Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington sometime before next month’s G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, three Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and Washington told RFE/RL on June 14.
The officials, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the visit until it was announced officially, said the exact date of the first tête-à-tête between the two leaders had not yet been nailed down, but that it would probably occur next week. The Interfax-Ukraine news agency, citing an unnamed source, said the meeting would take place on June 19-20.
Two of RFE/RL’s sources said Poroshenko’s administration had accepted an invitation that was extended by the White House, though they were not sure whether the visit would be an official state visit.
A spokesperson for Poroshenko declined to comment, saying a statement would appear on the Ukrainian presidential website soon.
Asked whether Trump and Poroshenko would meet next week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told RFE/RL via text message that he could "not officially" confirm it, adding a smiley face emoji.
Klimkin’s office has been working since Trump’s election victory to arrange a meeting between the U.S. head of state and his Ukrainian counterpart.
One Ukrainian diplomat who requested anonymity told RFE/RL that a lot is riding on the meeting. The diplomat explained that while Ukrainian officials have said publicly that they received messages of support from Trump administration officials since he took office in January, privately they have been concerned by flattering comments Trump has made about Russian President Vladimir Putin and have wondered whether the White House might cut a deal with Moscow to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine at Kyiv’s expense.
A meeting this month would potentially be particularly reassuring for Kyiv because Trump is expected to meet Putin for the first time at the July 7-8 G20 summit in Hamburg.
Before that gathering, Trump is to meet with leaders of several countries that are wary of Russia's intentions at a Warsaw summit of a regional group that includes the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia.
News of a Poroshenko-Trump meeting comes amid reports that the conflict in eastern Ukraine is again intensifying. At least 15 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 73 more were wounded during battle with Russia-backed militants in the first 13 days of June, according to military statistics.
A United Nations report on June 13 said at least 10,090 people, including 2,777 civilians, have been killed during the conflict since it began in April 2014. A peace deal known as the Minsk accords to bring it to an end has thus far failed to do so.