Next week Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko plans to pay an official visit to the United States to hold talks with U.S. President Donald trump and members of his team. The impression that Petro Poroshenko has decided to be proactive and discuss with the American side are interested in the Ukrainian public questions before the meeting Donald trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit of “Big twenty” in Hamburg in early July.
Ukraine is concerned about the administration’s position of the Republicans on the extension and tightening of anti-Russian sanctions. In the Senate there is bipartisan support sanctions against Russia. The majority of senators (97 of 100) from the Republican and Democratic parties adopted the draft law “On countering Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia”, which involves the tightening of anti-Russian sanctions, their distribution in specific sectors of the Russian economy, including the oil and gas sector. Democrats also are interested to legislate a ban on the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions as long as Russia continues its aggression in Ukraine. One of the supporters of tightening sanctions against Russia, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham believes that if the President does not support the tightening of anti-Russian sanctions, it is tantamount to betrayal of democracy.
However, it is still unclear to endorse President Donald trump tougher sanctions against Russia or not. During the election campaign, he admitted the possibility of the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions, recognition of Crimea as Russian territory. U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson, commenting on the possibility of tightening sanctions against Russia, believes that it is necessary to show “flexibility” to warming relations with Russia and keep the channels of convergence. In his opinion, States do not impose stricter sanctions against Russia, because unilateral action is ineffective. At the same time, the U.S. is not going to lift the sanctions. In early June, Deputy spokesman of the White house Sarah Sanders reported that the administration of Donald trump committed to the existing anti-Russian sanctions. Apparently, Donald trump is in no hurry with the tightening of sanctions against Russia, wanting to negotiate with Vladimir Putin on cooperation in the fight against ISIS (banned in Russia organization — approx. ed.) in Syria and the cessation of Russian aggression in Ukraine without fanfare and pressure.
Poroshenko has the opportunity to explain to the American partners of the real situation in the East of Ukraine. The current package of U.S. and European sectoral sanctions are not having an effective effect in forcing Russia to peace. We need tougher measures. The Kremlin continues to sponsor the Donbas separatists to provide them with weapons and ammunition. Russian troops are still standing in the Donbass and continue to fire at positions of the Ukrainian military and front-line settlements. The recent shelling of the village Sartana in the sector “M” — another confirmation of the unwillingness of Russia to contribute to peace in the Donbas and to implement the Minsk agreements. Moscow has still not returned to Kiev annexed Crimea. The Ukrainian President will try to convince Donald trump to recognize Russia as an aggressor, to maintain the territorial integrity of Ukraine and to convince him of the advisability of tightening sanctions on Russia.
Do not expect that Donald trump soon after negotiations with Petro Poroshenko announced a tightening and extension of anti-Russian sanctions. As an experienced businessman and a man of action, he began to personally make sure that you can negotiate with Vladimir Putin or not, and then decide on sanctions. Now the White House is kicking the tires before negotiations with the Kremlin. This is evidenced by the appointments of Donald trump with Russian diplomats in the White House.
The future of the Minsk agreements
The Ukrainian leadership must understand the position of the new American leadership regarding the further fate of the Minsk agreements. Part of the American team of officials from the trump supports the idea of implementation of the Minsk agreements by Russia and see them as a means of resolving the armed conflict in the Donbass. Press Secretary of the U.S. Department of state Heather Nauert said that anti-Russian sanctions will remain in place as long as Russia does not fulfill Minsky arrangements. The importance of implementing the Minsk agreements for peace in the Donbass, said the Vice President of the United States Michael Pence during a meeting with the Minister of foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavel Klimkin. According to the permanent representative to the UN, Nikki Haley, the US does not intend to soften and lift sanctions against Russia until the Minsk agreement.
However, the Secretary is Rex Tillerson, who has already managed to visit Moscow and meet with the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, believes that the objectives envisaged by the Minsk agreements, can be achieved through other mechanisms. What mechanisms — the Secretary has not explained. Given the fact that Ukraine and Russia hold different points of view concerning the sequence of execution of the Minsk agreements, Poroshenko intends to clarify what exactly the White House intends to offer as an alternative. The facts are there. Russia not fulfilling Minsk agreements, so it is inefficient. The settlement of the armed conflict in the Donbas came to a dead end.
During his visit to the US, Petro Poroshenko has the opportunity to present its American partner the position of Ukraine in achieving the objectives which are stated in the Minsk agreements. It is important to convince the White House to adhere to the following order in resolving the conflict: first, Russia must withdraw its troops and munitions from the territory of the occupied territories of Donbass and the return of Kiev control over the entire state border, and only then Ukraine will be able to hold transparent elections in the Donbass and to resolve the issue of “special status”.
The Kremlin is interested to keep its military presence and power of the separatists in the Donbas. To do this, the Russians require parallel execution of political and military conditions of the Minsk agreements. In practice, this would mean the defeat of Ukraine: elections in the Donbass will be held under the barrel of Russian guns, and their results falsified. The Russian military will not leave ORDO and will not give control Bankova on specific areas of the Ukrainian-Russian border after separatists legalize their power. Bankova is interested to enlist the support of the White House about the scenario of the conflict settlement in the Donbass, which will meet the interests of Ukraine.
