Call to Biden: US should help boost Ukraine’s reforms, move to NATO
By Illia Ponomarenko. Published March 10 at 8:03 pm
As U.S. President Joe Biden rolls out his foreign policy, his administration should focus on deepening its security partnership with Ukraine, dozens of Ukrainian and American former and serving policymakers and thinkers stated in a major public address aired on March 10.
In an open letter presented on the sidelines of the Kyiv Security Forum held in Ukraine’s capital, the numerous signatories called on the Biden administration to particularly give a boost towards Ukraine’s membership in NATO shielding it from the Kremlin aggression.
“We, American and Ukrainian politicians and diplomats, former officials, policy experts, and civil activists, strongly encourage the U.S. and Ukrainian governments to develop an ambitious and comprehensive agenda that deepens our strategic relationship,” the address says.
“That agenda should advance mutual interests, contribute to the strengthening of security and stability in central and eastern Europe, promote Ukraine’s further integration into the European Union and accession to NATO, and outline and prioritize transformational democratic reforms necessary for Ukraine’s full economic development and progress on the transatlantic track.”
The letter of 12 points was signed by over 70 prominent people, including political scientist Francis Fukuyama, former U.S. Army Europe commander Ben Hodges, or former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, or former Ukraine affairs envoy Kurt Volker.
The authors note that Ukraine’s cause of reforms and defense against Russia enjoys broad support among U.S. policymakers, “including among both Democrats and Republicans.”
Therefore, America should continue with its policy of providing Ukraine with assistance to help it defend itself from the Kremlin, they believe.
“This includes expanding our strategic partnership and defense cooperation, and the United States looking afresh to increase defense assistance with the objective of enhancing Ukrainian capabilities to deter further Russian attacks,” the address says.
“This includes the continued provision of lethal defensive assistance and strengthening naval forces. Other areas for possible military cooperation include the development of special operations forces, air defense, and coastal defenses.”
As of 2021, the amount of defense assistance, including lethal weapons, provided by the U.S. to Ukraine since 2014 is drawing close to a point of nearly $2 billion.
But what’s also important is that the U.S. administration should be thinking about making the ongoing war in Ukraine inappropriately costly to the Kremlin so that it would be forced to give up on it.
In this aspect, the Biden team should be in touch with European allies — but adhering to the principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” according to the statement.
The same goes for the Russian occupation of Crimea — the letter invariably refers to the peninsula as Ukrainian territory and applauds the Ukrainian effort to keep the fact of Russia’s illegal presence “in the eyes of the international community.”
In recent years, mostly following the Kerch Strait crisis, where Russian warships overtly attacked Ukrainian navy vessels, NATO militaries increased their maritime presence in the Black Sea. That is the correct policy of Russian deterrence, as authors believe, and it needs to be expanded.
“The United States, together with its NATO allies, should continue its regular deployments of air, land, and sea forces into the region, where Russia, Europe, the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus come together,” the letter says.
“The region is at the center of four great forces: democracy on its western edge; Russian military aggression to its north; Chinese financial influence to its east; and instability in the Middle East to its south. Ukraine and the United States should work with other allies in the area to protect common interests and deescalate tensions.”
Correct is also the policy of American resistance to the German-Russian gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 that will potentially strip Ukraine of up to $2 billion a year in gas transit revenue and skyrocket Russia’s political leverage in Europe.
“The United States and Ukraine should consult on how to build and maintain a unified transatlantic stance against the pipeline’s completion as well as on what steps that Russia might take with regard to Ukraine that could lead to a removal of Nord Stream 2 sanctions,” the experts suggest.
“At the same time, Ukraine must undertake serious reforms to become more energy-efficient and root out corruption in that and other sectors.”
Upon that, Ukraine’s NATO membership card promised as far back as in 2008 during the Alliance’s Bucharest summit is of key importance as well, and the Biden administration should do all within its hands to get this done.
“Ukraine should commit to undertaking the necessary reforms and practical actions that will bring its military and other defense and security structures into conformity with NATO standards and norms,” the letter says.
“Ukraine’s membership in NATO will strengthen the Alliance, contribute to the process of the historic unification of Europe, and create the preconditions for transforming relations with Russia.”
But at the same time, heaps of homework is for Ukraine to do in this realm.
In particular, the letter suggests that Kyiv should also be doing its very best combating corruption (particularly via the support of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau) and eliminating “the outsize political influence of oligarchs, to establish the rule of law with fair economic rules and practices for large, medium-sized, small, and foreign businesses, and to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ukrainian state.”
Last but not least, U.S. assistance should be closely linked with how successful Kyiv is in implementing reforms under international benchmarks, particularly those of the European Union.
“The Ukrainian government should commit immediately to the implementation of reforms as a matter of urgency,” the letter says.
“And the United States should, in coordination with international financial institutions, the European Union, and G7 partners continue to provide advice and assistance to help Ukraine build a modern democratic economy that is fully compatible with the standards and norms of the European Union. The EU Copenhagen criteria offer a sound roadmap.”
These measures were offered as “guidelines fostering the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine and for advancing the goals that each country hopes to achieve through our pivotal relationship,” as the authors concluded.
Original article, including comments from Ukrainians at the bottom, can be seen here: