Biden and Ukraine: US experts propose strategy for new administration

Source : 112 Ukraine

Top experts and former US ambassadors to Ukraine lay out a plan for how the Biden team can repair relations with Ukraine
10:12, 7 March 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden

Top experts and former US ambassadors to Ukraine lay out a plan for how the Biden team can repair relations with Ukraine, encourage President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team to commit once and for all to lasting reform in the country, and how to engage in the peace process to end the conflict in the Donbas. It was reported by Voice of America, citing analytical note for the White House initiated by Atlantic Council.

Among other things, Biden is being encouraged to take advantage of Zelensky's desire to "interact with his new team."

"Zelensky is different from his immediate predecessor. He hails from Ukraine’s Russian speaking east, was not an active participant in the Revolution of Dignity, has had little contact with the West, and took a battering during Trump’s first impeachment in which Ukraine was front and center," the note reads.

Related: Standing up for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity remains vital concern for EU, US, - Biden

In addition, the authors of the document recommend the Biden administration to take a series of security and diplomatic steps in Ukraine, as well as take a clear position on its internal reforms. They called the sanctions against Ihor Kolomoysky a part of this policy.  

So, once the Biden administration has reestablished close relations with Ukraine, Biden’s team should:

  • Take leadership of Donbas diplomacy. Play an enhanced role in the negotiations to end the war.
  • Work with Congress to increase military assistance to Ukraine to $500,000,000 per year.
  • Enhance security in southeast Europe and the Black Sea in consultation with NATO allies and partners.
  • Deepen Ukraine’s integration with NATO. Grant Ukraine the status of major non-NATO ally under US law. Warn Russia that if it remains intransigent in Ukraine, Washington will consider additional steps, including establishing a permanent US military presence at a Ukrainian training center close to the occupied territories and launching a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine.
  • Strategic approach to sanctions. Work with the EU, European allies, and G7 partners to establish the concept of conditional sanctions on Russia if it continues its aggression in the Donbas. But make cle,ar that sanctions aren’t forever.
  • Stay the course on ending Nord Stream 2.
  • Support the government of Ukraine’s efforts to organize the “Crimean Platform,” as it keeps occupied Crimea on the international agenda and reminds people, including in Russia, that Crimea is still Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.

On the issues of domestic reform in Ukraine, the Biden administration should:

  • Empower a senior official as the US point person for reform.
  • Prioritize the establishment of independent courts.
  • Take action against the major corrupt figures undermining reform in Ukraine. Energetically pursue the US request to Austria to extradite Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, and pursue legal processes against Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky in the United States.
  • Press for reform of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
  • Work to re-empower the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).
  • Push for abolition of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) economic department.
  • Push to restore the competitive and transparent appointment of state officials on the basis of competence. Non-reformers seemingly loyal to various vested interests are currently being selected.
  • Work for a return to a reform program in the health sector.
  • Urge the completion of the liberalization of energy markets.
  • Help establish full transparency of the ultimate beneficiary owners of major media and prohibit not only Russian television but also television channels owned by figures working in the Kremlin’s interests.
  • Reiterate strong support for the independence of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU).
  • Champion anti-monopoly legislation to limit the influence of large businesspeople on Ukraine’s economy and political system.
  • Outline a program that would stimulate US corporate investment in Ukraine if Ukraine proceeds with substantial prosecutorial and court reform.

As we reported earlier, Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to coordinate on issues of shared interest, including China, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Western Balkans. The leaders discussed this during their telephone conversation on March 5.

Related: Biden administration preparing to sanction Russia for SolarWinds hacks and the poisoning of an opposition leader

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