Text of testimony by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America submitted into the record of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s nomination hearing on August 5 for Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton as ambassador-designate to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian American community is united in its support for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. As Americans, we believe that a democratic and independent Ukraine is in the national security interests of the United States and consistent with our traditions of support for individual freedom and self-determination.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for the opportunity for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) to comment on the nomination hearing for Ambassador-designate to Ukraine Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton.
The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, an umbrella organization representing the interests of Americans of Ukrainian descent for 80 years, would like to express our community’s gratitude to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for your continued support in supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, strengthening that country’s reform efforts, providing desperately needed security assistance to Ukraine, and enhancing the bilateral relations between the United States and Ukraine.
The UCCA would also like to take a moment to express the Ukrainian American community’s gratitude for our troops on the ground in Ukraine that are providing essential modern training methods to its military personnel. We pray for our soldiers’ heroic tasks and the speedy and successful establishment of sovereignty and territorial integrity in Ukraine.
In the context of U.S. geostrategic interests, the current situation in Ukraine cannot be understood without recognizing its far-reaching consequences for the world’s security dynamics. The Russian Federation’s outright invasion of eastern Ukraine, illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, the neo-colonialist policy of expanding a “Russkyi Mir” (“Russian World”), not to mention the multi-vectored, political, economic, social, cultural, and religious aggression directed against Ukraine’s sovereignty, is a direct security threat to the Euro-Atlantic community. As a result, Russia’s behavior towards Ukraine is rightly viewed with alarm by our NATO allies, most particularly by those in Central Europe. It is understood to be a threat to the stabilizing transnational, trans-Atlantic security framework that first emerged in the years after the second world war.
For the United States and its allies, the post-World War II collective security model delivered the space to develop economic growth at a pace that the world had never before seen. That security model consisted of not only sustained military dominance, but the continued spread of democracy, further generating greater peace and prosperity. Today, the security components that made America great are being called into question by old allies, while a new set of partnerships, developed after the fall of the Soviet Union, have increasingly emerged as the potential stabilizing partners the United States has been seeking. Most notably, countries within the Euro-Atlantic alliance are proving to meet or exceed NATO’s minimum defense spending criteria.
Europe’s largest country – Ukraine – is on pace to field Europe’s largest military, with spending levels also exceeding NATO’s minimums. Furthermore, Ukraine already stands as the only non-NATO partner to have contributed actively to all NATO-led operations and missions for the past 20 years. As we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in May 2020, nearly seven decades after the conclusion of that war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 has resulted in over 13,000 people killed and over 1.5 million civilians displaced – the largest wartime displacement in Europe since 1945. The United States government has consistently supported Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and the inviolability of its borders since Russia’s invasion, declaring as official government policy to “assist the government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to deter the government of the Russian Federation from further destabilizing and invading Ukraine and other independent countries.”
The Ukrainian American community looks to the United States to not only live up to its public and binding security guarantees to Ukraine, but to further develop this strategic relationship as a buffer against rogue nations threatening the collective security order. As such, we strongly believe that the security of the U.S. lies in the expansion of democracy and mutual security guarantees, not in the appeasement of an imperial state. U.S. support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, ensuring the non-use of force by other nuclear states, or the use of economic coercion as a hybrid weapon, will eventually see a decrease in U.S. international deployments as Europe’s pro-democratic East steps up to repay the faith invested in them.
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Over the past several years, Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine constitutes a fundamental challenge to the post-World War II order in Europe and jeopardizes every member of the international community. Their illegal seizure of Crimea, is the most blatant violation of international law and order – specifically, a violation of the Budapest Memorandum, its commitments under the CSCE [Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe] Final Act, the 1997 bilateral Ukraine-Russia Treaty, the United Nations Charter, to name a few – and threatens global security while undermining the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Although the United States responded appropriately to Russia’s illegal behavior towards Ukraine by implementing sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (2019), the Crimean Declaration (2018) and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act 2017 (CAATSA), the United States must not be deterred in countering continuing actions that threaten European security and stability. The United States, as a signatory to the 1994 Trilateral Agreement, has an obligation to assist Ukraine in defense of its national security and territorial integrity, and in its efforts to institutionalize democratic and economic reforms. The national security interests of the United States lie in the fulfillment of that obligation and constitute the very foundation upon which the existing relationship between sovereign nations rests.
Thus, the Ukrainian American community urges the United States to take the following actions:
— Uphold a clear, unified, steadfast and explicit commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence by the United States and our European allies. Ukraine’s territorial integrity is non-negotiable and any change to it cannot be discussed while parts of it are under threat and occupation.
— Reject all forms of recognition of Russian rule over the illegally occupied Crimean peninsula by adhering to objectives explicitly stated in the Crimean Declaration of July 2018.
— Demand the immediate withdrawal of covert and overt Russian forces and equipment from Ukraine, and compliance with ceasefire agreements [prior to holding elections in the Donbas, as per the Minsk agreement].
— Expand direct military assistance, including lethal defensive arms, naval and air force support, and additional military training programs.
— Continue the “open door” policy for eventual NATO membership for Ukraine by actively implementing the Enhanced Opportunity Program (EOP) for Ukraine.
— Maintain and strengthen targeted economic sanctions against the Russian Federation, including a possible ban on SWIFT banking, until it fully complies with its international obligations, including the Budapest Memorandum and Minsk agreement.
— Monitor and ramp up U.S. counter-narrative objectives to the Russian propaganda operation through the already-established Global Engagement Center (GEC).
— Freeze assets of, and deny visas to, elite Russians suspected of money laundering or involvement in the nefarious actions against the sovereignty of Ukraine.
— Enhance the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership to include comprehensive support of Ukraine’s defense capacity, economic reform efforts and foreign direct investment opportunities.
It is clear that Ukraine is at a critical juncture in its true Euro-Atlantic integration. More than a year after Ukraine’s presidential elections in May 2019, political parties are struggling to bring forth their issues to the electorate. It is essential that the international community, in particular the United States, remain actively involved and continue to advocate democratic principles and a strategic outlook for enhanced relations with that country. We have a chance to assist Ukraine maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to be a strong, democratic nation with all the methods and technologies to continue self-improvement.
Nearly 29 years of Ukrainian independence have brought nine U.S. ambassadors as envoys of American diplomacy. These envoys have secured a lasting partnership between our two countries, and we believe that President Trump’s recent nomination of Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, a career military officer, will only enhance our cooperation/partnership with Ukraine. At this time, when more opportunities exist for the advancement of U.S. strategic interests in Central Europe, Lt. Gen. Dayton will be a great asset, given his experience working in the region and current capacity as director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America lauds the experience and commitment Lt. Gen. Dayton has shown in his years of service. Thereby, the UCCA supports the nomination of Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian American community praises the efforts and commitment of the previous U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine in ensuring that Ukraine develops into a truly democratic state grounded in international norms and principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensconced in a prosperous market economy. It is our hope that Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton will continue assisting Ukraine at this most important junction of transformation into a state where people hold the power and elites serve and protect their interests.