How Should Ukraine Work with American Interest Groups?

September 25, 2023
UkraineWorld spoke to Oleksandr Kraiev, Director of the North America Programme at the Foreign Policy Council "Ukrainian Prism".
Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst (Reuters)

Key points – in our brief, #UkraineWorldAnalysis:

On what can be expected in terms of support for Ukraine in the future

  • There have been no strategic changes. We are witnessing interim issues, such as the adoption of the federal budget, which is expected to allocate $40 billion for several packages for Ukraine, the re-signing of the Lend-Lease, because Congress must give such powers to the President, and, at the very least, the election issues surrounding providing assistance packages. Political turmoil is unlikely to change the strategic course of support for Ukraine.
  • The Republicans recognize that Russian aggression must be deterred. During the General Assembly, Biden stated a common position: we cannot reach an agreement with Russia that violates international law.

The point is that the Congress defined a victory for Ukraine in its resolution, clearly outlining and summarizing the aspirations of the US and Ukraine.

That is, certain processes in politics will take place but overall policy will remain unchanged.

On whether there could be a repeat of the Gingrich Revolution

  • We can distinguish between Reagan's conservatives and neoconservatives like Desantes. Will the Gingrich Revolution, the Republican Party's success in 1994, repeat itself? Doubtful. Trumpism demonstrated that the revolutionary development of the conservative party is not so much a new conservatism as it is personalism. However, the current processes may result in him being denied election to any federal office or spending time behind bars. And Trumpism, as such, seeks a new face - and it does not have to be a personality cult; it can be a rethinking and a shift to a more collectivist approach.
  • Trumpism is primarily about prioritising personal contacts between leaders, and bilateral relations that bring benefits and prestige. In other words, you can be a Trumpist while also supporting Ukraine. Trumpists are very much about personal loyalty.

On electoral turmoil

  • Given that this is an election year, we should do what diplomacy of a partner state does during elections - make ambassadorial visits to all campaign headquarters, communicating and supporting the functioning of American democracy. We also need to be more pragmatic, i.e. show how mutual cooperation can be beneficial.
  • Although McCarthy's launch of groups to monitor Ukraine's spending of American aid appeared to be a suspicion of corruption at the time, it has now turned out to be a boon for Ukraine, demonstrating how effectively we use American weapons and manage the funds allocated. The fact that so-called “open letters” and harsher rhetoric are appearing is actually an election game that cannot be avoided.

On the nature of Lend-Lease and its future prospects

  • The Lend-Lease is a safeguard instrument signed before the 2022 elections to ensure that if Congress does not want to give Ukraine new support packages, then Joseph Biden can sign the relevant packages by executive without the approval of the Congress and all subcommittees. In other words, the Lend-Lease is not a new, separate programme; rather, it is the President's authority to redistribute aid to Ukraine if Congress fails. We needed it as a safety net, but it was not activated because Congress gave its full support to Ukraine.
Daria Synhaievska, Analyst at UkraineWorld
Oleksandr Kraiev, Director of the North America Programme at the Foreign Policy Council "Ukrainian Prism"