Visit of U.S. Secretary of State: Why did Mike Pompeo come to Ukraine?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kyiv. In addition to meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, he visited wounded Ukrainian servicemen in the hospital. He also congratulated Metropolitan Epifaniy on further recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the world
22:37, 3 February 2020

Official website of the President of Ukraine

But the arrival of Pompeo was preceded by a scandal with the American journalist Marie Louis Kelly. Secretary of state reproached for the question about Ukraine, and in the end asked if she really believes that Americans care about Ukraine. Therefore, it is obvious that Mike Pompeo doesn’t care whether whether the clergy recognize Orthodox Church of Ukraine or not - he also doesn’t care about other things that he said about or was interested in.

Which is normal. As noted by Russian political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky, the West will never be more pro-Ukrainian than Ukraine itself. (Incidentally, President Zelensky never once visited wounded servicemen). Consequently, the level of expectation from a visit of Pompeo in particular and from the United States as a whole should be reduced. But it is necessary to understand why the US Secretary of State visited Kyiv.

Stop at request

Mike Pompeo arrived in Ukraine in the framework of his official trip. Having got out of Washington, he decided to kill four birds with one stone. After Kyiv he went to Belarus, and after Minsk he will go to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. "Ukraine will only be a stop during the Pompeo’s tour, but this nuance should not be dramatized, as well as the rather complicated emotional background around bilateral relations that is now observed in the United States," says political columnist Yevgen Magda.

Going to Kyiv, Pompeo announced that he expected meetings with President Zelensky’s team and a discussion of "a whole series of important issues of European security." In addition, according to the Secretary of State, the discussion will focus on "the important efforts that the United States and Ukraine will make together in the fight against corruption in this country." Pompeo also noted that he will discuss American support, "necessary for the Ukrainian people to become a free and independent nation."

Similar moments were reflected during the two-day (i.e. quite long by diplomatic standards) visit of Pompeo. However, the US Secretary of State would be deceiving if he said that he was going here for just that.

Political analyst Taras Panio notes, for example, that if Pompeo was really worried about security issues, the format of the negotiations would be different. "At least because resolving such issues involve lengthy preparations through diplomatic channels, meetings of some working groups, preliminary conversations of authorized persons, and the like. But now there is no American ambassador in Kyiv, and no active contacts."

In the meantime, let’s talk on the true reason for the arrival of Pompeo. "In reality, the US Secretary of State is in a hurry to Ukraine to extinguish a political, not a military fire. And this fire is not in Kyiv, but in Washington," writes Panio on The expert recalls: “Trump’s impeachment problem, the scandal surrounding Yovanovitch, to which Pompeo was directly involved, and a whole bunch of dark stories involving Giuliani and Parnas, Lutsenko and Shokin, and many, many more politicians and officials, have not disappeared.”

Actually, because of the “dark stories”, Pompeo’s visit was delayed: with almost 100 percent certainty we can say that, in addition to officialdom, the US Secretary of State had a number of informal meetings designed to level the Ukrainian footprint in American impeachment.

Demonstration of good faith

Because now oil is only added to impeachment fire. The exaggeration of the flames was linked to the publication of excerpts from the yet-unpublished book of John Bolton, ex-national security adviser to Donald Trump. Information was published on the pages of The New York Times. The book says that Mike Pompeo was not only against the president’s decision to block military assistance to Ukraine, but also expressed concern over the actions of Trump's personal lawyer - Rudolf Giuliani.

After such revelations in the character of Pompeo you get completely confused. On the one hand, he is loyal to the US president and believes that the Americans are indifferent to Ukraine. On the other hand, in private conversations, Pompeo opposed blocking military assistance to Ukraine, and because of disagreement with the president, their relations allegedly worsened.

This deterioration was immediately confirmed by three sources in the Republican Party. The article says that Trump is unhappy with Pompeo: he allegedly does not sufficiently protect the US president in the impeachment case and does not control his employees in the State Department who testified against Trump. In this regard, Pompeo plans to resign as Secretary of State, and then try to win the Senate elections, running for Kansas.

And yet, no matter how the mutual trust and sympathy between Trump and Pompeo is shaken, the latter arrived in Kyiv just to convince everyone of the following: 1) Trump is not averse to helping Ukraine - without blackmail and additional conditions, 2) bilateral cooperation will continue, and no one will discount Ukraine, 3) in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the commitment of the United States invariably remains on the side of Ukraine.

