.
F

ew Americans know Ukraine as well as U.S. President Joe Biden. Throughout his public service career, Biden continuously supported the Eastern European state in its fight for democracy. During his 36-year tenure in the Senate, Biden sponsored several pieces of legislation on Ukraine. He was then selected as the point person on Ukraine during U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. While in this position, then-Vice President Biden oversaw $2 billion in financial assistance to the country. The United States helped Ukraine implement key defense reforms, and the U.S. provided critical, nonlethal military hardware to the Ukrainians during their fight against Russian aggression. Finally, Biden worked with Ukrainian officials in their fight against corruption, where he helped them implement crucial anti-corruption reforms. In short, Biden’s commitment to aiding the Eastern European state demonstrated that he understood the significance of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and Ukraine’s role on the European continent.

After the Obama administration, Ukraine regressed in many ways. The country has begun to backslide on its anti-corruption initiatives, undoing much of its hard work during the Euromaidan years. The war in the Donbas also continues without an end. Ukraine has entered another bleak period in its history, and the Ukrainians need someone who can help guide them from these struggles. Given Biden’s previous relationship with Ukraine, his administration should make it a priority to aid the country during its time of need.

First, the United States must reaffirm its commitment to supporting Ukraine. Over the past several years, American foreign aid programs to Eastern Europe and other areas of the globe were cut. Without the backing of the United States, many of these countries began to scale back on their anti-corruption efforts. In Ukraine, many oligarchs expanded their influence throughout various political circles, corruption within the judicial and economic systems grew, and ordinary Ukrainian citizens continued to suffer. Reintroducing these foreign aid programs and anti-corruption initiatives would strengthen several governmental and financial institutions. The success of these organizations is crucial for aspiring democracies such as Ukraine as they help reinforce transparency within the government, and they allow for the voices of citizens to be heard. Biden has also named the fight against corruption as a top priority for his administration.

Second, the Biden administration should provide lethal aid to Ukraine as the country continues to fight for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. April 2021 will mark the seven-year anniversary of Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression. 14,000 have died in the Donbas conflict, nearly two million are displaced, and the crisis has cost the Ukrainians billions. Providing lethal and non-lethal assistance to the Ukrainians would help them deter the Russian threat. Ukraine currently serves as a buffer between the European Union (EU) and Russia, and the success of Ukraine would lead to a more stable and secure European continent. If Ukraine were to fail, the Russians could gain a foothold in the heart of Europe. Russia would use this opportunity to spread its influence in the European mainland. This could lead to future conflicts between Russia and the EU.

Third, the United States and its allies must continue to hold Russia accountable for its aggressive behavior. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its military incursion into Ukraine’s Donbas region, the U.S. and EU imposed economic sanctions to punish Russia. The U.S. and EU recently renewed their sanctions on Russia, and these sanctions should stay in place until the Russian Federation returns Crimea and the Donbas to Ukraine. Similarly, Russia’s suspension from the G7 should remain until Russia’s conduct improves. Only then should the easing of sanctions be discussed between the West and Russia.

Finally, barring any COVID-19 restrictions, Biden should make it a priority to meet with Ukrainian foreign dignitaries. Over the past 13 years, no sitting U.S. president has visited Ukraine. Moreover, an American vice president has not visited Ukraine in four years. A sitting Ukrainian president has also not visited the White House in four years. Encouraging a state visit between the United States and Ukraine would further underscore America’s commitment to Ukraine as the Eastern European state fights for democracy. Biden has previously visited Ukraine on six occasions and he wants to see Ukraine succeed as a democratic state.

Overall, Biden will encounter numerous challenges throughout his presidency. These issues will span from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a global recession to combatting oppressive regimes and eradicating corruption throughout the world. Nonetheless, the Biden administration should not overlook Ukraine. Biden’s record demonstrates that he understands the significance of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and he has previously stressed that the success of this state “is in the vital national interest of both the United States [and Europe].” Implementing these Ukraine policies and supporting the country in its fight for democracy would see the U.S. gain a valuable partner on the European continent. After all, the success of Ukraine will lead to a freer and more prosperous Europe. A failed Ukraine would be both dangerous and costly.

Disclaimer: During the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Mark was a volunteer and an advisor to Ukrainian Americans for Biden (UAB), a network within the Democratic National Committee’s National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council. The opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author and do not reflect the views of UAB.

About
Mark Temnycky
:
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited freelance journalist who covers European politics and sports. His articles have been published by the Atlantic Council, the Wilson Center, Forbes, and EURACTIV.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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www.diplomaticourier.com

First 100 Days: The Case for Supporting Ukraine

Photo by Max Kukurudziak via Unsplash.

