How would the U.S. change the policy towards Ukraine after the elections?

Author : Ivan Medynskyi

Source : 112 Ukraine

Establishing relations with Russia vs. strengthening sanctions: what do Democrats and Republicans choose?
10:15, 26 February 2016

Read the original text pn Evropeiska Pravda.

Less than a year has Obama’s Administration, and during this period we should not expect significant changes in its position on Europe and Ukraine.

Now all hopes are turned to the future of the U.S. leadership, that is, first of all, to the presidential candidate of the Republican and Democratic parties. Russian aggression against Ukraine has become for them a real test of understanding of foreign policy and international security.

And with the Ukrainian perspective, not all candidates have passed this test.

Although the Ukrainian issue is not so frequent on the agenda of the presidential debate, it is not a sign of ignorance, but rather evidence of "ripening" the views of candidates. In general, all the favorites campaigns are condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine, but offer different solutions to the conflict.

“Institute of World Politics” Analytical Center has analyzed for the position of the highest-rated candidates of Ukrainian question.

Let's try to answer the question: what awaits us after America gets a new president?

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As it turned out, party is not a determining factor for candidates. Thus, the representative of Democrats Hillary Clinton promised to confront Putin and to support Ukraine in economic and military aspects. Rather, it will serve to strengthen the relationship between NATO and Ukraine.

In contrast, her colleague Bernie Sanders sees NATO expansion as a provocation against Russia. He will continue to Obama's strategy, which is characterized by a combination of diplomatic efforts and sanctions against Russia.

Concerning this issue, Republican camp has no unity.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio promise to radically strengthen support for Kyiv. They expressed their thoughts about the absolute necessity of providing Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons, the strengthening of the Ukrainian economy and expanding trade relations.

Both candidates favor tougher sanctions against Russia,

which, according to Ted Cruz, must be accompanied by the deployment of ABM systems in Europe and diversification of energy resources.

Unlike other candidates, Republican Donald Trump insists that "establishing relationships" with Russia to jointly fight against ISIS, and that the conflict in Crimea, and that European states should take care of mediating conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Democrats or Republicans - who is "better" for Ukraine?

Another aspect worthy of note is the U.S. public opinion, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center,

American population supports economic assistance to Ukraine (62%) and its membership in NATO (also 62%).

However, if we analyze separately expectations of supporters of Republican and Democratic parties, the difference becomes apparent.

Republicans are more likely to support the delivery of weapons Ukraine (60%) and its membership in NATO (71%), while the democratic camp policies supported respectively only 39% and 59% of voters. Therefore, despite the radical statements of some participants in the race to make assumptions about the "best candidate for Kyiv" is too early.

Often promises after the election face reality and remain unfulfilled. The newly elected president can adjust them not only because of the lack of political will, but also the lack of consensus between various branches of government.

The political deadlock in Congress that pursued Obama’s administration throughout his term in office, is unlikely to stop soon.

However, it is already possible to single out the best and worst scenarios, based on the statements of politicians during the race.

The worst strategy that Ukraine can expect from the new American president will include preserving economic aid and the decline in military support, a gradual lifting of sanctions and the rapprochement between Russia and the United States by ignoring the recent problems of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

The best course may involve strengthening trade relations between the U.S. and Ukraine, diversification of energy supplies, and deepening partnership with NATO and further pressure on Russia through sanctions and other measures will return to the annexed and occupied territories under the control of Ukraine.

To determine the location of each candidate in this spectrum, we analyzed the experience, campaign promises and arguments used in the debate between main candidates from Democrats and Republicans.

Hillary Clinton (average rating - 49.2%)

Hereinafter, the average rating of the candidate states as of February 22, 2016, according to the project FiveThirtyEight.

Former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton, of course, has greater than the other candidates experience in foreign policy. It highlights their achievements as head of the State Department during the "reset" relations with Russia, such as the agreement New START, aimed at reducing the nuclear arsenal of both countries.

Clinton clearly declares its readiness to confront Putin. In particular - in the economic sphere, reducing Europe's dependence on Russian oil. As for sanctions against Russia, Clinton insists that European countries should make more efforts in this area.

Hillary Clinton is well known in the Ukrainian question. She visited Ukraine as first lady, and later - as head of the U.S. State Department.

Related: American border control systems arrived in Ukraine

Clinton is ready to increase financial support for Ukraine, yet insisting that further assistance should be accompanied by increased responsibility of the Ukrainian government.

She believes that the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian people deserve more when it comes to the supply of military equipment and instructors.

According to Clinton, Putin sees the world as that enhance the security of other states mean weakening Russia. In her opinion, the annexation of Crimea may be considered in this light.

In 2008, she became co-author of the resolution of the Senate to provide strong support for NATO MAP to Ukraine and Georgia. Even after former President Yanukovych said that Ukraine has no plans to join NATO, Clinton said that the door to NATO remains opened.

She remains a firm supporter of continuing the policy of openness to NATO expansion.

