If the Normandy Four meeting, scheduled for December 9, is the most important foreign policy event for Ukraine, the US has its own headache. The US is waiting for the presidential election, and one of the main contenders for this post - the current head of state, Donald Trump - has still not fought off the threat of impeachment. Therefore, the unexpected Thursday visit of Trump’s lawyer Rudolf Giuliani to Kyiv is by no means connected with the upcoming negotiations of Zelensky, Putin, Macron, and Merkel.
“In addition, Trump has already spoken out about Ukrainian-Russian relations - he said that Ukraine should agree with Russia,” Vadym Karasiov, the director of the Institute for Global Strategies, recalls.
For crying out loud!
The administration of President Volodymyr Zelensky does not comment on the arrival of Rudi Giuliani. In general, anyone would hardly know about this event if not The New York Times article. According to NYT, Giuliani’s goal is to shift the focus of attention from an investigation into a probable impeachment to President Trump to “illegal actions of his political opponents.” And this mission was preceded by serious preparatory work.
“Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, met in Budapest on Tuesday with a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who has become a key figure in the impeachment inquiry. He then traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday seeking to meet with other former Ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been embraced by Republicans, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, according to people familiar with the effort. The former prosecutors, who have faced allegations of corruption, all played some role in promoting claims about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a former United States ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in 2016," the outlet informs.
NYT is close to the Democrats, so this interpretation of Giuliani's visit should not cause either surprise or excitement. However, it is possible that Trump’s assistant came to Kyiv to seek dirt on the Biden family in order to use it during the 2020 elections. Therefore, for the purpose of Giuliani - to meet people who have information about the affairs of Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine, about the Burisma company, etc.
“Giuliani officially came to shoot films in Ukraine, but he really arrived to negotiate with the Ukrainian elites,” political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov commented.
At the same time, ex-prosecutors Shokin and Kulyk included the former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko, former MP Andriy Artemenko and the former head of the Central Election Commission Mykhailo Okhendovsky. But the first person Rudy Giuliani met on Ukrainian soil was Andriy Derkach, an extra-factional MP.
“Rudolph Giuliani came to Kyiv. We immediately met with him on the creation of the inter-parliamentary group Friends of Ukraine STOP Corruption,” Derkach wrote on his Facebook page.
The creation of a new parliamentary group is, of course, the very event for which President Trump’s right hand would come to Ukraine, right. “Do not forget that there was a press conference of MPs Dubinsky and Derkach, concerning the pyramid of bonds of domestic state loans. The interest of the Biden family in Ukraine concerned not so much the gas business and Burisma as the payment for political protection. The Biden family carried out "the role of the political roof, under which first Yanukovych and then Poroshenko withdrew money from Ukraine. For this, they received Ukrainian bonds at such interest that no bank, no financial institution in the world gives," says Andriy Zolotariov, the head of the Third Sector Center.
Derkach and Dubinsky have been paying much attention recently to the activities of Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter. For example Derkach has been keeping Facebook post of ex-MP Serhiy Leshchenko, erased from social media, for 3.5 years, in his opinion, these posts testify to the intervention of Ukrainian politicians in the American elections on the side of the democrats. He published screenshots of Derkach only on December 2, 2019 - the day before Rudi Giuliani arrived in Kyiv.
As for Dubinsky from the Servant of the People faction, this MP has got into the Rada by the “quota” of oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, which is no secret to anyone. Similarly, prosecutor Kostyantyn Kulyk, who was dismissed by Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who led the affairs of Biden’s son and Burisma, belongs to the pool of “Kolomoysky’s people”.
And Kolomoysky would really like to help Trump in exchange for closing the investigation into money laundering, which is leading against the Ukrainian oligarch, the FBI.
So, the first purpose of the visit of Rudolf Giuliani could be seen quite clearly, he arrived in order to collect maximum dirt against Biden and to transfer public attention from Trump to other tracks.
