Trump impeachment inquiry: Why Ukraine is so important to the US

Did President Donald Trump withhold military aid from ally Ukraine for his own political reasons? That is the big question at the heart of the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry.

Ukraine is not in Nato and it has struggled with years of corruption. But its future direction is of geopolitical importance.

Why does Ukraine matter to US?

For much of its 28-year independent history it has been unclear whether Ukraine would end up aligned with Russia or the West.

In 2014, that uncertainty appeared to come to an end. After a bloody street revolution, Ukraine’s new leaders asserted that the country’s future lay with closer association with Europe and the West. Russia was now seen as the enemy and it responded by seizing Crimea and supporting an armed uprising in eastern Ukraine that has so far cost more than 13,000 lives.

Under the US Obama administration, Ukrainians’ right to decide their own future, and to resist Russian aggression, was defended as an important ideological principle.

That changed when President Trump took office, and Ukraine’s government has not been able to rely on America’s active support in the same way since.

How much military aid does the US give?

The US has a longstanding…

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