for President BidenJoe BidenAustin on Possible Russian Invasion of Ukraine: ‘I Don’t Believe It’s a Bluff’ Energy and Environment Overnight – Situation in Russia Could Worsen Gas Prices On The Money – Fed Imposes Strict Limits senior management transactions MORE“, Zelensky said, according to the Kiev-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
“We are very grateful to the United States, to you personally and to President Biden,” he added while noting the bipartisan support of the United States for his country.
He did, however, say he needed “specific measures”, a comment that suggests he could ask the United States for further help. He added that the Ukrainian army “defended all of Europe”.
The meeting included Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov as well as a number of other US and Ukrainian officials.
The meeting was scheduled before Harris left the United States and comes after the vice president, in a speech to the conference on Saturday morning, sought to convey complete unity between the United States and its allies. In prepared remarks, she said the United States and its allies would impose heavy costs on Russia if it chose to invade Ukraine.
Harris added that US support for NATO is “sacrosanct” and promised that Russia would face “unprecedented” economic sanctions in the event of an invasion.
Moreover, she said on Saturday that the United States and its European allies remained open to resolving the crisis through diplomacy while being ready to penalize Russia in the event of an incursion.
The United States has estimated that Russia has between 169,000 and 190,000 troops massed around Ukraine, and Biden said on Friday he was “convinced” Putin had decided to invade the former Soviet state.
Update: 11:50 a.m.