Critics blame ‘weak’ U.S. leadership, ‘coercive’ Russia, for botched Ukraine E.U. deal

Senators slam U.S. response to Ukraine crisis, call for peaceful resolution
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(PR NewsChannel) / January 16, 2014 / KIEV, Ukraine 

UkraineNearly two months into a crisis that has thrown Ukraine into turmoil, a United States Senate hearing has several prominent observers laying a bulk of the blame at the feet of the U.S. and Russia.

For over two hours on Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discussed the events that led to Ukraine’s failed European Union Association Agreement while reserving its strongest criticisms for Russia and the White House.

“U.S. policy toward Ukraine was weak when it needed to be decisive and forceful,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) during the hearing. “When President Yanukovych saw that we did not come out clearly and forcefully when Russia all but boycotted Ukrainian goods and threatened them, he probably reached the same conclusion that many of our friends in tough neighborhoods have made: we are not a partner they can count on in tough times.”

Widely expected to sign an Association Agreement on November 29, the Ukrainian government decided to suspend preparations for the signings at the last minute due to internal economic conditions, pressure from Russia and a lack of meaningful financial support from the EU.

Facing a deteriorating relationship and increased trade sanctions from Russia if he were to sign, Yanukovych began talks with the neighboring country when it was decided that the EU and IMF’s assistance package of less than $1 billion wouldn’t stop the country from falling into a recession.

Despite the circumstances surrounding the situation, some lawmakers still believe that Ukraine could benefit from a better offer that would help the country achieve the best of both worlds, and that the U.S. should help.

“The United States should use its influence in the IMF, the Word Bank, and various G8 and G20 assemblies to discuss what could be done to help Ukraine expand its relationship with the EU while remaining Russia’s good neighbor,” U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski told the committee.

With the threat of harsh Russian sanctions still hanging over any potential EU deal, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told the committee that it’s up to the EU to help invalidate the “disinformation in Russia about the potential effect that the EU’s Easter Partnership could have on its economy and arrangement with neighbors.”

“We have encouraged the EU to redouble its efforts to counter false narratives in Russia and actively make its case that a more prosperous, European Ukraine will lift the whole neighborhood, both economically and in terms of democratic stability,” said Nuland. “Like the vast majority of Ukrainians, the United States and our partners in the European Union want to see the current stand-off resolved politically, democratically and above all, peacefully.”

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SOURCE:  Religious Association for Equality for All

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