US Weapons and Chinese Cash Compete for Influence in Ukraine

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Source: Daily Signal

Ukraine’s future is no longer—if it ever was—a binary struggle between a pro-Western and a pro-Russian future.

Now, China is decidedly in the mix, making steady inroads in Ukraine through wide-ranging financial investments and infrastructure projects intended to prepare the country for its role in China’s One Belt, One Road land trade route across Asia to Europe—a mantelpiece of Chinese foreign policy also known as the New Silk Road.

As China’s economic clout in Ukraine grows, it could mean a loss of U.S. influence, some experts say, possibly even playing to Moscow’s advantage.

“If Chinese investment and Russian aggression in Eastern Europe are not matched by corresponding U.S. economic and military measures in coming years, the U.S. and its partners risk ceding influence in the region to hostile revanchist powers,” Franklin Holcomb, a Russia and Ukraine analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview.

Upping the Ante?

Since the outset of Russia’s hybrid war in 2014, Ukrainian officials had been soliciting America for lethal weaponry—the Javelin anti-tank missile in particular—as a way both to defend itself from Russian aggression on the battlefields of the Donbas and to deter Moscow from future offensives.

Former President Barack Obama never approved the move, ostensibly due to fears of escalating the conflict by sparking a tit-for-tat arms race with Russia.

However, after months of deliberation, news broke Dec. 22 that the administration of President Donald Trump had approved a Javelin weapons package for Ukraine reportedly worth $47 million, comprising 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 launchers.

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