U.S. relations with Ukraine under the presidency of Zelensky: The shadow of «Ukrainegate»

Bubnova N.I.


Although Ukraine had not initially been at the forefront of Donald Trump’s foreign policy interests, it was precisely his actions towards Ukraine that had provoked major U.S. domestic political crisis leading to consequent impeachment hearings. The allegations about Trump’s use of foreign policy and state resources for personal benefit not only became an instrument in the U.S. domestic political struggle, but reflected two different perceptions of what is right and acceptable and what is not in foreign policy and state governance. However, while Trump received criticism for his alleged quid pro quo, Biden seemed to get away with pressuring Ukrainian statesmen, because this latter case had to do with a foreign country alone, not United States per se – typical double standards. Nevertheless, the vital issue of resolving the Ukrainian crisis was essentially sidelined by the U.S. domestic skirmishing. Washington missed the opportunity to use its influence to convince Kiev to implement in good faith its international obligations, the Minsk Agreements and the Steinmeier Formula. With the president and his team preoccupied with other matters, a virtual bi-partisan consensus emerged in post-Obama Washington (which manifested itself, among other things, throughout the impeachment hearings) – putting the sole blame for the Ukrainian conflict on Russia and presenting Ukraine as the outpost of fight for freedom against Moscow’s «expansionism». However, notwithstanding the damaging consequences of the American domestic scandal for international relations as well as for Ukraine’s relations with the United States and European countries, the peace settlement in the East of Ukraine should be reinstated as a priority.


Ukrainian conflict; U.S.-Ukrainian relations; Trump’s foreign policy; Biden; impeachment hearings; Minsk Agreements; Steinmeier Formula; quid pro quo; Burisma.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2021.01.08

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