Office of External Relations
March 12, 2020
Ukraine surely will be – for good or bad – a significant topic in the campaign for President.
Yet regardless of what might be said, Ukraine – its sovereignty, and success – is of vital national interest to the United States.

I do not here argue or suggest anything specific, I only remind (a) the Ukraine is going to be discussed; (b) I am sure many – many -- things that will be said will be incorrect/inaccurate, and some representations will be designed for domestic political advantage; and (c) there is significant value in being prepared to respond and correct.

It is in our national interests and it could be critical to Ukraine that we work to see facts are clear.

Democratic National Convention

At this stage it is worth noting that the Democratic National Convention will be held from July 13-16 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

During the convention the Democratic Party will adopt a platform and what is said, or not said, about Ukraine will be of great concern.  As a point of reference the 2016 Democratic Platform included the following:

Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions along its borders, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and attempting to recreate spheres of influence that undermine American interests …We believe in strong alliances and will deter Russian aggression, build European resilience, and protect our NATO allies. We will make it clear to Putin that we are prepared to cooperate with him when it is in our interest—as we did on reducing nuclear stockpiles, ensuring Iran could not obtain a nuclear weapon, sanctioning North Korea, and resupplying our troops in Afghanistan—but we will not hesitate to stand up to Russian aggression.

Four years have passed and Putin’s aggression has only increased and I the Party  (and its candidates) should take a strong and unequivocal position against Putin’s war on Ukraine and in support of Ukraine.

Republican National Convention

The Republican National Convention will be held from August 24-27, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Republican Convention too will adopt its Party’s platform. Again, as a point of reference the 2016 Republican Platform included the following:

The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system has been delayed and underfunded. To curry favor with Russia, defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic have been neutralized and the number of planned interceptors in Alaska has been reduced. A New START agreement (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), so weak in verification and definitions that it is virtually impossible to prove a violation, has allowed Russia to build up its nuclear arsenal while reducing ours. Meanwhile Moscow has repeatedly violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (a treaty agreeing to the elimination of land-based mid-range nuclear missiles) with impunity, covertly testing missiles banned under that agreement. In the international arena, a weak Administration has invited aggression. The results of the Administration’s unilateral approach to disarmament are already clear: An emboldened China in the South China Sea, a resurgent Russia occupying parts of Ukraine and threatening neighbors from the Baltic to the Caucasus, and an aggressive Islamist terror network in the Middle East. We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.

The Republican Party too (and all its candidates) should take a strong, unequivocal stand against Putin’s war against Ukraine and in support of Ukraine.

I do not here suggest specific efforts to influence the respective political parties, nor suggest specific language. My purpose here is to urge that all note the issue, the calendar and the need for Ukraine to be a serious, bipartisan priority in this election year.

The comments here are those of Mr. McConnell and not necessarily those of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network

Bob McConnell
Coordinator, External Relations
U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network

Robert A. McConnell is a co-founder of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Coordinator of External Relations for the Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network. He is Principal of R.A. McConnell and Associates. Previously, he has served as head of the Government Advocacy Practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Vice President – Washington for CBS, Inc, and Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration.
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