Official Kiev is seriously concerned by the possibility of a rapprochement between the new US administration and Russia. Ukrainian officials have followed Ukrainian lobbyists in the US in the fight against a possible agreement between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
On January 26th, the second noteworthy news item was Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Elena Zerkal’s ultimatum presented to Washington and Moscow. In her words, Ukraine should have a word in any agreement that might be reached between the US and Russia on settling the Donbass conflict.
“Since we are talking about the future of our country, we do not want to be excluded from negotiations. We do not want to be a playing card. We want to be a player,” Zerkal told Reuters.
Zerkal also stated that she does not believe in a “gentleman’s agreement” and supports Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s call for the West to keep the sanctions on Russia. Yet the Ukrainian foreign minister does not propose to include Russia in negotiations with Western countries during which the question of prolonging the anti-Russian sanctions is discussed.
The Ukrainian foreign minister’s statement speaks to the confusion, if not panic, that is gripping Kiev since Donald Trump’s inauguration. My sources with connections in Ukraine have confirmed that this attitude is prevalent in the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The opinion of Ukrainian “volunteers” from the neo-Nazi battalions boils down to a simple formula: “Trump will gift Ukraine to Putin.” Poroshenko’s entourage, as far as we can judge, fears something else much more: a financial and political audit of the actions of the current Ukrainian leadership conducted by the US. This threat appears to be more real than the fears of Ukraine’s neo-Nazis. After all, changing out a failed leader for a more effective one is a well tested method of American policy in the former USSR, as in the case of Georgia, where the “Rose Revolution” overthrew pro-American President Eduard Shevardnadze and brought to power pro-American Mikhail Saakashvili.
The ruling Ukrainian establishment’s ill-concealed panic is paradoxically masked by categorial statements. Official Kiev’s opinion is expressed in the form of essentially an ultimatum. The foreign ministry’s statement is not an attempt to secure rights for Ukraine over the course of bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia, but an attempt to impose Ukraine’s monopoly over relations with Russia on Trump.
Ukraine’s sense of tact has once again failed it. Even the inept and foolish attempt to interfere in the American elections did not teach the Ukrainian establishment elementary rules of political etiquette. A failed client state is demanding with an ultimatum that its conditions, which are unjust and absurd, be fulfilled by the patron state. It is unlikely that such systematic exposures of Ukraine’s fundamental character will go unnoticed by the new US President’s entourage and the new State Department leadership.
 At the time of writing, a new scandal erupted in Ukrainian media. The Ukrainian foreign ministry stated that Elena Zerkal’s words were misinterpreted by journalists from the American edition of Reuters and their meaning distorted. Apparently, her scandalous ultimatum has made it way up to the leadership of the Ukrainian foreign ministry and state. And now Ms. Zerkal is trying to save her reputation and position. This new scandal merely confirms our conclusion on the complete, widespread lack of any kind of political tact that is peculiar to the Ukrainian political scene. Times change, but Ukrainian politics remains in the past.
Originally published on Fort-russ.com