Tranches of the IMF and reform
Bankova, it is important to understand the position of Donald trump and members of his administration regarding the allocation of Ukraine of new tranches from the International monetary Fund (IMF). In 2015, the IMF launched the program of crediting of Ukraine. Until 2019 was planned to provide Ukraine with 17.5 billion dollars. More than $ 6 billion. Bank already received. A condition of the IMF to provide the remaining amount is the carrying out in Ukraine reforms needed to improve investment climate and stimulate economic growth: raising the retirement age and change of land legislation, the introduction of the possibility of land sales to foreign business.
Support from the United States in the IMF is crucial for Ukraine. The share of American capital in the IMF of 16.5%. Countries, whose share in the capital of the IMF amounts to 15%, have the right to veto decisions of the financial institution. Tranches of the IMF, the Ukrainian government is interested to use for “patching holes in the state budget”. Negotiations with Republicans over the new tranche of the IMF can be difficult. President Donald trump and Secretary of state Rex Tillerson for a long time worked in the field of business. Before investing money, they will weigh all the strengths and weaknesses of any project. The weak point of Ukraine is the delay in land reform. MPs block amendments to the land law and are against allowing foreigners to buy Ukrainian land. Still have not resolved the issue of pension reform, because the increase in the retirement age, reducing pensions is unpopular, which will increase criticism of the President and the ruling coalition. Additional negative impact on the reputation of Ukraine impose occurring corruption scandals with participation of higher government officials.
Ukrainian problems with carrying out reforms don’t care about US. They are interested in the results. So Republicans can agree to the allocation by the IMF of the next tranche of the fact of Ukraine’s reforms.
Perhaps Petro Poroshenko and Republicans will discuss the prospects of providing Ukraine with financial and military aid. In 2016, the ex-US President Barack Obama has provided Ukraine with $ 667 million. U.S. financial assistance needed to conduct programs in health, support economic growth and reforms, strengthening the defense potential of Ukraine. The U.S. budget for the 2018 fiscal year envisages the allocation to Ukraine of 305 million us dollars. in aid, less than half the amount allocated in the 2016 budget, an article appeared about grant Ukraine lethal weapons. Subsequently, the White House proposed to replace the military aid for loans. This concerns not only Ukraine but also countries of Asia and Africa.
The economic policy of Donald trump is isolationism and protectionism. Donald trump supports the idea of reduced funding from the United States of any international initiatives. He has already urged European countries-NATO members to increase defence spending by 2%. The American President said about the need to stop funding the UN. The savings will be used for the implementation of programs in the field of social security of American citizens and go on defense spending. One of the objectives of the election program of the Donald trump is the modernization of the nuclear shield of the US and improving the efficiency of the American army, veteran’s support.
Ukraine could fall under the hot hand of the American President. In the course of negotiations it is important to convince the administration of the Republicans that Ukraine currently is the cornerstone of the policy of containment of Russia in the framework of the NATO operation “Atlantic determination”, the implementation of which Washington continues to allocate funds and sends its troops to the Baltic States and East Central Europe. Ukraine and our army represent a natural Outpost, which covers Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary from Russian provocations. To spare funds for strengthening the defense potential of Ukraine and to offer loans instead of military aid to the Americans makes no sense.
Support for the Democrats
Republicans may incidentally remind Poroshenko of his flirtations with the Democrats during the presidential campaign in the United States. Ukraine made a serious mistake when, during the presidential campaign in the United States at the official level, supported the opponent of Donald trump, former Secretary of state and presidential candidate of the Democratic party Hillary Clinton. Petro Poroshenko met and discussed prospects of Ukrainian-American relations with Hillary Clinton during the election campaign. In the Ukrainian media, Donald trump has labeled acceptable to the President of Russia. Of course, the American President himself has created for this occasion when he allowed himself to flattering statements about President Vladimir Putin admitted the possibility of the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions and the recognition of Crimea as Russian territory.
Fears of Ukraine after coming to power in the United States Donald trump is not justified. But frustration and lack of trust in U.S.-Ukrainian relations can remain until the end of the reign of the administration of the Republicans. By and large, Ukraine’s behavior was no different from Russia’s position during the presidential campaign. Only instead of a fanatical support of Donald trump, the Ukrainian government openly supported Hillary Clinton. In fact, this interference in American elections. Only instead of the subtle hacker attacks our President ostentatiously supported the competitor of Donald trump.
Republicans could surprise the behavior of the Ukrainian authorities, because since Republican President George W. Bush, Washington supports the Bank in relations with Moscow and Brussels. Republicans have supported in 2004, the first Maidan and the resignation of Leonid Kuchma. Republicans supported the integration of Ukraine into the EU and NATO during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko. In terms of the power of the President-Democrat Barack Obama, Republican senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham first started talking about the necessity of tightening sanctions on Russia, offered to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons. During the presidential campaign 2016/17 years, Ukraine has earned the image of a foreign ally of the Democratic party, from which the wash will be easy.