It seems that relations between the US and Russia are becoming more complicated because of the situation in Ukraine. No sooner had the US vice president left Kyiv, where he had been with a two-day visit, than the US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Washington would impose new sanctions on Moscow if the Kremlin did not stop escalating the pressure in eastern Ukraine. During a phone conversation with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Kerry said that he was deeply worried about the absence of “positive steps” on Russia’s part, and urged Russia to soften the military rhetoric, activate diplomatic efforts in eastern Ukraine, and publicly appeal for the disarmament of the separatists who captured administrative buildings. The Day addressed former ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oleh SHAMSHUR with a request to comment on this statement by the US Secretary of State and the results of the US vice president’s visit to Ukraine.
“Calls on to Russia’s government are valuable to some extent, but then action is needed, instead of appeals voiced by Biden and Kerry. They do not change anything.”
Don’t these appeals mean that Washington is losing temper and is ready to impose sanctions on Russia in the near future?
“Temper is being lost indeed. I would say that it will be clear by the end of this week, whether Russia is ready to react on warning appeals. If this does not happen, it will mean the implementation of the sanctions discussed by Biden and mentioned by Kerry.”
“THE MAIN THING IS FOR THE U.S. TO PRESSURIZE RUSSIA THE WAY IT PRESSURIZES OUR SO-CALLED POLITICIANS AND OLIGARCHS”
By the way, senator McCain in an interview to Wall Street Journal urged the US Administration to give Ukraine weapons again. Do you think Obama might listen to his call this time?
“It is hard for me to say whether he will listen to it or not. But I think this is absolutely necessary. It is modern weapons that are mentioned, which we obviously do not have at all or have in very small quantities. It is good that during his stay in Kyiv Biden announced the provision of eight million dollars worth of military aid for Ukraine, and in particular, communication equipment, technologies for disposal of explosives, and special vehicles for border guards. The main thing is that the US should pressurize Russia the way it pressurizes our so-called politicians and oligarchs.”
As expected, during his visit Biden made a statement about supporting Ukraine and said that if Russia continued supporting the individuals who captured administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Federation would end up in an even greater international isolation. Don’t these statements about the greater isolation of Russia look like empty declarations, similar to the Budapest Memorandum?
“Statements made by Biden in Kyiv are important, but I think the time of warnings and deadlines is over. It is quite clear that the Russian Federation is not fulfilling the Geneva agreements. The US and the EU must act immediately, while the escalation of the aggression can still be stopped.”
What are the more specific results of Biden’s visit, except for promises to help hold fair elections, improve the governance, fight corruption and walk the path of democracy?
“Biden’s visit became an evidence of the US support of the incumbent Ukrainian government, which is important against the background of the Kremlin’s active attempts to delegitimize it. Also, support (including financial aid) is important for the holding of presidential elections in the designated time frame. Let us not forget about the eight million dollars allotted to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
What, in your opinion, is the meaning of Biden’s meetings with certain presidential candidates, but not with Tymoshenko, whose release America wanted so badly?
“According to the official representatives of the US, Tymoshenko received an invitation to such a meeting as well.”
“OBAMA UNDERSTANDS THAT HE CANNOT ALLOW HIMSELF TO ACCEPT ANOTHER FOREIGN POLICY DEFEAT FROM PUTIN”
In general, does the US have any leverage without the EU support to influence Putin, who does not conceal his desire to annex or take full control over the southeastern regions of Ukraine (which he calls Novorussia), so that an attempt of invasion in mainland Ukraine would turn into a real “red line”? The situation with Syria’s “red line,” when Obama did not respond with military action to the regime’s use of chemical weapons, must not repeat itself.
“Yes, it does. In the first place, this is economic pressure, economic isolation of the Russian Federation. I am not fully confident if the US and the EU are ready for resolute action. However, I think that it will be hard for the US and the EU to justify their full inactivity in case of direct aggression on Russia’s part. Moreover, Obama understands he cannot allow himself to accept another foreign policy defeat from Putin. However, as I just said, the West needs a strong partner in Kyiv, who would be capable of restoring peace at home.”
American media have been writing for a few weeks that the former US ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft will become an ambassador to Russia. Is that true? If so, what signal is the US sending by appointing an ambassador to Russia, who has previously headed diplomatic missions in Lithuania, Georgia, and literally a year ago finished his mission in Kyiv? Usually, ambassadors were sent to Kyiv after having served in Moscow, and this time everything is happening the other way around.
“I have been to Washington recently. This topic is actively discussed there. I know Tefft well, that is why I am sure this will be a great choice, taking into account his professional qualities and the understanding of Russia’s political reality and its true intentions in the region. Undoubtedly, the experience he gained in his previous missions will help him in this.”