The US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt is being replaced by Marie L. Yovanovitch. The US diplomat became known in Ukraine after the Kolchuga scandal in 2002.
From August 2001 to June 2004 Yovanovitch held one of the main positions within the US missions to Ukraine. Some argue that during that time, relations between Ukraine and US seemed to sour. So what can Ukrainians expect from Yovanovitch this time around?
As you know, regardless of the host country, the Washington diplomat will always be in favor. He or she will be one of the most influential figures of the entrusted state. Regardless of the political views of the local authorities, American diplomat will be guided solely by the US action strategy on foreign policy. All of a sudden all eyes were on the next rotation in the American Embassy. The whole Ukraine’s world of politics waits for these policy changes of the western neighbors.
So, in early May this year, the information about a possible rotation in the US diplomatic corps appeared, and according to the latest news, Geoffrey R. Pyatt would go to Athens, and his place Marie Yovanovitch, who served in the Department of State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. And while our political circles discuss possible undercurrents, Washington has officially confirmed this information and began a formal procedure for the appointment of Marie Yovanovitch.
So if Pyatt is already our “past,” what is the future? What will Ukrainian-American relations look like? And what do we expect from the new Ms. Ambassador?
Marie Yovanovitch is an experienced career diplomat, who started her activity in the foreign policy arena in 1986. She is fluent in English, French, Russian, and Kyrgyz languages, which is not surprising, given her roots (she was born in a family of emigrants from Russia) and education (graduated from Princeton University and Pushkin Institute (1980), received a master's degree in the National War College (2001). For 12 years, Ms. Yovanovitch has been improving her diplomatic skills, working in various positions in the embassies of Canada, Russia, the UK, and even Somalia. Then she was promoted and appointed (1998) for the post of Deputy Director of the Russian Desk.
After the above-mentioned regalia, Ms. Yovanovitch easily claims the title of "Iron Lady" of American diplomacy. She knows how to present heself, earn respect, and not to be afraid of responsibility. In short, she knows how to build the successful career advancement.
At the same time, this woman has some purely human qualities. For example, in Kyrgyzstan, she did not miss the opportunity to participate in East martial arts. Her coach was well-known Kyrgyz judoist Larissa Mazur. So they became friends, and Marie became the godmother of Larissa’s baby for all Orthodox customs. Therefore, Ms. Yovanovitch will be our first American ambassador of the Orthodox faith.
Yovanovitch has been actively involved in fueling the scandal concerning selling of four Kolchuga radar systems to Iraq in violation of United Nations sanctions. It helped to create stable conditions to replace the pro-Russian then President Kuchma with loyal to Washington Viktor Yushchenko.
In 2005-2008 Yovanovitch has been the US Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic; at that time the country faced Tulip Revolution. As a result of these events, the regime of President Askar Akayev, who openly supported the Russian Federation, was deposed. It is very easy to follow the American footprint in facilitating the victory of the Kyrgyz opposition. Like any revolution, Kyrgyz scenario has led to a sharp political discord and strife within the opposition, which came to power without a unified strategy for further development of the republic.
And finally - Ukraine. 2016 year. Of course, the revolution has ended, but the current socio-political, economic and military situation in the country shows that the work of the American ambassador here will be extremely difficult. It is necessary to carry out continuous monitoring of the opposition, contradictions within the ruling party, the military situation in the east of the country, and, most importantly, look after Poroshenko, the leader of the activities of the country. A recent Panama scandal and appointment of Yovanovitch the US Ambassador in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to firmly hold the head of the Ukrainian state in the political grip of the West.