It’s no secret that Ukraine’s political elite is awaiting the election results in the United States, hoping that after Barack Obama and his administration are replaced, the politicians who come to power will be prepared to provide more vigorous support to Ukraine in its standoff with Russia.
It’s obvious that the presidential election in the U.S. has a very big impact on the geopolitical situation in the world, and the situation in a number of regions of the world may change to a significant extent depending on its result.
In Russian media, there’s quite a clear tendency to present the Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, as practically a pro-Russian politician, while at the same time positioning his opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, as evil incarnate. With such an approach, there’s a high risk of indulging in wishful thinking. The next U.S. president may be any kind of politician you like, but he or she will not be a pro-Russian one. Though they use different rhetoric in their campaigns, both Trump and Clinton will be situated within the confines of an American paradigm in which Russia is assigned the role of competitor at best, and that of enemy at worst.
Ukraine, also largely unjustifiably, idolizes one of the candidates for U.S. president, namely, Clinton, believing that if she wins, the U.S. perception of the conflict in the Donbass will remain the same, and at the same time it will be possible to count on additional support.
This support, in the opinion of Ukraine’s leaders, might take the form of a continuation of the confrontational U.S. policy toward Russia through sanctions, pressuring U.S. partners with the aim of forming an informal coalition against Russia and financial support of Ukraine. As is well known, in 2017, the U.S. plans to allocate $500 million to Ukraine for defense expenditures alone. Active U.S. influence on relations between Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund is also expected. In terms of strategic military cooperation, Ukraine’s leaders are counting on a long list of joint military exercises, as well as attracting instructors and other NATO specialists to enhance the Ukrainian army’s combat readiness.
For Ukraine’s politicians, the figure of Trump engenders far less optimism. The rhetoric that the Republican Party candidate uses explains why. Yet on the other hand, if one analyzes the politicians and past presidents from this party in the context of relations with Russia and the Soviet Union, it’s possible to come to the conclusion that their positions have been tougher in bilateral relations than the positions of Democratic presidents.
Taking into account the influence the U.S. is currently exerting on Ukraine, which has, in effect, become a client state with limited sovereignty, one may assume the situation will continue even after the election. But the extent of U.S. influence on internal processes may change, depending on the agenda of Russian-American relations.
At the moment, it’s quite difficult to predict how relations between the U.S. and Ukraine and the U.S. and Russia will align after the election, which takes place this November. But one may assume with high probability that the United States’ position on the issue of the Donbass won’t change significantly and will move forward from the geostrategic setting, within the confines of which Russia plays the part of adversary.