Ukrainian president leaves Washington buoyed by Trump’s support

Last Updated Jun 23, 2017 10:44 AM EDT

When Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited the Trump administration this week, he lauded the U.S. for continuing to apply pressure on Russia for violating his country’s territorial sovereignty and stood by the framework of the Minsk Agreement to halt the fighting in the Donbass region of Ukraine. This comes as U.S.-Russian relations have only become more tense in recent days.

Presidents Trump and Poroshenko discussed preserving Russian sanctions and possibly ramping up those sanctions until Russia adheres to the Minsk agreement, the Ukrainian president said. He called the sanctions “extremely important” and claimed it was “no coincidence” that the U.S. reinforced sanctions on 38 individuals and companies this week while he was in Washington.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke about the sanctions this week, describing them as an effort to “maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution.” And as Ukraine celebrated the expanded sanctions, Russia was not pleased. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the sanctions “regrettable” and accused the U.S. of “Russophobia.”

Earlier this month, Secretary Tillerson suggested Russia and Ukraine might agree to utilize a structure other than the Minsk agreement. He has said he doesn’t want the Trump administration to be “handcuffed” to the Minsk agreement, should an alternate vehicle for dialogue emerge. But at this point, neither Russia nor Ukraine has indicated that an alternative is being discussed. And after the Washington visit, the Ukrainians indicated that they want to see Minsk implemented.

Poroshenko does “not consider it necessary to change the Minsk and Normandy formats of negotiations,” he said in remarks at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington that were later distributed to reporters.

The Ukrainian president leaves Washington feeling that his message was heard by the…

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