KIEV, (Sputnik) – The press service of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed on Saturday information about his meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis on August 24.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik that Mattis would visit Ukraine on August 24 and hold meetings with Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak.
“On August 24, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will hold talks with US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who will visit Kiev on the occasion of the Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations,” the press service said.
The US secretary of defense aims to reiterate during bilateral discussions the President Donald Trump administration’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to improving the strategic defense partnership between the United States and Ukraine, according to Pentagon.
George Tuka, the Ukrainian deputy minister for temporary occupied territories and internally displaced persons, said earlier in the day that Mattis’ visit might influence the situation in Donbas and Crimea, though no concrete steps would be taken immediately.
“I hope that, on the one hand, it will lead to the strengthening of our armed forces, and, on the other hand, [it will result in] US authorities’ pressure on those actors within their country that … are only guided by business interests, who face losses due to sanctions against Russia … I do not think that this visit will result tomorrow in concrete actions. Certain agreements will be reached, perhaps, they will be implemented in some time,” Tuka told the 112 Ukraine broadcaster.
According to Tuka, ‘the common vision of the future development of bilateral relations will be discussed” at Poroshenko, Mattis meeting.
The military conflict in Donbas started in 2014, when the Ukrainian authorities launched a military operation against the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) that refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which came to power after what many considered to be coup.
Crimea rejoined Russia after almost 96 percent of its voters supported the move through a referendum held in March 2014. Brussels as well as Kiev and Washington, did not recognize the referendum results. Russian authorities have repeatedly said that the Crimean residents decided to rejoin Russia in a democratic procedure and that the referendum was conducted in compliance with international law.