Ukraine-US relationships appear to be getting truly strategic. Proof of this is the first meeting between President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Barack Obama of the United States yesterday morning in Warsaw, considering that it lasted for three hours, not one, as scheduled, setting a record of such top-level meetings on the Ukrainian side.
This time the Ukrainian head of state heard more than just words of encouragement and promises of military aid. Obama declared that Ukraine would receive military aid worth five million dollars; also, unlike previous non-lethal aid packages (like clothes and rations), this one will include body armor, night vision goggles, and communications equipment – precisely what Ukraine needs so badly while struggling to carry out its anti-terrorist operation.
Oleh SHAMSHUR, former Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States of America:
“In general, the main objective of this meeting, which was to establish a working relationship, has been achieved. The main thing is that Petro Poroshenko made a positive impression on Barack Obama, which I would say is the main result. It is very important that the US will provide Ukraine with military assistance, including military equipment. I would like to see it going on and expanding to have weapons included as well. It is important that the presidents discussed energy issues during the talks. It definitely was a very successful meeting.
“Regarding the American president’s statements to the Polish public, particularly in relation to Ukraine, these were certainly strong signals. However, Ukraine has to deal anyway with a fundamental security problem. Of course, its resolution depends on internal factors, reforms, strengthening the security sector and capabilities of the armed forces, while on the other hand simply stating that Vladimir Putin’s actions have destroyed the security system is not enough. Steps must be taken to create a new system, and Ukraine must think now how to create its institutions. This, in my opinion, can only be achieved on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration, which is a realistic, if distant prospect.”
Marek SIEWEC, MEP:
“In politics very often the invisible is more important than scenes shining in the spotlight. President Obama spent 3 hours on a meeting with Ukraine’s president-elect Petro Poroshenko. This is a gesture that goes far beyond the protocol, the courtesy and the expectations. Three hours spent in a company of the highest American officials and the president himself is a fully sufficient time to discuss important matters and gain trust. And the trust is currently the most essential.
“The questions that American partners certainly asked Petro Poroshenko were: ‘To what extent can we count on your determination? How do you want to convince us that you will not withdraw from the role that you have so bravely undertaken?’ Obama’s speech made a few hours later clearly showed that the US involvement in Ukraine’s transformation is serious. He called by name the aggressor and did not agree to the annexation of Crimea. This is not only rhetoric. This is a confirmation of the West’s stance towards Russia that will be continued.
“Obama also said another phrase that entails consequences. He compared the protests in Maidan to the fight for freedom in Poland by the Solidarity movement 25 years ago. I remember very well the diplomatic, but also financial support of the Americans for the transformation process in Poland. The Ukrainian people should draw the right conclusions. If the Americans are ready to support economic and social transformation in Ukraine, it is important to show them that they have good partners to do it.”