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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bush Visits Kyiv, Commies Seize Maidan

President Bush Monday arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine. It is the first leg of his farewell Eastern European presidential tour, which sees him perform cheerleading and brokering roles.

George W. Bush is not the first U.S. President to visit Ukraine, either in a state visit or in a private one. Richard Nixon did this in 1972, as soon-to-be-impeached President, and in 1994, as a private citizen, shortly prior to his death.

Father Bush came to Kyiv on August 1, 1990 to deliver his infamous “chicken Kiev” speech warning Ukraine against “local despotism” and “suicidal nationalism.”

He tried to sweeten that acid sermon as he revisited Kyiv in May 2004, amid Ukraine’s presidential campaign, as a guest of Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of then-President Leonid Kuchma.

As U.S. President, Bill Clinton traveled to Ukraine three times: in January 1994, May 1995 and June 2000. In June 2007, Clinton, too, couldn’t resist Pinchuk’s hospitality. He attended the annual meeting of YES (Yalta European Strategy), an organization that largely remains Pinchuk’s public relations conduit.

A lot has changed in Ukraine’s political cuisine since father Bush’s fishing trip in August 1990. Luckily, we haven’t experienced “suicidal nationalism.” Not so with “local despotism,” which kind of makes Bush Sr. a semi-prophet.

Ironically, despite living in an independent country with a democratically elected President — who promised to treat Bush Jr. to the real chicken Kyiv and varenyky — we’ve built a country where most people spend their meager incomes on food.

At their meeting, Presidents Bush and Yushchenko discussed trade, investments, NATO, space cooperation and energy, including nuclear energy. (Ukraine, which operates four nuclear power plants, has large uranium deposits but depends on Russia for nuclear fuel cassettes.) They also signed a two-year roadmap agreement to be guided by in bilateral relations.

What followed was an otherwise boring press conference, except for one question that injected intrigue into the canned atmosphere. A Western reporter asked President Bush whether getting Russia to agree to missile defense deployments involved a certain trade-off — the soft-pedaling of Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. Bush replied that he will seek MAP for Ukraine, but the weight of the question did sink in.

The idea of such a trade-off raised quite a few eyebrows. It took the luster off the optimistic theory that Bush might somehow be able to dissuade Merkel from “killing” Ukraine’s MAP application at the Bucharest Summit in exchange for no longer pressing Germany to send troops to Afghanistan.

Support for enlisting Ukraine in MAP, the key prerequisite to joining the Alliance, has been lacking among other NATO members, namely France, Spain, Italy, Norway, and Greece.

As Bush prided himself on using phone call diplomacy to convince these dissenters, France made headlines, refusing to “give its green light to the entry of Ukraine and Georgia.” (So much for the “pro-American” Sarkozy.)

So, unless a miracle happens, it appears that Ukraine’s MAP application will be put on the back burner at least until the America elects a new president.

After the press conference, President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were to meet with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Following the meeting with Tymoshenko, who has every chance of becoming Ukraine’s next President, President Bush was to join current President Yushchenko for dinner, attended by opposition leader Yanukovych, the next big presidential hopeful. (If Yanukovych spoke English, he could make a gastro-political joke about “lame ducks” tasting better than chicken Kyiv.)

Undoubtedly, Bush’s visit raised the temperature of local politics. On Monday, hours before Air Force One landed in Boryspil Airport, a few hundred Communists burned NATO flags and Bush effigies in front of the U.S. Embassy. Some of them broke camp at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the onetime epicenter of the Orange Revolution.

Security was extremely tight in the city center. Police sealed off main streets, warning local residents not to stick their necks out lest they mess with the snipers watching over the presidential motorcade.

As for me, I couldn’t miss the Commie Show. I just wanted to “face the demons” — face the little red men and women who voted Ukraine out of cruel communism and into crony capitalism.

Riot police on standby

Bush, is that what you're dragging us into NATO for?

Aren't you against NATO? NATO is light and warmth!

NATO is a clear sky. Bush, you're responsible for this!

Me, mama and tato (mom and dad) — we're against the bandits of NATO!

Kyiv is a hero! NATO, get out of here!
The small aircraft is the Buran, the Soviet space shuttle, mounted on the An-225 Mriya, the world's biggest jumbo jet manufactured in Kyiv.

The People's Opposition.
Natalia Vitrenko. Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine.

New world order. Put the bloody dictator Bush in the international tribunal!

Aren’t they the Sovoks who voted for the Communist Party and Leonid Kuchma in spring and summer ‘94 parliamentary and presidential elections, respectively?

Aren’t they the guys who elected a president who traded the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal for IMF loans that bought him the license to make “reforms” that nuked Ukrainians out of their future, making their country unfit for EU membership? Aren’t they the guys who did it?

