October 4, 2019

Trump, Zelenskyy and Ukraine


“Can We Please Talk About How Ukrainians Feel About This?” by Alyona Getmanchuk. The New York Times, September 24 :

…Ukrainians consider the United States, along with Poland, our primary ally in the world.

And so it is bitter to learn that under Donald Trump, it appears that the leadership of the United States has now joined the list of those who would use Ukraine to pursue their own narrow ends, and do so in ways that hinder our own efforts to improve our country. It is especially painful that this is happening at a moment when the new Ukrainian leadership desperately needs a functional partnership with Washington.…

And Ukraine remains in a precarious position. Crimea is still under Russian control, and the war in the east continues; the fight against corruption at home is also not yet won. In all of these matters, Ukraine is reliant on bipartisan American support, which is why our leadership is desperate to avoid becoming part of the American presidential campaign.

Ukraine is now facing the prospect of becoming a double victim: on the one hand, a victim of Mr. Putin’s aggression; on the other, a victim of Mr. Trump’s desire to be re-elected at any price.

…If Mr. Trump wants to give a boost to his campaign with the help of Ukraine, he can do so by helping Mr. [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy to end war in the east on conditions acceptable to the Ukrainian people.

Ukraine would like to remain what it has been now, for the past five years: a reliable partner for the United States, not a source of “kompromat” for domestic political infighting.


“Democrats’ double standard on Ukraine,” by Marc A. Thiessen, The Washington Post, September 24 :

We don’t yet know whether President Trump delayed some military aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Ukraine’s president to reopen an investigation into Hunter Biden. But if we are concerned about U.S. officials inappropriately threatening aid to Ukraine, then there are others who have some explaining to do.

It got almost no attention, but in May, CNN reported that Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote a letter to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, expressing concern at the closing of four investigations they said were critical to the Mueller probe. In the letter, they implied that their support for U.S. assistance to Ukraine was at stake. Describing themselves as “strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine,” the Democratic senators declared, “We have supported [the] capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these [democratic] principles to avoid the ire of President Trump,” before demanding Lutsenko “reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.”

So, it’s okay for Democratic senators to encourage Ukraine to investigate Trump, but it’s not okay for the president to allegedly encourage Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden? …


“Welcome, Americans, to the Ukrainian swamp,” by Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, September 20 :

…In the world as it existed up until 2016, U.S. and European powers would be pushing [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy hard to make the right decisions. Certainly Ukraine’s foreign friends – among them the International Monetary Fund, several European governments and former vice president Joe Biden, who often represented the Obama administration in Ukraine – pushed the previous government hard to create institutions that would fight corruption, and not just talk about it. But the Western world since 2016 has been led by a new kind of American president, one who hopes to use Ukraine’s old habits of politicized justice for his own benefit.

Over the summer, the Trump White House held up promised military aid to Ukraine, for reasons that were left ambiguous. In Kiev [sic], many believe the delay was caused by Trump’s demand that Zelenskyy’s government conduct a series of spurious, politicized investigations, designed both to smear Biden and to exonerate Paul Manafort, who was deeply involved with the most corrupt part of the Ukrainian political class for many years. …

Instead of pushing Ukraine to stick to the law, as any other U.S. president would have done in the past, Trump might have pushed Ukraine to manipulate the law for his benefit. Zelenskyy, a comedian entrusted with the transformation of his country away from its post-Soviet mentality, has been blocked by Trump, a reality television star who has brought a post-Soviet mentality into the White House, using public office for private gain, undermining legal institutions and even using government power to put pressure on business. …


“The Big Costs of Treating Ukraine Like Little Trumpland,” by Mike Giglio, The Atlantic, September 25 :

…In pushing Ukraine’s new, pro-Western president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, Trump has taken a page from Putin’s book – treating Ukraine as something like Little Trumpland and its president like a world leader who has to do his bidding.…

The irony in this saga is that in Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Trump has been trying to strong-arm a Ukrainian leader who has vowed to root out the endemic corruption that plagues his country. So Trump’s admitted insistence, during a July 25 phone call with Zelenskyy, that Ukraine investigate discredited allegations against Biden over his eldest son’s business dealings in the country – against a backdrop of Trump freezing more than $391 million in military aid – appears to have fallen on the ears of a man who seems unlikely to bend to such demands.

…a rift in the Ukraine-U.S. relationship can also hurt America in its own struggle against Russia. Ukraine’s spy services and military forces have become an important U.S. partner in countering Russia – especially in the realm of hybrid warfare, which Moscow has deployed so effectively against America and its allies. Lost amid the accusations that Trump has used U.S. aid as leverage to push Ukraine to do his political bidding is the fact that while Kiev [sic] is heavily reliant on America to defend against Russia, America needs help from Kiev too. …