“A moment of humiliation for two presidents” – Marie Mendras on Trump-Zelenskyy Scandal
30 September, 2019

The content of the July conversation between the presidents of the U.S. and Ukraine, as well as Donald Trump’s alleged pressure on Volodymyr Zelenskyy, became the hottest topic of last week. One of the experts to comment on the effects of the scandal to Hromadske was Marie Mendras, a prominent French political scientist with expertise on Eastern Europe. 

According to Mendras, the publishing of the memorandum of the telephone conversation was a “sad moment of humiliation” for Zelenskyy and Trump.

“I think it is more humiliating and more problematic for the two of them than [it is] for [French] President Macron or [German] Chancellor Merkel,” Mendras said referring to Trump’s and Zelenskyy’s complaint that the E.U. is not doing enough to help Ukraine.

READ MORE: What the White House Memo Reveals About the Zelenskyy/Trump Phone Call

She added that this conversation revealed just how complicated the “Ukraine-Russia conflict” is. 

“It’s not that easy to decide, like the French President did in July, that one could just go ahead and make progress with the new President Zelensky, with Vladimir Putin, and reach a deal,” Mendras said.

“All parties are stuck,” she added.

READ MORE: Ukraine's Zelenskyy Denies Singling Out "Biden Case"

When commenting on the peace process in Donbas and the discussions of a potential Normandy Four meeting, she pointed out what she calls “wishful thinking” – everybody in Paris, Berlin, Kyiv, and Washington has been promoting this idea that “we just haven’t found the right method” to end the war in the east.

“Most of my interlocutors [in Kyiv], including the members of the new Ukrainian government, were trying to sell this progress in relations with Russia that they didn’t really believe in,” Mendras said.

According to Mendras, the problem that arose from that is what to do with these high expectations. The date of the Normandy Format summit is not specified and it seems none of the preconditions are met, while the Minsk process has never stopped since 2014-2015. 

READ MORE: What Ukraine Learned From Declassified Whistleblower Complaint

She added that now we should go beyond the political strategic deadlock.

Although the scandal in Paris was huge, the French audience was more into the “amazing pressure” on Donald Trump’s part when he asked Zelenskyy to interfere in U.S.’ domestic affairs.

“Zelenskyy certainly damaged his reputation,” Mendras said. However, the French and German are “prepared” to continue working with the Ukrainian president and government because there are “no other choices,” Mendras explained.

READ MORE: What Trump’s New Scandal Means for Ukraine

/Interview by Nataliya Gumenyuk

/Text by Vladyslav Kudryk