Blinken: Ukraine is facing aggression from Russia

F.P. Report

KYIV: Secretary of State   Antony J. Blinken has said that Ukraine is facing aggression from without and from within.  From without, obviously from Russia and the actions it’s taken since 2014 – Crimea, the Donbas, including recently – but from within, from corruption, from oligarchs and interests that would put themselves ahead of the interests of the Ukrainian people.

This he said during a virtual roundtable on reform and anticorruption. He said that as there are incredibly brave soldiers on the front lines in the Donbas, in many ways you are on the front lines in that second fight against corruption and for a democracy that has strong institutions, that has transparency, that has accountability.

Blinken added that we know that corruption literally eats away at Ukraine’s democracy from the inside. And so the work that you’re doing and the courage that you show in doing it could not be more important. 

We had some very good conversations today with leaders in the government, including President Zelenskyy, including about the reform agenda.  And what I really am anxious to do is to listen to you, to hear from you about how the United States can be a strong and even stronger partner for Ukraine in moving forward with reforms, and particularly in combating corruption.  What can we do more effectively in support of Ukraine as it takes on this fight?

And some of the things we discussed today with government colleagues were the very great importance of corporate governance, and particularly to make sure that there are true, independent people overseeing the particularly state-owned enterprises.  We talked about as well the vital importance of sustaining and strengthening the anti-corruption board.  We talked about the importance of judicial reform and making sure that the process for picking judges is transparent and relies on outside evaluation and expertise, not on inside interests.  We talked about the reform of the security forces to make sure that they’re truly working for the Ukrainian people.

And finally, we talked about the importance not only of passing the right laws and making sure that the legal foundation is there to deal with corruption, to advance transparency, to deal with the judiciary, but that those laws are actually implemented.  Because it’s necessary but insufficient to have laws on the books; they actually have to be used for the purposes to which they’re intended.

So we, as I said, had a very good, open, direct conversation.  We want to know how we can be more helpful.  And so I’d really like to learn from you, to listen to you, both about your assessment of the state of things, what’s working, what’s not working, and again, whether there are things that we can do to be a strong partner to Ukraine in advancing reform and combating corruption.