How do the Ukrainians see Trump

Ukraine-USA Why Ukraine will play a prominent role in the US election

On the verge of the longstanding conflict with Russia, Ukraine is heavily dependent on political, financial and military aid from the USA. The Ukraine affair about a phone call in summer 2019 between Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald Trump has since made relations between Kiev and Washington more difficult. Before the presidential election on Tuesday, Ukraine is now trying to maintain its neutrality as far as possible. It's not easy, because Kiev is now too involved in US domestic politics.

Zelenskyi's predecessor supported Clinton

Zelenskyi's predecessor Petro Poroshenko openly sided with Hillary Clinton in the last election. According to media reports, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington even helped gather incriminating information against Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager. In addition, prior to the 2016 election, senior officials made no secret of their support for the US Democrats on social media. At the same time, Poroshenko himself maintained a close relationship with the then Vice President and now presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Biden wants to support Ukraine with arms

So it came as no surprise that Ukraine largely played no role for Trump. "It was a big mistake at the time to lean out the window for Clinton like that," says Volodymyr Fessenko, chairman of the board of directors of the Center for Applied Political Research "Penta", the MDR. The fact that Biden is now promising to increase aid to Kiev, including arms deliveries, does not make him a better candidate for Kiev, says Fessenko.

According to the political scientist, Zelensky is doing exactly the right thing in insisting on neutrality. The most important thing is to maintain the support of both Democrats and Republicans in the US Congresslten, which Kiev has for years. This is crucial for various aids. The pro-western politicians in Ukraine still tend to support Biden.

Why was Attorney General Schokin fired?

That is not by accident. As Vice President under Barack Obama, the 77-year-old Biden predominantly determined Ukraine politics and also dealt with the difficult reform process in the country. During his tenure, however, between 2014 and 2015, his son Hunter sat on the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas holding company registered in Cyprus and owned by a controversial minister from the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The then General Prosecutor Wiktor Schokin subsequently investigated Burisma for possible money laundering and tax evasion. In 2016, Schokin, who was already considered corrupt in Ukraine, was sacked. Two years later, Joe Biden spoke out on his own how he asked the Ukrainian authorities to dismiss Schokin.

"Ukraine Affair" has had consequences to this day

However, this should not have to do with the Burisma investigation, but exclusively with the machinations of the Attorney General. The topic was then taken up in July 2019 by Donald Trump in a telephone conversation with the new President Volodymyr Zelenskyi. During the conversation, Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to provide incriminating material against Joe Biden. US military aid, among other things, depended on the fulfillment of Trump's request. The original phone call became the key point of the so-called Ukraine affair, which led to Trump's impeachment proceedings.

Biden's son comes up again

In this year's US election, Hunter Biden was again the topic. In October, for example, the conservative tabloid New York Post published a report allegedly incriminating the son of US presidential candidate Joe Biden. In an email, a Burisma advisor reportedly thanked Hunter Biden for organizing a meeting with his father, who was then US Vice President.

There are doubts about the credibility of the story. The email traffic is said to come from a laptop that was allegedly returned to Biden's hometown of Delaware for repair last year and was never picked up. The owner of the store, a supporter of incumbent President Donald Trump, could not clearly identify Biden as a customer. Still, Trump and his team like to refer to it. "Hunter Biden's laptop is a disaster for the entire Biden family," he wrote on Twitter.

Trump's friends in Ukraine

Although Zelenskyi does not want to play Trump in the cards and hardly does anything, the US president still has his allies in Ukrainian politics. These include the powerful oligarch Ihor Kolomojskyj, who controls a small group of representatives within the Zelenskyi party "Servants of the People". Kolomoyskyj is under investigation in the US for money laundering, supposedly at the request of the Democrats. But the pro-Russian forces also support the incumbent president. The pro-Russian MP Andrij Derkatsch published several recordings of the talks between Biden and Poroshenko. They did not seriously incriminate Biden, but Derkatsch was recently put on the US government's sanctions list for allegedly influencing the election campaign.