What You Need To Know:
✅ US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet in Washington ahead of the G20 summit taking place in Hamburg on 7-8 July 2017.
✅ One of the key questions surrounding this meeting is how US policy on Ukraine will develop under the current administration: “I would like to see a stronger American policy, I believe we should provide defensive weapons to Ukraine. I think it would be a good thing for Mr. Poroshenko to ask for that, and would be an even better thing for the United States to agree,” John Herbst, Director of Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Centre told Hromadske.
✅ US-Russia relations under the Trump administration is another important issue for Ukraine, given concerns about Russia’s influence over the new US president. However, as John Herbst noted, “I think it will be hard for there to be a major improvement in US-Russian relations unless Mr. Putin is willing to step back from the aggressive policies he has been pursuing”.
As the war in Eastern Ukraine continues and Russia’s policy towards Ukraine remains aggressive, a strong US-Ukrainian relationship is more important than ever.
Although John Herbst stated that today’s US policy on Ukraine “looks rather similar to the one we had,” there is a chance that this could change: “It’s conceivable to me that [Trump’s] administration could recognise, what I think is, the common sense proposition, that helping Ukraine defend itself by providing defensive weapons, strengthens our defence policies in Eastern Europe and hastens the day when Russia withdraws from Ukraine, withdraws from Donbas and ceases its aggression."
John Herbst, also commented on the current relationship between the US and Russia: “I believe that Russia-US relations are at a very low level. There is no reason why we shouldn’t have serious talks, but serious talks means that we present our interests in those talks and those interests include stopping Russian aggression in Ukraine, stopping Russian subversion in NATO and EU countries and talking about areas where we might be able to agree like deconfliction of military forces, some arms control arrangements.”
The US also continues to impose sanctions on Russia, despite President Trumps early attempts to relieve these sanctions. John Herbst also touched upon on Congress’ decision to not only quash talk of weakening these sanctions, but to impose additional sanctions: “This is very important by itself but it will become even more important if the House of Representatives approves this legislation, or more likely something similar, and they reach agreement and sanctions are imposed. It will be a strong signal to Moscow that it really has to change its policies."
Hromadske spoke to John Herbst, Director of Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Centre and former US Ambassador to Ukraine (2003-2006) in Kyiv on 17 June 2017.