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Ukraine’s former president Petro O. Poroshenko, elected after street protests toppled his pro-Russian predecessor in February 2014, made good relations with the Obama administration his top foreign relations priority and then invested heavily in wooing the Trump administration, despite having favored Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election.
Mr. Poroshenko’s eagerness to win over Mr. Trump and his growing fears that political rivals would thwart his re-election opened the way for Mr. Giuliani to press Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, who has since been fired, to help Mr. Trump’s own re-election by investigating Mr. Biden and his son.
How Mr. Poroshenko expected the Trump administration to help lift his sagging fortunes ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election, held in two rounds in March and April this year, is unclear. He got trounced anyway, losing emphatically to Mr. Zelensky, whose own officials quickly became the Trump team’s new targets in its drive to damage Mr. Biden.
While Democrats want Mr. Trump impeached over his dealings with Ukraine, the president and his allies have counterattacked with their own Ukraine-focused scandals. They have revived a debunked theory that the country colluded with the Clinton campaign to hurt Mr. Trump’s chances in 2016 and asserted, with little evidence, that Mr. Biden used his position as vice president to prevent Ukraine from investigating his son.
Ukrainians, jaded after years of watching their own leaders trade the power and privileges of office for personal financial or political gain, have mostly shrugged off what, for Mr. Trump, is possibly the most serious scandal to buffet the White House since Watergate toppled President Richard Nixon in 1974.
That a country few Americans paid much attention to in the past now commands center stage in Washington has stirred mostly bemusement in Ukraine. Those feelings are also tinged with a touch of pride that, after centuries in the shadow of Russia, its giant neighbor to the east, the nation is no longer seen as a backwater but a pivot around which the fate of the world’s most powerful country implausibly turns.
Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister under Mr. Poroshenko, said in a wry Twitter message this week that going down in history “as the country that led to the impeachment of the U.S. president” was “not a very fun prospect.” But, he added, “Now everyone understands what we are capable of.”
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
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