On Thursday, July 25, Donald Trump President of the United States engaged in a worrisome phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the recently elected President of Ukraine. Formalities dwindled as the conversation progressed, ending with a blunt proposal from the President of the United States. The transcripts of that phone call revealed that Trump had leveraged military aid to Ukraine, a country in the midst of a crisis, for an investigation into both a company involved in the F.B.I. Inquiry into Russian election inference and Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. President Volodymyr Zelensky found himself in a predicament, as American support would have been critical in the defense against the Russian invasion on the eastern border of the country. It is worth taking a deeper look into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, as it may have played a contributive role in the future impeachment of the 45th President of the United States.
The Russian-Ukrainian war arose in March of 2014 with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine stems from the tension between those who want to ally with the European Union and those favoring a Russian alliance. In 2014, the then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, had rejected a deal from the EU, which would have provided both financial and political support to the country, and instead chose a Russian orientated agreement. This sparked the political unrest between the two ideologies, leading to the five-year crisis that has since taken over 13,000 lives. One of the more recent attacks occurred on November 25, 2018, when Russians fired against and boarded three Ukrainian vessels passing through the Kerch Strait, despite the fact that the Ukrainians had been granted access to the strait.
But hope is on the horizon, as both leaders have agreed to meet next month to discuss strategies to resolve the long-standing conflict. The meeting will take place in Paris on December 9. It will mark the first encounter between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelensky. The goal for the meeting is to finally implement the peace terms of a deal that was negotiated four years ago in Minsk, Belarus. The reason for the deal’s dormancy is undoubtedly its contentions content. The agreement was created to reinstate Ukraine’s full control over land in its eastern region. More specifically, as reported by The New York Times, the agreement contains provisions that would afford special legal status to the eastern region of Ukraine and would also allow local elections to take place.
As we enter the second week of the impeachment hearings, the legality of that phone call remains disputed. The public impeachment hearings will resume on Tuesday, November 19, where the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council and the former United States special envoy to Ukraine will be amongst those who take the stand. It remains deeply worrisome that President Trump withheld US$400 million worth of military aid from Ukraine for personal gain. But perhaps, the future talks between Putin and Zelensky will prove more beneficial in assuaging the crisis than the American military aid.