Steven Pifer on How the US View Ukrainian Presidential Elections
17 April, 2019

Steven Pifer, former US ambassador to Ukraine (1997-2000), talks to Hromadske about Ukrainian elections from the point of view of Washington and shares his opinion on the possible U.S. policy towards both candidates.

Talking about the differences between the two candidates, Pifer noted that incumbent president Petro Poroshenko is well known in the West, which has seen its policies clearly for the past five years.

In Washington, people are not quite sure what kind of policies [presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy] will pursue.

According to Pifer, there is a need in Washington for Zelenskiy to define what he is going to do in case of his victory. He suggested that American diplomats in Kyiv are probably trying to reach out to people close to Zelenskiy, trying to grasp the policies of the candidate.

If we pick a candidate and we lean in that candidate’s favor, that may well backfire, that may not play well with the Ukrainian public.

Pifer expressed his belief that the US will support a path for successful Ukraine – for a country that will consolidate its democracy, strengthen its economy and institutions.

He added that any possible changes in the US policy towards Ukraine would only be a result of a sudden change in Ukraine’s foreign policy, importantly – in how Ukraine would engage with Russia.