U.S. President Joe Biden should establish direct and trusting relations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to return to normal relations between the countries, experts say.
This recommendation is contained in the “Biden and Ukraine” strategy developed for the administration of new U.S. President Joe Biden, which was released on Friday.
The authors of the work are former NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, former Ambassadors to Ukraine John Herbst and William Taylor, chief analyst of the Eurasian Center of the Atlantic Council Anders Aslund, former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Daniel Fried and Deputy Director of the Eurasian Center of the Atlantic Council Melinda Haring.
“The first order of business should be to establish straightforward relationship, a relationship of trust between Biden and Zelensky after efforts by Trump to leverage the United States’ relationship with Ukraine for his own political benefit. Despite Trump’s actions and the subsequent impeachment process, the United States continued to provide bipartisan support for Ukraine, which testifies to its important interests there and the wisdom of congressional leaders. Still, this experience has left the Zelensky team with real concerns about its relationship with Washington and its image among the U.S. public,” the experts said in the document.
The authors believe that a return to normal the U.S.-Ukrainian relations “will inevitably take time” as the new administrative staff its senior foreign policy ranks.
According to the recommendations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already called Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and “it is important that Biden, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan be in touch soon with their Ukrainian counterparts to underscore the administration’s commitment to cooperate closely with Ukraine.”
“The big objectives of the U.S. policy have been the same since 2014: to help Ukraine defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Kremlin aggression, and to help Ukraine undertake the reforms needed to become a nation of laws with a growing and prosperous economy. The Biden team is uniquely qualified to pursue these objectives successfully,” the analysts said.
In addition, they said that vice president, Biden was a hands-on policy maker for Ukraine.
“Now, as president, he will not have the time for that, but he should reach out to Zelensky, first by phone Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attend a joint news conference after a Normandy-format summit in Paris, France, December 9, 2019. Establishing a president-to-president understanding will facilitate policy dealings at lower levels and increase US clout in Kyiv, which will prove important as it works with Ukraine on difficult reform issues,” according to the recommendations.
In their opinion, it is necessary to appoint an ambassador to Ukraine as soon as possible and work with Congress to increase military assistance to Kyiv in the amount of up to $500 million per year.
“Appoint an ambassador as soon as possible. Quickly name a strong candidate who has Biden and Blinken’s trust as the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and work for their quick Senate confirmation and dispatch to Ukraine,” the experts said in the document.
“Name a special envoy or empower a senior subcabinet official to either join the Normandy Format or to consult frequently with the four players,” the authors said.
India may soon make a big economic leap and Ukraine should develop relations with it more, Kost Bondarenko, the head of the Ukrainian Policy Foundation, political scientist and historian, has said.
“India, as a future superstate, which within the next ten years could make a very serious economic leap – and it already demonstrates a large number of points that can form the basis of its development – should also be of interest to Ukraine,” Bondarenko said at a press conference entitled “Eastern Vector of Ukrainian Diplomacy” at the Interfax-Ukraine agency.
In turn, international political scientist Anton Kuchukhidze pointed out that Turkey is a promising direction for Ukraine.
“I think that Turkey can become for Ukraine not only a good trade partner in terms of trade, which is not fully formed and its potential is not fully used. Turkey is considered the largest hub in Asia not only for Asia, but also for Africa. Taking into account the level of bilateral cooperation of Turkey both in Asia and in Africa, I think that this could be a good bridge for Ukraine, for building economic ties with African states,” he explained.
The expert also stressed the need to create a number of forums, such as “Ukraine-Central Asia,” “Ukraine-Asian-Pacific Region,” “Ukraine-Islamic World.”
“Through such stable forums for dialogue, it would be possible to advance the economic agenda,” Kuchukhidze added.
At the same time, Bondarenko noted that both the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine and the President’s Office have an understanding of the need to establish bilateral or multilateral relations between Ukraine and Asian states.
“The last visit of the president of Ukraine to the United Arab Emirates gave rise to a discussion on where and what the interests of Ukraine in this region are. But this region is not limited to only the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Bondarenko stressed that for 30 years in Ukraine there has been an imbalance towards relations with the West.
“I think that Zelensky’s visit to the UAE and the fact that a big eastern trip is now expected (at least, a trip to the countries of the East has been announced) can break the situation of imbalance that we have observed over the past years, and possibly decades,” he said.
In addition, the expert drew attention to the need to revise the false, in his opinion, policy of delimiting the activities of Ukrainian diplomatic missions and trade and economic missions, which each work in isolation from each other and are subordinate to different ministries.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky believes that economic and geopolitical relations between Ukraine and the United States are at a good level, and they need to be improved without getting involved in internal political processes. “For me, good relations with the United States, which were different at different times, were important. I believe that the elections [in the United States] is a purely political issue, and certainly not the issue of Ukraine, but of the United States. Their president, their people, choose whom you want, we will support your choice,” he said in an interview with Israeli Channel 9.
Zelensky noted that when “some kind of story” began to develop after his telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump in September, he did everything possible to prevent Ukraine from being drawn into this political issue.
“Because only economic and geopolitical relations are important between the countries that respect each other, regardless of nationality, religion, breadth, importance, availability of nuclear weapons. And I believe that in these two areas, economics and geopolitics, everything is good in our relations with the United States. This “everything is normal” needs to be improved, but certainly not worsened,” he stressed.