Zelensky's visit to US: What Ukraine can count on?

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his American counterpart Joe Biden will hold talks at the White House on September 1
21:56, 31 August 2021

Open source

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his American counterpart Joe Biden will hold talks at the White House on September 1. It just so happened that in the context of the ongoing confrontation with Russia, a part of the expert community and the political establishment of Ukraine has high expectations from this meeting. The potential for bilateral cooperation between the United States and Ukraine should not be underestimated. At the same time, there is no point in harboring illusions about the more active participation of the Biden administration in restoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The foreign policy strategy and decisions made in the White House are influenced by the geopolitical situation in the world, which is changing not in favor of Kyiv.

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Real prospects

Ukraine can count on fruitful cooperation with the United States on technical issues. The circumstances are favorable for this. The Biden administration is not going to scale back military aid for the young post-Soviet democracy, which has become the target of external aggression from the authoritarian regime. This position fits into Biden's foreign policy, which seeks to form a coalition of democratic countries led by the United States to counter the challenges of our time. The Americans will continue to supply Ukraine with Mark VI patrol boats, artillery systems, and radars necessary for the development of the Ukrainian Naval Forces, which were effectively destroyed by Russia during the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In the foreseeable future, the military-industrial complex of Ukraine will be able to benefit from the intensification of military-technical cooperation with the United States. Biden and Zelensky will sign partnership agreements in defense and research, development, testing, and evaluation. Together with American specialists, we will be able to develop weapons and military equipment, receive information about advanced military technologies, and conduct joint tests of military equipment using the Ukrainian material and technical base. The agreement creates conditions for attracting American investments by Ukrainian research organizations. Probably, under these agreements, the reform of Ukroboronprom was launched, which provides for the transformation of the state concern into a joint-stock company and the creation of business associations in order to simplify the attraction of investments.

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The presidents will sign an agreement on cooperation in the space industry, which meets the needs of narrow business circles in Ukraine and the United States. For example, in February 2021, the United States launched the Antares launch vehicle, developed by the American company Northrop Grumman in cooperation with the Yuzhnoye design bureau. The first stage of the rocket was manufactured by the Ukrainian company Yuzhmash. The American firm Firefly Black LLC, associated with Maksym Polyakov's Noosphere Ventures, has signed a $ 9.8 million contract with NASA to launch satellites into orbit. After the termination of cooperation with Russian companies, Ukrainian aerospace enterprises are experiencing a crisis, and cooperation with the United States is a breath of fresh air.

Zelensky's visit to the United States is aimed at increasing the investment attractiveness of Ukraine, especially in the segments of alternative energy and high technologies. The president is going to visit the state of California, where the headquarters of high-tech companies are located. It is no coincidence that Americans are interested in the Ukrainian green energy sector. In the July agreements on Nord Stream 2, Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to help attract $ 1 billion to green energy in Ukraine after the launch of the Russian gas pipeline.

This area echoes the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and Biden's Build Back Better World as a US response to the Belt and Road Initiative, which is helping China expand its influence in the world. There is a growth reserve for this industry in Ukraine. According to the Energy Strategy of Ukraine, the share of renewable energy sources in the country's energy balance should increase from 11 to 25% by 2035. From 2010 to 2020, $ 12.3 billion was attracted to the renewable energy sector of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed with a member of the US House of Representatives Marcy Kaptur the issue of attracting American investors to the production of "green" hydrogen in Ukraine and the infrastructure for its supply to Europe. According to the European Union, there are conditions in Ukraine for the creation of capacities for the production of this type of fuel with a capacity of 10 GW. For example, the German company Siemens and DTEK will install metallurgical plant equipment for the production of hydrogen.

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Security illusions

Do not expect anything extraordinary in the security field from the talks between Zelensky and Biden. MP Iryna Vereshchuk from the Servant of the People party is confident that American sanctions and military assistance are not enough and that a defense agreement is needed that will help "us ensure security, including in Europe." If Vereshchuk in such a pretentious manner expressed her expectations about conventional arms deliveries, this is one thing. It is quite another matter if the Ukrainian authorities count on the fact that the United States will undertake obligations in the field of mutual defense. Such a prospect is unlikely to serve American interests.

Agreements providing for the provision of mutual military assistance in the event of aggression, up to participation in hostilities, have been in force between the United States, Japan, and Taiwan since the middle of the 20th century. They remain relevant to this day since Japan and Taiwan are the strongholds of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and are involved in containing the military and political influence of China. Biden considers China to be the main competitor of the United States.

Therefore, Biden will not guarantee the security of Ukraine as an alternative to NATO membership, which Zelensky's team is persistently seeking, despite the fact that there is no consensus among the members of the organization on this issue. He does not want to find himself in a situation where, due to treaty obligations, he will have to send American troops to Ukraine to repel Russian aggression. Given the above circumstances, the Biden administration is unlikely to be eager to deal closely with the issue of returning Crimea to Ukraine and join the "Normandy format" of negotiations on Donbas.

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The situation is similar with Nord Stream 2. The United States did not slow down the construction of the gas pipeline with the help of sanctions for the sake of improving relations with Germany, which deteriorated under President Donald Trump, even if the Russian gas pipeline is not beneficial not only to Ukraine but also to American NATO partners such as Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, who also made money on the transit of natural gas.

On the eve of his visit to Washington, Zelensky drew attention to the need for an energy agreement and said that he would have a "big dispute" with the American side on Nord Stream 2. If we mean by an "energy agreement" a four-sided document with the participation of Ukraine, the United States, Germany, and Russia, which will spell out clear guarantees of maintaining certain volumes of transit through the gas transmission system (GTS) of Ukraine, then it is unlikely that Russian President Vladimir Putin will agree to something similar, given the fact that Nord Stream 2 was being built as an alternative to the Ukrainian route. It is difficult to guarantee any kind of transit quota, given that the gas market is not static and the volumes of supplies may change. It is more convenient for the Biden administration to confine itself to a promise to Ukraine that if Russia infringes on its interests, the United States and Germany will impose sanctions that will affect the operation of the Russian gas pipeline.

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