“Since Giuliani arrived in person, then we will talk about cases on the verge of legality. That is why the list of official interlocutors of Giuliani (along with Shokin or Kulyk) does not include those who are vested with real power, but a meeting with them will somehow happen. And it will concern the unblocking of American aid to Ukraine in exchange for, possibly, Operation Antibiden, the continuation of the investigation of the Burisma case, certain statements on this subject by official investigators. In short, in exchange for everything that will serve to whiten Trump and, accordingly, the denigration of Biden. Involved in all of this is the problem of Ukrainian interference in the US election - as opposed to Russian intervention,” Bohdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, notes.
“Giuliani came in the continuation of the epic battle between Trump and the Democrats. The issue of Trump’s impeachment is not closed, and therefore it is imperative to demonstrate that the moment of interference by Ukraine in the US electoral process did take place,” Andriy Zolotariov adds.
Rudy Giuliani is looking for contacts with two former prosecutors general of Ukraine - Yuriy Lutsenko and Viktor Shokin. Both of them helped President Trump’s team make his opponent Joe Biden corrupt.
“Meeting with Lutsenko was connected with Biden. Lutsenko tried to play these games at one time, promised the Americans certain information they were interested in. Biden’s topic for Trump didn’t disappear from the agenda, as Biden is not only a significant candidate for the presidency, but also a strong a player among the Democratic Party,” Kyrylo Sazonov notes.
“Lutsenko is still “on the go” to this day, and even if he doesn’t give official testimony, but simply reports some information, it will be very valuable,” the expert adds.
However, the expert states that, in general, all Giuliani’s meetings and negotiations in Kyiv, "would relate to business relations in the US and Ukraine, and indeed all aspects of domestic and foreign policy."
Political analyst Vadym Karasiov is one of those who believe that Rudolf Giuliani came to Ukrainian capital to probe the soil for the upcoming Ukraine-US summit. Karasiov points to the high status that Giuliani has in his homeland.
“I think there will be a meeting with someone from the Office of President Zelensky. Otherwise, Giuliani would not personally come. It will be about preliminary arrangements for a meeting at the White House - at the highest level between the heads of the two states. In all other cases, Giuliani simply would not come,” he assumes.
“The meetings will be unofficial, perhaps with our president as well. Recently, the Ukrainian administration has been more inclined to cooperate with the American administration. Preparations for a full-fledged visit might be discussed,” the expert insists.
“Zelensky’s meeting with Trump? I don’t know for sure, but I won’t reject such an opportunity,” Andriy Zolotariov answers the question 112.ua.
Kyrylo Sazonov believes that the possible “summit” depends on the results of Giuliani’s negotiations on the Biden case. “The preparation of Zelensky’s visit to the United States (if it takes place) will be undertaken by diplomats after certain issues have been agreed at a high level, provided that Trump’s interest in such a meeting does not disappear after such an agreement,” he says.
Zelensky and Trump have already had a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
"A bilateral meeting between Zelensky and Trump is unlikely to take place today. According to different sources, Zelensky does not seek such a meeting at all. Because it will almost certainly be accompanied by insinuations and distortions of facts by the opposition. And even if they had taken some steps on it, then the negative context in would prevail," he says.
But is the US power currently interested in anything else besides problems with impeachment of Trump? For example, a Normandy four meeting between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany?
Kyrylo Sazonov assumes that Giuliani’s arrival “might be connected with the Normandy four “and even much wider - there would be some big coaching meeting on the further strategy,” he suggests.
Petrenko, Karasiov and Zolotariov disagree with this point of view. The latter two recall that the representative of the US State Department, Philip Reecker, is already in Kyiv. If someone takes on the function of conveying the US position on Normandy Zelensky, it will be he.
“Giuliani has nothing to do with Normandy Four meeting – Reeker came to Kyiv to deal with this issue. I think that it was he who touched the Normandy Four meeting, because Reeker is an official person, and Giuliani is just a confidant,” Andriy Zolotariov reminds.
Meanwhile, the visit of Rudi Giuliani to Kyiv continues. Recently, The Guardian recalled that Trump's lawyer had a direct influence on American policy towards Ukraine. And it seems that this influence will continue at least until the end of the cadet of Donald Trump.