Ukraine reforms being resisted by oligarchs and Russian agents, Kvien says

20 November 2020

The Ukrainian government’s reforms are being resisted by those who are most affected, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien told a “Dialogues on Reforms” conference on Nov. 18, as reported by the liga.net news site. “Oligarchs continue to call members of the Rada, judges and other officials to undermine the president’s agenda. The system worked for their benefit,” she said, likely referring to the scandalous Oct. 27 ruling of the Constitution Court. Russia is waging war against Ukraine on various fronts in order to undermine its Euro-Atlantic integration efforts, she said. Besides the illegal annexation of Crimea and armed conflict in Donbas, Russia is organizing cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns with the help of its “puppets, a part of which currently sit in the Verkhovna Rada,” she said, referring to the parliament.

 

The disinformation is based on narratives spread by media holdings and social networks alleging that Ukraine’s Western partners are trying to manage Ukraine’s domestic affairs. “This narrative is dishonest and turns reality up on its head,” she said, adding that disinformation is being out of personal interests of enrichment, as well as disrupting Euro-Atlantic integration. Ukrainian President Zelensky has achieved certain successes, including the removal of political immunity for MPs and leading the approval of banking and land reforms. The U.S. will continue to work with President Zelensky on Euro-Atlantic integration, she said.

 

Zenon Zawada: These are among the first political comments made by Kvien, who has served as the charge d’affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine since May 2019. They are mostly accurate, though there is some truth to the claims that the West is managing Ukraine’s affairs. In order to resist Russia, Ukraine needs loans from the IMF, which is asking for domestic reforms in exchange. And just as Kvien refers to certain Ukrainians as Russian puppets, the Russophiles accuse certain Ukrainians of being Western or IMF puppets.

 

Though the U.S. Congress is currently considering candidates for Ukrainian ambassador, we expect Kvien to remain in charge in Kyiv for at least another three months as the election situation in the U.S. grow tenser and party lines becoming more deeply drawn. Her remarks this week indicate that she is ready to step into a more proactive role in helping Ukraine resist Russian aggression.

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