On August 31, 2021, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid a working visit to the United States, where during three days he held a number of important meetings, the main of which was a meeting with the head of the White House, Joseph Biden. The administration of Volodymyr Zelenskyy had carefully prepared and thus, pinned high hopes on a visit to Ukraine's main partner, the United States, since during this year, cardinal transformations took place in international relations that complicated the geopolitical situation around the state. In addition, relations between Ukraine and the United States of America were in an inert state, and therefore needed a new impetus and practical content for further cooperation.
The meeting of the two presidents took place on the second day of the visit of Vladimir Zelensky. Up to this point, a number of agreements on strategic defense partnership, scientific and technological cooperation, space flight safety, information protection, and border security had already been concluded between Ukraine and the United States. The area of security and defense is one of the main themes of US-Ukrainian relations.
In Ukraine it was frequently mentioned before the meeting that possible tools to achieve the goal of strengthening the security situation around Ukraine could include granting Ukraine the US Major Non-NATO Ally status, or concluding a special defense agreement. The best option for Ukraine, according to a number of Ukrainian parliamentarians, would be an agreement fixing the United States security guarantees and military contingent deployment on the territory of Ukraine. The US Major Non-NATO Ally status does not provide such guarantees, and therefore was not a priority for Ukrainian diplomacy, especially in light of recent events in Afghanistan, a country that had this status.
At the same time, the American side did not intend to provide any security guarantees and become more involved in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Therefore, we can conclude that Volodymyr Zelenskyy has managed to get the maximum that was currently possible out of his trip. The President of the United States of America Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for Ukraine against the background of the ongoing armed aggression of the Russian Federation. It is noteworthy that the parties did not mention the Minsk agreements, neither during a conversation with journalists nor in a joint statement issued by the parties after the talks, which is unconditional progress, because in June after the US-Russian meeting, Joe Biden supported the idea of Minsk agreements implementation. Negotiations between Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Joe Biden lasted 2 hours, instead of the planned 40 minutes. This fact should be taken positively, as the President of Ukraine stated, because it shows the interest of the American side. The main topic of discussion was a security.
New principles of US-Ukrainian security and defense relations have been enshrined in The Strategic Defence Framework. This is a comprehensive document that covers a wide range of cooperation areas between Washington and Kyiv. In particular, the document states the intentions to strengthen cooperation in the field of defense, to provide international legal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by the United States, joint opposition to Russian aggression, and to promote Ukraine's membership in NATO. The intention to deepen cooperation in the Black Sea region in order to ensure freedom of navigation and effectively counter threats and challenges in all areas of military activity was stressed, as well as to strengthen the partnership of defense intelligence communities of the two countries and strengthen cooperation in cybersecurity. It also emphasizes the importance of successful reforms in Ukraine and the readiness of the United States to facilitate it.
The signed framework document actually has not determined how further cooperation between Ukraine and the United States in the military sphere will be carried out, but it has outlined a certain direction for the work. Therefore, the next step of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine should be the filling this agreement with practical content, although it did not provide Ukraine with the security guarantees that Kyiv requires, however, it could potentially become a more effective instrument than the Major Non-NATO Ally status. The defense deal has become an integral part of a whole set of agreements that were included in Joint Statement on the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership, published after the two presidents meeting.
One of the main achievements that have been enshrined in the Joint Statement is the intention to reinvigorate the Strategic Partnership Commission (SPC). In particular, it is noted that the SPC will be reoriented and provided with resources to meet the challenges of the 21st century. «To memorialize the elevated status of our partnership, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister intend to approve a new Charter at the SPC’s meeting in Washington this fall», the document states.  The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has already confirmed the start of preparations for the upcoming meeting.
Practical assistance includes a small grant of $ 60 million, including the supply of Javelin armor-piercing systems and other defense lethal and non-lethal equipment, $ 45 million for humanitarian needs and $ 12 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Ukraine faces prospects due to the R&D agreement: a Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Agreement that provides a framework for pursuing bilateral armaments and military-technical cooperation, i.e., it opens access to American technologies for the domestic military-industrial complex.
