On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Kiev on a farewell visit as part of his final overseas trip before leaving office. He has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters and his visit comes at a time when many Ukrainians are harboring deep feelings of anxiety about their nation’s future after Donald Trump is inaugurated on 20 January. The greatest concern is that US support will diminish after next week. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump expressed his wishes to improve US-Russian relations if possible. Many Ukrainians interpreted this to mean that if he were elected, US support will dry up. Whether or not that’s the case remains to be seen. However, given Trump’s comments about Vladimir Putin recently, it is safe to assume that the United States will keep backing Ukraine for at least the next few months.
It is unclear whether Biden’s visit will be anything beyond a ‘keep your chin up’ pep-talk as he exits the geo-political stage. Certainly, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is hoping for more. Following Trump’s election, the two men spoke and Poroshenko stressed Ukraine’s need for US backing to assure security and the continued implementation of reforms. They agreed to hold a bilateral meeting but no concrete plans have been laid yet.
As far as the current Biden goes, he was a strong political supporter of Ukraine, visiting there four times during his tenure and maintaining regular contact with Poroshenko and other Ukrainian leaders. Behind the scenes in Washington he was personally involved in formulating many of the decisions concerning US policy with Ukraine since the 2014 invasion of Crimea and subsequent War in Donbass. That conflict has been somewhat forgotten to an extent lately. Ukraine wants to make sure that the world does not forget that the fighting and its struggle with Russia continue.