Some timely insights from our man in Kiev, Glendal Wright.
While the political and journalistic elite in the USA seem totally consumed by the contents of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, it has not drawn much attention from the mass of people in Ukraine. The only reaction has come from some of the political elite which has tended to support the conclusion that Biden and his son did not violate any Ukrainian laws. Whether this whole affair violated any standard of ethics is problematic in Ukraine where ethical standards are regularly and normally violated.
Most Ukrainians shrug and say all this is normal politics in Ukraine. Where oligarchs buy MPs for a quid pro quo relationship, what is new if Trump asks Zelensky to launch an investigation in exchange for weapons. This seems normal in the Ukrainian political context.
What does amuse most Ukrainians is the attention that Ukraine is now getting on the international stage. What has been considered as a backwater country with corrupt regimes and poverty-stricken citizens, now seems to be at the forefront on the international news coverage. The number of international correspondents and journalists may now outnumber tourists in Kiev. There is live coverage every hour from CNN, BBC and other news organizations. Even bad publicity is better than no publicity is how it is seen by the Ukrainians.
On the scale of problems that Ukraine confronts, such as the war in Eastern Ukraine that is still taking lives, the poor economic conditions, the rife corruption that still exists; a phone call between Trump and Zelensky doesn’t get high on the radar interest of the people. People are still just hoping to survive from day-to-day.
The English language press in Ukraine is more focused on other issues than the Trump-Zelensky phone call. The September 30 edition of the Kyiv Post had lead stories on the economic and military problems facing Ukraine and only one or two pieces that related to the Trump-Zelensky phone call, which mostly was reporting from other international sources.
The Ukrainians may take some pride in that they may be responsible for bringing down two superpower governments. Ukraine brought down the Soviet Union and Ukrainian involvement from the 2016 election and all the follow up from the scandals of that election in the USA may lead to the US President being impeached and removed from office. The lesson is don’t mess with Ukraine.