Joe Biden Updates
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In April 2014, two months after the pro-Western revolution of Ukraine and a month after Russia annexed Crimea in retaliation, then-US Vice President Joe Biden flew to Kiev. He US aid pledged to Ukraine as ‘your partner and your friend’ to resist Russian aggression and to push through pro-democracy reforms. Seven years later, the current government in Kiev saw the Biden White House’s foreign policy with increasing alarm. Following US humiliation in Afghanistan, US President meets with Ukraine on Wednesday peer Volodymyr Zelensky provides a litmus test of Washington’s commitment to other US allies.
Kiev has particular reason for relief during the election of Biden. Donald Trump underestimated Ukraine and hung out with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Biden, on the other hand, was Barack Obama’s scorer in Kiev, whose leaders saw him as someone who “got” Ukraine. Two events shattered their faith.
A wax Biden’s agreement along with German Angela Merkel in July to allow the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany – in Kiev considered a sell-out. The project frees Moscow from relying on a Ukrainian pipeline for its lucrative gas exports to Europe. It endangers billions of dollars in transportation to Kiev, and removes a major constraint on further Russian military attacks in Ukraine.
The other one was America’s mismanagement withdraw from Afghanistan – another country that has supported Washington on a much larger scale to carry out liberal reforms and prevent anti-democratic forces from returning to domination. A common thread seems to be a desire of the Biden White House to put aside prolonged foreign headaches to allow a focus on China. If the US were ready to see the Taliban overwhelm Afghanistan again as part of its concern over Beijing, Kiev is angry, how much sleep would it lose if Russia restored hegemony over Ukraine?
Some officials suspect that the US president is also wary of showing Kiev favor, after the Trump circle tried to use a false narrative before the 2020 election about Biden’s ties with Ukraine – where his son Hunter is on the board of ‘ an energy company was -. Such caution is counterproductive. If Washington shows a sign of compromise over Putin’s territorial ambitions towards Ukraine, Beijing will hardly take seriously the idea of US support for Taiwan – which President Xi Jinping has promise to reunite with China.
Biden rightly emphasizes the paramount importance of the fight against corruption, in which Zelensky, like Petro Poroshenko before him, came to a standstill. Public aversion to transplantation in Afghanistan – fueled by US money – has helped the Taliban’s return. As always, financial aid to Ukraine must be conditioned on measurable reform progress.
But Biden must use his meeting to confirm support in three ways. First, he must spell out the consequences for Moscow if Russia uses Nord Stream 2 to undermine Ukraine. Second, the US must provide further economic support. As foreign investment is still deterred by the Russian conflict in Donbass, Kiev is seeking US-guaranteed bond issues to fund infrastructure and other projects.
Washington must also commit to providing additional deterrent military technology, which increases the cost of further aggression in Ukraine for Russia. Moscow crowd of troops to the limits in April before you pull it back – but let a lot of the hardware stand.
So soon after the Afghan debacle, Biden must seize the Zelensky meeting as an opportunity to rebuild America’s reputation as an ally that keeps its promises.