Why Donald trump knows little about Ukraine

“We don’t know exactly what’s going on,” he replied on 6 February, the President of the United States trump on the question of the leader channel FoxNews bill O’reilly about whether the President offended by the resumption of fighting “Pro-Russian forces” in Ukraine after a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Trump noticed that while it is not known for certain, controls Russia militias in the Donbass or not. “We don’t know they uncontrolled? Controlled? It happens. We’ll find out. I would be surprised, but we’ll find out,” said the US President.

Approach to Ukraine

The new American leader has repeatedly accused of ignorance of the situation in Ukraine. In an interview to ABC News in July 2016, then-presidential candidate, discussing the position of the Republican party towards Russia, Ukraine and the possibility of cancellation of anti-Russian sanctions, said in a live broadcast that Putin “will not go to Ukraine”. Moderator George Stephanopoulos corrected then trump, saying that “Putin is already in Ukraine”, and suggested that the policy, apparently, is known about the accession of Crimea to Russia in 2014. “I know this for sure. It was about two years ago, right? Approximately. It happened under Obama”, — hastened to justify trump. Then he noted that in the case of coming to power, will consider the issue of belonging of the Crimea to Russia. But he added that, according to him, the residents of Crimea made their choice in favor of Russia, and return to this question can provoke a third world war.

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the July statements trump a “violation of moral and civilized principles.” Trump later clarified his statements drew criticism in the United States and resentment of Kiev. In his Twitter, trump said that he meant that Putin will not invade Ukraine again, if trump is elected President. Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valeriy Chaly told then Foreign Policy concerns Kyiv, when trump USA will change its policy towards Ukraine in the direction of closer cooperation with Moscow.

Contact with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko trump established relatively late. Their first telephone conversation took place on February 4 — this time the US President-elect has already held talks with majority world leaders. During the telephone conversation, the leaders of the USA and Ukraine discussed a number of issues, including the protracted conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Trump said that the United States intends to work with Ukraine and Russia, all involved in the conflict parties to “restore peace along the border,” according to a press release on the White house website. The week before, 28 January, trump held a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin during which the two leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine.

Trump said that “wants to understand Ukraine and wants to understand who and how to lead it”, said on 7 February the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. “This is, I believe, a large qualitative shift in comparison with the Obama administration, which was trying to demand from us, as [Ukrainian President] Poroshenko strongly to shield,” said the Minister TASS.

“There is good information: President of the United States clearly understands what’s going on here, and assured him of full support of Ukraine,” presented a different point of view on statements trump the leader of the party “Fatherland” Yulia Tymoshenko. She held February 2 National prayer Breakfast in the United States was able to meet with Donald trump and top officials of his administration.

The change of command

After the inauguration of the trump, the American government left the experts responsible until then for the formation of policy in the Ukrainian direction. First — Vice-President Joe Biden and assistant Secretary of state Victoria Nuland.

“None of the U.S. government did not have such a great effect on Ukraine as Vice President Biden,” wrote in October, analytical Foreign Policy magazine. Obama and Biden, the newspaper notes, from the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis has divided the responsibilities: the President provided a unified position of the West regarding sanctions, the Vice-President doing the rest of the work, including monitoring the execution of the Minsk agreements by Kiev.

In recent years, Biden has repeatedly visited Kiev to meet with Ukrainian leadership. His last foreign trip as Vice-President he did on January 16 in Kiev too. “Joe played a unique and valuable role, it will be very difficult to replace,” he told FP the ex-Minister of Finance of Ukraine Natalia Yaresko.

Nuland since September 2013 held the position of assistant Secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, and Ukraine was part of her responsibilities. Nuland has been involved in monitoring reforms in Ukraine, providing Kiev loans, held talks with Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov in charge of Ukrainian Affairs in the Kremlin. She resigned 25 January 2017, a few days after the inauguration of the trump.

As told by program Director discussion club “Valdai” by Andrey sushentsov, in the “Ukrainian team” Obama included the current Deputy head of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine George Kent. According to Sushentsov, Kent is a disciple of John Herbst, who was Ambassador to Ukraine during the “orange revolution”. Sam Kent in those years worked as the Deputy head of the political Department of the Embassy. “Kent and Herbst belong to the category of diplomats with a “black and white” vision of the world and a palpable anti-Russian bias,” — emphasizes Sushentsov. Whether he will stay in Kiev after the change of US administration, is unknown.

Washington was divided on Ukraine

The new us administration in its relation to Russia and Ukraine was divided into two camps, emphasizes senior analyst at the Kyiv Institute for Euro-Atlantic cooperation Andreas Umland. More friendly to Moscow are closest advisors trump, while the leadership of the state Department, the CIA and a number of prominent politicians-Republicans insist on the continuation of hard line against Russia. “Coming from team trump signals are extremely contradictory,” says Umland.

Publicly on the continuing pressure on Moscow to insist a party of trump. Senator John McCain two weeks ago, called the possible lifting of sanctions against Russia “reckless course”, and last week urged trump to start supplying Kiev with lethal weapons to defend against the “Russian attacks”. On Monday, a position McCain has supported Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry, head of the Committee of the lower house of the armed forces.

New US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, approved on the proposal of trump, in his first speech in the UN security Council, February 2, accused Russia of escalation of the events in the Donbass. “We want to improve relations with Moscow, but a terrible situation in Eastern Ukraine requires us to condemn the actions of Russia”, — she said.

Senior expert at the Atlantic Council Diana Francis argues that this Hayley was coordinated with the presidential adviser on national security Michael Flynn, who the day before declared an “official warning” to Iran because of missile tests.

However, according to Sushentsov, saying Haley is more of a political nature: it is intended to show the American elite that the new administration will not drastically change existing policy in relation to Moscow and to lift the sanctions. A cautious and gradual search for a new course is one of three positions, which, according to Sushentsov, may be built trump policy in relation to Russia and Ukraine. Two other factors: the recognition of Ukraine outside the sphere of vital interests of the United States, as well as viewing the Ukrainian conflict as a problem of European security. “Accordingly, the solution to the crisis can be part of a Russian-American deal on European security,” said Sushentsov.

However, while clearly articulated strategy, Washington is not, as the state Department and the administration as a whole approved, not all staffing decisions, team building is ongoing, emphasizes Sushentsov. For example, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern, the successor Nuland as assistant Secretary of state for Europe, does not yet have a complete picture of the policy for making any key decisions, says Sushentsov.

“The problem is that Washington is not yet human, what was Nuland who could call in Kiev and to demand to stop the escalation, says Sushentsov. In these conditions Ukraine can start controlled aggravation to return to the international agenda.”

The process of the formation of the new administration in Washington — in particular, this applies to managers of “middle managers” who are responsible for concrete decisions is about five to six months, predicts Ukrainian expert in international and legal Affairs Andrew Buzarov. Around the same time, according to him, the President of trump formed an idea of the situation in Ukraine. “The statements of trump, Pence and other officials say that Washington will take in this crisis a neutral position, — said Buzarov. — Indeed, Ukraine will be left alone with their conflict, we can expect growing tensions in the country, dissatisfaction with the administration of the President.”

Iran responded Trump

Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on 7 February criticized the position of Donald trump on Iran. “This again came the Lord has saved us from unnecessary work. He demonstrated the true face of America,” Khamenei was quoted by TASS. Earlier, U.S. President said it may revise the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, and pointed out that Iran is “playing with fire”, conducting missile tests. Last week, the US imposed new restrictions on 13 people and 12 organizations. In the sanctions list includes those who are involved in the development of ballistic missiles in Iran or supported the revolutionary guards (IRGC).