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US Vice President Joe Biden visited Ukraine just after the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the United States (3 January). He was met solemnly in Boryspil airport. Later Biden held talks with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. The White House also announced that the visit of Vice President Joe Biden to Ukraine emphasizes the importance of providing support to Kyiv from Washington.
According to former US Ambassador John Herbst, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kyiv to prepare the Ukrainian leadership for a dialogue with Republicans from the team of US President-elect Donald Trump. Diplomat suggests that Joe Biden will recommend to Ukrainian authorities to continue to focus on the reforms to demonstrate the United States their efficiency.
Parting words to Republicans
It seems that Joe Biden visited Ukraine deliberately before the resigning from vice-president position. Democrat Biden wants to show the Republicans need to maintain the continuity of US foreign policy toward Ukraine based on the support of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Joe Biden during the years of tenure as US vice-president has gained a reputation as an informal curator of Ukrainian reforms. He consistently advocates for Ukraine's support in the confrontation with Russia. Biden also supports the extension of the anti-Russian sanctions.
To some extent, the position of Joe Biden regarding Ukraine reflects the mood in the US Congress, where Democrats and Republicans do not agree with the position of Donald Trump on the need to establish good relations with Russia. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham of the Republican camp, and Democrat Ben Cardin argue in favor of toughening anti-Russian sanctions and providing diplomatic and military support to Kyiv in the confrontation with Moscow. Let us remind that during the pre-election program, Donald Trump has admitted the possibility of recognition Crimea as the Russian territory. Joe Biden is going to make it clear to members of Donald Trump’s team that in building relations with Ukraine they should be guided by the position of US Congress, which at the legislative level, is laying the foundations of US foreign policy, not personal ambitions of their leader.
The visit of Joe Biden – is also a kind of a PR step aimed at attracting the attention of Republican Michael Pence, the future US vice president. Formally, the vice-president is the second person after the President in the American political system. Despite the fact that most of the powers in the sphere of executive power concentrated in the hands of the president, the vice-president can share his opinion with the owner of the Oval Office at the informal level. Michael Pence, as well as Joe Biden, is not a supporter of concessions to Russia. During the election campaign, he made a statement that Russia's actions in Syria and support of the Bashar al-Assad’s regime are contrary to American interests. According to Michael Pence, the United States must demonstrate its power to Russia. He admits the possibility of placing elements of the US missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. This initiative hasn’t been considered since the presidency of Republican George W. Bush. He also spoke in favor of providing Ukraine with bigger support package.
Slap to Trump’s face?
It is not clear how the US President-elect Donald Trump will react to the last visit of Joe Biden to Ukraine. Joe Biden is one of those American politicians-Democrats, who openly criticize Donald Trump and tend to lecture the new president. After Donald Trump showed his skepticism about information from the intelligence services of the Russian involvement in the cyber attacks against the United States during the presidential campaign, Joe Biden, in the air of PBS TV channel said that the president can’t know more than intelligence.
The visit of Joe Biden in this case can be seen as a kind of "slap" to the reputation of Donald Trump. This event can be interpreted as a manifestation of disagreement with the policies of the new Republican president from the side of the outgoing Democratic administration. Ukraine also does not look in its best in this situation. And the entire situation looks like Kyiv is still an ally of the outgoing administration and does not agree with the results of the US presidential election.
Whatever the election statements were made by some Republicans in connection with the relations between Ukraine and Russia, it is still unknown the true foreign policy strategy, which the command of Donald Trump will adhere to. In the United States, regardless of the ruling party, the foreign policy decisions are usually taken considering the national interests (security, economic benefits and other interests of the state, society and individual citizens) and are not based on personal ambitions and conclusions of individual politicians. Even if it is the president himself.
The national interests of the US during the election campaign were violated in different directions both by Russia and Ukraine. Russia violated the US cyberspace, hacking the servers of the Democratic Party, and Ukraine demonstratively supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, acting by the principle "my enemy's enemy – is my friend" instead of taking the waiting position. Ukraine has formed the bad background for establishing relations with the new administration of Republicans, taking a fighting stance in advance, rather than to demonstrate readiness for constructive dialogue and cooperation.