The U.S. ambassador — who was pushed out earlier this year and testified Friday in Congress — hasn’t been replaced. Neither has the influential U.S. envoy tasked with helping Ukraine quell its Russia-backed separatist insurgency. The lower-level U.S. officials remaining in Kyiv are keeping an unusually low profile.
The erosion of Washington’s readiness to protect its Eastern European ally leaves Ukraine vulnerable to mounting Russian pressure, just as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy heads into high-stakes talks next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to end the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainians increasingly feel the U.S. impeachment inquiry is making their country toxic.
A member of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee told The Associated Press that U.S. officials have shown increasing indifference to Ukraine and have been reluctant to attend meetings.
This has been particularly visible, the lawmaker said, since the September resignation of envoy Kurt Volker, whose departure led to the disappearance of a coordination center made up of people who were engaged in Ukraine’s affairs.
The lawmaker discussed the sensitive issue of U.S. aid on condition that his name be withheld. Ukrainian government officials refuse to talk about relations with the U.S. while the impeachment inquiry is ongoing, and influential lawmakers are similarly wary of saying anything publicly that could make matters even worse for their country.
Moscow is happy to fill the void, further bolstering Russia’s position along Europe’s geopolitical front line, with consequences around the region. The mixed messages to Ukraine from President Donald Trump’s administration are also damaging U.S. diplomatic credibility at a time when American foreign policy influence is already waning.
“Trump’s policy toward Ukraine looks badly incoherent and inconsistent,” said Mykola