A campaign poster featuring Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin in Kiev, April 2019
Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

A congressional impeachment inquiry seeks to determine whether U.S. President Donald Trump extorted a foreign leader, withholding a coveted White House meeting and U.S. military aid in order to promulgate a Russian-inspired conspiracy theory and smear his chief opponent in the 2020 election. The United States’ gravest constitutional crisis since Watergate is not just about preserving the integrity of U.S. democratic institutions from the president’s abuse of power, however. It is an episode in a broader geopolitical struggle between the defenders of democracy and the forces of oligarchic authoritarianism, from Kyiv’s Maidan to Hong Kong’s Mong Kok. In this wider global conflict, Trump and his surrogates have consistently aligned themselves with the forces of oligarchic authoritarianism—in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and other countries, too. Nowhere is this clearer than in Ukraine.

That Ukraine is at the heart of the U.S. impeachment inquiry is no

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  • MICHAEL CARPENTER is Managing Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia from 2015 to 2017.
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