By George Kukhaleishvili
The dramatic saga about Trump’s impeachment enquiry comes to end. The U.S. Senate acquitted Trump. Democrats had no necessary 67 votes to get rid of the U.S. President before the end of his term. The first attempt to remove Donald Trump was an investigation of Russia’s interference into the U.S. elections in 2016. Now, Ukraine made its contribution to the next victory of the U.S. leader.
The majority of Americans and Ukrainians perceived recent trip to Ukraine of the U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo like a working meeting with the President Vladimir Zelenskii on security, trade and investment issues, on the situation over Ukrainian passenger plane shot by Iran last month. This is a top of the iceberg. The mission of Pompeo was to collect some new arguments to fortify the image of his boss in the White House on the eve of voting on impeachment in the Senate this Wednesday. Dems from House of Representatives insists that Trump blackmailed Zelenskii. Just like “help him with the investigation of Biden’s son activity in Ukraine or you never receive the U.S. military aid”. Opponents blame Trump in interference into the internal affairs of the sovereign state to satisfy his political interests and find a black book on Biden – one of the pretenders on the chair in the Oval room. This is the main arguments for the initiation of an impeachment inquiry.
Pompeo declared that the USA is interested in cooperation with Ukraine, supports its independents and has an interest in the investment cooperation at the press-conference with Zelenskii. They both reaffirmed that the version of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine is not the truth. Ukrainian leader invited the Americans to invest in Ukraine’s energy sector and asked to propose business projects. Everything looked like the meeting of two partners who have no problems in relations. Ukrainian politicians helped Trump’s team to show that Dems made an utter fool out of themselves with impeachment trial against Trump. Pompeo visited Ukraine in the necessary time. The Trump’s image improved and on February 4 his approval rating reached 49% and hit a record since the beginning of his first term.
Reasons for Zelenskii
The Ukrainian president has some reasons to support Republicans in the impeachment trial. First of all, he is a person without a political background and a profound experience in diplomacy, international relations and geopolitics, as well as the most of members of the Ukrainian government and the ruling party. Zelenskii hopes that Trump appreciates him as an ally and helps to attract the foreign direct investment to Ukraine if he is re-elected as the U.S. President. The political romanticism is a problem not only of Zelenskii and his team but many generations of Ukrainian liberals and moderate conservatives since the country gained independence in August 1991. Ukrainian politicians behave like the little children who wait for a candle from the U.S. elder brother only for good behavior. However, this the way to nowhere.
Secondly, the Ukrainian government awaits more substantial diplomatic support and military aid from Republicans than from Democrats. By the initiative of the congressional Republicans, like Lindsey Graham or John McCain, the USA imposed more severe sanctions on Russia than the Obama’s team or the EU did since the annexation of the Crimea in 2014. Zelenskii hopes that if Trump preserves power, he will help Ukraine in conflict management in Donbas or helps to regain Crimea from Russia by peaceful methods. The USA doesn’t participate in negotiations on the conflict management in Ukraine, unlike Germany and France.
Kyiv is anxious about intentions of the President of France Emmanuel Macron and the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel to strengthen ties with Russia in security, energy and economic dimension before Russian troops and mercenaries leave Donbas and the Crimea comes back to Ukraine. The USA can strengthen Ukraine’s position in a dialogue with Russia and counterweight desire of Europeans to make concessions to the Kremlin.
Democrats are right only in one thing. The Trump administration and American investors don’t hurry up to give money to Ukraine. The reason is not in blackmail but the fears of the corruption in Ukraine and ineffectiveness of the Ukrainian government in the struggle against it. Americans taxpayers are afraid of inappropriate use of funds. The corruption scandals during Poroshenko’s era, especially stealing of more than 10 million dollars from the defense budget or contraband of spare parts for the armored vehicles from Russia. It is hardly possible to solve any issue in Ukrainian state administrations and medical facilities without a bribe.
The Ukrainian doctors draw medical leaves for bribes because their salaries are lower than 500 dollars per month (nurses earn about 200 dollars), especially in the cities with a population half million people. Bribes are common in Ukrainian schools and universities. The corruption and the kickbacks are widespread among civil servants who also have low salaries. Ukraine sets 129 ranks in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 of Transparency International. Western business loves stability. Ukraine has problems with corruption and law like Albania, Romania and Bulgaria have. The problem is not in blackmail or pressure in relations between Ukraine and the USA. The curse for the USA in Ukraine and other countries of the Former Soviet Union is mass corruption.
George Kukhaleishvili is a political analyst.