DemOcracy. Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, pack your bags and go to America!

P.S. All surrounded by this sovok agitprop trash, I noticed a stray dog.

And I thought to myself: Damn, doesn’t this dog best represent Ukraine’s voting habits?


Anonymous said...

We Don't Need NATO!
NATO was made for kill slavic peoples!
For example - Cosovo!
Bush go home and take your's agent - mr. Yushchenko!

Anonymous said...

"A Western reporter asked President Bush whether getting Russia to agree to missile defense deployments involved a certain trade-off — the soft-pedaling of Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. Bush replied that he will seek MAP for Ukraine, but the weight of the question did sink in."

Q Thank you, Mr. President. How confident are you of resolving your
differences over the missile shield with President Putin during your talks in Sochi? And also, sir, there was a growing impression that you are looking, perhaps, at a trade-off in which the U.S. would soften its push for Membership Action Plans in NATO for Ukraine and Georgia if Russia acquiesces
on missile defense. Could you please address that as well?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, I'll be glad to address it. That is a misperception. I strongly believe that Ukraine and Georgia should be given MAP, and there's no trade-offs, period. As a matter of fact, I told that to President Putin on my phone call with him recently. I said, you just got to know, I'm headed to Bucharest with the idea in mind of getting MAP for Ukraine and Georgia, and you shouldn't fear that, Mr. President. After all, NATO is a organization that's peaceful, or NATO is an organization that helps democracies flourish. Democracies are good things to have on your border.

And on the second point, on missile defense, it's in his interests that we participate and share information. After all, a missile from the Middle East can fly north just as easily as it could fly west, and the capacity to be
able to share information and share technology to be able to deal with these threats is important for a lot of countries, including Russia.

So, yes, there's all kinds of rumors about things, but thank you for asking and giving me a chance to clarify. My position is absolutely solid. My position is absolutely solid. Ukraine and Georgia should be given MAP. Thank

And the footage of the dog is so sad. Brings back memories. Thanks for all the photos and video clips.


Anonymous said...

Bratstvo protest against Nato - got people to participate in action by offering them a free beer (about 50cents.) The spelled the words f* off.

Bratstvo group were the ones who splattered Soros with mayo.


elmer said...

A few thoughts:

1) The dog - I would not have insulted dogs that way, Taras. How could you not love dogs? I was, however, waiting for the dog to pee on the commie signs. That is a cute dog.

2) Sometimes I think that people outside of Ukraine support Ukraine more than Ukrainians themselves. Bush was right in saying that the Orange Revolution captured the hearts and the imagination of people in the US - and worldwide. You really don't know how much.

Too bad that Ukrainians themselves have managed to slow it down, or even almost piss it away.

3) I think that Yushchenko gave an excellent accounting of himself and Ukraine during this visit. He is right in mentioning Ukraine's attempts at independence and freedom during the 20th century. I think (and hope and pray) that this time, in the 21st century, it's different.

4) Military review - geez, I wish that the Ukrainian honor guard had not been goose-stepping down the street. It makes Ukraine look like a 2-bit dictatorship.

5) Military review - geez, I wish that the Ukrainian military and the honor guard would get rid of those stupid sovok-era style caps. They make Ukraine look like a bunch of cheap sovok era imitators - even if the caps are blue.

6) There weren't very many commies out there. GOOD.

Taras, I would like to know your own personal impressions.

People are pulling for Ukraine - but Ukraine does not seem to be pulling for itself.

It's like two guys in a rowboat, each facing each other, and each pulling in opposite directions.

In the meantime, a bunch of thug oligarchs stand on the shore, and make the guys in the rowboat pay them money for the privilege of pulling against each other.

I hope and pray that Ukraine finally starts pulling for itself.

I hope and pray that Ukraine finally learns how to pull for itself.

Tymoshenko said - давайте, створимо найліпшу державу в світі.

That is distinctly possible - once Ukraine finally starts pulling for itself.

I hope and I pray.

Taras said...

Thanks for the transcript, Luida!

Judging by the visible tension in Bush’s repetitive response, “My position is absolutely solid. My position is absolutely solid,” it appears that the question didn’t strike him as an April Fool’s Day joke.

I hope I’m dead wrong on this one, but his reply almost sounded like “I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman.”

Hmmm... What kept Bratstvo off the streets during Putin’s visit? Hadn’t their leader Dmytro Korchynsky started his activist career as a member of the anti-Russian UNSO?

Elmer, I didn’t mean to insult the dog.

I just wanted to say that people who behave like Pavolovian dogs subject themselves to living dogs’ lives. Even worse, they force this way of life on people who behave differently. That’s the point.

Our biggest military reform, so far, has been the replacement of puttees with socks. Hurray! Why try harder?

