Ukrainian Prime Minister Arsenii Yatseniuk’s two-day visit to the United States began late last night, Kyiv time. The agenda includes meetings with President Barack Obama and IMF and World Bank leadership. On Thursday he will address a session of the UN Security Council in New York concerning the situation in Ukraine.
The Day asked US experts for comment regarding the newly appointed prime minister’s first visit to Washington, particularly what kind of support Kyiv could expect to help prevent Crimea’s annexation by Russia.
Steven PIFER, ex-ambassador to Ukraine, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe:
“It seems to me that the main point of the visit is the visit itself. The Obama-Yatseniuk meeting at the White House will serve as a signal of strong US political support for the Ukrainian government as it faces serious challenges, including Russia’s military occupation of Crimea. Mr. Obama will make clear American support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and reiterate that the United States will not recognize the results of the March 16 referendum. Should Moscow proceed to annex Crimea, I would fully expect that Washington and Europe would move to apply additional sanctions on Russia.”
Matthew ROJANSKY, director, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center:
“The Yatseniuk visit is important, both as a signal of US interest and commitment in Ukraine, and as an opportunity for President Obama to deliver a very clear direct message about the need for Ukraine’s acting government to continue the difficult path of reforms and building public confidence, even at a time of security crisis. This is the only path to ultimate victory and long term legitimacy of the Ukrainian state, by delivering promises to the people of the country and demonstrating that being given a second chance, democracy and transparency can work in Ukraine.
“I think the urgent priority is not on military responses. First, it is to get observers, ideally from OSCE, into the region to have more clarity on what is going on. If a shooting war begins, it is more likely because of some unclear, even accidental steps by individuals, than by a clear decision of national leadership. The only way to prevent this is to separate the forces on the ground and have neutral international observers in place. Second, it is to make absolutely clear that there will be specific economic costs for Russia to annexation of Crimea, and that the US and European countries are prepared to pay those costs, since any sanctions will be a 2-way street. Finally, it is to reassure Ukraine that the United States and Europe will supply the support needed for long term reform to succeed, and to rebuild from the current crisis.”