03:35 - Source: CNN
Hear what Bill Taylor said to the House during impeachment
Washington CNN  — 

The former top US diplomat in Ukraine on Sunday strongly defended US support for the country in a New York Times op-ed two days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly asked a journalist if she thinks Americans “care about Ukraine.”

“Here’s why the answer should be yes,” Bill Taylor, who served as a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry, wrote in the opinion piece. “Ukraine is defending itself and the West against Russian attack. If Ukraine succeeds, we succeed. The relationship between the United States and Ukraine is key to our national security, and Americans should care about Ukraine.”

The lengthy and detailed defense of Ukraine includes a reference to the interview Pompeo had with Mary Louise Kelly of NPR, who said on Friday that Pompeo berated her in a heated encounter following an interview in which she pressed him on issues related to President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Pompeo was displeased about the Ukraine questioning, and asked her, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” Kelly said, adding that “he used the F-word in that sentence and many others.”

Taylor, who provided testimony to the House about an alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine, has been a vocal advocate of maintaining US support for the country. In his piece, he wrote that “Ukraine is the front line” for Russian aggression against the country as well as against Europe and the US.

“The United States and our allies support Ukraine in this war by providing the Ukrainian armed forces with weapons, training and support. American security assistance to Ukraine regularly receives broad, bipartisan support in Congress; the importance of that assistance to Ukraine – and to U.S. national security – is not at issue,” he wrote.

He went on to outline the various ways Russian aggression in Ukraine has affected other countries, including the US, writing that although Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, it first interfered in “Ukraine’s elections in 2014, and Britain’s Brexit referendum earlier in 2016.”

“Ukraine is the front line, we assisted the Ukrainian central election commission in its preparations for their 2019 elections to defend against further Russian interference. Their efforts, with our assistance, successfully frustrated Russian attacks,” Taylor wrote.

He continued: “To support Ukraine is to support a rules-based international order that enabled major powers in Europe to avoid war for seven decades. It is to support democracy over autocracy. It is to support freedom over unfreedom. Most Americans do.”

Taylor departed his post earlier this month as charge d’affaires in Kiev. At the time, he told CNN he was still under some “constraints” and couldn’t say whether he had been asked to leave before Pompeo’s planned visit to Ukraine. In a farewell message posted on New Year’s Eve, Taylor had stressed the US’ “strong support” for Ukraine and voiced optimism about the country.

CNN’s Caroline Kelly and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.