The US is not going to implement sanctions against Ukraine yet, but the American government is ready to use this instrument if a need for it arises. This is the main conclusion of the recent evening hearing “Implications of the Crisis in Ukraine” at the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The Day’s experts predicted that a decision on implementation of sanctions against Ukrainian high officials would not be passed there.
But this hearing was demonstrative. It indicated how the US understands the current events in our country and in particular, the role of Russia, the EU, and the US Administration in the fact that Ukraine did not sign the Association Agreement in November at the Eastern Partnership Summit, and instead went over to receive help from Moscow.
And one cannot disagree with the opinion of the committee deputy chairman, Republican Senator Bob Corker, who thinks that the US does not act in a way it should in relation to Ukraine, which is very important for the US, for the region, and for the Western values. The senator characterized the actions of the White House in the following way: “It seems that the Administration was worried too much about not offending Russia and they made a conclusion that a passive response can yield a better result than a persistent leading role of the US. When Yanukovych saw that we did not take strong action, when Russia basically announced boycott to Ukrainian goods and resorted to threats, perhaps, he reached the same conclusion as our other partners in complicated regions.”
Official spokesperson of the US Department of State Victoria Nuland reacted to this accusation in the following way: “We said already last fall that if Ukraine had signed the agreement with the EU, the pressure on it would be colossal. We insisted on the parallel course towards an IMF credit and the association with the EU. Ukraine’s economy is vulnerable and fragile not only because of Russia’s pressure. The fact that Russia can pressurize Ukraine is a symptom of Ukrainian economy’s weakness.”
It is good that the US understood this, unlike Europe, but it is bad that Washington could not influence the position of the IMF or the EU for them to mitigate the terms of issuing loans to Ukraine and the conditions of signing the Association Agreement. Nuland herself admitted that the IMF had negotiated with Ukraine knowing the fact that Ukraine had nowhere else to turn for credits.
It is clear that the crisis in Ukraine was the main subject of the hearing. And the position of the Senate and the Administration is identical in this sense. Both legislative and executive branches support peaceful settlement of the crisis and both parties do not rule out implementing sanctions against Ukraine. “If we continue seeing intimidation, abuse, and occasional physical violence against Maidan protesters and those who peacefully try to demonstrate their views and obtain changes, if the government keeps on persecuting people, we shall consider which sanctions and visa limitations can be implemented against those persons in the government who act against peaceful protesters,” said chairman of the Senate committee Robert Menendez.
He asked why the Administration does nothing even though it has a right to resort to such instruments. Nuland responded to this in a following way: “Use of violence and acts of repressions from the government security forces and those who execute a similar role forced us to publicly and privately inform the government of Ukraine that we will use all possible mechanisms if those who have power in Ukraine continue using force or appeal for violence against their own citizens. All the instruments of the government are at readiness, including these [sanctions. – Ed.].”
American political analyst and former adviser to the president of the US for national security Zbigniew Brzezinski shared his thoughts and suggestions not only to the US politicians, but to the Ukrainian opposition. He stressed that Ukraine must be in Europe not as a weapon against Russia, but as a mechanism of joining the Kremlin to the European Union.
Besides, Brzezinski thinks that the opposition in Ukraine must be strong, come up with a leader, and turn Maidan into a national movement, like Poland’s Solidarity. “And Russians will eventually understand that they will not be able to build an empire, with Ukraine or without it,” believes Brzezinski.
The Day addressed former ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oleh SHAMSHUR with a request to comment on the hearing of the Senate committee and say if the US has levers of influence on the situation in Ukraine.
“This hearing shows that the US is watching closely the development of the situation in Ukraine. As for the possible leverage in Ukraine, we must pay attention to Victoria Nuland’s speech, in which the subject of sanctions was voiced by a representative of the Administration for the first time. If we translate it to the ordinary language, I have an impression that basically, a stage preceding the implementation of sanctions started. I mean the definition of a possible inventory of these instruments and persons against whom they might be used. Also a trigger that might lead to the implementation of the instruments was defined. And another application of force against peaceful protesters by the Ukrainian government is the trigger.
“I cannot say to what extent the threat of applying sanctions can influence the government. But I have no doubts that the government and business representatives that are close to it are watching closely the US policy on this matter.
“Regarding Brzezinski’s speech at this hearing. He is an influential analyst, and considering the fact that he is a Democrat, his opinion is of high value in the US Administration. Perhaps, his influence is not as great as it used to be once, but it still exists.
“The US has been consistently supporting the democratic development of Ukraine. And I think they will continue doing it, because it is important for Ukraine in general, as well as in the context of searching for a way out of the political crisis. Nuland’s thesis that the US Department of State is ready to look for ways of confronting the misinformation campaign in eastern Ukraine, and with the EU’s help – in Russia, is very important. And this is a crucial task, for the European Union in the first place. I think that in this information campaign, the EU undoubtedly lost to Russia.”