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?