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Biden administration urged Zelensky not to leave Ukraine and visit Munich

“That is a decision for him to make, but regardless of what decision he makes, he will find a strong partner in the United States,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked during a press briefing whether it would be wise for Zelensky to make the trip.

Some US officials are concerned that his leaving the country could open the door for Russia to make false claims that he has fled. While officials haven’t explicitly asked Zelensky not to make the trip — and have been careful to make it clear that it’s up to him — those concerns have been communicated, one of the officials said.

Asked if any US officials had communicated concerns directly to Zelensky, Psaki said she was “not going to detail any private conversations.” Psaki, however, did add that it was conveyed privately what Biden administration officials have said publicly: The decision was Zelensky’s to make.

The senior Ukrainian official said concerns were raised that conflict could break out at any moment and air travel may be disrupted.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak, when asked to confirm concerns were raised, told CNN the “diplomatic frontline is just as important today as the frontline in the Donbas”.

“A fairly representative delegation from the United States, including Vice President (Kamala) Harris, and many European political actors are also expected to attend,” Podoliak said. “It is quite natural that the Ukrainian authorities should not only be present at the key event of the diplomatic frontline, but also participate in the relevant discussions.”

“But our position is simple: The fate of Ukraine should be decided by Ukraine, and not by anyone behind Ukraine’s back. At the moment, the situation in the east of the country is completely under control, and any pauses in work on the diplomatic frontline would be unmotivated,” Podoliak added.

As of now, Zelensky is scheduled to meet with Harris and US lawmakers, who are in Munich for the security conference.

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