Also, the parties signed an agreement that will help strengthen Ukraine's energy security. The agreement launches a Strategic Energy and Climate Dialogue. Under this instrument, Ukraine and the United States intend to work together to address systemic imbalances in Ukraine's energy system, expand corporate governance reform in state-owned energy companies, increase the investment attractiveness of Ukraine's energy sector, and attract foreign investment. In addition, the state-owned company Energoatom signed a memorandum with Westinghouse Electric. The implementation of this memorandum will open an opportunity to attract investment for the construction of five power units worth up to $ 30 billion - in addition to direct investment, part of the production will be localized, the budget will receive additional tax revenues. The first step should be the completion of the construction of the power unit in Khmelnytsky, which has been under construction for 9 years. If this is done successfully, Westinghouse will build 4 more reactors in the future.
Besides meetings with officials in Washington, Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with business representatives, the Ukrainian diaspora, and gave a lecture at Stanford. In particular, a number of meetings were held with representatives of think tanks, leading investors, representatives of venture funds and accelerators of Silicon Valley, the President of the World Bank Group, the head of NASA, and also with Apple CEO Tim Cook. During these events, Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed the possibilities of attracting American investments to Ukraine and the possibilities for the implementation of joint American-Ukrainian projects. A complete and clear list of proposals for American investors and business was presented - the «The Transformation Plan of Ukraine» with a total value of $ 277 billion. Thus, the President of Ukraine arrived in the United States with a specific vision of the further development of American-Ukrainian relations at all levels, which was embodied in concrete proposals and promising projects. The effectiveness of the work done will be determined in the future by the number of implemented projects, the successful implementation of which will require high-quality public-private partnership on the part of the Ukrainian authorities.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy's working visit to the United States has resulted in the renewal of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States. The parties have agreed to activate the Strategic Partnership Commission and to start work on updating the Ukraine-USA Charter on Strategic Partnership. The future document, which will determine the further orientation of cooperation between the two countries, will correspond to the modern realities. The energy and business projects that were outlined during the three-day visit can strengthen the economy and energy capacity of Ukraine, however, there is a possibility that these projects will not be implemented and will remain in the form of memorandums.
At the same time, Ukraine has not received security guarantees from Joe Biden, either in the military dimension or in the context of the launch of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. It is significant that the security document was signed by the defense ministers of the two states in the presence of the President of Ukraine. At the time of the signing by the United States, there was neither President Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris, which would correspond to the high level of the President of Ukraine. Thus, Ukraine remains in the focus of the Joseph Biden administration, and the Ukrainian authorities have done everything possible during this visit, but Ukraine is not a priority of US foreign policy for this administration, due to the specific foreign policy strategy of the current White House chief regarding China. The lack of concrete steps to deter the Kremlin's aggressive policy from the United States suggests that Ukraine should rely only on its own forces in the confrontation with its northern neighbor. Only the strengthening of the economy and its own armed forces can guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the tools that appear in Ukraine after Volodymyr Zelensky’s Washington visit may be one of the factors strengthening Ukraine’s.
At the same time, Ukraine did not receive any security guarantees from Joe Biden neither in the military dimension nor in the context of the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. It is significant that the document on security was signed by the defense ministers of the two countries in the presence of the President of Ukraine. During the signing there was neither President Biden nor Vice-President Kamala Harris, which would correspond to the high level of the President of Ukraine. So, Ukraine remains in the focus of Joseph Biden's administration, and the Ukrainian authorities did everything necessary for this during the visit, but Ukraine is not a priority direction of ??the US foreign policy for this administration, due to the specifics of the foreign policy strategy of the current head of the White House towards China. The absence of concrete steps from the United States side in order to contain the aggressive policy of the Kremlin indicates that Ukraine has to rely only on its own forces in the confrontation with its northern neighbor. Only the strengthening of the economy and its own armed forces can become a guarantee of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, while the tools that Ukraine gets after the Washington visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyy can become one of components enhancing the resilience of Ukraine.