A top Ukrainian official said Saturday that less U.S. support to the country could result in further destabilization of the region, which could trigger worse consequences for other parts of the world. Ukraine is in the midst of fighting back Russian aggression since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.
“This equilibrium, if it is ruined, then it could actually lead to drastic consequences in other parts of the world,” Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, told Defense News at the Halifax International Security Forum.
She added that Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994 and was assured by the U.S., major European powers and China of protection if Ukraine’s sovereignty or independence came under threat.
“If Ukraine is not protected, if we are not continuing, for example, non-recognition policy of illegal annexation of Crimea, if we are ruining this, just one single part of it, how do you ensure the non-proliferation regime working further?” Klympush-Tsintsadze asked.
President-elect Donald Trump has expressed his desire to improve U.S. ties with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin called to congratulate Trump on his victory earlier this month and both leaders agreed to begin new dialogue based on “equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the other’s internal affairs.”
“Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing,” Trump said in August, “if we actually got along with Russia and worked out some kind of deal where we go and knock the hell out of ISIS [Islamic State group] along with NATO and along with the countries that are in that area?”
Klympush-Tsintsadze added that the Baltic States agree that stability in Ukraine is crucial “and right now are also raising their voices because they understand if the West gives up on unity and support to Ukraine and its struggle to defend itself from Russian attack, then Baltics are the most visibly vulnerable potential target for the Russian federation and we share this concern.”
She added that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had also called to congratulate Trump and invited him to visit the country. President Barack Obama hasn’t visited the country in his eight years as commander-in-chief.
In the event that Trump pulls back support for Ukraine, Klympush-Tsintsadze said: “First and foremost, we are counting on ourselves, so it’s not that we are sitting there and waiting for someone to help, that is very important to understand. It is the Ukrainian Army that is holding the Russian aggression right now without foreign boots on the surface, on the ground.”
Obama urged Putin to honor Moscow’s commitments on Ukraine’s sovereignty when the two met briefly on the sidelines of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, on Sunday. Obama asked Putin to stick to the Minsk agreements to stop the fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine where Russia has allegedly supported dissident groups by supplying arms and military advice.