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Photo: Amr Alfiky-Pool/Getty Images

The White House and the Ukrainian government initially sent out conflicting official accounts of Monday's phone call between President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: Ukraine's government initially reported on its official website that Biden had "highlighted... the importance of providing the Ukrainian state with a NATO Membership Action Plan," which would put Ukraine on course for membership in the alliance. The White House denied Biden expressed support for such a step on the call.

  • "The Ukrainians mischaracterized the statement and corrected the record," a National Security Council spokesperson told Axios.
  • By Monday evening, the Ukrainian government's readout had been changed to remove the reference to NATO membership for Ukraine.

Flashback: Former President George W. Bush first backed the idea of giving Ukraine a Membership Action Plan — the process through which 11 eastern European countries have joined NATO — in 2008. Thirteen years later, the besieged state is no closer to NATO membership.

  • In the meantime, Russia has invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The United States and Europe sent aid to Ukraine but made clear they would not use military force to defend Ukraine from Vladimir Putin.
  • Zelensky has made NATO integration a top priority, but progress on that front currently looks unlikely.

Of note: When asked, the White House declined to comment on whether Biden supports the idea of offering Ukraine a NATO Membership Action Plan this year.

Driving the news: During the call on Monday, Biden invited Zelensky to the White House in July.

Between the lines: That announcement came 18 hours after Axios published an interview with Zelensky in which the Ukrainian president criticized Biden's handling of Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline and urged Biden to meet with him "at any moment and at any spot on the planet" before seeing Putin.

Go deeper: Read the interview

Go deeper

Former Giuliani associate pleads guilty in campaign finance case

Igor Fruman at a federal court in New York City in October 2019. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A former associate of Rudy Giuliani pleaded guilty to soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national on Friday, almost two years after being charged with campaign finance violations, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Igor Fruman's plea may put pressure on Giuliani, who is the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation into his dealing in Ukraine, which Furman assisted with.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Texas governor: "All hostages are out alive and safe"

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

All four hostages have been safely released after a day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

The latest: "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.

The new normal: Google searches reveal America's COVID shopping habits

Data: The New Normal; Google Trends; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

As the pandemic enters its third year, some of America's COVID-era shopping habits — including strong demand for tequila and sweatpants — are here to stay.

Driving the news: Axios worked with Google Trends and the Schema Design firm to create The New Normal, which analyzes the products Americans have Googled since 2020. Items with a lasting increase in search interest help fill in the details of what our "new normal" looks like.