The United States is looking for ways to strengthen its relationship with Ukraine on energy, security and the economy, but remains concerned about Ukraine’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Munich where she thanked him for following through on his commitment to transfer highly enriched uranium out of Ukraine and encouraged continued reform of the energy sector. She noted U.S. concerns about selective prosecutions of opposition party leaders, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
In follow-up meetings in Ukraine, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon continued discussions on cooperation on non-proliferation, energy, and economic reform, including ways to increase American investment in Ukraine. There continue to be obstacles to investment, he said, in the form of regulations, in the areas of taxes and customs and with regard to corruption. American exports to Ukraine are at a record high. But they are still only around $2 billion, which is much less than it should be, said Assistant Secretary Gordon.
If it continues to be difficult to conduct business in Ukraine, the country runs the risk that American businesses won’t invest in Ukraine, which in turn will the slow the country’s development. “So we hope,” said Assistant Secretary Gordon, “that some of these issues will be tackled on taxes, customs, regulations, and corruption, because we want to see more Americans investing in Ukraine.”
Democratic reforms continue to be an issue in Ukraine. Assistant Secretary Gordon reiterated U.S. concerns about selective prosecutions. He also stressed the importance of free, fair, and transparent parliamentary elections next October. He urged that all legitimate opposition groups be allowed to freely participate and international observers be invited to monitor the vote.
As Assistant Secretary Gordon said, “We want to see [Ukraine] continue down the course towards Euro-Atlantic integration, stability, prosperity, and democracy.”