Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, had it rough while former President Donald Trump was in office, getting thrown into a domestic U.S. political dispute that eventually led to Trump's first impeachment simply because Zelensky was on the receiving end of a notorious Trump phone call. While it's expected that the Kyiv-Washington relationship will proceed much more smoothly now, some people in President Biden's orbit want to make it clear that the new administration may have to show Zelensky some "tough love" early on, even while reaffirming Washington's commitment to protecting Ukraine's sovereignty, Politico reports.
A former U.S. official who remains close to the Biden administration told Politico that Zelensky "is not struggling with all his might to fight corruption" in Ukraine, a priority for Biden, who dealt with the issue when he was vice president. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, added that he thinks Zelensky's "reform agenda has predictably stalled." If it doesn't pick up again soon, Murphy said, "it's going to be hard to make the case to Congress to continue to support Ukraine."
Some Ukrainian government officials have reciprocal concerns about Biden's agenda, particularly when it comes to Nord Stream 2, an under-construction Russian-German gas pipeline. The project could deprive Ukraine of up to $1 billion in annual revenue while strengthening Russia's geopolitical standing in the region. There is reportedly a sense in Kyiv that Biden could prioritize the U.S.-Germany relationship, especially after it took a hit during the Trump years. A Biden administration official dismissed the idea, telling Politico that Biden views the pipeline as a "clear example" of Russian aggression, but William Taylor, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said there is some tension about Nord Stream policy in the White House. Read more at Politico.