The US supports ‘a just and lasting peace’ for Ukraine, Harris tells Zelenskyy at Swiss summit

OBBÜRGEN, 15 Jun: Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday pledged America’s full support in backing Ukraine and global efforts to achieve “a just and lasting peace” in the face of Russia’s invasion, representing the United States at an international gathering on the war and meeting with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelen-skyy to discuss his country’s vision for ending it.
As she arrived at the meeting venue overlooking Lake Lucerne for what would be a 28-hour dash from Washington and back, Harris announced $1.5 billion in U.S. assistance through the State Depart-ment and the U.S. Agency for International Develop-ment. That includes money for energy assistance, repairing damaged energy infrastructure, helping refugees and strengthening civilian security in the wake of the aggression by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“War is not our choice. It’s Putin’s choice,” Zelenskyy said alongside Harris before their private meeting. “And with this summit today, we will do everything we can to start moving toward real peace.”
Harris responded: “I am here today to stand with Ukraine and the leaders from around the world in support of a just and lasting peace.” She added that “as we look forward to that peace and work toward that, the United States is committed to helping Ukraine rebuild.”
President Joe Biden was in Los Angeles after three days at the Group of Seven summit in Italy, where he held talks with Zelenskyy. Biden flew from Europe to California for a Saturday night fundraiser with Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
That decision to skip the summit on Ukraine spotlights the competing election-year demands facing Biden as he tries to balance a complicated domestic and foreign policy agenda while running against former President Donald Trump. It also reflects the growing profile Harris has found making the case for a second Biden term as the 2024 campaign heats up.
“Being vice president means you take a lot of hits for the team,” said Matt Bennett, who served as an aide to former Vice President Al Gore. “In the past, these moments on the global stage have been good for her. She looks presidential and very capable among world leaders.”
Zelenskyy, for months, publicly lobbied Biden and other world leaders to take part in the meeting, even warning that their absence could further embolden Putin in his 28-month war. Biden ultimately decided to send Harris and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan to represent the administration.
“Skipping the summit is a missed opportunity for the president and for the United States,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. “That said, sending the vice president with the national security adviser is not exactly sending the junior varsity team.”
Biden has increasingly turned to Harris as he tries to reassemble the coalition of voters behind the victory over Trump — and one needed again to help win a second term. Harris has taken a more visible role in making the pitch for Biden to a diverse cross-section of the Democratic base.
She visited an abortion clinic in Minneapolis to spotlight the administration’s record on the issue. She has launched an effort to highlight economic development on Biden’s watch, with a particular focus on minority communities. (AP)