Dr. Rob Christian
4 Reasons why “Ukraine Gate” has actually benefited Ukraine
The recent Ukraine scandal included a phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine, and evolved into the historic impeachment of Trump in the House of Representatives. It has actually benefited Ukraine in ways which no analyst could have forecasted.
In my previous piece “How to kick out Nazis from the Government”, which was published on July 12th, I criticized the democrats for being spineless and not holding the executive branch accountable for abuse of power and obstruction of justice with regards to the Mueller investigation.
The notorious phone conversation between Trump and Zelensky, which the whistleblower within the intelligence community brought to the attention of congress was exactly what Nancy Pelosi needed to pull the trigger on impeachment. She decided she had seen enough corruption and abuse of power by the President and moved forward with impeachment.
It’s also worth mentioning that this particular incident was much easier to explain to the American people in one simple sentence; Trump withheld military aid to the President of Ukraine to pressure him to investigate Joe Biden, his main political opponent in next years US presidential election.
President Zelensky was caught in a difficult situation, on the one hand — to continue successfully defending his country against Russia — he needed Trump’s continuous cooperation for signing off military aid in the future, on the other hand he couldn’t risk upsetting the democrats either, as they control the legislative organ that can also influence relations with Ukraine.
At the press conference in New York in September, he tried to keep cool and maintain his humorous charm, but he was clearly uncomfortable being in the focus of this controversy. However, for the country of Ukraine, this scandal was a blessing in disguise.
The maxim “Any PR is good PR” may be true, and in this case, Ukraine is not portrayed in a negative way, but rather the victim of Trump bullying and an extortion attempt. So every time the news cycle repeated the story, it was a boost for the brand of Ukraine, specifically putting the country on the map for international tourism.
Since the Ukraine Gate outbreak, every American, and every person in the world, has now heard about the mysterious country of Ukraine constantly mentioned as the inadvertent cause for Trump’s impeachment. This has caused tremendous curiosity for American travelers who are including Kyiv in their next tour of Europe, and Ukraine in general is being added to bucket lists of world travelers.
In the first half of 2019 around 900,000 tourists visited Kyiv, many stop for a few days before visiting Chernobyl, which has been somewhat romanticized lately by HBO’s successful TV show. The ghost town saw an increase of 40% in tours since the series started airing.
Besides the fact that dozens of journalists have traveled to Kyiv since September 2019 to try to interview people involved, or scout out the restaurant where that infamous call between Sondland and Trump took place, all the talk shows keep joking about Trump’s latest scandal and continue promoting Ukraine.
Steve Colbert was inadvertently advertising tourism in Ukraine with a backdrop of the gorgeous St Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv, featuring actor John Lithgow’s parody of Rudi Giuliani.
The Ukrainian Economy grew at around 4% in 2018 and continues to outperform. The increase in tourists bringing in hard currency definitely helped the growth in GDP, but also an increased influx of foreign investors showering Ukrainian bonds with their funds meant more hard currency added to the reserves, making the Hryvnia one of the strongest performing currencies of 2019. This allowed Ukraine to be in a financially strong position (which is exactly what the Kremlin was trying to prevent) when negotiating a new transit deal with Gazprom.
Putin tried desperately to weaken Ukraine’s economy, hoping to bring the government to its knees in order to get a favorable deal for Gazprom in their negotiations with their Ukrainian counterparts. After years of legal disputes, the Russians finally gave in and paid the 2.9 billion USD ordered by the Stockholm court around one year ago.
By waging war against Ukraine, Putin was hoping to deplete Ukraine’s treasury making them desperate for cash and more willing to compromise. He wanted a better deal for Gazprom including a disregard of the Stockholm verdict and lower transit payments to Ukraine.
As the deadline was approaching, and Nord stream 2 (which will bypass Ukraine) still not operational, the Russians realized they couldn’t wait any longer and had to strike an agreement with Ukraine to keep their gas flowing and their customers throughout Europe content.
The most obvious area of benefit for Ukraine is its military, as the 400 million USD were quickly released once the whistleblower report came out. If the whistleblower wouldn’t have come forward with the alarming report, President Trump was impudent enough to keep the aid until Zelensky would announce on CNN that he would investigate Biden’s son (another episode of Trump’s love/hate relationship with CNN).
The Ukrainian army’s five year battle experience and continued training with US and British forces in the west of the country have elevated it into one of the best armies in Europe, but without constant financial aid and support from the EU and USA, it would have difficulty keeping up with the USD 50 billion annual budget of the Russian armed forces. The whistle blower ringing the alarm made sure Trump signed off and the aid was no longer held up.
The attack on Ukraine began in March 2014, when the country was in chaos and in the middle of a revolution that eventually overthrew Moscow-puppet Yanukovych. Taking advantage of the state of disarray, Russia quickly and illegally annexed Crimea, and instigated a hybrid war and insurgency supported by regular Russian soldiers as well as special forces in the eastern part of Ukraine which is still ongoing.
The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia and is trying since 5 years to broker a cease fire and peaceful resolution. The recent ceasefire agreement in Paris has already been violated as Russian forces continue their attacks and offensives.
The conflict has been referred to as “Europe’s forgotten war”, since the media has lost interest and almost forgotten about it.
While Ukraine wants world support in its fight against occupier Russia, the Kremlin wants the EU to look away and keep buying Siberian gas, as it quietly attempts to re-occupy lost soviet territory in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere.
The Ukraine Gate has amplified the crisis back to the mainstream news and reminded everyone about the only hot war in Europe.
News anchors all over the wold kept repeating “Ukraine needed the military aid blocked by the White House to fight Russia on their eastern border.” It’s almost like a repeated subliminal engraving into the minds of millions of people that the war is still happening, and shouldn’t be forgotten.