Ukrainian interest. Unexpected Trump, cynical FSB, and chance in Balkans
Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election came as surprise not only to the Ukrainian establishment. The Russian FSB did an "encore" with their provocation involving the so-called "Ukrainian saboteurs in Crimea". Petro Poroshenko's visit to Slovenia has chances to transform into more prospects for bilateral cooperation.
The campaign ahead of the election of the 45th president of the United States was perceived around the world as a bright political show with a fairly predictable outcome. However, Donald Trump managed to overturn numerous predictions that favored Hillary Clinton. He even managed to confidently secure controversial key states, not only the basic Republican strongholds. The secret of Trump’s victory is quite simple: in his campaign he strictly targeted his electorate, managing to achieve ultimate mobilization of his voters, imposing upon them a simple and effective idea that “our people are being mistreated". To her credit, Hillary Clinton quickly conceded the election, although this seriously minimizes her prospects for further political career. On the other hand, the first speech of the winner in his new capacity showed the difference between the pre-election rhetoric and the agenda of the president-elect.
Barack Obama has already held for Mr Trump a short introductory course for presidents right in the White House, though he chose to abstain from a traditional joint family photo shoot following the meeting. The outgoing administration strongly emphasizes its readiness for constructive transition. At the same time, the Kremlin is struggling to conceal its happy reaction at the election outcome, while Vladimir Putin has already expressed will to restore Russian-American relations in their entirety. It is believed that over the next two months, the Russian propaganda will continue to dance on the bones of the Democratic vanity.
Meanwhile, Trump has already spoken with the leaders of France and Germany, but his rise to power has caused great concern among European officials. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker believes new U.S. president is a threat to the EU-U.S. relations, at the same time EU High Representative Federica Mogherini stressed that Trump’s election will not change the European Union's policy toward Ukraine. Against this background, it is interesting to note EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn vowing to fulfill EU commitments on visa liberalization for Ukraine in the near future.
As for the prospects of development of Ukrainian-American relations, many politicians in Ukraine harbored illusions of Clinton winning the election. The U.S. state secretary has been to Kyiv on several occasions and boasts extensive experience in foreign policy, unlike her opponent. Trump’s victory has created qualitatively new conditions, taking away from the official Kyiv its pink glasses regarding relations with Washington. The Republican Party will obviously have a major impact on the formation of the foreign policy of the new president’s team, and Ukraine may actually benefit from this - the Republicans have been consistent in supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and independence. In any case, Ukraine needs to rely more on itself, seeing a possible increase in support just as a bonus to its own achievements.
Another provocation of the Russian FSB, who has labeled three Ukrainian citizens living in Sevastopol "terrorist commandos", has several implications. First and foremost, this is meant to remind the world and the Russians that Crimea belongs to the Russian Federation. The second thing is to show the United States how insidious the current Ukrainian leadership is. And the third is to demonstrate to all citizens of Ukraine who live in Crimea that they better be quiet and not even think about passive resistance to the invaders.
Probably, this way, the FSB decided, among other things, to take revenge for the defeat in Montenegro, where the local secret service foiled an assassination attempt of the pro-Russian nationalists on Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.
The Balkans remains an important region for the development of Europe, and Petro Poroshenko’s first ever official visit to Slovenia proves this idea. Not only has Slovenia become a successful example of European integration, it was also the first EU country to show its political stance, recognizing in the official document the fact of the Russian aggression in Donbas. It is obvious that the development of relations between Kyiv and Ljubljana can create a springboard for the promotion of Ukrainian interests in the Balkans, the region able to become one of the key ones for Ukrainian diplomacy.