“Peace Prospects are Closer with Yermak as Chief-of-Staff” – Ruling Party MP Sviatoslav Yurash
14 February, 2020
Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko (left), the new head of the Office Andriy Yermak, Ex-Head of the Office Andriy Bohdan, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) answering questions by journalists after the Normandy talks in Paris, France, December 7. Oleksandr Kokhan / hromadske

Andriy Bohdan’s ouster as chief-of-staff of the Ukrainian President Administration and his replacement with Andriy Yermak has caused a stir in Ukrainian politics. But Sviatoslav Yurash, a Servant of the People MP, believes that this change could signal a better resolution for peace between Ukraine and Russia. 

“Peace prospects are closer with Yermak as chief-of-staff,” said Yurash during a recent airing of Hromadske’s Weekly Wrap-Up. “He delivered the impossible, such as the prisoner exchange. Some of the people that Russia said it was impossible to exchange, [Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh] Sentsov for example.”

Kyiv Post journalist Oleksiy Sorokin (L) and Servant of the People MP Sviatoslav Yurash (C) speak to Hromadske's Kari Odermann on February 14.

And Yurash believes that Yermak’s appointment is “a clear indication that we take our offers and promises of peace seriously.” 

But there are worries that Yermak could end up side-lining the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko. 

“Appointing a man who is known for backchanneling and dealing behind the scenes...and is now the head of the administration…[Yermak’s] first press conference, many said that it wasn’t a speech of a head of an administration, it was the speech of practically a vice president,” noted Kyiv Post journalist Oleksiy Sorokin.

Yermak became internationally known after his involvement in the impeachment hearings against U.S. president Donald Trump, as one of the Ukrainian officials involved in speaking to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

READ MORE: Servant of the People in a House of Cards: The Ukrainian Side of Trump’s Impeachment

“It’s a bad sign if your name pops up in an impeachment probe by a foreign country,” added Sorokin. “We don’t know how it will affect Ukrainian-American relations. We just know [Yermak] was involved in backchanneling with people who were not legal representatives of a foreign government.”

As for what Yermak means for the peace process, Yurash believes that Yermak will be able to deliver, despite a lack of experience. “[Yermak’s results] makes me optimistic that we’ll continue working on this and delivering those results,” commented the MP.

READ MORE: Peace Man Instead of Conflict Man – Zelenskyy’s New Chief of Staff