Russian Policies & Intentions towards specific European countries: Ukraine
Ranking Member Leahy,
Members of the Subcommittee,
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to testify before you today.
Back in 1994, as a young diplomat, I was involved in a process of strategic nuclear disarmament. While working on Budapest memorandum, I have already questioned its effectiveness and feasibility to ensure security for Ukraine.
Still, it was beyond my imagination that in 20 years one guarantor of our sovereignty and territorial integrity, a permanent UN Security Council member will invade Ukraine and occupy parts of its territory.
Why did it happen?
Here is the key to understanding what is the root-cause of Russian policies & intentions towards European countries, particularly, Ukraine.
For Putin the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest catastrophe of the XX century. From the very beginning, he was and still is obsessed with restoring the former Russian greatness. It could be done in two ways. One was to invest in building a strong democratic state with a rule of law and competitive market economy honoring the international principles and order. But it was not the Russian choice.
Instead, Kremlin resorted to aggressive expansionism in gross violation with the international law in different dimensions:
- breaking the UN Charter and Helsinki Final Act;
- undermining arms control and possibly violating the INF and New START Treaties;
- coercing with trade and energy pressure in contradiction to the WTO principles;
- Blatantly violating the human rights.
Kremlin has developed the concept of hybrid warfare and launched it with the illegal annexation of Crimea and the invasion in Donbas. It is a highly sophisticated strategy, which mixes conventional aggression with propaganda and misinformation, as well as interference in the internal affairs of other countries. It is waged daily against peaceful countries to undermine, disrupt and sow dissent. It is spearheaded in living rooms across the globe by the insidious Television Channel RT, which seeks not to promote any particular narrative but to undermine that of the host.
In real terms this hybrid war against Ukraine translates into shocking numbers of Russian weaponry pumped into the occupied Donbas and Crimea:
Just few hours ago the Russian agent at the International Court of Justice made a ridiculous statement, that the Russian backed militants discovered all those weapons being hidden in the old soviet coal mines. Can you believe it?
Kremlin’s war against my country over the last three years has led to over 7% of my country being occupied, almost 10,000 of my fellow Ukrainians both military and civilians losing their lives with a further 23,000 being injured.
Just in the last 6 weeks, Russians and their proxies launched a fierce attack against our troops and civilian population in Avdiyivka. Russia has recognized the passports issued by illegal entities in Donbas and has also completed the introduction of the Ruble as the currency in the occupied territory. Furthermore, Russia has also ordered the illegal expropriation of the key enterprises in the occupied territory.
All this is nothing but a clear breach of each and every point of the Minsk peace agreements.
The only viable way to negotiate with Russia is from a position of strength and international solidarity. And no new agreements should be made with Russia until such time as they have delivered on their previous commitments.
So let me thank for the enormous support, which the United States has given to Ukraine, in particular over the last three years in our fight against a resurgent Russia. And all the signals from the new US Administration give us great hope that the United States support for Ukraine will continue and increased.
And this continued support is not just in the interest of Ukraine. It's in the interest of the United States and the freedom and stability of the wider transatlantic alliance.
So I am asking this committee for its explicit support in a number of areas.
1. Defensive weapons supplied by the US and continued military and technical support would make a powerful statement to the Kremlin and improve significantly Ukraine's ability to defend its territory against the Russian army.
This support has already shown its effectiveness. The battalion of the 72-nd brigade trained by the U.S. instructors was one of the most effective in repelling the Russian attacks on Avdiyivka. The units prepared by the U.S. instructors appear to be very effective on the frontline.
That is why we believe this kind of support and training is very important and should be continued.
So I would like to ask you to support the appropriation of funds authorized for security assistance to Ukraine in the NDAA, 2017. Please, support the appropriation of funds for an enhanced assistance to Ukraine in the U.S. fiscal year 2017 budget and the forthcoming 2018 budget.
2. Ukraine also needs a long-term security arrangement for closer partnership and cooperation in defense and security. The involvement of the United States will be key to any such arrangement work.
3. We need US support in relaunching the negotiations of the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. The United States should play a key role in the negotiations about Crimea and Donbas.
4. And finally - until Russia gets off Ukrainian land there must be no easing of sanctions, if anything they should be increased!
Ukraine is on the frontline and currently the only country fighting and dying to hold off Russia. And Ukraine does not simply ask for support - we currently spend 6,6% of our GDP on defense, this is twice the NATO average. At the same time, it is obvious that we need the US solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainian people.
A strong, stable and democratic Ukraine, able to defend its borders against Russian expansionism is a crucial ally for the United States in the region.