The Cable

U.S. Ambassador: Diplomats, not the Military, Will Solve Ukraine Crisis

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Monday refused to rule out sending weapons to the Ukrainian army, but insisted that the crisis in Ukraine would be solved with diplomacy, not armies. Speaking at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, Ambassador Geoff Pyatt echoed recent comment made by Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, who told Congress ...

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The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Monday refused to rule out sending weapons to the Ukrainian army, but insisted that the crisis in Ukraine would be solved with diplomacy, not armies.

Speaking at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, Ambassador Geoff Pyatt echoed recent comment made by Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, who told Congress last month that the Obama administration is considering arming Ukraine. He acknowledged Russian troops, tanks, and heavy equipment were in Ukraine, but insisted that talks would resolve the impasse.

“This is a crisis that’s not going to be solved on the battlefield. The end game is going to be played in the court of diplomacy and the best vehicle we see for achieving that is the full implementation of the Minsk agreement,” Pyatt said, referring to the Sept. 5 cease-fire that NATO has accused Russia of violating.

Pyatt’s stern but welcoming tone during his speech and subsequent answers to audience questions was a far cry from the belligerence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian government officials. They maintain that Russia’s border incursion in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula are justified, while also accusing the West of trying to undermine Russian unity. The U.S. ambassador said that he believed that Russia would ultimately end the crisis once it realizes that a pro-Europe Ukraine could be good for Moscow.

However, Pyatt acknowledged that Ukraine would be dealing with a resurgent Russia “for the foreseeable future.” He said that the $118 million  in nonlethal U.S. assistance, as well as a strong statement of support from NATO officials, are improving Ukraine’s “ability to defend its sovereign territory.”

Pyatt also kept open the door for Ukraine to join NATO. However, he cautioned that the country, which abandoned a 2008 application, was not close to meeting the requirements for membership.

“The question of Ukraine’s NATO membership is not to be decided in Washington, not in Berlin, not in Brussels, certainly not in Moscow,” Pyatt said. “Its a question for the Ukrainian people to decide.”

Pyatt admitted that United States still was developing a strategy to counter Putin’s propaganda machine, which has spread falsehoods throughout Ukraine and Russia.

“The Russian objective is not to win the argument. It’s to confuse and keep everyone off balance,” the ambassador said. “We in the United States government have only begun the process of thinking through how we need to respond to this.”

Photo Credit: Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

 

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