In the history of modern Ukraine, there has not yet been such a president who lost the election by such a wide margin as Petro Poroshenko. His opponent, Vladimir Zelensky, won by a margin of three to one, but what prevented Poroshenko from winning “when he had full political and financial support from the West?”, writes Nikolay N. Petro, a professor at the University of Rhode Island and former special assistant for the USSR in the US State Department.
According to the author, the main reason for Poroshenko’s defeat was his tough anti-Russian policy, which he pursued for five years.
“It was expected that such measures would be a political blow for him, because many Ukrainians speak Russian, and half the country has relatives on the other side of the border,” the expert noted. “However, Poroshenko continued to cling to the ideology of nationalism, depriving regions of the right to use any language other than Ukrainian, discontinuing Russian language instruction in secondary schools, even trying to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate] and replace it with a more politically loyal nationalist church”.
The professor is confident that even the economic crisis and the deterioration of the living standards of the Ukrainians did not become a decisive factor in Poroshenko’s defeat, which would be a lesson for Western politicians. Now they understood that “the sympathy of Ukrainians towards Russia is unlikely to decrease soon.” Moreover, he stresses, if the conflict in the Donbass soon ends, this figure will only increase with the resumption of political and economic ties.
“The strategy of the West to support one political force in its quest to seize and change the direction of the whole nation was no more successful in Ukraine than in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. It is morally questionable to encourage a split in the country to promote regime change. In the case of Ukraine, however, there is an additional disadvantage. Being a neighbor of Ukraine, speaking the same language and sharing the same cultural heritage, Russia exerts a cultural influence of soft power, which no other country can match. If evidence was ever needed, then Poroshenko’s defeat in elections gives them,” the expert stated.