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U.S. military aid to Ukraine: Taylor testimony lays out the stakes

Obviously, you’re getting the news of the first day of the public House committee hearings on impeachment from a lot of sources, but I just wanted to note one thing that struck me while watching it, in which Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor (who comes across as a dream witness, in terms of credibility) explained why U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was of such extreme, even historic importance.

Taylor, with a long history in diplomacy and security issues in that part of Europe, explained why U.S. aid to Ukraine, to resist the Russian military aggression (and military occupation) in two regions of Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass), was so critical.

Here, as I transcribed it while watching the hearings, is how he described the import, which is much greater than just whether Ukraine can defend those parts of its internationally-recognized territory:

Ukraine is on the front line. We have a national security policy, that describes Russia and China as adversaries. The Russians are violating all the rules, understandings that they have committed to that actually kept the peace in Europe for 20 years.

Until [Russia] invaded Ukraine in 2014, they had abided by the sovereignty of nations, the inviolability of borders.

That rule of law, that stability that kept the peace in Europe, was violated by the Russians, and if we don’t push back, then that violation will continue. And that, Mr. Chairman, affects us, affects the world that we live in, that our children will grow up in, and our grandchildren, and the kind of world that we want to see abroad. So that affects our national security directly. Ukraine is the front line of that conflict.


Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/13/2019 - 09:04 pm.

    The figure gets thrown around the 13,000 Ukraine’s have died with “invasion” into the Crimea. Based on that figure could one calculate or maybe extrapolate how many died in the period aid was withheld for the benefit political posturing by the Don ?

    • Submitted by cory johnson on 11/14/2019 - 09:44 am.

      Only if we start with half of that number on Obama since he did literally nothing for almost three years to protect Ukraine.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/14/2019 - 01:22 pm.

        Some arithmetic problems:
        Russia occupied Crimea in 2014, and began it’s operations in Ukraine in 2015.
        I suppose if you add one year and two years you can come up with three Obama years.

        • Submitted by cory johnson on 11/15/2019 - 08:51 am.

          since obama was president until jan 2017 that would equal almost three years. Crimea is Ukraine. March 2014- January 2017. what’s your point? Trump Derangement Syndrome must affect math skills.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/15/2019 - 03:25 pm.

            Try reading.
            Crimea has been Russian since 2014.
            Congress would have had to approve any military action by Obama; unlikely in his last two years when they didn’t approve anything.

      • Submitted by Dave Paulson on 11/14/2019 - 08:14 pm.

        Soooo, therefore, Trump is justified in making them suffer?

  2. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/13/2019 - 10:21 pm.

    Push back?

    I found that to be the most alarming thing he said.

    Does war against Russia go along with the removal of this President?

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/14/2019 - 10:03 am.

      “Does war against Russia go along with the removal of this President?”


      The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

      And your problem with this process is?

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/14/2019 - 02:54 pm.

        My problem: Russia is the Crown Jewel of neo-conservative and neo-liberal regime change doctrine. Despite the failure of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Dems have not done their homework about Ukraine and Syria, instead just believing whatever they are told by the totally unaccountable Intelligence Community and bureaucratic Deep State, as if it were absoluteand unquestionable proof.

        So, I wonder, if Dems succeed in removing Trump, will they follow the CIA etc IC, deep state policy makers, the eternal war machine and perhaps Biden in a righteous hot war against Evil Russia?

        • Submitted by Dave Paulson on 11/14/2019 - 08:13 pm.

          Deep State, Deep State. deep state, deep state……ahhhhh

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/14/2019 - 08:58 pm.

          OK, let me try this again:

          I occasionally patronize my local food coop and in my observations I find the employees there to be a bunch of communists who think if they work 3 hours a day the world owes them a living and while they believe they are part of a new world order, solving all manner of problems from being pollinator friendly, cleaning up our water and solving climate change, in reality they are simply slurping at the capitalistic trough of their customers who can afford to pay a buck a pound for organic bananas because times are good in investment banking.

