Meeting with the Foreign Relations Committee under Senator Menendez
On January 21, 2021, UAH sat down with Damian Murphy and Nadhika Ramachandran, representatives from the Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, to discuss the current relationship between the United States and Ukraine. The phone conversation started off with clarifying the Ukraine Foreign Assistance Integrity and Accountability Act of 2019. Senator Menendez introduced this bill in response to President Trump delaying security assistance to Ukraine. According to Murphy, the primary motivation behind the bill was to highlight Trump's misconduct. The bill was not passed into law, but it did jumpstart the impeachment process of President Trump.
The Foreign Relations Committee in Washington is currently working on a piece of legislation which seeks to increase security funds for Ukraine. This bill will be reintroduced this year, with the hope of helping Ukraine ward off Russian aggression.
"Senator Menendez has been quite focused on Ukraine's prospects and really helping it develop the capability to defend itself against Russian military aggression but also Russian corruption".
Senator Menendez has been a large supporter of Ukraine since the Russo-Ukrainian war began in 2014. The Senator was in Kyiv when the invasion began and witnessed firsthand the effects of the war. As a result, he introduced the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which in turn became law on December 18, 2014. Murphy stated, "Senator Menendez has been quite focused on Ukraine's prospects and really helping it develop the capability to defend itself against Russian military aggression but also Russian corruption".
The committee did not seem to be too worried about the history of corruption within Ukraine due to the anti-corruption conditions that need to be met before any country can receive aid from the United States. USAID and the Defense Department constantly assess how the aid is used within each country. Ukraine has also established the High Anti-Corruption Court in 2018, which has jurisdiction over the cases brought by NABU and SAPO. With these checks and balances in place, the U.S. hopes to help Ukraine combat corruption within its borders.
"We are standing up for our principals" and that should not complicate the relationship with Russia.
The committee expressed that Russia also plays a role by using corruption as a tool to advance their own interests within Ukraine. When asked about the relationship between Russia and the U.S. after security aid was sent to Ukraine, Murphy stated that the U.S. was standing alongside Ukraine because Russia's actions were illegal. He said, "we are standing up for our principals," and that should not complicate the relationship with Russia.
Ukraine currently has bipartisan support within Congress, which has been working on strengthening the relationship between the two countries even more. They hope to increase the security assistance and believe that the new administration under President Biden, will continue this support.
The administration under President Biden, will continue this support.
Murphy stated that having a democratic Ukraine in the heart of Europe, is in the interest of national security. Once Ukraine has established its democratic institution, the result could lead to opportunities that strengthen the economy and partner with the U.S. in other ventures.
With help from the United States, Ukraine has the opportunity to not only protect its borders but also change the culture of corruption within their government, business practices, and educational systems. Once the world can trust Ukraine, new doors will continue to open to build the Ukraine that its people desperately need.