Ukraine is a former Soviet territory. Vladimir Putin wishes to reunite the Soviet territories with Russia, by force if necessary. Putin views a reunited Soviet Union as a restoration of Russia’s past glory.

In 2014, Russia invaded Crimea, a part of Ukraine. Ukraine has had to fend off further military aggression from Russia ever since, and is currently at war with Russian troops within Ukraine’s border.

Map-Ukraine

The United States has provided military and economic aid to help Ukraine defend itself. Further Russian invasion into Ukraine could enable Putin to enhance his power and could potentially serve as a gateway to invasions into European Union nations.

Beyond helping Ukraine defend itself, America’s aid also sends a signal to Russia that the United States supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, and that further Russian aggression may have consequences. Similarly, an in-person meeting between the President of Ukraine and the President of the United States communicates an important message of deterrence to Russia.

Congress had approved $400 million in mainly military aid to Ukraine in September 2018,  America’s release of this aid was halted by the President shortly before his July 25, 2019 phone call with President Zelensky. Trump had also earlier offered a White House meeting to Zelensky, but did not set a firm date.

In addition to defending itself against Russia, Ukraine has had issues with rampant corruption – a residual of its Soviet past. The Ukrainian people are frustrated with this, and elected Zelensky largely based on his anti-corruption agenda.

U.S. diplomats saw Zelensky’s election as an important but sensitive moment for Ukraine: the people were hopeful, Zelensky appeared genuine, but the wrong signals from the U.S. could send Ukraine in a direction away from the anti-corruption reforms that its people wanted, and could also put Ukraine in military jeopardy from Russia.


Key Quotes:


“In a regular NSC [National Security Council] secure video conference call on July 18th, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine, but could not say why. Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call… The person was off screen… said that she was from OMB, and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending on security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I, and others, sat in astonishment. Ukrainians were fighting Russians, and counted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support. All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the president, to the chief of staff, to OMB.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“At every meeting, the unanimous conclusion was that the security assistance should be resumed, the hold lifted. At one point, the Defense Department was asked to perform an analysis of the effectiveness of the assistance. Within a day, the Defense Department came back with a determination that the assistance was effective, and should be resumed.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“I expressed to [John Bolton] my serious concern about the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine while the Ukrainians were defending their country from Russian aggression. Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29th, describing the folly I saw in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east, and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government. ‘The Russians,’ as I said in my deposition, ‘would love to see the humiliation of President Zelensky at the hands of the Americans.’”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“Ukraine’s popular revolution of dignity in 2014 forced a corrupt, pro-Russian leadership to flee to Moscow. After that, Russia invaded Ukraine, occupying 7% of its territory, roughly equivalent to the size of Texas for the United States… Since then, more than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil, defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. America’s support in Ukraine’s own de facto war of independence has been critical in this regard.”

George Kent
Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucuses
(11/13/19)


“The history is not written yet, but Ukraine could move at out of Russia’s orbit. And now, Ukraine is a battleground for great power competition with a hot war for the control of territory and a hybrid war to control Ukraine’s leadership.”

Marie/Masha Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/15/19)


“Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of the US ambassador.”

Marie/Masha Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/15/19)


 “It is important to note that our country’s policy of supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, promoting Ukrainian prosperity, instructing a free and democratic Ukraine as a counter to Russian aggression, has been a consistent bipartisan foreign policy objective and strategy across the various administrations, both Democratic and Republican, and that president Zelensky’s election in April, 2019 created an unprecedented opportunity to realize our strategic objectives.
“In the spring of 2019 I became aware of two disruptive actors, primarily Ukraine’s then prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, president’s personal attorney, promoting false narratives that undermined the United States Ukraine policy. The NSC and its interagency partners, including the state department, grew increasingly concerned about the impact that such information was having on our country’s ability to achieve our national security objectives.”

U.S. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
National Security Counsel Ukraine Expert, Director for European Affairs
(11/19/19)


“The United States aids Ukraine and her people so they can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

Tim Morrison
White House Senior Director for European Affairs
(11/19/19)


“There is a great deal of hostility and malign intent towards Ukraine, and it suits the Russian government very much if we are also looking at Ukraine as somehow a perpetrator of malign acts against us.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)


“President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each another, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)


 ”The Russians like to put a lot of blame on U.S. allies for incidents that they have perpetrated … This falls into a long pattern of deflection and of the Russian government trying to pin the blame on someone else. As my colleague Mr. Holmes here has laid out, the Russians have a particular vested interest in putting Ukraine and Ukrainians and Ukrainian leaders in a very bad light.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)


“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

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