The US interest for the struggle against corruption is due essentially to four elements: the concern about the possible foundering of Ukraine in the short-medium term; the eruption of popular disturbances in Ukraine that would lead to the violent ousting of President Poroshenko; the political and financial fatigue for Western donors (mainly the IMF, the EU and other important donors) because of the persistent, entrenched corruption problem in Ukraine; the possible failure of the Western and Ukrainian society political project of making of Ukraine a political-institutional member of the West and therefore end/terminate its current status of an European nation state- where the current political model is still partially a post–Soviet one- for a European kind of political model that could irradiate it through the whole post-Soviet space bringing about big changes in the whole of Eurasia.
The other issue related, although indirectly, to the corruption issue is the Donbass conflict: one aspect is that corruption engrained at high levels in the state administration diminishes the effectiveness of the Ukrainian army in the fighting against Russia and the separatists; Poroshenko wants to gain popularity by trying to achieve results in the war in Donbass by maintaining an uncompromising/hawkish attitude/stance to the war, propping up Ukrainian military advances in the Donbass in order to gain territories and military advantages in order not to bow to Russia’s political and territorial demands; but by doing this he also purposely deflects the nation’s attention from the severe corruption problem, he and his entourage are entangled in. So the prolonging of the war in the Donbass becomes instrumental for Poroshenko to avoid seriously fighting corruption in the higher echelons of the state apparatus, he is tightly connected with.
The US reminder or lashing-out seems therefore to remind Poroshenko that the war in the Donbass is certainly very important and quintessential for the survival of Ukraine and the security of Europe, but that it cannot substitute a serious struggle against corruption that also hinders the inflow of foreign investments (Black Lands in western Ukraine, for instance or other important industrial sectors) because in the lack of trust of foreign investors in the transparency and accountability of state servants, damaging therefore Ukrainian economy and foreign investors at the same time. This harsh critics could also well be interpreted as a stern warning by Washington that unless a very serious struggle against corruption is undertaken by President Poroshenko and its entourage, they could be all, this the not so covert threat, including Poroshenko, wiped out either by a sweeping withdrawing of the loans handed out by IMF and other important international donors, bringing about a consequent financial default of Ukraine or by popular uprisings that would dislodge them definitely from power, as happened with Yanukovich in 2014.
The Ukrainian culprits of severe corruption/severe mismanagement of state resources could even, this the potential-but still undisclosed- further threat, be inserted in black lists by US justice and brought to international justice/Interpol and other law enforcement agencies in order to be prosecuted. Sense of impunity should therefore stop once for all. Drastic measures against fraudsters could be realistically, for the moment being, only carried out only by international law enforcement agencies in order to terminate corruption impunity in Ukraine.This may have for sure good effects in the struggle against corruption but, on the other hand, also pose sensitive issues of national sovereignty to the Ukrainian state.
Of course this lashing out by US administration might be also well interpreted with the fact of putting pressure on Poroshenko and also because of the fact that Trump may have a personal grudge against Ukrainian authorities because during the 2016 US election campaign they openly favored the presidential former candidate Hillary Clinton.
As far as the US press is concerned, it certainly reflects, the views and attitudes of the US culture elites and of the scholars and, to a certain extent, also the mainstream ideas of the political establishment in Washington, although it has mostly its own separate views and does not reflect the ideas and views of Capitol Hill or the US political establishment in its entirety. So there is, generally speaking, no direct command from the US political establishment to the press for reporting its views. These “rebukes” by the press on the Ukrainian corruption issue may reflect some ideas in the political or scholars’ community, but also be considered an outright encouragement to enhance the struggle against corruption by the Ukrainian state, and above all by Ukrainian civil society that suffers the most of such state of things in the country.
In the US Press there is even a proposal by “Foreign Policy” that recommends to outsource the struggle against corruption to a mixed entity - both international as national - that should work within the framework of Ukrainian legislation, being Ukrainian judiciary often fraught with corruption. An ideological factor must also be included into this very complex picture: Trump, himself of German descent and leaning to the American far-right vision of the world and of international relations, nurtures an ideological vision that tends to privilege the strongest and therefore harbors a hyper-realistic approach to politics. Therefore his good personal, business and ideological relation with Putin. This not withstanding, President Trump will have to guard appearances of allegiance to democracy, international order based on law and not on force, otherwise he will be violently confronted by the US senate that is in its overwhelming majority in favor of a strained and confrontational relation to the Kremlin.