Is the US doing enough to support Ukraine?

Is the US doing enough to support Ukraine? – was the central theme of discussion at the “Sisyphus in Security: Focus on the U.S.” session at the Kyiv Security Forum.

Along with the expressions of the U.S. general support for Ukraine in times of military conflict and on the path towards reforms, a more precise issue was brought on the discussion table by persistent questions from the forum’s audience. Is the US doing enough to support Ukraine?

At the panel there was a strong feeling of understanding that Ukraine’s security is a global matter.  “Recent crisis in Ukraine impacts all of us,” said Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs in 2001-2009 in a Skype conference call. But how it can be transformed into concrete actions?

“Solidarity and engagement” is what according to Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin one that has to deal with Russian aggression would expect from international partners. “I believe in security network based on values and solidarity. Here we’re not fighting just for Donbas and Ukraine but for the values,” the Minister said. International security system needs to produce and defend clear rules as well as mechanisms on how to get back to these rules when they’ve been broken, Minister Klimkin continued.

While it’s not the first time Russia violated the rules. Anna Fotyga, Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense of the European Parliament reminded that Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors was predictable looking back at its track record and war against Georgia in particular. In her opinion the international reaction back then was not strong enough. “EU and NATO membership was regarded as a security guarantee for us [for Poland],” said Fotyga, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Poland in 2006-2007.

“Yes, U.S. must be doing more to support Ukraine,” said Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow, Director, Arms Control Initiative, Brookings Institution, USA. “There is no serious discussion [in the U.S.] about financial support to Ukraine,” he added emphasizing that the West should consider helping Ukraine financially as it might be cheaper to prevent the country’s economic collapse rather than be dealing with its consequences. “I would argue that Ukraine is not in the priority list of US foreign policy,” said Pifer noting the US realizes that being a country between the EU/NATO and Russia Ukraine needs special attention within the US foreign policy. He also reminded that the security guarantees Ukraine got under the Budapest Memorandum turned to be an important factor that led Ukraine to the decision to give up its nuclear weapons. However sense of responsibility over its past commitments is not the only motivation to support Ukraine.

As after all, as Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kenan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center, said “the war you’re [Ukraine is] fighting is for the values of the US and EU.”


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