There is an operational pause on the frontline, yet heavy local battles are on-going, Russia is continuing to terrorize peaceful cities and is trying to organize an attack on the information front using “Putin’s useful idiots.”
Last week, a U.S. congresswoman of Ukrainian origin, Victoria Spartz, spoke about corruption schemes exploiting American help, and the fact that American weapons supplied to Ukraine can be resold by Ukrainians to Russia, Syria or even Mexico. She also called for the resignation of the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andrii Yermak, whom she accused of being a Russian “mole”.
The explosive effect of such statements has been the verbal equivalent of dropping a several megaton hydrogen bomb.
The Ukrainian political community, which already barely demonstrates its public unity, has split into two irreconcilable camps: ardent supporters and firm critics of Spartz. Experts, politicians and public figures are also spit into opposite camps. And it would be almost impossible to work out which, if any of them, might be secret agents for Russia.
Mayor of Dnipro Borys Filatov described Spartz’s trips to the front and how she lobbied for U.S. aid. And the well-known expert on world affairs, Serhii Sydorenko, stated that she is the only woman to whom he raised his voice during an interview.
Meanwhile, statements issued by Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk and the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oleh Nikolenko, went beyond diplomatic boundaries.
Why does this matter so much? Ostensibly because for many Ukrainians and wider observers, this ardent exchange of statements and counter statements demonstrates just how fragile public unity is over Ukraine.
The situation shows just how easy it is to bring us into confrontation and play according to Russia’s rules; how easy it is to turn us against allies upon whom we are critically dependent for the supply of weapons; and how easy it is to destroy a fragile unity in the face of the enemy.
All those involved in the scandal and in the information battle, including colleagues whom I respect, have turned out to be Putin’s “useful idiots” who are in fact helping Russia to win.
What happened behind the scenes of this scandal?
Careful analysis allows us to create a kind of 3D American-Ukrainian-Russian model of interests, motives, and risks.
Spartz is preparing for re-election to the Congress, which will take place this autumn. The Ukrainian theme – the supply of weapons and control over the use of aid – remains pertinent and all arguments need to satisfy the interests of American voters.
Spartz is an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump and is playing her game against the current President Joe Biden. The former president of the World Congress of Ukrainians, Askold Lozynsky, quite vividly described her (non-)role in the Ukrainian diaspora in the USA.
In Ukraine, the story is similar. According to the majority of Ukrainian politicians, unity is unity, and the elections will take place sooner or later, and one should not forget about one’s own ratings and the ratings of one’s opponents.
And here is such a great opportunity: A U.S. congresswoman of Ukrainian origin talks about the corruption of the Ukrainian government. But corruption with what and with whom? With American weapons that do not reach the front? Or relating to the supposed traitor in the Office of the President – its very Head, Andrii Yermak?
The situation regarding the interests of Russia is absolutely clear. For several weeks, the Russians have been spreading fake information through the Western mass media about the supposed weakness of Ukrainians when using modern Western weapons, and about the seizure of U.S. equipment by Russia or its sale to the unknown “Left” by Ukrainians.
Probably for the first time since the beginning of a large-scale war, a situation has arisen whereby we have begun to lose on the information front. It has seemingly come down to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstra, to explain that there are no signs that the weapons supplied by NATO allies to Ukraine fall into other hands or are used to commit war crimes.
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov also spoke about the system of electronic control over the movement of U.S. weapons.
But it seems that Russian propagandists are still getting through – fanning the flames of the Ukrainian scandal, scaling it up, and rubbing their hands in delight at “those stupid Ukrainians (in slang – ‘khokhly’) who destroy themselves.”
My country has lost more than it has gained. Russia benefits by spreading narratives about a corrupt state secretly selling Western weapons to its enemies.
Who will help Ukraine after that?
A lot of acute and painful issues have accumulated for the Ukrainian authorities. I, as well as thousands of my comrades and millions of compatriots, want to hear honest answers after the victory.
And believe me, we will do all possible to receive these answers.
Ihor Zhdanov is a co-founder of the Open Policy Foundation, a National Government Organization (NGO) in Ukraine.
The views expressd in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.
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