The three-day visit of President Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States has come to an end. The head of state spoke at the UN and met with his American counterpart Donald Trump. During a speech from the UN rostrum, he emphasized that ending the war and returning all occupied territories are his primary goals, but not at the cost of the lives of Ukrainian citizens and the right of Ukraine to choose. He was assured that the United States would join in helping to end the Russian-Ukrainian war.
But all this is an official part, against the background of which a scandal developed with a possible impeachment to President Trump. Impeachment, to which Zelensky is indirectly involved. The scandal was caused by a telephone conversation between two presidents, which, as it turned out, was documented and posted on the network just during Zelensky's stay in America.
My tongue runs away with me
So what were Trump and Zelensky talking about?
First of all, about the son of Joseph Biden, Trump's main rival in the 2020 election. Trump mentioned the name of Hunter Biden several times. In particular, the American leader stated that the investigation against the latter was terminated. He invited the President of Ukraine to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr and lawyer Rudi Giuliani and asked him to consider this “terrible” issue. In response, Zelensky assured that the new Prosecutor General of Ukraine will be “100% his man” and will study this matter.
Was there a “crime” for Trump in this passage? Trump says there is nothing illegal in his actions. "Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President? They should, a perfect call - got them by surprise!" Trump wrote on Twitter after a transcript of the conversation was published. Naturally, the Democrats, longtime opponents of the current US president, will not apologize to him. But it’s hard to say whether they will be able to find compromising evidence on impeachment. Trump's resignation initiators will have to emphasize that the American leader went beyond his powers, putting pressure on his foreign colleague for a useful purpose.
Trump and Zelensky undertook to discuss the contribution of various states to the resolution of Ukrainian problems. And the US president took the opportunity to humiliate Germany. This country, Trump stated, does almost nothing for Ukraine. He also added that the United States has always been "very, very kind to Ukraine."
Trump also mentioned French president Emmanuel Macron. However, his interlocutor did not try to protect either Macron or Merkel. Of course, experts say, Zelensky could not have foreseen what Trump would say to him, just as he could not have foreseen the publication of such a conversation. But the art of diplomacy lies precisely in the ability to keep ready a couple of phrases that neutralize the bad impression of any imperfections. President Zelensky went even further in assenting to Donald Trump when the conversation touched ex-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Would the leaders of Germany and France feel "offended" for it? They are too experienced politicians to show it directly, but a certain reaction to the transcript of the conversation has already arrived.
In addition to the iconic names, the company CrowdStrike was mentioned. “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Trump said.
CrowdStrike is a cybersecurity firm that helps organizations bolster their systems against hacking and responds quickly with a forensic analysis when it does happen. It recently went public and did work for the Democratic National Committee in 2016 when Russian operatives hacked into the committee’s server and stole thousands of the Democratic Party’s internal emails. A month after CrowdStrike announced that Russians were behind the intrusions, nearly 20,000 of the party’s emails were posted online. CrowdStrike has also done work for the National Republican Congressional Committee related to a suspected breach. Unlock more free articles. Create an account or log in CrowdStrike’s conclusion that Russia was behind the data breach has been backed up by American intelligence officers and, most significantly, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department, which indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in 2018 for their roles in the intrusions.
CrowdStrike is associated with Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk. However, Pinchuk is also a person collaborating with the enemies of the US president - with the Democrats, which, of course, Trump can not know. According to his associates, CrowdStrike once falsified evidence to accuse Republicans of cheating in elections. In fact, as in the case of Hunter Biden, who was involved in the infamous Burisma oil company, Trump asks Zelensky to intervene in the situation with CrowdStrike.
But this topic, unlike the more insistent references to Trump Biden Jr., will not receive more detailed development in the conversation between the two presidents.
