Ukraine is looking geopolitically more vulnerable at the moment.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is surrounding himself with Russian apologists at the same time that the public has no idea what sort of financial ties he has with the Kremlin, Russian business interests or even whether Vladimir Putin has information to blackmail America’s 45th commander-in-chief.
The choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as the next secretary of state is unacceptable. His company has a multibillion-dollar stake in seeing that Western economic sanctions against the Kremlin are lifted. He’s made it clear, time and time again, that commercial interests trump American desires for democracy, human rights and rule of law worldwide.
The best that can be hoped for from the Trump administration is that Republican hawks will form an alliance with the Democratic minority to veto any relaxation of sanctions against Russia for its human rights abuses globally, but particularly its war against Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea. Tillerson shows he cares nothing about violations of international law if it interferes with making more money.
Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have scheduled visits to Ukraine this month. We hope they can outline a credible plan for containing Russia.
When Ukrainian leaders warned the world that they were defending democracy after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, they were not crying wolf. When they said that Vladimir Putin will not stop until he is stopped, they weren’t kidding.
The West should have heeded these warnings a long time ago. Instead, a lawless Kremlin has interfered in the U.S. presidential election through hacking and sinister propaganda. It is tampering with European democracies in the same way. The West and Ukraine are being tested. We expect a big fight ahead, but also that the forces of good will defeat anti-democratic forces who are trying to destroy governments that work in the public interest.