          Of course, I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS.

          And just like those down at the coop, who I believe are mostly smart, well intentioned folks, I look at Wm. Taylor and Geo. Kent and see a couple of guys who are likewise just trying to do right by things. They did not start out with evil intent, they serve their country because they see it as a noble calling, just like the organic farmers growing heirloom tomatoes see their work pursuits.

          Because you politically agree generally with the organic farmers they are noble, because you politically disagree with the folks like Taylor & Kent they are part of some sinister grand “deep state” conspiracy to hold the common folks down.

          We have tried your grand plan of nationalized banks and industry in a long string of failed communist experiments in the 20th century. Not a single one thrived or even survived.

          The closest thing to your consistently described nirvana is economies like Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Sorry to say they all still have banks, corporations and billionaires.

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/19/2019 - 09:06 am.

            I have never once, ever, anywhere, suggested nationalizing banks or corporations. Such is the dualistic fallacy of the West, that if I am against the power of Banks, corporations and billionaires, then I must be a communist who wants to nationalize them.

            Is there any middle-ground where we can have Banks and Corporations, but not give them EVERY advantage relative to any given citizen not connected to Capital? Is there any way we can expand opportunity for those quasi-communists at the Co-op so they don’t default to communism and the seizure of private property? You know, communism rises up precisely because a ruling class becomes so entrenched and disconnected, while the “middle class” shrinks and becomes merely an apology for ruling class abuses.

            Sweden, Norway and Denmark are not nirvana, not by any means. Like us, they are living well beyond their means, if you factor out fossil fuels. We all have gross expectations in the West.

            That said, that is one of the reasons why Russia is the crown Jewel in Neo-conservative and Neo-liberal regime change doctrine, because relative to most of the rest of the world it has a significant amount of conventional oil remaining; and they are not part of the Federal Reserve/Central Banking system that allows our direct access to that oil. And Dems don’t much question this because, I guess, you can afford 1lb bananas?

  3. Submitted by cory johnson on 11/14/2019 - 06:06 am.

    Why didn’t Obama and/or NATO do anything when Russia attacked? And giving them blankets doesn’t count as intervention.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/14/2019 - 09:49 am.

      Ukraine is not a member of NATO and not in the NATO joint defense agreement. Much to the approval of Team Russia: Putin, Trump, and MAGA Nation.

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 11/15/2019 - 08:55 am.

        Sigh- not sure if you intentionally missed the point, but why was protecting them not important then but it is now? Oh right, Obama was President. It could also be argued we were obligated to stand up to Russia in 2014 since the US convinced Ukraine to denuclearize in in the 90’s.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/15/2019 - 12:04 pm.

          Because it is not about protecting Ukraine. That is just a distracting argument.

          The complete inability of the Trumpian right to even give the slightest consideration to the “what if Hilary did this” (WIHDT) thought experiment is the problem that you avoid at all costs: divert, dissemble, disagree. What ever it takes to not have to look at things in a fair and balanced fashion.

          Let’s take look at few “thought experiment” examples:

          WIHDT 1:

          HRC See’s a need to goose the economy and being the traditionalist she is with the usual cadre of former Wall Streeters advising her, she decides a tax cut is needed. And through some strange set of machinations it ends up very similar to Trump’s tax cut. Strange; but, not impossible.

          And the reaction of the right? Well, it is HRC so we’re not going to get all bubbly crazy; but, a number of Rs sign on and most give grudging credit.

          That would be known as INTELLECTUAL HONESTY. Trump does it and thumbs go up, HRC does it and thumbs go up.

          WIHDT 2:

          HRC Want’s to cue up a major immigration reform bill and knows the resistance that will rise up. She decides to beef up her border security bonafides in advance of this and introduces a plan to enhance border security through following DHS guidance on beefing up existing barriers and expanding them where they believe appropriate. Bush and Obama had done this previously; so, not beyond reason.

          And the reaction of the right? Well, it is HRC so we’re not going to get all bubbly crazy; but, a number of Rs sign on and most give grudging credit.