Reaping the benefits
Undoubtedly, Zelensky managed to please Trump. Two "non-systemic" politicians found each other in this dialogue. Intuitively or thoughtfully Zelensky groped for Trump's weak spot - he loves to be praised. Responding to a remark about Merkel, Zelensky says: "Yes, you are absolutely right, not only 100%, but actually 1000%." The Ukrainian leader does not put the American interlocutor in place, and when he prompts him with whom to cooperate in the Biden case, with Attorney General William Barr and Trump's lawyer Rudi Giuliani.
But the manner of Zelensky’s dialogue with Trump was justified by Ukraine’s first President Leonid Kravchuk. “We must keep in mind the different weight categories of countries,” Kravchuk said. He stressed that the presidents are equal in their capabilities, but "the weight of the country has power and puts pressure on the president of Ukraine."
"The one who starts the conversation usually draws up the context and topic of the conversation and puts emphasis," Kravchuk emphasized. And he added: it would not be diplomatic to "interrupt the president of another country and tell him, for example, this does not concern me."
But, political analyst Yevheniy Bulavka says, "this conversation would hit the image of the head of the Ukrainian state, regardless of his last name." A published transcript, he says, is "a loss on Ukraine’s reputation." Owing to its "prospects for building relations with other countries are under attack."
According to Kost Bondarenko, the founder of the Gorshenin Institute analytical center, the scandal with the conversation of trump and Zelensky will be forgotten in a few days. At least in Ukraine. But in the US, “this conversation will have absolutely no consequences. It does not contain any evidence of Trump’s illegal actions. Democrats are trying to knock Trump out of the rut because of this kind of information stuffing," Bondarenko said.
Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, notes that the Ukrainian president "spoke emotionally and in some places sincerely." But he "was forced to play on the side of Trump against the Democrats, “now” we should expect deterioration in his relations with the Democrats."
As for the "domestic reaction" of the transcript, the unpreparedness of Ukrainian leader might be obvious. Some will be affected in a certain way by this, Bortnyk admits. “Zelensky’s puncture will impress only a small layer of critically thinking people. Most are still blinded, and only a conditional category of conditionally advanced voters who believed in the fight against corruption and the appointment of independent cadres will be disappointed. For them, a lot of such cases continue to accumulate. And for the rest, the news of the transcript made public in America will sound like a backdrop for other events," Bulavka said.
How about the US?
Meanwhile, representatives of the US Democratic Party view the promulgated text of a telephone conversation with Trump Zelensky as obvious evidence that the US president went beyond his powers and acted in personal interests. The publication of the conversation by the White House confirms that the president is undermining the integrity of the elections, the prestige of his position and our national security, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Trump's rival in previous elections, Hillary Clinton, responds even sharper. "The president of the United States has betrayed our country. That’s not a political statement—it’s a harsh reality, and we must act. He is a clear and present danger to the things that keep us strong and free. I support impeachment.," Clinton tweeted.
The president of the United States has betrayed our country.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 25, 2019
That’s not a political statement—it’s a harsh reality, and we must act.
He is a clear and present danger to the things that keep us strong and free.
I support impeachment.
A decisive word was made, and the shadow of the forced resignation from office became even more pronounced over Trump. And all thanks to "Monica Zelensky", as the Ukrainian president is ironically called, hinting at another famous personality, who also almost led to the impeachment of the American president.
However, in America, Zelensky’s communication style is justified. "President Zelensky, eager to establish himself at home as the friend of the president of the most powerful nation on earth, had at least two objectives: get a meeting with the president and get more military help. And so what happened on that call? Zelensky begins by ingratiating himself, and he tries to enlist the support of the president. He expresses his interest in meeting with the president and says his country wants to acquire more weapons from us to defend itself," Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, stated.
But, in the end, the problems of Donald Trump are the problems of Donald Trump. How deeply the interests of Ukraine in the international arena are affected - we will learn about this soon. The first visit to the US was not very successful for President Zelensky. Now he is going to have his trip to China. Given the difficult relations between China and the United States, such a visit could bring additional complications and become a new serious test for Zelensky. But this is a completely different story.