Illia Ponomarenko: Ukraine’s Friend & Foe of the Week
Editor’s Note: This feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies. The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse still rots on the Kremlin’s Red Square, more than 100 years after the October Revolution he led.
Ukraine’s Friend of the Week: Keith W. Dayton, nominated U.S. ambassador to Ukraine
The Aug. 5 hearing in the U.S. Senate’s foreign relations committee on the candidacy of Keith W. Dayton as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine offered a lot of reasons for optimism.
Listening to Dayton being interviewed by senators was exactly a case in which one wants to nod all the time in consent with the speaker’s opinions and statements.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a long-time champion of U.S. support of Kyiv, gave a neat description of the potential new envoy to Ukraine as “the right person at the right time.”
Indeed, Dayton’s background and agenda make him a perfect candidate for this job now.
It is clearly seen that the main focus behind this nomination is the military aspect amid Russia’s ongoing war in the Donbas and Ukraine’s bid to resurrect and modernize its armed forces. And this domain is Dayton’s strongest advantage.
As a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who has spent over 40 years in uniform, Dayton is very likely to be good at finding a common language with Ukrainian military officers, many of whom are forward-minded and committed to major reforms in spite of all the difficulties.
Moreover, the hearing clearly demonstrated that Dayton is absolutely on the same page with Ukraine-friendly members of Congress — particularly regarding their willingness to expand U.S. military assistance to Kyiv (up to $300 million in the next financial year), including sending more advanced equipment and weapons.
In his own words, Dayton believes giving more defense aid to Ukraine “a very good idea” and is something he supports “wholeheartedly” — just because he has seen how much Ukraine needs it in the war with the Kremlin.
As a military officer, he can professionally assess the situation in the Ukrainian armed forces and the challenges they need to face today and tomorrow, and therefore, give his correct recommendations to Washington D.C.
The very fact that he intends to prioritize helping Ukraine resurrect its Navy and its Air Force — which indeed need the most urgent assistance — clearly shows that Dayton is on the right track.
Dayton has already done a lot for Ukraine.
By invitation of then-time U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (which in itself is a good sign, given Mattis’ sympathy toward Ukraine), Dayton served as a strategic adviser for Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. And he advocated many important reforms in Ukraine, such as the civilian oversight of the military.
A vocal supporter of Ukraine’s membership in NATO, he was among those thanks to whom the Alliance recently declared our country an Enhanced Opportunity Partner.
All other bullet points of his agenda, such as his commitment to the relentless containment of Russia, as well as to helping Ukrainian people fight corruption and lawlessness in the judiciary system, show that we’re probably going to have a good U.S. Ambassador who is on the same page with those dreaming of a westernized, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine.
Obviously, the Kyiv Post can’t help but declare Dayton as Ukraine’s Friend of the Week.
And in addition to his numerous military decorations on his uniform, he now also gets the symbolic Order of Yaroslav the Wise.
Ukraine’s Foe of the Week: Douglas A. Macgregor, nominated U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
Ironically enough, our country’s foe of the week is also a retired U.S. Army officer nominated by U.S. President Donald J. Trump as an ambassador — this time, to Germany.
Macgregor also spent 30 years in the military and was distinguished in combat. But his views have already put the Senate committee on foreign relations in opposition to his candidacy.
СNN has already collected a rich archive of his statements regarding Muslims, immigrants, or history that could be considered xenophobic and even racist.
But there’s something else: Macgregor is a very frequent guest at Russia Today, the Kremlin-sponsored global propaganda mouthpiece. Of course, there is a reason behind the RT’s love — the retired American officer’s words about Ukraine is just music to the Kremlin’s ears.
In 2014, during the Crimean annexation and the outbreak of war in Donbas, Macgregor said that eastern and southern Ukraine were “clearly Russian.”
“Do you, if you are living in eastern Ukraine, want to join Russia, which appears to be the popular sentiment? If so, they should be allowed to join Russia,” Macgregor told the RT.
“And at the same time, what emerges from this process up in the west and in the north, which is truly Ukrainian in terms of culture, language, history, religion, so forth, they should be allowed to have a sovereign independent Ukrainian state.”
He called upon the U.S. leadership to recognize this “desire to live in Russia” and supported the fake March 2014 referendum in Crimea that formalized Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.
Well, there are three pieces of bad news for Mr. Macgregor.
First — he is very likely not going to be approved as the U.S. envoy in Germany. Second — he is not even close to knowing anything true about Ukraine and Russia’s war against it. And third — he has been busted as our country’s foe of the week.
The Kyiv Post now rewards retired U.S. Army Colonel Macgregor a new decoration. But, in contrast with Keith W. Dayton, Macgregor gets the Order of Lenin — and this medal is not going to look good on his uniform.