Secretary of state arrives after expecting reporter: Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, will arrive in Kyiv on Thursday amid a injure Washington impeachment battle and a cyclone around his alleged remarks to an NPR reporter:” Do you think Americans care about Ukraine ?”
Pompeo is scheduled to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday, as he seeks to framed a positive spin on relations between the two countries at a crucial moment in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
The visit, Pompeo’s first to Ukraine, was important to” spotlight US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, a spokesperson told reporters. That support has come into question because of Trump’s apparent affinity for Vladimir Putin and accusations that he delayed $392 m in military aid to Ukraine in order to pres Zelenskiy into announcing an investigation into the Biden family.
Zelenskiy, meanwhile, will look for commitments to diplomatic and military aid in his country’s conflict with Russia, which has left more than 14,000 dead in south-east Ukraine, and may also seek an invitation to the White House. The Ukrainian president would look past Pompeo’s reported faux pas and roll out the welcome mat, said the Kyiv-based political adviser Volodymyr Fesenko, because Ukraine’s need for US support was paramount.
” He can’t really complain about what has been said. Ukraine needs a close, collaborator affair with the United Regime ,” said Fesenko.” We are just in different weight grades .”
But Zelenskiy was likely to resist any efforts to have him weigh in on the impeachment debate, Fesenko included , noting that the US was preparing for 2020 ballots and Zelenskiy understood that Trump was ” only one of the candidates “.
The discussions are likely to cover bilateral relations and Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, gas politics and the US’s sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipe, possible asset opportunities and the progress of reforms in Ukraine. Pompeo is also scheduled to meet with Ukraine’s foreign and defence ministers, as well as representatives of Ukraine’s religious, civil society, and business communities.
The trip is the first leg of a four-country tour through the former Soviet Union for Pompeo that will likewise make him to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. But it is in Kyiv where the spotlight will focus most firmly on Pompeo and his attempts to mend the damage done over the past two years.
Former officials say the scandal has hollowed out the ranks of elderly Ukraine experts in the US government and increased US interest in the peace talks over the fighting in south-east Ukraine. Trump still has not nominated an ambassador to Kyiv and Pompeo has faced criticism for failing to support the onetime US representative Maria Yovanovitch against Trump’s political supporters, including Rudy Giuliani.
In an op-ed published in Foreign Policy, Kurt Volker, Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine, blamed” adherent politics” and the impeachment process for forget Zelenskiy” uncovered and relatively isolated “.
He called on Pompeo to propose a commonwealth visit for Zelenskiy to the White House, a carrot that the Trump administration had previously hung before him, and to appoint a new representative and point person for future Ukraine mediations, to help replenish their knowledge and skills lost in the last year.
” Partisan politics, and in particular the impeachment process, stimulated most officials dealing with expertise on Ukraine either to leave government or hunker down to avoid getting caught in the crossfire ,” he wrote.
While Pompeo’s visit could be beneficial,” the Trump administration has denied high-level contacts for entirely wrong-headed intellects and determined milestones like Pompeo’s call to Ukraine far more the exception than the standard rules”, said Andrew Weiss, the vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
” They’ve left Ukraine alone in the room with both Moscow and Europe and having to fend for themselves ,” he said.