 Bernie Sanders (average rating - 39.2%)

Experienced Congressman Bernie Sanders has built his campaign on the principles of democratic socialism, as well as disappointment in current political establishment. Since the announcement of the decision to participate in the race, his approval rating has increased threefold.

Related: American ammunition straight to Ukrainian Army

Bernie Sanders enlisted the support of young Americans and, as shown by primaries in New Hampshire, was even able to get more votes among women voters than Hillary Clinton.

While his platform involves changing the status quo in domestic affairs,

in relations with Russia and Ukraine Bernie Sanders supports the current course of President Obama.

Yes, he promised to continue the policy of pressure on Russia by freezing Russian assets worldwide and obstructing the flow of new investments in the Russian economy. However, he consistently opposed the expansion of NATO, considering it a waste of money and unnecessary provocation of Russia.

Besides Sanders does not consider Russia a top priority and security policy of the United States puts it below ISIS and North Korea.

Unlike other candidates, Bernie Sanders has made no direct applications to support Ukraine. Given the fact that he believes Obama's approach the best rate for Sanders winning new impetus to the problem of Russian aggression seems unlikely.

Donald Trump (average rating - 34.7%)

Donald Trump's success in the polls and early primaries is a sign that Republican voters are tired of the current situation in the Republican Party.

Related: US honored American veterans of Ukrainian origin

Trump is not afraid to deliver an opinion on the most controversial issues of society and uses a disappointment economic and political problems of the United States.

Despite the lack of foreign policy experience, Donald Trump does not hesitate to criticize Obama's strategy in relation to Moscow and to make statements about their approach to the development of relations between the U.S. and Russia if he wins.

Related: Annexed Crimean city invites US presidential candidate Donald Trump

In particular, he promised to "establish relations" with Putin. The latter welcomed the possibility of rapprochement and called Trump "clear leader in the presidential race".

Although Moscow's favorite U.S. presidential race has clearly determined to consider his pro-Russian candidate is not necessary.

Trump statement that sanctions against Russia will be lifted only if Moscow "behaves properly" and that it is indifferent whether Ukraine joins NATO or not, it is unlikely to delight the Kremlin administration.

Indeed, his strategy on Ukraine is at least inconsistent and ambiguous.

On the one hand, it requires European countries, especially Germany, greater financial support for Ukraine, as well as activity on the Crimean issue. On the other hand, flirting between the Russian President and Donald Trump suggests that not only Ukraine but also the whole Europe in the event of his victory could become a victim of the approach "business as usual".

Ted Cruz (average rating - 19.4%)

Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, somewhat surprisingly won the first caucus in Iowa, inflaming intrigue of the presidential campaign, the Republican Party.

Related: Obama vetoed defense bill that authorized lethal assistance to Ukraine

Unlike Trump, Cruz believes that the United States had the right to respond to aggression of Russia against Ukraine, placing missiles in Poland and Czech Republic, as well as starting the export of liquefied natural gas to Europe. He has repeatedly criticized Obama's approach to the problem of the annexation of Crimea and called for the introduction of tougher sanctions against Russia in the energy and financial sectors.

Cruz is also a supporter of close cooperation with allies in NATO to counter violent extremism.

Senator Ted Cruz was one of the co-authors of “Ukraine Freedom Support Act”,

under which Ukraine received financial aid and loan guarantees necessary to counter Russian aggression. His economic strategy on Ukraine aimed at expanding trade relations and reduce dependence on energy.

As for the military aspect, Cruz believes that the United States must be ready to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine under their obligations to Kyiv and in accordance with existing bilateral agreements.

Marco Rubio (average rating - 15.3%)

The senator from Florida and the son of Cuban immigrants, Marco Rubio has developed the most detailed strategy for Ukraine and Russia.

Plan of Rubio "Protection and restoration of the sovereignty of Ukraine" aimed at regaining control over Crimea and occupied eastern regions. It provides support for the modernization of the Ukrainian economy, providing lethal weapons, military training Ukrainian and Russian assets freeze and expand sanctions.

Rubio said president of Russia is a gangster, "the leader of an organized criminal group, heading a country

and controlling economy worth $ 2 trillion ... using the resources available for the rapid military build-up, despite the rapid decline of the economy".

In an effort to protect Europe from Russian threats Marco Rubio plans to establish permanent US military presence on the continent, strengthen defense and NATO allies to increase the amount of aid to Georgia and Moldova.

Moreover, he does not intend to close the door to the Alliance for states that meet the conditions for entry and wants to deprive Russia of any possibility to intervene in the process.

* * * * *

Of course, promises candidates may eventually change.

When the White House will receive forty-fifth president, the situation in the world can be completely different. The probability of a clash of great powers in Syria, further Russian expansion in Eastern Europe or the Baltic region, migration crisis, as well as the approach of the new president's foreign policy  - this is not a complete list of factors that affect the reality .

Nevertheless, the general expectation is quite possible. And we should remember what the candidate promised to do for Ukraine, less than a year before his election to the highest office in America.

Related: The U.S. lethal weapons for Ukraine: mechanisms and implications

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