U.S. military aid still a matter of survival in Ukraine amid impeachment battle

U.S. military aid a matter of survival in Ukraine
U.S. military aid a matter of survival in Ukr... 02:40

Odesa, Ukraine — After agreeing to a ceasefire by year's end, Ukraine and Russia are one step closer to ending their five-year conflict. While U.S. military aid to Ukraine is at the heart of the impeachment battle in the U.S., it's vitally important to Ukraine's defense.

In October, patrol boats that once served the U.S. Coast Guard were given a second life in the Ukrainian Navy, guarding Ukraine's Black Sea coast against incursions by Russia. Captain Damir Aulin said the ships are a game-changer, making it easier to patrol the coastline. 
 
A scandal over U.S. military aid to Ukraine triggered the impeachment hearings. But in Ukraine, American aid isn't about politics, it's about survival. Ukraine's been fighting a war against Russian-backed separatists since 2014 and the conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
 
Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, told CBS News that Russia is like an octopus, spreading its tentacles everywhere. American military aid helps Ukraine protect itself against Russia. But it also discourages Russia from using the same tactics against other countries and, arguably, makes the world a safer place.
 
U.S. military aid to Ukraine also includes anti-tank missiles and training for front line soldiers. But guns are only one of Russia's weapons. Liubov Tsybulska, an expert on Russian propaganda, said Russian media frequently portrays America as devious and hypocritical. 
 
President Trump's alleged wrongdoing undermines U.S. influence in Ukraine and makes other countries nervous, Tsybulska said. 

"They feel that the same thing can happen to them. They feel that their most reliable partner, the U.S., can abandon them in a crucial moment," she said.

Whether the president's actions are impeachable or not in the U.S., the people impacted in Ukraine say the president's actions can have devastating consequences.