In an interview with PBS, Kurt Volker, the US State Department Special Representative, urged Ukrainians to vote in the second round of the presidential elections scheduled for April 21 for the current head of state, Peter Poroshenko.
He explained that the Ukrainians are facing a choice.
– Do they want someone who simply opposes the establishment, promising massive reforms?” Or do they want someone who may have disappointed them in some respects, but spent much more reforms than anyone in the last 20 years in Ukraine, and spoke out against Putin? – he stressed.
On the question of whether he means Poroshenko, Volker answered in the affirmative.
Recall, just a little more than a month ago, Volker said that the United States does not have its favorite in the Ukrainian presidential race, but he assured that Washington will continue to support Ukraine regardless of the results of the presidential elections.
What now? It turns out that the United States still decided on the favorite? Is this the position of the US State Department or Volcker personally?
It is clear that the United States has a huge impact on the political process in Ukraine. Ukraine could hardly have a new president without the approval of Washington.
Until now, most experts agreed on the idea that the United States did not decide on whom to bet on, since all the candidates were equally satisfied with them. The only fundamental requirement of Washington was the absence of large-scale fraud and mass protests.
Volker’s statement not only speaks of the open support of the incumbent president by the States, but also of their opposition to Zelensky’s candidacy. Why?
– Volcker’s statement is the opinion of a person appointed by the State Department’s chief expert on Ukraine, – said Igor Shatrov, deputy director of the National Institute for the Development of Modern Ideology.
– Cards opened. I have repeatedly said that Poroshenko, for all his negative, is convenient for the United States. It is understandable, predictable, and most importantly, manageable, because all its shortcomings are known.
– Ukrainian policy at the mercy of the State Department entirely?
– Ukraine has not become an important topic for Trump. Poroshenko – not his creature. Poroshenko – a protege of Trump’s opponents from the camp of the Democrats. For Trump, this order of things is a significant irritant. This, in my opinion, is the reason for the uncertainty towards Ukraine, which Trump himself demonstrates. The State Department is to promote American interests and pressure on Russia in this situation simply uses the opportunities that it gives influence on Poroshenko.
– Why are they silent until this moment?
– The first round showed the mobilization potential of candidates, revealed a range of political preferences of Ukrainians. Now you can build a campaign more meaningfully. The task of the first round for Poroshenko was to prevent Tymoshenko in the second. The task is performed brilliantly. In Washington, it was considered that now it was time to remind the voter who was behind Poroshenko in order to increase his electoral potential.
But not sure that this is the right move. Those who had previously voted for Poroshenko voted precisely because they hoped for his special relations with the West, which would help Ukraine out of the crisis. But some of his opponents still doubted Poroshenko’s frankly pro-American orientation. So such a showdown can do the Ukrainian president a disservice.
– According to Volker, Poroshenko has spent much more reforms than anyone in the last 20 years in Ukraine, and spoke out against Putin. The last is the main thing for the USA? Or does the US doubt Zelensky’s loyalty?
- Walker let it slip. “Against” or “for” Putin is indeed an important criterion that is taken into account in the United States. Just before such revelations were not accepted. As for Poroshenko, among other things, he is tied with the blood of Donbass. In his loyalty to the United States and the sequence of his Russophobia in Washington, no doubt. With Zelensky it is really harder. Finally, he just talks to the voter in Russian. Such a frank trolling, such a direct opposition to Poroshenko’s policy, its fundamental principles are raised by questions in the West.
– How much this support will help Poroshenko? Will it not look like undisguised US intervention?
- Let’s not be naive. In Ukrainian society there are mainly anti-Poroshenko sentiments. Frankly anti-American sentiment is not present. Noone will blame America even for this intervention. The USA and Canada remain a dream for many Ukrainians. Thank you for the previous and current presidents of this country. Therefore, such a nod to Poroshenko may be heard and read in some part of society, perhaps he will not be noticed.
– Let’s not forget about this. Volker in Ukraine has its own business interests, – says a professor at Moscow State University doctor Andrei Manoylo.
