Kiev’s High Hopes in the Republicans Will Be Dashed

Kiev’s High Hopes in the Republicans Will Be Dashed

Republican victories in the US midterm elections - taking control of both houses of Congress - have kindled hopes in Kiev. 

It was thought that the generous American aid packages that were promised back during the protests on Maidan would now finally arrive, helping to pull the regime out of the hole it had dug for itself. 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meets with US Vice President Joe Biden

Ukraine’s former foreign minister, Volodymyr Ohryzko, announced that the Republican sweep was a positive sign for Ukraine. After all, Republican Senator John McCain, who is expected to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee, has expressed support for shipping weapons directly from the US to Ukraine. And other prominent members of his party have made similar statements. 

A group of Republican senators has already promised that soon both houses of Congress can begin to debate the «Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014». That bill, which went before Congress last spring, would impose new sanctions against Russia and immediately provide Kiev with military and technical assistance. However, the Obama administration has thus far been able to find various reasons to delay a vote on the bill.

But in fact, Kiev’s calculations have been built on shaky ground. 

After all, America’s foreign policy is determined by the president, and while he still holds a mandate Obama is unlikely to significantly alter the course he’s mapped out. As Daniel Wagner of the Huffington Post has noted, those senators who sympathize with Kiev will probably be disappointed, because they have little power to accomplish anything without «a more meaningful and coordinated response with and from Europe, which is clearly not forthcoming». 

What’s more, the Republicans are not a unified force, and there are no guarantees that their next presidential candidate will be a representative from the party’s right wing. For example, one of the prime contenders for the nomination is Republican Senator Rand Paul, who has proven himself a consistent opponent of US interventionism. 

Republicans do not feel responsible for the chaos in Ukraine that the Democrats abetted and are not inclined to help the current US administration extricate itself from that chaos. They have nothing to gain by helping Obama save face. Kiev’s biggest problem is not how to obtain new weapons, which the Ukrainian army - familiar only with old Soviet equipment - would then have to learn to use. Their biggest issue is how to halt the country’s economic downslide. Who is holding the reins of the Western lackeys who are looting Ukraine? Plus, American Republicans are always stingier than Democrats when it comes to offering financial aid. And they’re proud of it. If it wasn’t forthcoming from Obama, even less can be expected now. 

Henry Kissinger’s vast experience allowed him to pinpoint the exact cause of the Ukrainian crisis: when it began encouraging unrest in Ukraine, Washington failed to take into account the importance this country holds for Russia. Echoes of Arnold Toynbee’s «challenge - response» theory can be heard in the judgments passed by this doyen of American diplomacy. 

When you challenge an opponent over something that is not very significant to you, but that is extremely important to him, you run the risk of being hit with such a powerful response that you will find yourself unable to counter it, even if you hold an inherently stronger position. 

Kissinger claims that the White House is acting like it doesn’t understand that its relationship with Russia is far more critical than its relationship with Ukraine. 

Richard Pipes, who was a leading adviser on Russia during the Reagan administration and who helped to create the ideology of the «evil empire,» this time offers a fairly sensible argument, observing that serious sanctions have already been imposed on Russia but they haven’t had much effect. He claims that this isn’t something the West wants or can do and that active measures could lead to war. Pipes predicts that Washington is prepared to leave Ukraine within the Russian sphere of influence. However, from a US standpoint, it is unacceptable that Russia use its soldiers to split off part of Ukraine. Until that occurs, the US will not become actively involved. He added that he can’t imagine a situation in which the US government would begin to export weapons to Ukraine.

Pipes sees Ukraine’s deepest problem to be the fact that the country has never been independent and has no experience in the construction of a state. He explains that Kiev has to find a way to control its territory, fight corruption, and create a powerful army. He believes that the Ukrainian authorities have a lot of work to do, but they can reach their goals. He warns that although Ukraine can join the West, it will take about 50 years, not 10 or 20. Here Pipes is either being complacent or alleging that a drowning person should be responsible for rescuing himself, because the fact is that those currently in power in Ukraine do not have even 10 months, much less 10 or 50 years. 


US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland distributes cookies to Maidan activists in Kiev

Mikhail Pogrebinsky, the director of the Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies, also thinks that the changes in the US Congress will not lead to a decisive shift in US policy towards Ukraine. As long as Barack Obama is in office anyway. But Obama’s course of action is causing Ukraine to further destabilize. «I do not understand the Americans’ logic,» claims Pogrebinsky. «Ukraine already has a pro-American government. The US should want to preserve it as much as possible, but they continue to rock the boat here, which makes no sense. No American administration has held such a deranged policy in a long time».

In regard to that «deranged policy» - it is reminiscent of the actions of US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, who is demanding that Kiev impose sanctions against the Donbass and break all economic ties with Russia. But no one in the West has breathed a word about forgiving Ukrainian debt for example, or supplying her with orders from Europe and the US to replace those lost from Russia. «They just want to wipe out the Ukrainian economy. What the American ambassador is proposing can only result in social upheaval there,» concludes one Ukrainian expert.

After the American experiment «democratizing» Ukraine ends in failure, the next US administration, as is so often the case, will evade responsibility for the results of this foreign-policy debacle. 

Everything will be blamed on mistakes made by predecessors, intrigues staged by Moscow, and the unsuitable raw material. The only question is how quickly the fruits of this «deranged» interventionist policy will ripen during the final stage of the Obama presidency - which will lead to Ukraine’s collapse - and what price the people of that country will have to pay for all of it.