When last month it became clear that the Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin face to face summit would happen - now set for June 16 in Geneva - Kiev made its anger clear, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urging Biden to meet with him prior to any direct Putin talks. Zelensky further recently went on the attack slamming the White House for cutting Kiev out of key decisions on Nord Stream 2, particularly after weeks ago Biden agreed to drop existing sanctions against the German company overseeing the natural gas pipeline which bypasses Ukraine - and with it badly needed transit fees.
In an interview this past weekend with Axios, Zelensky said he was blindsided by Biden's U-turn on the Russia to Germany pipeline after Biden gave him "direct signals" that the US was preparing to block the pipeline. The Ukrainian leader further called it "a weapon, a real weapon in the hands of the Russian Federation," and that he doesn't understand how "the bullets to this weapon can possibly be provided by such a great country as the US" - as he described it.
Just after giving the interview, on Monday Biden belatedly phoned Zelensky, also amid widespread anger within his Democratic base over "caving" to Putin, especially over Nord Stream 2, which is said to be a mere month or two away from completion, according to recent statements from Putin.
In this call Zelensky finally scored the desired meeting with Biden, but it looks like it will take place after the US president first meets with Putin, with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan subsequently telling reporters:
"They had the opportunity to talk at some length about all of the issues in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and President Biden was able to tell president Zelensky that he will stand up firmly for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its aspirations as we go forward."
And significantly: "He also told President Zelensky that he looks forward to welcoming him to the White House in Washington this summer after he returns from Europe," according to Sullivan's statement.
The Hill noted additionally that "Despite Zelensky’s appeal for a meeting, Sullivan did not say that Biden would meet with him before the summit with Putin."
Thank you @POTUS @JoeBiden for inviting me to visit the @WhiteHouse in July during our phone conversation. I look forward to this meeting to discuss ways to expand strategic cooperation between Ukraine and #USA— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 7, 2021
It is indeed looking like that meeting, which will mark Zelensky's first White House visit since being elected to office in 2019, will come significantly after the Biden-Putin summit - in July according to follow-up confirmation by Zelensky.