On October 26th in Washington D.C. Hudson Institute hosted a discussion on the imperative of maintaining transatlantic unity on Ukraine. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave a keynote speech. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William B.Taylor and former Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vershbow joined the panel discussion on the issue.
A.F.Rasmussen shared with audience the impressions from his recent visit to the Line of Contact, that by his words divides “Free Ukraine” and “Occupied Ukraine” and emphasized that calling the events in Donbass as “frozen conflict” is misleading. On his mind, the Russian aggression against Ukraine poses a threat to the vision of Europe as a while, free and united, formulated after the end of the Cold war. The speaker also emphasized that aggression against Ukraine is part of broader ambition of Russia to restore its greatness in the territory of the former Soviet Union. A.F.Rasmussen expressed conviction that the road to more constructive engagement of the West with Russia runs through Kyiv and should be based on formula “peace through strength”. He underscored the importance of preserving transatlantic unity, saying that Kremlin must understand that Russia is confronted by the united front.
All panelists shared the view that the recent statements of the President of Russia V.Putin regarding peacekeeping mission in Donbass demonstrate that the Russian leadership tries to find the way out of situation created by its aggression against Ukraine and is a direct result of sanctions pressure on Russia. A.F.Rasmussen underscored that the initiative on introduction of peacekeeping mission in Donbass belongs to the President of Ukraine and was voiced in 2015.
Also the panelists supported the provision of defensive weapons to Ukraine and voiced against considering by the U.S. Administration the option of how this step could provoke Russia while taking this decision. Ambassador W.Taylor noted that military escalation by Russia could be responded by escalation of sanctions from U.S. side. A.Vershbow said that delivery of weapons to Ukraine could serve as an incentive for Russian leadership to engage in negotiations.
Ambassador W.Taylor also put emphasis on providing Ukraine additional international guarantees of territorial integrity and sovereignty through potential “Helsinki plus” process.
Experts commended progress of reforms in Ukraine, particularly in the anticorruption field. A.F.Rasmussen underscored that electronic system of declaration of public servants incomes introduced in Ukraine has no analogues in EU in terms of transparency.
In his statement A.F.Rasmussen voiced in favor of giving to Ukraine a Major non-NATO ally status. Ambasador of Ukraine Valeriy Chaly in his comment draw attention to the recent facts of Russian arms supply to the combat zone in Donbass and said that amid such Russian actions the ongoing debate in Europe and U.S. on whether provide Ukraine with defensive weapons or not looks strange.