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It's High Time to Reassess the United States’ Relationship with Ukraine

September 26, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Washington’s relationship with Ukraine has become the latest football in America’s partisan politics. Democrats charge that the Trump administration illegitimately put a new military aid package to Kiev on hold, using it as leverage to pressure Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to include in his investigation of the previous government’s notorious corruption the activities of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son.

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The younger Biden had a lucrative post on the board of directors of a large Ukrainian natural gas company with close ties to that government. President Trump vehemently denies the allegation that he was improperly trying to coerce Kiev into harassing the Bidens. Zelensky’s administration emphasizes that it wants to stay out of America’s bitter political warfare.

Largely lost in all the partisan maneuvering and bickering is a more important issue: the nature of Washington’s overall relationship with Ukraine and whether that relationship really serves America’s best interests. To examine that issue it is important to overcome an especially tenacious foreign policy myth: that Trump has engaged in an appeasement policy toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The appeasement accusation was an integral part of the “Russia collusion” narrative that not even the politically biased staff of former special counsel Robert Mueller could substantiate.

The reality is that the Trump administration’s Russia policy has been noticeably more uncompromising and confrontational than the approach Barack Obama adopted, and nowhere is that aspect more evident than with respect to Ukraine. It may not be a wise policy, but it is decidedly hardline.

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Despite explicit congressional authorizations, Obama refused to sell arms to Kiev, believing (with good reason) that such a step would exacerbate already serious Ukrainian-Russian tensions, and even more worrisome, exacerbate U.S.-Russian tensions. Conversely, the Trump administration approved two major arms sales to Ukraine during its first two years. The latter sale in the spring of 2018 even included Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The new arms package that Trump temporarily delayed was the third …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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