US National Security Advisor John Bolton will visit Ukraine on its Independence Day on August 24th.
RT cited various experts who claim that the visit by Bolton on Ukrainian Independence Day shows the true limits of its “independence,” further noting that Kiev appears to be completely reliant on support from Washington.
Vladimir Kornilov, a political analyst, historian and journalist, cited by RT, dubbed the visit an “inspection” since the US National Security Advisor will meet with practically all key figures of the Ukrainian government, including President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman as well as foreign and defense ministers, according to the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Valery Chaly, who praised this visit as a display of the US “support to Ukraine.”
Kornilov further calls Ukraine’s recent tradition to invite US officials as honored guests on its Independence Days “unhealthy.” He commented that top US officials attending Ukrainian military parades, such as US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on August 24th, 2017, show “the true state of Ukrainian independence” and indicates who has, in fact, become “the true masters in the Ukrainian house.”
“Ukraine has long been de facto living off US help and support,” Kornilov said, adding that it is “in no position” to demand any guarantees from the US. On the contrary, “it the US, it is Bolton, who will demand guarantees from Kiev that it will stick to its foreign policy, which was de facto dictated by Washington … since 2014 or 2015.”
Vladimir Zharikhin, the deputy head of the Institute of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), cited by RT, believes that the Ukrainian government is “not so much worried about Ukraine as they are worried about their own fate.” The current Kiev authorities have relied heavily on US support since the 2014 coup which took down Viktor Yanukovich. Zharikhin believes that despite Ukrainian officials interpreting Bolton’s visit as a sign of good unconditional support, Kiev might be surprised.
RT also claimed that in addition to Bolton meeting the key figures in the Ukrainian Government, he will be able to assess whether the US should back Poroshenko in the upcoming March 2019 elections. The US is well aware of the fact that … there is no point in putting all eggs in one basket,” Kornilov said.
Washington’s influence over the Ukrainian government becomes apparent after former US Vice President Joe Biden revealed that it took him “six hours” to get the Ukrainian prosecutor-general fired through the threat of US financial aid withdrawal. RT, however, claimed that simply following US directives may not be sufficient to save Ukraine from its crisis.
In regard to the conflict in Ukraine, the US position is that the annexation of Crimea will never be accepted. The US has imposed sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea, some of them were imposed under the Obama Administration, most of them under the Trump one. The US also threatens all parties that engage in business with entities or individuals under US sanctions will also be exposed to sanctioning. “The US government is committed to maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to targeting those who attempt to undermine the Minsk agreements,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement in January 2018. “Those who provide goods, services, or material support to individuals and entities sanctioned by the United States for their activities in Ukraine are engaging in behavior that could expose them to US sanctions.”
On August 20th, in his interview with Reuters, US President Donald Trump said that he was not considering lifting the sanctions on Russia, however only if Russia provides certain concessions in Ukraine or Syria. “I’m not considering it at all. No. I would consider it if they do something that would be good for us. But I wouldn’t consider it without that. We have a lot of things we can do good for each other. You have Syria. You have Ukraine. You have many other things,” Trump said.
On August 21st, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow welcomed Trump’s comments which indicate that there is readiness to cooperate with Moscow, however the comments would be “welcome even more some kind of concrete actions.”
Regarding the Ukraine-Russian tensions, on August 22nd, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, while in a meeting with former participants in the military operation in Southeastern Ukraine said that Kiev would never accept Moscow’s conditions to resolve the Donbass conflict. He further accused Russia of aggressive aspirations and unwillingness to search for a peaceful solution to the issue.
“The key to peace can be found neither in Kiev, nor in Washington nor in Brussels,” Poroshenko said. “The Kremlin holds the key to peace. But if someone tries to impose Russia’s onerous terms on us, I would like to point out that it would be unacceptable not only for the president but for the entire Ukrainian nation as well, for this is not a path leading to peace,” he added.
The financial situation in Ukraine is alarming. Its national debt is becoming a problem; over the past five years it has soared nearly fourfold to some $71.7 billion as the government had to continuously borrow money to finance the economy. The country’s debt obligations will peak in 2018-2020 but it continues to pin its hopes on a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as its current $17.5bn program expires in March 2019, even though Kiev repeatedly failed to fully implement IMF recommendations.
One of the biggest supporters of Ukraine is the US, in November 2017, U.S Congress approved $350 million in security assistance for Ukraine in 2018. The US also supplies Kiev with weapons. On March 1st, 2018, the US announced a $47 million deal that includes 35 FGM-148 Javelin command launch units and 210 anti-tank missiles, along with smaller arms.