Now most Ukrainian officials are tight-lipped, while others are scrambling to retract recent remarks criticizing the U.S. president-elect. Photo: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on Jan. 14, 2016.Reuters
Republican candidate Donald Trump’s astonishing victory in the U.S. presidential election came as a complete surprise to many, but it was a real shock for Ukraine. On the eve of the vote, sociologists and political scientists were confidently predicting victory for Hillary Clinton, who had previously met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Now most Ukrainian officials are tight-lipped, while others are scrambling to retract recent remarks criticizing the U.S. president-elect.
"The day before the vote, Petro Poroshenko wished the Americans to 'make the right choice'. But, apparently, they have not lived up to his expectations," the Russian online newspaper Gazeta.ru wrote, commenting on Kiev’s reaction to the news of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.
According to Gazeta.ru, it appears that Ukrainian officials are “on the verge of panic.” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has deleted an angry post he recently made on his Facebook page, in which he called the U.S. president-elect a "dangerous and shameless outcast."
"The shameless statement of U.S. presidential candidate Trump on the possible recognition of Crimea as Russia is a diagnosis of a dangerous outcast," Avakov wrote in July 2016. "He is dangerous both for Ukraine and the U.S., to the same extent. An outcast bowing down to Putin's dictatorship cannot be the guarantor of democratic freedoms in the U.S. and the world."
But Ukraine’s former prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who recently met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, has not yet retracted his words. "Donald Trump's statement about Crimea and Putin has gone beyond the scope of any internal political campaign," he said.
"The official U.S. presidential candidate is challenging the values of the free world, the civilized order and international law. It is difficult to call it ignorance. This is a violation of ethical and civilizational principles."
He was echoed by the head of the Radical Party, Oleh Lyashko, who believes that the victory of the "pro-Moscow candidate" in the United States will have disastrous consequences for Ukraine.
While the U.S. president-elect prepares for his inauguration, Ukrainian chiefs should prepare to step down, said independent parliamentarian Viktor Baloha.
"When Mr. Trump, as a candidate, did not meet with Mr. Poroshenko – this was a signal even then that he did not want to deal with the current government in Kiev," he said.
According to Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now leaving his post as head of the Odessa Region state administration, Trump is a very smart man, very straightforward and unpredictable, and Ukraine is entering very dangerous waters.
"I believe that our government is absolutely not ready for the challenges that we will face," he said. "Now the West is in a very bad shape. Europe will wither. We cannot resist this, because who will take care of us? If the Ukrainian government, if our ministers themselves do not care about their country and their people. And you want America to care about us? Or Europe?"
Politicians and ordinary citizens have expressed fears that now Ukraine could lose the political support of the United States on the world stage, and will not receive the lethal weapons and financial assistance it needs to continue the fight against Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country.
“The problem lies in the fact that the country's political elite expressed too much support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Only a few Ukrainian businessmen have relationships with Donald Trump's team, one of them believed to Alexander Onishchenko, who fled the country,” wrote Gazeta.ru.
The main problem for the Ukrainian authorities may be the desire of the new U.S. president to normalize relations with Russia, and how such policies may affect the support that Washington provides to Kiev.
"If Trump, as he promised, seeks to normalize relations with Russia, he'll also have to adjust the U.S. position on Ukraine," the Russian newspaper Vzglyad quoted first deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Committee on International Affairs, Andrei Klimov, as saying.
At the same time, the media point out that there are still voices in Ukraine who are hoping for the continuation of the political line pursued under U.S. President Barack Obama.
"The first deputy chairman of the Verkhovna Rada's faction of the Block of Petro Poroshenko, Alexei [Oleksi] Goncharenko said that Kiev hopes that Trump's administration will begin the transfer of lethal weapons," reported Vzglyad, while stressing that "in general, in his opinion, the uncertainty increases in the world with the election of Trump."
Kiev has nonetheless congratulated Donald Trump on his victory in the elections and begun to build a relationship with the future head of the White House.
"Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the afternoon finally joined the chorus congratulating Trump, expressed his hope for further U.S. support for reforms and the "restoration of the territorial integrity" of the country, and at the same time even invited his new American counterpart to the Ukraine," reported Vzglyad.
The chairman of the Verkhovna Rada also "congratulated the people of the United States on the election of Donald Trump as president and called his victory a new reality and new opportunities for the people of Ukraine," said the newspaper.
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