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23 October, 2013 19:25   ▪  

Expert: It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent Ukraine from becoming a Russian satellite

The integration of Ukraine into Russian-led organizations like Joint Economic Space, the Eurasian Union would recreate the geography of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire, strengthening and emboldening Moscow as a global geopolitical actor.The U.S. needs to assist Ukraine and its European partners in derailing Russia’s pressure tactics for bringing Ukraine into Moscow’s orbit, Senior Research Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy Ariel Cohen in his report for The Heritage Foundation.

“Ukraine is more democratically oriented than Russia. Historically, it has closer ties with Europe; and geopolitically, it can provide a necessary check on Russia’s imperial ambitions. In the best-case scenario, Ukraine can become a proud member of the European community; in the “medium” case, an independent Ukraine can be a buffer between an authoritarian, anti-Western Russia, and NATO/the EU; while in the worst case, Ukraine can once again lose its independence altogether and be drawn completely into the Russian orbit,” Cohen admits.

Thus, in his opinion, it is important for American policymakers to understand and counter Russia’s neo-imperial designs on Ukraine. Specifically, the U.S. should announce public and diplomatic support of associate EU membership for Ukraine and the DCFTA in Washington, Europe, and in Kyiv; send high-level officials to visit Ukraine; provide technical assistance, if requested, to boost the country’s lackluster economic performance; and encourage Europe to lower its trade tariffs with Kyiv.

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More precisely, the White House should reaffirm the guarantees of Ukrainian sovereignty and independence pledged by the U.S. in 1994, which include protection from economic pressure. The U.S. should also promote the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko from prison—a step that would further encourage the Europeans to sign the Association Agreement, Cohen says. US should also expand an international technical assistance to Ukraine for steps Kyiv may take to defend its trade from discriminatory Russian trade practices. One of the possible activities is a preparation of WTO claims. 

“The Obama Administration should denounce Moscow’s illegal economic pressure on Ukraine to force it to join the Customs Union and provide technical advice on measures Kyiv can take to oppose such pressure in the WTO and other international frameworks,” the expert claims.

American geopolitical interests and ties to Eastern Europe require high-profile and unambiguous support of Ukraine’s Association Agreement and DCFTA with the European Union. The U.S. needs to join Ukraine and its European partners in derailing Russian economic blackmail and soft-power pressures, Cohen admits.

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