In the end, creating the “right” picture is beneficial not only to Trump, but also to Pompeo as well. And not only in the context of presidential impeachment, but also taking into account the political ambitions of the Secretary of State and his further career plans.

Related: Pompeo: Visit to Minsk brings solution to sanctions on Belarus closer

That is why Pompeo spoke a lot about supporting Ukraine - in the diplomatic and investment sense. In particular, he assured that American sanctions against Russia would continue until the territorial integrity of Ukraine was restored.

“Since January 2017, we have provided more than one billion dollars in security assistance. This commitment remains. We will maintain support for the diplomatic resolution of the conflict provoked by Russia in Ukraine, and we will maintain financial support for the security of Ukraine,” said Pompeo.

What the Secretary of State did not do

However, in addition to such declarations, three important issues remained unresolved during the visit of Pompeo.

The first is President Zelensky’s trip to the United States. To put it mildly, they did not call the Ukrainian side there.

In Kyiv, Mike Pompeo was asked whether the investigation into the son of Joe Biden was the condition that Donald Trump set to Zelensky to organize his official visit to Washington? To which Pompeo said that no conditions were imposed, and such a visit is being prepared. “There is a lot of work between our countries, our teams are discussing all these opportunities. We see economic opportunities for American companies, we talked about this,” the Secretary of State answered. And as we see, he answered rather evasively.

In turn, Volodymyr Zelensky said that he was ready for such a trip "even tomorrow." But his “tomorrow” has not yet come and it is not known whether it will come at all. At least due to the completion of the Donald Trump’s presidency and the incomprehensible prospects of the latter for a re-presidency.

"Pompeo sent a signal that Trump is still not ready to meet the President of Ukraine at the White House. Zelensky still has not received an invitation. He emphasized that such a meeting would send a signal to Moscow," - said MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin, commenting on The New York Times article about Pompeo's visit to Kyiv.

The second important and unresolved issue is the new US ambassador not appointed to Ukraine. After the dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch from this position, the place remains vacant. Perhaps, suggests Evgen Magda, another reason for Pompeo's arrival was “intelligence on the ground” before the “landing" of the new ambassador to Ukraine.

“It is obvious that without a personal probe by the chief of American diplomacy (taking into account his experience as head of the CIA) it will not be possible to determine the candidacy of the next US ambassador to Ukraine. As you know, former military Keith Dayton and career diplomat Philip Ricker are applying for it. However, none of them will be able to take office before the spring of 2020, because approval by Congress will be required, "Magda writes on Radio Liberty website.

However, if such a probe took place, it was non-public and belonged specifically to the closed part of Pompeo's visit.

The third item on the list of unfinished business is the absence of appointment of the U.S.special representative instead of Kurt Volker, who was dismissed in September 2019. It is noteworthy that during a meeting with Pompeo, Zelensky reminded the Secretary of State of this gap. "Today I expressed the hope that the United States will be more actively involved in the peace process in eastern Ukraine and the de-occupation of Crimea, thanks to the appointment of a separate official from the US Department of State on these issues," Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, America reacted negatively to the fact that Pompeo did not pass this ball and did not answer Zelensky anything concrete. "In Kyiv, Pompeo did not name the successor to Kurt Volker. The weakened US diplomatic efforts (in Ukraine) is another serious service to Moscow. This is further proof of the departure from the support policy of Ukraine, which the United States adhered to after 1991," said Vice President of Carnegie Analytical Center Endowment for International Peace Andrew Weiss.

Instead of an afterword

The conclusions that can be drawn after the completion of Mike Pompeo’s visit are as follows. Ukraine is asymmetrically dependent on the United States: we need America more than it needs us. Which, however, is no secret to anyone. And yet, the United States does not refuse to demonstrate influence even on those countries that are not among their priority strategic interests. Which, in fact, was proved by the visit of Pompeo.

This may not be good news, but there are others. The phrase that Pompeo said shortly before the visit - whether the Americans care about Ukraine, is evidence that such sentiments are beginning to gradually take hold of the American establishment.

This is the biggest problem for Ukraine and its politics. Is the government ready for its solution? On this occasion, it would be useful to hear what Volodymyr Zelensky will say, and not "even tomorrow," as our president says, but right today - here and now.

Related: U.S. ready to provide Belarus with 100% energy, - Pompeo

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