Since the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine saw more change than during all years of its independence, but it is important to continue reforms, stated Rob Portman, United States Senator for Ohio, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “In the few years since the Maidan there was significant progress, and I don’t believe any administration in Ukraine’s 25 years since independence has made more progress that has been made in the last few years. But there is more to do, and specifically with regard to transparency, rule of law and corruption,” said Mr. Portman.
Successful reforms are important for Ukraine in a number of respects, first of all, Ukraine’s aspiration to be a member of NATO, as well as US military assistance and Ukraine’s cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, he emphasized. “Anti-Corruption Court would be, of course, the issue that is most pressing right now,” noted Robert Portman.
Mr. Portman noted that the expected meeting of the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be misunderstood. “The administration believes there has to be communication and a dialogue with Russia (by the way, they believe the same thing with regard to North Korea). […] It should not be misconstrued as some kind of a favor, but rather in the interest of our country to have a dialogue with a major power that has nuclear weapons. We have serious issues to discuss and among those issues is what’s happening here in Ukraine,” he explained.
The Senator added that currently, the White House has taken a firmer line with regard to supporting Ukraine. “Many of us had been encouraging the provision of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine so that the Ukrainian people could defend themselves. The previous administration was not willing to do so, that’s a big change. Second, there are additional sanctions in place, and those sanctions are heavier in fact. […] If you look at the record of what the Administration has actually done with frankly the encouragement of Congress, it shows that the US has made a decision and continues with this Administration to stand with Ukraine and ensure that there are consequences for Russia for their aggressive actions,” noted Mr. Portman. “I believe that the sanctions must stay in place so long as the Crimea is not returned and so long as the aggression of Russia along the eastern border in the Donbas continue.”
Robert Portman noted that for him Russia’s actions are a hybrid war. “For me, it is about a hybrid war, it’s not just about the kinetic war, not just about what I saw in Donbas yesterday. The hybrid war is beyond that – the hybrid war is about disinformation, it’s about propaganda, it’s about what I see happening not just here in Ukraine but in other parts of the world, including my own country – meddling in the American elections; either I see it in Eastern and Central Europe, the Baltic. And I think this is another issue where the US has to help our allies to push back the misinformation and encourage a free press,” he emphasized.
“I will be continuing to talk about the importance of US support to Ukraine at a critical time – and I will continue that fight in Washington DC – but also the importance to continue the progress on the reforms,” concluded Robert Portman.