U.S. assistance for Ukraine aimed to help the country deter Russian aggression is a significant element, which gives Ukraine a stronger negotiating position in talks to end the war in Donbas, that's according to William Taylor, a career diplomat currently serving as U.S. charge d'affaires for Ukraine
The statement came as Taylor testified during the first public hearings of the impeachment probe held by the House on Wednesday, Nov 13.
"The security assistance that we provide takes many forms. One of the components of that assistance is counterbattery radars. Another component are sniper weapons. These weapons and this assistance allow the Ukrainian military to deter further incursions by the Russians against Ukrainian territory," Ambassador Taylor testified.
He also stressed that the U.S. assistance had enabled Ukrainian Armed Forces "to be effective and deter and to be able to take countermeasures" to Russian attacks.
Asked to clarify whether it is significant that, as he earlier said, Russians were watching closely to gauge the level of American support for Ukrainian government, Taylor replied: This is significant because the Ukrainians in particular under this new administration re eager to end this war. And they are eager to end it in a way that the Russians leave their territory. These negotiations, like all negotiations, are difficult. Ukrainians would like to be able to negotiate from a position of strength or at least more strength than they now have. Part of that strength, part of the ability of the Ukrainians to negotiate with the Russians for an end to the war depends on United States and other international support. If we withdraw or suspend or threaten to withdraw our security assistance, that's a message to Ukrainians."
The diplomat added that this also indicates to the Russians, "who are looking for any sign of weakness or any sign that we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine."
Asked whether this means that when Ukraine learned of the suspension of aid, the Russians would be learning also, and they would take that as a lack of robust U.S. support for Ukraine, Taylor said: "That's correct."
Asked whether that would weaken Ukraine in negotiating an end to the war in Donbas, the diplomat testified: "It would."