Why do nine foreign nations weigh in on the resignation of a minister in Ukraine? “The answer is simple.”

Ex-Economy Minister of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavicius (at the microphone)

FrançaisRT, February 4, 2016

Translated from French by Tom Winter, February 5, 2016

The resignation of a Ukrainian minister (naturalized Lithuanian) has provoked lively reactions from the foreign embassies in Kiev. But why should this event matter so much for European countries? Analysis of British expert John Laughland.

The unexpected resignation yesterday, February 3, of the Ukrainian Minister for Commerce and Economic Development, Aivaras Abromavicius, has roused an extraordinary reaction on the part of nine western ambassadors in Kiev.

The ambassadors of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, Switzerland, The UK, and “last but not least” the United States of America have signed an open letter deploring his departure and putting the government on notice against the gangrene of corruption that provided his reason for leaving.

Since when is it any business of a foreign country when a minister quits?

But since when are the foreign ambassadors accredited to a country called on to publish commentaries on the composition of its government? Since when does the departure of a minister, a matter of internal politics par excellence, concern the representatives of foreign powers, who, themselves, are busied with foreign affairs? 

The answer is simple:  This is just what happens when a country puts itself under foreign tutelage

Throughout the 90s and since 2000, the countries of the former Yugoslavia (since 2000 for Serbia) have been in fact governed by the American Ambassador from his post in their respective capitals. You need only read the press in Belgrade, in Pristina, in Sarajevo, and even in Zagreb to realize that everything gets decided in the American Embassy. The former Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica often complained that the American Ambassador in Belgrade arrogated unto himself the right to name the composition of numerous Serbian governments.

Since the beginning of 2014, the same procedure is in place in Ukraine. One recalls the intercepted telephone conversation in February 2014 between Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State, and the American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the final one to sign yesterdays letter of the nine ambassadors. 

This conversation got a great notoriety because Mme Nuland let fly with a “Fuck the EU!” But actually the most shocking aspect of the conversation was the fact that the two Americans were discussing the composition of the future Ukrainian government, once Yanukovich got thrown out: Yes to Yatsenyuk, No to Klitschko, No to Tyanibok, and so forth.  

There lies the reason why the Americans were so implicated in the events of Februray 22, 2014. They had to get rid of Yanukovich to be able to take control of the country.

 Those Americans who certainly hoped to do business in Ukraine came face-to-face with the fait accompli that it’s the oligarchs that govern the country behind the curtain. 

One must recall that the minister who just resigned is one of three foreigners named to ministerial posts in 2014. Naturalized pro forma on the eve of their nomination, they are the symbol of the great country’s submission to foreign guardianship.

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Add to their case that of former president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, fugitive from the courts in his own country, who was named governor of Odessa in 2015.

Two years after the cursing of Mme Nuland, nothing has changed. Set under the tutela of the IMF and the EU, Ukraine is no longer an independent state. In default since September, when it negotiated a 20% write-off of its debt to American creditors, who still are hoping to see reimbursement, and in default since January 1 with regard to Russia, Ukraine is not surviving except thanks to financial injections from the IMF, principally an instrument of the great western powers.

What’s more, the reforms demanded by the IMF are conditioned by the obligations of the Association Agreement signed in Brussels in 2014, aimed at making a deep transformation of Ukrainian society and economy. With their procedures of oversight of the totality of its internal policy, Ukraine, like every other associated state, has to show itself as a good good schoolboy to be able to count on the good offices of the EU vis-a-vis the IMF.

The  Ukrainian politicians have never managed to come up with a national identity that makes sense. 

But just as in Greece, the reforms demanded by the IMF have meant a deep decline in the quality of life in Ukraine. In particular, the requirement that the government no longer control its national rate of exchange has put its currency in free fall. The drop of its currency and the hike in interest rates couldn’t help but aggravate the already catastrophic deficit situation.

Those Americans who certainly hoped to do business in Ukraine came face-to-face with the fait accompli that it’s the oligarchs that govern the country behind the curtain. And the oligarchs did not share the same vision of the economy. For those in power in Kiev, it was a matter of stealing as much as possible in the limited time at their disposal, rather than providing real prospects for the country.

So we witness today the repetition of the same scenario that took place shortly after the Orange Revolution of 2004, when the west succeeded in setting up its candidate Yushchenko against Victor Yanukovich. In September 2005, hardly none months after Yushchenko’s coming to power, his prime minister Yulia Timoshenko was sacked and the coalition that put Yushchenko in power started to split up. 

From then on, Yushchenko’s days were numbered. A year later, Viktor Yanukovich, the loser in the Orange Revolution, won the legislative elections and became Prime Minister. 

 They wanted to make Ukraine a bridge between Russia and the West. But in time of war, even Cold War, it’s the bridges that they blow up first.

True, it would take two years before the current power in Kiev would sink, but the process is well under way. The approval ratings of President Poroshenko and of the Prime Minister Yatsenyuk are catastrophic. Barely 25% for the President, less than 10% for the head of government. The pair will no doubt finish up like President Yushchenko, who almost got 5% of the vote in the presidential elections of 2010.

The slow agony of Ukraine, even worse than what the other ex-soviet countries have undergone, is owing to the fact that the political elites have always considered their state to be a cash cow to milk, rather than a country — much less a nation — to build.

Their perverse priorities explain why, in contrast with other countries of the former Soviet Union, the Ukrainian politicians have never managed to come up with a national identity that makes sense. Russophobia could possibly be a national cement for the Baltic States, but it’s a suicide potion for a county of vast expanse like Ukraine, that precisely links Europe to Russia, and whose history, ethnicity, and language are inseparable from those of Russia.

Poor Yanukovich at least understood that the internal coherence of his country required maintaining good relations with both the West and with Russia: he therefore wanted to make his country a bridge between the two. Too bad for him, and also for the people of Ukraine: In times of war — even a cold war like the one existing between Russia and the West — it’s the bridges that they blow up first. 

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