Uncle Joe’s Visit – UkraineDecember 7, 2015
For the next 48 hours Ukrainian political media will be dominated by the 5th visit of US VP Joe Biden to Ukraine in 6 years.
Much attention will be given to his formal address to the dysfunctional and reform stymieing Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday undoubtedly – a body viewed with much derision by the Ukrainian constituency due to its fecklessness, notwithstanding its mandarin functioning for the grey cardinals and oligarchy that lurk like a cancer behind the political curtain.
Last week Prime Minister Yatseniuk was forced to jettison close associate and fellow party member MP Martynenko, as the corrupt smell around him was simply too overpowering with face to face meetings with VP Biden requiring the standard associated claims to be fighting corruption (when undoubtedly US Embassy Kyiv will be whispering the names of Martynenko, Kononenko and Shokin in VP Biden’s ear as “problems” – not withstanding the usual list of oligarchy names, Kolomoisky, Firtash, Liovochklin etc as “problems” too).
The Martynenko problem however, should not be solved by Yatsenkiuk simply having his chum fall upon his parliamentary sword – If the Swiss and Czech prosecutors are investigating him then Ukraine should be too. Justice is hardly going to served (or seen to be) by a simple resignation from the Verkhovna Rada (assuming the Verhovna Rada votes to accept his resignation).
Indeed Odessa Governor Saakashvili has made very public claims in preparation for VP BIden’s visit about nefarious schemes Prime Minister Yatseniuk is at the very least allowing to continue (albeit there are those that would suggest his involvement too).
Some very big fish require frying – and then jailing for a long time. Nothing else is going to do.
However, before the Tuesday address of the Verkhovna Rada, an address which will be hopefully praiseworthy where appropriate (ergo very little) but otherwise fire and brimstone regarding the body’s fecklessness and complete inability to meet even the lowest expectations of the Ukrainian constituency in a timely fashion, there will be meetings with President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Yatseniuk et al., on the Monday.
It can be expected that $300 million additional aid will be announced and there will be smiles for the cameras – but what is far more important is that behind closed doors no holds barred conversations take place with each and every politician VP Biden sits down with – and in the least possible of diplomatic language.
The Ukrainian leadership both individually and collectively should be left under no illusions that whilst the US will do what is necessary to support Ukrainian internationally recognised borders and international rule of law, all other future nation building assistance to be offered is absolutely, unambiguously, and entirely linked to reform, tackling corruption, putting parameters upon the oligarchy, and sorting the judiciary within 2016. If necessary for the retarded to fully understand, a step by step guide of what is expected and by when on the path to completion of certain policy goals within a very clear time frame.
In fact such a sloth-like leadership (over issues that actually matter to the electorate to the detriment of vested interests at the top) will probably have to be given a written list of requirements and a date for completion for each and every areas of US “encouragement” if the US is to be seen to support the Ukrainian people rather than the majority of the feckless Ukrainian political class. (Clearly the US support will remain for parliamentarians such as Mustafa Nayem and Hanna Hopko etc, as well as “Team Saakashvili” (as long as the Governor can remain in control of himself)).
If there be early Verkhovna Rada elections both “Team Saakashvili” and whatever political party is born of reformers like Nayem and Hopko (for they are unlikely to be one and the same political party, as the young reforms would have to make some political moral and ethical concessions for such an association with regard to the “means” when it comes to reaching the”ends” – their idealistic justifications of “means” in reaching the same “ends” are unlikely to be as “pragmatic” as those of the Governor.
The EU for its part will have to insist that Ukraine meets the time frame within the ratified Association Agreement too – a message that should be delivered just as loud and and just as clear when President Poroshenko heads to Brussels a few days post-Biden. Other nations with notable influence within Kyiv – Canada, Norway, Poland, and Sweden – are going to have to be hard-nosed in their bilaterals too throughout 2016.
Hopefully VP Biden is not about to leave the Ukrainian political leadership with a very comfortable New Year or Christmas after his visit. Blunt, harsh and uncompromising words are in need of being spoken. Unambiguous conditionality, with a specific and unbending time table for insured continued support is required if the US is to do for the Ukrainian people what it has so often orated – standing with them – rather than the political class necessarily.
Though undoubtedly nothing will be written here of the whispers that will reach you author about what was indeed said behind the closed doors, hopefully those whispers will carry words of harsh and stark conversations that will provide your author with some comfort over the festive season nevertheless.