Today I have this piece from VZGLIAD, penned by political analyst Irina Alksnis.
“The Ukrainian elites are in mourning, and in a state of alarm,” Irina begins her lede. “The moment that Donald Trump stepped into the White House, the resignations began: People with whom the Ukrainians had established firm ties, started to depart from their offices.”
And how did the Ukrainian elites react to seeing their dear friends leave? They began to beat their chests and demand that their needs and wants be taken into account by the new administration. “We want! We need! We demand!” But, as Irina points out, these tantrums will hardly score them any points in the Great Game that is afoot.
Now, we must stipulate right off the bat, that the hasty departure of Obama-era officials such as Victoria Nuland and all the others who became great friends of the Ukrainian elite, is not some kind of political purge or Bloody Reign Of Terror taking place in the good ole USA. It might feel that way to the disappointed Hillary supporters and the Million Mortified Women. But America is not (yet) some kind of banana republic where a change of government is accompanied by arrests of the incumbents. Like I said, we are not at that point. (Yet.)
No, this is just business as usual. Every four years, when a new administration enters the White House, especially if there was a switch of political parties (Dems to Reps, or vice versa), it is normal for the incumbents to leave, and for new people to take their place. The old officials leave, not for prison (usually), but to take up cushy jobs as lobbyists or consultants in the private sector. The fact that the Ukrainians cannot accept this fact of American life, is not just because they don’t understand the nature of American politics. It is also, more importantly, because they meddled in the American elections and bet on the wrong horse! It’s all true — the Ukrainian government (attempted to) assist Hillary’s campaign by invoking the scandal with Trump Advisor Paul Manafort. And they helped Hillary, and Biden and the others, in lots of other ways too. Again, this is par for the course. All nations interfere in each others elections, in one way or another, and it’s nothing really to get one’s panties in a bunch. It’s just that the Ukrainians were particularly incompetent players of this game, simply not knowing, or realizing, that it is comme il faut to hedge one’s bets. At least a tad.
And to be sure, if their side (Hillary Clinton) had prevailed, then they might still be sitting down for coffee and cookies with Vice President Joe Biden, Victoria Nuland , Geoffrey R. Pyatt, and their other dear friends from the Obama Administration, who helped the current Ukrainian junta come to power.
Nuland’s routine resignation, in particular, seems to have pushed Olena Zerkal over the edge of sanity. Olena, born in 1973, is Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Integration. Except for a brief stint (2013-2014) as a manager of the British American Tobacco Company, Olena’s career is entirely in the arena of government service and international diplomacy. She is a “Rah Rah European Union!” girl all the way.
A couple of days ago Olena expressed her concerns about Trump’s new foreign policy in regard to Russia. Olena was clearly worried that Trump and Putin will just sit down and cut a deal behind Ukraine’s back:
“Because we are talking about the future of our country, we don’t want to be excluded from the negotiations,” Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal told Reuters. “We don’t want to be a card (to be played). We want to be an actor.”
“I don’t believe in gentleman’s agreements anymore,” Zerkal said, noting Russia had violated an earlier deal – the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, under which Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan gave up nuclear weapons in exchange for assurances of territorial integrity – when it annexed Crimea.
Zerkal reiterated Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s call for the West to maintain sanctions imposed against Russia over the 2014 annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatists in the Donbass.
“This is the only tool we all have in order to prevent (Russian President Vladimir) Putin from a further spree of aggression,” she said.
Parsing Ms. Zerkal’s cri du coeur, it becomes clear that she wants to be an actor rather than a diplomat, and yet does not wish to play the Dorothy McGuire role in the remake of “Gentleman’s Agreement”. Instead, Olena is bucking for the role of Veruca Salt in the new remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. With Uncle Donald hopefully handing out yummy chocolate bars rather than Auntie Vickie’s stale cookies.