People wave Ukrainian flags in front of the country's parliament in Kiev. (Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — With much of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump centered around a call to the president of Ukraine, the country has suddenly become a focus in American politics.
WBZ NewsRadio's Laurie Kirby sat down with Dr. Emily Channell-Justice, Director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, to talk about why Ukraine is in the headlines.
Channell-Justice explianed the complicated but important role Ukraine has in U.S. foreign policy.
"Ukraine has been an important ally for the U.S., and the U.S. of course has been an important ally for Ukraine," Justice said. "Ukraine is the border between Europe and Russia, so it makes sense that U.S. interests are to support Ukrainian democracy and to support Ukraine as an important national security country."
In addition, Channell-Justice says it seems that many Americans have been involved in Ukrainian businesses lately. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump after a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to show Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate the son of Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, who once served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
But Channell-Justice said it's not just Biden under scrutiny for dealings with the Ukrainian energy industry. She cited a report that current U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry tried to press Zelensky to install one of his political donors on the board of the country's state gas company.
"Basically, what it seems to me is that Hunter Biden kind of gets caught doing this, and so is being used by the Trump presidency as evidence of corruption in the Biden campaing, when people in the Trump's circle have sort of been doing the same thing," she said. "This is the root of the problem: that it's possible to do this in Ukraine. You can't do stuff like that in every country, in companies in every country, but the idea that Ukrainian companies are so used to making these kind of deals in order to make money, it makes it easier for this kind of corruption to happen instead of being committed to advancing democracy in Ukraine, which seems like it should be the priority."
Kirby and Justice also spoke about Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the 2014 Euromaidan protests, Trump's comments about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and more.
WBZ NewsRadio's Laurie Kirby (@LaurieWBZ) reports