By Allie Malloy and Maegan Vazquez, CNN
President Joe Biden said Monday he is “not likely” to visit Ukraine when he travels to Europe for the Group of Seven summit and a meeting of NATO leaders later on this week.
The President told reporters a stop in Ukraine is “not likely” on the upcoming trip, which will include stops in Germany and Spain. Biden said he does not want to “cause more difficulty for Ukrainians” by adding a stop.
On Saturday, Biden will travel to Schloss Elmau in southern Germany to attend the G7 Leaders’ Summit, a meeting that is expected to include a focus on Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. On June 28, the President will travel to Madrid, Spain, for the 2022 NATO Summit — another alliance that has been aiding Ukraine amid Russia’s advancements.
The decision to avoid travel to Ukraine less than a week after the Biden administration announced it was providing an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine to fight Russia. The package includes shipments of additional howitzers, ammunition and coastal defense systems.
Biden, speaking to members of the press while walking along the sand in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, also said on Monday that he believes it’s “very likely” Ukraine will become a member of the European Union.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the commission has recommended that Ukraine be given “candidate status” in the EU.
Shortly after Friday’s recommendation, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the move requires Moscow’s “increased attention.” That same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech that the EU has “fully lost its political sovereignty” and that “its elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, harming their own population.”
Ukrainian leaders — including the nation’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky — have called on Biden to visit their country since the spring.
“I think he will. I mean, it’s his decision, of course,” Zelensky told CNN’s “State of the Union” in April. “And about the safety situation, it depends. I mean that. But I think he’s the leader of the United States, and that’s why he should come here to see.”
So far, Biden has not crossed into Ukraine, but he has visited neighboring Poland.
During his trip to Poland in March to observe the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the war, Biden suggested that though he had wanted to cross the border into Ukraine “they will not let me.”
“I’m here in Poland to see firsthand the humanitarian crisis and quite frankly, part of my disappointment is that I can’t see it firsthand like I have in other places,” Biden said at the time. “They will not let me, understandably, I guess, cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine.”
Other top members of the Biden administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and first lady Jill Biden, have visited Ukraine since the war began.
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