The rowboat analogy really sticks. There’s another one, the proverbial fable of The Swan, the Pike and the CancerЛебідь, щука і рак »), all three of them pulling the cart in different directions only to have the cart remain still.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t mention other key characters, such as the vultures for which the cart has become fair game.

elmer said...

I love that dog, and I know you did not mean to insult dogs, and I know what you meant. We have taken in dogs that were abandoned. They were, and are, perfect.

By now, everyone should know that Bush means what he says, and says what he means.

That's not only on his part, but also on the part of the US.

Bush does not speak as an individual, and his statements are and positions are very carefully thought out and "vetted" before he makes them.

This is definitely not a Monica "I did not have sex with that woman" situation. Far from it.

Saddam Hussein made the mistake, by his own admission, given in statements made in one of his last interviews, of thinking that Bush was bluffing.

"NATO was made for kill slavic peoples!"

And what were slavic peoples made for? Killing other people?

For example - Cosovo!

For example - Russia!

So, Luida - do you think that Bratstvo, such as it is, has actually accomplished anything constructive or concrete, or something for the betterment of Ukraine?

I think I know your answer.

They seem to me to be a bunch of buffooons looking for attention, without any idea how to actually do something constructive.

Taras, I am more convinced than ever that Ukrainian politics is a kaleidescope.

It's the same old people over and over and over and over, except for Lutsenko.

The oligarchs are going to have to be dynamited away from the piggy trough of government.

And that dynamite is - the vote.

But it will also take laws which prohibit corporate election contributions, and which change the way campaigns are financed.

Noone in Ukraine in the general population seems to know or care how campaigns are financed - except that the money appears "from somewhere" and that sometimes "administrative resources" are used.

And you've got to get your own oligarch.

There's a writer named Dan Jenkins, who wrote several best-selling books. One of the lines in his books is "In Hollywood, you have to get your own Jew - otherwise they play racquetball with your liver."

In Ukraine, you have to get your own oligarch - otherwise they play racquetball with your liver.

Tymoshenko can also get the dynamite of votes to finally change things. But the question is - how much is she also dependent on oligarchs like Kolomoisky and others?

Andrzej said...

anonymous say "NATO was made for kill slavic peoples!"

Well, NATO was made for kill commies so commies don't kill NATO peoples. Commies lose. NATO expand. Fun game, no?

Anonymous said...

"I hope I’m dead wrong on this one, but his reply almost sounded like “I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman.” "

Hey, at least one person on the Internet agrees with me that yes, Bush supports, yes, really supports Ukraine being offered MAP.
"Nato: Bush's Support for Georgia, Ukraine is No Pose"


Taras said...

Elmer, it’s hard to know what’s going on behind the scenes unless you’re an insider.

With regard to Bush’s stance, I made an observation rather than a verdict. Anyway, it’s already apparent that the Bucharest Summit holds out no MAP hope for Ukraine.

Rumor has it that Lutsenko has his own oligarch: Davyd Zhvania. Also, according to a UP article, in 2005, Minister of the Interior Lutsenko came close to inking a controversial deal with the company where his wife works (or worked).

After all we’ve been through since the Orange Revolution, I’m just a guy who tries to steer clear of the halo effect. I apply this principle to all politicians regardless of their orientation.

Andrzej, you basically summed up the concept of deterrence!

The sad thing is, we still have some sort Iron Curtain in Europe. Luckily for the Poles, who had a shorter communist experience, the Iron Curtain no longer lies on their Western border.

I appreciate Poland’s diplomatic efforts in integrating Ukraine into Europe, and I hope that by 2012, the EU Curtain will become more porous.

Thanks for the article, Luida!

Well, you can count me in, too. But that hardly changes anything. The GazPutin lobby in Europe has already said nyet.

And who knows what Ukrainian policy the next White House and State Department will bring.

Anonymous said...

And who knows what Ukrainian policy the next White House and State Department will bring.

Bush really wants it under his helm. Decision regarding Ukraine and Georgia postponed till December. Will RU 'play nice' till then esp. with ongoing gas negotiations? Will Ukraine fast track reform legislation and bury the hatchet between opposing forces?

My question is what the next leadership in Kyiv and at the natl level will bring?


Michelle said...

I cannot believe I am not in Kyiv to miss this excitement! Thanks for the great coverage and photos Taras!

elmer said...

Ummm - who's the babe in about the 24th frame down?

I love that dog!

I gotta tell ya' - Ukrainian babes are - babes. Eye candy.

Well, not Vitrenko. Forget her.

Taras said...

Thank you, Michelle! The trees are starting to bud in Kyiv. Feel free to come back anytime:)!

Elmer, the girl ain’t mine:) I think she was just taking a look around.

And by the way, meet the young Vitrenko.