Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker wrote this in his article for CEPA.
“Ukraine’s success remains as strategically important to the West as ever. Now is the time for the United States to renew its engagement and support. Secretary Blinken’s call with Foreign Minister Kuleba was a good start. Next should be a call from President Biden to President Zelensky, and the launch of a renewed strategic partnership across the full range of issues,” Volker states, offering a “roadmap” for the development of the US-Ukraine relations.
According to the diplomat, “in Ukraine, anxieties are growing that can easily be dispelled by Biden’s team.”
“To lay these out from a Ukrainian perspective: President Biden spoke with President Putin about Ukraine after just one week in office, without first consulting Ukraine, which is the victim of Russian aggression. He has still not spoken with President Zelensky, yet has called well over 30 other Heads of State,” Volker notes.
He believes that the United States can do several things to demonstrate continued support for Ukraine, and in doing so, to advance U.S. interests.
In Volker’s view, the planned Biden-Zelensky phone call should take place as soon as possible. “The two Presidents need not become pen-pals, but it is important to establish contacts at the head of state level, to set the tone for cooperation among the administrations of both countries. This has become critically important for Ukraine,” the U.S. diplomat believes.
In addition, he notes, the White House spokesperson should express outrage at the suggestion by head of the main Russian propaganda resource RT, Margarita Simonyan, that Donbas should “return home”, i.e. to Russia. “This Kremlin trial balloon is illegal at every level, a provocation intentionally aimed at the White House, and easily deflected if the U.S. responds,” Volker states.
He also calls on Secretary of State Blinken to reaffirm U.S. adherence to the Pompeo Declaration of July 25, 2018, in which the United States committed to refuse “to recognize the Kremlin’s claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force in contravention of international law.”
“The United States should re-establish a ‘Strategic Dialogue’ with Ukraine on fundamental issues of geostrategic importance. Twice-yearly meetings of the Secretaries of State and Defense with their Ukrainian counterparts would put this on the right footing,” Volker believes.
According to him, the United States should renew its insistence on Ukraine implementing far-reaching reforms. “The U.S. can also help by … working with Ukraine to improve key anti-corruption and law enforcement institutions that have still not lived up to their potential,” the diplomat emphasizes.
Moreover, in his opinion, the U.S. should join with the EU, IMF, and other international supporters to help Ukraine implement far-reaching anti-trust legislation. “Such a roadmap can be easily and effectively launched by the United States. But the U.S. must act quickly, as the forces that oppose such an agenda are already mobilizing,” Volker sums up.
As a reminder, Kurt Volker served as the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations in 2017-2019.
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