February 23, 2021

F

ew Americans know Ukraine as well as U.S. President Joe Biden. Throughout his public service career, Biden continuously supported the Eastern European state in its fight for democracy. During his 36-year tenure in the Senate, Biden sponsored several pieces of legislation on Ukraine. He was then selected as the point person on Ukraine during U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. While in this position, then-Vice President Biden oversaw $2 billion in financial assistance to the country. The United States helped Ukraine implement key defense reforms, and the U.S. provided critical, nonlethal military hardware to the Ukrainians during their fight against Russian aggression. Finally, Biden worked with Ukrainian officials in their fight against corruption, where he helped them implement crucial anti-corruption reforms. In short, Biden’s commitment to aiding the Eastern European state demonstrated that he understood the significance of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and Ukraine’s role on the European continent.

After the Obama administration, Ukraine regressed in many ways. The country has begun to backslide on its anti-corruption initiatives, undoing much of its hard work during the Euromaidan years. The war in the Donbas also continues without an end. Ukraine has entered another bleak period in its history, and the Ukrainians need someone who can help guide them from these struggles. Given Biden’s previous relationship with Ukraine, his administration should make it a priority to aid the country during its time of need.

First, the United States must reaffirm its commitment to supporting Ukraine. Over the past several years, American foreign aid programs to Eastern Europe and other areas of the globe were cut. Without the backing of the United States, many of these countries began to scale back on their anti-corruption efforts. In Ukraine, many oligarchs expanded their influence throughout various political circles, corruption within the judicial and economic systems grew, and ordinary Ukrainian citizens continued to suffer. Reintroducing these foreign aid programs and anti-corruption initiatives would strengthen several governmental and financial institutions. The success of these organizations is crucial for aspiring democracies such as Ukraine as they help reinforce transparency within the government, and they allow for the voices of citizens to be heard. Biden has also named the fight against corruption as a top priority for his administration.

Second, the Biden administration should provide lethal aid to Ukraine as the country continues to fight for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. April 2021 will mark the seven-year anniversary of Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression. 14,000 have died in the Donbas conflict, nearly two million are displaced, and the crisis has cost the Ukrainians billions. Providing lethal and non-lethal assistance to the Ukrainians would help them deter the Russian threat. Ukraine currently serves as a buffer between the European Union (EU) and Russia, and the success of Ukraine would lead to a more stable and secure European continent. If Ukraine were to fail, the Russians could gain a foothold in the heart of Europe. Russia would use this opportunity to spread its influence in the European mainland. This could lead to future conflicts between Russia and the EU.

Third, the United States and its allies must continue to hold Russia accountable for its aggressive behavior. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its military incursion into Ukraine’s Donbas region, the U.S. and EU imposed economic sanctions to punish Russia. The U.S. and EU recently renewed their sanctions on Russia, and these sanctions should stay in place until the Russian Federation returns Crimea and the Donbas to Ukraine. Similarly, Russia’s suspension from the G7 should remain until Russia’s conduct improves. Only then should the easing of sanctions be discussed between the West and Russia.

Finally, barring any COVID-19 restrictions, Biden should make it a priority to meet with Ukrainian foreign dignitaries. Over the past 13 years, no sitting U.S. president has visited Ukraine. Moreover, an American vice president has not visited Ukraine in four years. A sitting Ukrainian president has also not visited the White House in four years. Encouraging a state visit between the United States and Ukraine would further underscore America’s commitment to Ukraine as the Eastern European state fights for democracy. Biden has previously visited Ukraine on six occasions and he wants to see Ukraine succeed as a democratic state.

Overall, Biden will encounter numerous challenges throughout his presidency. These issues will span from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a global recession to combatting oppressive regimes and eradicating corruption throughout the world. Nonetheless, the Biden administration should not overlook Ukraine. Biden’s record demonstrates that he understands the significance of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and he has previously stressed that the success of this state “is in the vital national interest of both the United States [and Europe].” Implementing these Ukraine policies and supporting the country in its fight for democracy would see the U.S. gain a valuable partner on the European continent. After all, the success of Ukraine will lead to a freer and more prosperous Europe. A failed Ukraine would be both dangerous and costly.

Disclaimer: During the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Mark was a volunteer and an advisor to Ukrainian Americans for Biden (UAB), a network within the Democratic National Committee’s National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council. The opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author and do not reflect the views of UAB.

About
Mark Temnycky
:
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited freelance journalist who covers European politics and sports. His articles have been published by the Atlantic Council, the Wilson Center, Forbes, and EURACTIV.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.