Washington Post: Ukraine’s independence needs US support before the Norman meeting

Washington should remove the diplomatic vacuum in relations with Kiev as soon as possible and show that it supports Ukrainian independence.

One aspect that is not easily noticed in the current Ukrainian scandal is the harm done to the young government of Vladimir Zelensky, who won free and fair elections in spring, promising to fight corruption and end the war with Russia. The President of Ukraine has achieved some success on both fronts.

He was able to promote anti-corruption measures in parliament and negotiate some agreements with Moscow that increase trust between the parties, including the exchange of prisoners and the withdrawal of troops, writes the Washington Post in an editorial.

But now Zelensky faced a decisive moment. He is trying to conclude a new agreement with the IMF, which requires maintaining state control over the largest Ukrainian bank. Meanwhile, on December 9, the President of Ukraine will meet with Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Germany and France. The topic of discussion will be a shift from the place of the peace agreement, which has long come to a standstill.

For years, US policy has been firmly on the side of Ukraine at such moments, not only to support democracy in distress, but also to promote American strategic interests, such as containing Russian aggression in Europe. However, the chaos that President Donald Trump introduced into US-Ukrainian relations created an actual diplomatic vacuum. Literally every high-ranking official who has worked on these relationships over the past two years has resigned or testified in the impeachment case and was sentenced by the American president.

Zelensky has not yet been invited to the White House to meet with Trump, which was due to a number of political services due to the American leader. The U.S. president is still reiterating the false accusations that Ukraine allegedly interfered with the 2016 US election campaign. He tells these fictions even after they explained to him that they were invented by the Russian special services. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was supposed to save relations with Kiev, instead stated that Moscow’s lies are worthy of investigation.

All this greatly weakens Zelensky’s position, especially before meeting with Putin, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The last two are likely to put pressure on the Ukrainian to force him to make concessions to the Russian autocrat. Because it would allow them to improve European relations with Russia. Putin, for his part, wants Zelensky to cede Ukrainian sovereignty over the territories of Donbass, which were occupied by Russian forces and their puppets. This will cripple Ukrainian independence from Russia, as well as its hope of integrating with the West.

There is still strong support for Ukraine in Congress, even among Republicans who justify Trump. They must put pressure on the president and Pompeo with a demand to revive American support for Ukraine. The State Department is to appoint a new US representative to the peace talks. Pompeo himself must be involved in the process. It is very important that the United States demonstrate that they still support the independence of Ukraine. Otherwise, the harm caused by Trump will be fixed.