Washington Post article: Closer relationship with Ukraine is the most appropriate response to Russia’s threats
Two researchers at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies believe that the most appropriate response to Russia’s threats to Kiev is closer relations with Ukraine. Michael McFaul and Oleksiy Honkaruk pointed out – in their article in the “Washington Post” (Washington Post– To the huge military build-up that President Vladimir Putin has gathered on the borders of Ukraine and his recent threatening statements about it that resonated with leaders in Kiev, Brussels and Washington.
They said that it is clear that Putin does not want a stable and established relationship with US President Joe Biden; He considers the United States to be Russia’s greatest enemy, and sees the Biden administration as seeking to weaken Moscow and overthrow his regime. With such a country there can be no stable and permanent cooperation, only permanent conflict. They added that Putin had already made tangible gains from his unexpected behavior at the beginning of this year.
The two researchers believe that the time has come for a new US strategy towards both Russia and Ukraine; On Russia, Biden should embrace more coercive diplomacy, and gestures of cooperation should be accompanied by credible commitments to coercive action if cooperation fails.
With regard to the current crisis on the Ukrainian border created by Putin, Biden should – according to the authors – declare his desire to revitalize diplomacy to end the war in eastern Ukraine, including appointing a senior envoy to represent the United States in these negotiations and insisting that his country officially join the Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, to revitalize the moribund Normandy talks tasked with ending the war in eastern Ukraine.
They said that such a declaration would dispel the “ridiculous” Russian claim that Washington and Kiev plan to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over Donbass by military force, and also end the dangerous Russian pursuit of a path of bilateral negotiations between the United States and Russia to determine the fate of Ukraine in the absence of the Ukrainians.
Meanwhile, Biden, Congress, and European allies and partners should now publicly articulate – not yet another Russian military intervention – a package of serious comprehensive sanctions that must be implemented, in response to Russia’s new aggression, according to the authors.
The time has come for a new US strategy towards both Russia and Ukraine; On Russia, Biden should embrace more coercive diplomacy, and gestures of cooperation should be accompanied by credible commitments to coercive action if cooperation fails.
As for Ukraine, the authors say, Biden needs a more comprehensive strategy for engagement, and the obvious first step is naming a high-ranking US ambassador to Ukraine with personal ties to Biden.
Second, the Biden administration and NATO allies should deepen military ties with Kiev, including a new, expanded military aid package to create greater capabilities to protect critical infrastructure and defend against air and sea threats, and tacit support for new Ukrainian purchases of armed drones from Turkey. Since the United States will not defend Ukraine from a Russian attack, the Ukrainians must be given the best means to defend themselves.
Third, the Biden team, along with European allies, must craft a more sophisticated, comprehensive, and long-term strategy to advance democracy and stimulate economic growth in Ukraine.
Fourth, Biden and his Democratic allies should create a Donbass Development Fund – the Marshall Plan for eastern Ukraine – that would release its resources after the end of the war, to give hope to the people of the region – who are suffering the brunt of the terrible occupation – that a better future is possible if the war ends.
The researchers concluded that Biden also needs a new grand strategy to engage Russia and contain it away from Ukraine, but nurturing a rich, free, and sovereign Ukraine should be a central component of that larger strategy. A more effective US policy toward Russia begins with a more stable, robust, effective, and predictable policy on Ukraine.