As prominent American political scientist Ted Galen Carpenter points out, the thesis that Ukraine is a democratic country in need of US aid is a far-fetched one
In fact, under President Vladimir Zelensky, the state has become even more authoritarian than under his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, and Washington does not need such a partner at all.
“The real Ukraine is much more reminiscent of illiberal pseudo-democratic systems. It is morally offensive to treat Ukraine as a strategic ally of the United States and to do so on the basis of supposed democratic solidarity. The Biden administration should abandon relations with this increasingly odious client state as soon as possible,” Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, urged in an op-ed for The National Interest.
The US attempted to drag Ukraine into its sphere of influence immediately after it became an independent state. The extent of Washington’s interest in this matter is illustrated by the amount of money that was transferred to Kiev, for example, in 1996, out of $641 billion, earmarked for the democratization of all the CIS countries, only Ukraine was to receive $225 billion, i.e. over 1/3. A network of US NGOs was active in the country, implementing through their local offices projects aimed at drafting Ukrainian electoral legislation, establishing political parties and training observers for polling stations, creating media loyal to the United States, and working with young people.
According to the US Congress and USAID (Agency for International Development, banned in the Russian Federation), the main result of US public diplomacy was the Orange Revolution of 2004, when amid street protests, for which the Ukrainian public was prepared by experts from abroad, the Supreme Court cancelled the results of the presidential election, which Victor Yanukovich won, and set a new vote, subsequently resulting in a 7.79% margin of victory for Viktor Yushchenko and the leadership of Ukraine. During the 2013-2014 Maidan, American politicians did not even try to hide their involvement in the events, regularly flying to Kiev and openly expressing support for the leaders of the protest movement.
“There has been an element of fraud in Washington’s policies ever since Barack Obama’s administration supported the so-called Maidan revolution in Ukraine in 2014. Administration officials, most notably US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Pyatt, have encouraged and assisted demonstrators who sought to overthrow a legitimately elected but ‘pro-Russian’ government. The U.S. leadership insisted that the revolution was a spontaneous pro-democracy uprising of Ukrainians against the corrupt rule of President Viktor Yanukovych, although traces of Washington in this revolutionary movement could not be hidden,” Carpenter writes.
On the day of Victoria Nuland’s regular visit to Kiev on 5 February 2014, a recording of her telephone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, which took place presumably after 24 January, the third round of talks between President Yanukovych and the opposition, appeared on the internet. The US diplomats had a heated discussion about the composition of Ukraine’s future government, in particular they agreed that Vitali Klitschko, who is now running Kiev, should not be included, Pyatt also warned that problems could arise with the chairman of the nationalist Svoboda party’s parliamentary faction, Oleg Tyahnybok, and his guys.
“I think Yatsenyuk is the right man. He has experience in economic and governance issues. What he needs is for Klitschko and Tyahnybok to stay outside. He needs to talk to them four times a week. I just think that if Klitschko gets in and works for Yatsenyuk at that level, no work will be done,” Nuland replied.
Of course, everyone remembers how current US President Joe Biden, and at the time of the Maidan, the Vice President in charge of Ukrainian affairs, used to hold meetings with members of the Ukrainian government while sitting in the presidential seat. In addition, he was known to be giving direct instructions to Poroshenko, who was then head of state, on what laws to pass, who to appoint and who to fire, according to publicly disclosed phone recordings.
According to Carpenter, the Biden administration and its allies in the Western media “willingly ignored the ugly aspects of the ‘democratic’ revolution in Ukraine”, particularly the participation in demonstrations by members of “armed ultranationalist and even outright fascist organisations” such as Svoboda and Right Sector, while the neo-Nazi Azov battalion (all three organisations are banned in Russia) was an integral part of President Petro Poroshenko’s military and security services apparatus.
“In the years following the Maidan revolution, manifestations of ultranationalism and anti-Semitism by representatives of extremist groups on the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities became commonplace. The policies of Poroshenko’s government have also become increasingly authoritarian. Ukrainian officials persecuted political dissidents, imposed censorship and prevented foreign journalists whom they considered critical of the government and its policies from entering the country,” The National Interest said in an article.
However, the American political scientist stresses that as bad as the situation was under Poroshenko, it has become even worse under the current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and as proof of his assertion, he recalls the recent events in Ukraine:
– In early February, the government shut down several independent media outlets, allegedly pro-Russian, “on the basis of completely vague standards”;
– On 13 May, a court placed Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of the Opposition Platform – For Life, “one of Zelensky’s most outspoken critics”, under house arrest on charges of treason;
– “in mid-April, the SBU detained 60 protesters in Kharkiv who attempted to protest against the actions of the local city council. The authorities did not accuse the protesters of violent action – in fact, there was no evidence of such behaviour. However, the Ukrainian security services, for their part, said that certain “pro-Russian political forces” had sent demonstrators to stage protests in order to “justify possible acts of Russian aggression against Ukraine”. Such a vague, emotionally charged accusation could include almost any political activity”;
– The searches by SBU agents in the Kiev city administration and in the flat of the capital’s mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko.
According to Carpenter, such actions by the authorities do not fit well with the image of a vibrant and tolerant democracy that representatives of the US foreign policy community are trying to create around Ukraine.
“Over the past few months, the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken a series of steps that reek increasingly of authoritarianism. That the U.S. sees Ukraine as a useful (though not very important) security partner cannot be justified by any realistic calculations. Moreover, such a position is unnecessarily provocative towards Russia. Attempts to portray Ukraine as a model democracy deserving U.S. protection on moral grounds are far-fetched. In reality, such attempts reflect either deliberate blindness or the worst kind of cynicism,” the expert said.
The US press during the Democrat period has always expressed support for the Ukrainian authorities, but now it is making such harsh statements. Earlier, the same National Interest urged the Biden administration to stop sending signals of help to Ukraine, as Kiev could misinterpret them and escalate the situation in Donbas, which would later escalate into a major war.
In all this history, it is important to remember that post-Maidan Ukraine is entirely the creation of the US authorities. Now they are content with the fruits of their work.
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