– So, he (through intermediaries) repeatedly received from the state budget of Ukraine (that is, from Poroshenko) quite large sums for “lobbying for Ukraine’s interests in the United States Congress ” (money was transferred to accounts of companies in which Volker previously held senior positions).
He does not want to lose this money, so Ukrainians transparently hints for whom to vote for: for Poroshenko, of course, because there will be nothing to take from Zelensky. Zelensky is a project of Kolomoysky, and Benya Kolomoysky will not pay Volker out of greed.
– In general, in Washington, has the attitude towards Poroshenko changed lately?
- No, the attitude to Poroshenko in Washington is the same – it is toxic, and it is difficult to tolerate. In addition, Poroshenko did not comply with the two most important instructions of Americans: he did not let an anti-corruption vertical form in Ukraine and could not consolidate (unite) the national elite around himself. For this, Poroshenko in the USA is considered a “shot down pilot.”
– And Zelensky is bad for the United States, as Volker is trying to demonstrate?
– He is not bad for the USA, he is bad personally for Kurt Volker, who thinks that it will be harder to come to an agreement with Kolomoysky than with Poroshenko.
– Would not the statement Volcker regarded as a frank intervention?
- To the US intervention in the internal affairs in Ukraine, everyone has long been accustomed to and already perceive it as a given, as something ordinary. Therefore, it will not surprise anyone. At the same time, it is important to understand that Volker’s support will not add Poroshenko to popularity either: yes, Volker is a “Gauleiter”, but this is not the US ambassador, from whom they are used to receiving guidelines and according to which they are used to checking watches.
– Can it all go not according to the plan of Washington?
– Everything goes and will go according to the plan of Washington, it cannot be otherwise in today’s Ukraine. Elections are a performance in which the USA will still be the winner, having reconfigured their “slaves”. That is why the United States does not support any of the candidates: they need the strongest to win. By his victory, he proved that he was worthy to serve American masters. And when this winner is determined, then he will be called to the US embassy for the first briefing. And who exactly will win this race is absolutely no difference for the USA.
However, this does not exclude individual “arts”, like statements by Volcker, who openly sided with Poroshenko.
– US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Gale said on March 5 that he did not give preference to any of the three main contenders for the second round. Therefore, the Americans participating in the management of the Ukrainian political process have the opportunity to express their personal preferences, ”continues the topic of the political commentator of the Ukrainian newspaper“ 2000 ”Dmitry Galkin.
Volker fears that Russia will have the opportunity to achieve a settlement of the Donbass conflict in accordance with their own interests. Therefore, he is interested in Poroshenko remaining in power, who is not at all interested in a transition to a political settlement.
– What then is the official position of the State Department?
“I think that the position of the State Department remains unchanged, since the US administration is really satisfied with both the coming to power of Zelensky and the preservation of Poroshenko (and they would not seriously object to Tymoshenko). But such influential figures as Volker, who have a certain freedom of action, can have their own opinion.
– Why Volker so agitates against Zelensky?
– The stability of the current political system of Ukraine directly depends on the preservation of the Donbass conflict and confrontation with Russia. Therefore, all players claiming to be influential in the current system should help to maintain tension even if the transition to a political settlement in Donbass and the restoration of ties with Russia will bring them great personal benefits. However, Zelensky is a non-system player and relies on votes that require a change of this system. Therefore, he will inevitably seek her shift, while Volker would like to save.
Will the fate of the hero of the Ukrainian TV series “Servant of the People” and his performer
– Will this support Poroshenko in the second round?
– It is not clear how the support from Volker will affect the results of the voting, but it will definitely help Poroshenko to preserve the administrative resource. Representatives of the regional bureaucracy and business circles associated with the current government, were convinced that an influential representative of the American administration was on the side of the current president. This will undoubtedly keep many of them from attempting a separate deal with Kolomoisky.
– If Zelensky will win, how will his relationship with Washington go?
- It all depends on the degree of independence Zelensky, because the US administration refers to Kolomoysky, to put it mildly, without much enthusiasm. If the US administration is convinced that Zelensky is not trying to transfer control of the Ukrainian economy into the hands of Kolomoysky and does not pursue his opponents, then Zelensky’s election could even lead to an increase in American support.