By Yang Yang
There have been heated domestic discussions on issues such as the exchange of interests between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian authorities recently. The US began to provide military and security assistance to the Ukrainian government after the conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014. US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor announced that the US aid to Ukraine maintained the post-war order in Europe and met the national security interests of the US. But is this really the case?
A multitude of names for military aid
Former US president Barack Obama once said that it will do more harm than good to aid Ukraine because “Ukraine is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do,” according to reports on the US Defense One website.
However, since 2014, the US has begun to change its policy of sitting on the sidelines and started to provide Ukraine with huge amounts of military and security assistance under different names, including military training, weapons and equipment, and technical equipment. One of the most controversial events is the exception to send lethal weaponry such as Javelin anti-tank missile to Ukraine.
A professor at the US National Defense University said that the US assistance to Ukraine is of great significance as it not only helps the Ukrainian military improve the quality of its personnel, but also gives them “reassurance” to enable them to fight firmly on the “front-line against Russia.”
This statement was agreed by some US senators who urged the White House to resume its aid to Ukraine after Trump ordered a temporary suspension in September this year. Pentagon officials in charge of Ukraine and Russia policy affairs said that Russia is likely to be “emboldened” if aid to Ukraine is halted.
In the name of maintaining regional peace
Quite a few people in the US have begun to question the White House’s aid policy to Ukraine as evolution of the situation in Ukraine continues. Benjamin Friedman, head of the US think tank Defense Priorities, believes that the military and security assistance provided by the US to Ukraine not only failed to achieve the goal of promoting peace, but also hindered conflict reconciliation. “We undermined the diplomatic settlement model of the Ukrainian conflict, which is difficult for Russia to accept. And of course, it is difficult to reach a peace agreement,” he said.
US military and security assistance to Ukraine was high from 2014 to 2016 and caused dissatisfaction and complaints from the American public. Former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once said angrily: “Why should American taxpayers be interested in Ukraine? We spent huge amounts of money to transport rocket launchers, night vision and other equipment to Ukraine which is 5,000 miles away. Is it just to safeguard the so-called international order? I don’t see the interests of the US in it.”
For the sake of its own interests?
Friedman said that more and more people believe that the US aid to Ukraine did not really played a significant role in the past five years. Despite the help and equipment from the US, the Ukrainian army still lacks the capability to recover the Donbass region.
Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official who oversees Ukraine policy, said that the impact of US aid on Ukraine was not as significant as stated in the publicity, and the situation in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine had not changed during the 55-day period when the aid was interrupted by Trump.
A sniper of the Ukrainian army said in an interview with the Heritage Foundation: “I can use any sniper rifle to kill the enemy. It does not have to be a US sniper rifle. The enemy will not retreat simply because I use an American sniper rifle.”
Some Americans believe that Trump’s insistence on providing assistance to Ukraine is likely to be out of his own interests as “this will force Kiev to cooperate with him to investigate Biden”.