          That would be known as INTELLECTUAL HONESTY. Trump does it and thumbs go up, HRC does it and thumbs go up.

          WIHDT 3:

          2020 Is nearing and HRC is not a clear winner on her chances for re-election. Nikki Haley is looking to be a formidable challenger. Her Indian roots may indicate a place to make some political hay. India is seeking billions of dollars in a favorable trade deal and HRC see’s her opening. She calls the Indian President and says she can support the deal as India has proposed; but “NEEDS A FAVOR, THOUGH”. And this leaks out through a whistle blower.

          And the reaction of the right? Well, first the whistle blower has a national holiday named after them. Of course it is the “Anonymous Whistle Blower National Holiday” because the Rs will protect the whistleblower’s identity like an alien living in Area 51. And next, the impeachment fever peaks, led by Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows foaming at the mouth with the single biggest event of their lives developing in front of them. Impeach and Execute will be the R motto of the day for such traitorous behavior.

          That would be known as INTELLECTUAL FRAUD. Trump does it and nothing to see here, let’s move on, HRC does it and the R world melts down.

          You know that these examples are 100% representative of the truth. Trump’s actions will lead to his impeachment and conviction if the Rs can achieve even 30% on the intellectual honesty scoreboard.

          Looks like he is safe…

    • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 11/14/2019 - 04:24 pm.

      Yeah, I thought Cory and Joe, and others were in the cabal opposed to foreign entanglement. They have made it clear that they’ll betray the Kurds, who actually helped us at the price of their own lives. Why would they care about a country that hasn’t helped us on a level anyway near what the Kurds did?

    • Submitted by Dave Paulson on 11/14/2019 - 08:10 pm.

      thank you for stating that Russia did attack us.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/14/2019 - 08:15 pm.

      Look at a map.
      Russia borders much of Ukraine, and its client state Belarus occupies much of the rest.
      The closest NATO states are Poland and Romania. I don’t think that we have bases in either.
      Our closest military bases are in Germany.
      Airstrikes would run into Russian rockets.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/14/2019 - 08:05 am.

    Mr. Taylor presented as clear-cut a statement of foreign policy, and its importance, as I’ve come across in a long time. For at least some of the Republicans on the House committee (Mr. Jordan comes immediately to mind), ‘twould appear that supporting the President is more important than the rule of law on the international stage. Those sad men and women are as shortsighted and intellectually bankrupt as their leader(s).

  5. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/15/2019 - 08:39 am.

    A nice synopsis of Ukraine history, particularly the period from 2013-2015, from a former CIA analyst. Most of this history does not suit the purposes of this impeachment process, so it is conspicuously left out. The real story of Ukraine should be required reading for anyone who claims to care about Democracy, and is inflamed by these impeachment hearings.

    • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 11/15/2019 - 03:07 pm.

      Fortunately, we have Ray McGovern, Chris Hedges, John Kiriakou, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Cohen, John Pilger, and some other to give us honest analyses, since the corporate media has failed us.

  6. Submitted by cory johnson on 11/17/2019 - 06:35 pm.

    Under Obama: Russia annexed Crimea without consequence. No aid to Ukraine except pillow and blankets that he made Ukraine pick up in Poland so as not to annoy Russia.
    Under Trump: Harsh sanctions placed on Russia. Lethal aid provided to Ukraine.

    Which President was Russia’s patsy?

    • Submitted by David Lundeen on 11/18/2019 - 06:49 pm.

      Please read about the bipartisan passage of the Magnitsky act in 2012. It allowed the US to pass sanctions against the leading figures of the Russian kleptocracy. This alarmed Putin as the ability for Russian oligarchs to launder their money overseas in Western institutes was severely curtailed, but, arguably not extended far enough.

      Sanctions against the Russian elites plundered fortunes by this act was much more threatening than anything this administration has pursued. But don’t take my word, read what Masha Gessen or Vladimir Kara-Murza have to say.

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