The public testimony in the impeachment hearings wrapped on Capitol Hill this week., before lawmakers leave for Thanksgiving. One key witness was the man President Trump appointed shortly after taking office to establish a new foreign policy in Ukraine. Scott Thuman spoke with Kurt Volker, and traveled to Ukraine, 2 years ago and found a complex mix of corruption, a rising Russian threat, and U-S aid, made for a difficult job.
This is the scene we found in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in December, 2017...
Scott: Four years ago this was essentially the birthplace of a revolution, Ukraine trying to rid itself of corruption. Four years later, many say that corruption still exists.
...Demonstrators surrounding Parliament, furious over the nation's faltering economy, rampant corruption, and the history of Russian interference.
Man: People who belong to power, this system is organized in such a way that they change under the influence after they get power. Scott: So they come in with noble ideas but you’re saying they become corrupt no matter what?
It was in this mix of war, politics and corruption thath ad created a headache for President Obama, that the Trump administration, then less than a year in office, developed a new strategy for Ukraine, including the appointment of experienced diplomat Kurt Volker, as special representative.
Volker: Politics in Kiev are messy, it's sloppy, but they're functioning. It is a democracy. The economy is growing, they have a lot of work to do. And fighting corruption and economic reform, land reform, for instance, creating an anti-corruption court, but they're gradually making it.
Volker's principle task: bringing the Russians and Ukrainians together to end the years long conflict that by then had claimed more than 10,000 lives - as we saw firsthand, visiting the trench lines. To help the Ukrainian military, the Trump administration changed U.S. policy to allow lethal weapons to be sold.
Scott: How important is US support?
Colonel: Ukraine cannot fight its war without its allies. And I’m not talking about the supply of military equipment only; I’m talking about the political and economical support.
On Tuesday, Volker told the impeachment inquiry that even now, U.S. policy should stay focused on helping Ukraine deal with Russia and its own corruption.
Volker: We should be supporting Ukraine’s democracy, reforms, its own fight against corruption domestically, its struggle against Russia, its defense capabilities. These are the heart of what we should be doing and I don't think pursuing these things serves a national interest.
The nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that the Trump administration froze in July was released on September 11th. Ukraine announced this week that they would deepen the investigation into Burisma Holdings, the company linked to Hunter Biden.