“Do you think Americans f****** care about Ukraine?” That’s a statement attributed to U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who’s scheduled to visit Ukraine on January 30. The statement, to many observers, exemplifies the U.S. Trump administration’s attitude towards Ukraine, ever since the impeachment process against the sitting U.S. president was launched.
The comment from Pompeo came during a contentious interview between the U.S. official and a reporter for the U.S. public broadcaster NPR, who Pompeo has accused of lying. In a now famous example, Pompeo claimed that the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly had mistaken Ukraine for Bangladesh, though Kelly herself has denied this. Their interview is said to have turned hostile, with Pompeo yelling at the reporter in response to questions about Ukraine, which Pompeo said claimed were not part of the interview topic.
U.S. President Trump himself has made multiple negative comments against Ukraine, such as one purported statement, according to Congressional testimony by the former U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, saying “Ukraine is a terrible place...they are all corrupt, they are all terrible people...They tried to take me down.”
These scandals have rocked Ukraine’s faith in its strategic partner, and presents a diplomatic challenge for Ukrainian officials, including the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, scheduled to meet with the Secretary of State. But Ukraine still draws support from the traditional U.S. foreign policy establishment, with the former U.S. acting ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, recently penning an op-ed in the New York Times, stating that “...Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the West is an attack on democracy.”
And officially, at least, Pompeo’s visit will “...highlight U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Secretary will also attend a wreath laying ceremony at St. Michael’s to honor those who have fallen in the Donbas, and meet with religious, civil society, and business community leaders,” according to the U.S. State Department.