The Eagle and the Trident

U.S.—Ukraine Relations in Turbulent Times

By Steven Pifer

An Insider’s Account of Dealing with Post-Soviet Ukraine

The Eagle and the Trident provides the first detailed account of U.S. diplomacy toward independent Ukraine, covering the formative dozen years following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. Steven Pifer, a career Foreign Service officer who, during that period, worked on U.S. Ukraine relations at the State Department and the White House and as ambassador to Ukraine, has written an insider’s narrative of the ups and downs in the relationship between Washington and newly independent Kyiv.

During the period covered by the book, the United States generally succeeded in its major foreign policy goals in Ukraine, notably the safe transfer of nearly 2,000 strategic nuclear weapons left there after the Soviet collapse. Washington also provided support for Ukraine’s effort to develop into a modern, democratic, market-oriented state. These latter efforts were only modestly successful, however, with the result that Ukraine was less able than it could have been to stand up to Russian aggression in the Crimea in 2014.

The author reflects on what worked and what did not work in the various U.S. approaches toward Ukraine. He also offers a practitioner’s recommendations for current U.S. policies in the context of ongoing uncertainty about the political stability of Ukraine and Russia’s long-term intentions toward its smaller but important neighbor.

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