If you come away from watching the news these days with a nagging feeling that everything has been turned upside down, you’re probably not the only one.
In a new twist, the Ukrainian government announced on Thursday that it has opened an investigation into allegations that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was under illegal surveillance while she was stationed in Kyiv. This, according to the Ukrainian interior ministry, would constitute “a possible violation of the law of Ukraine and the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which protects the rights of a diplomat on the territory of the foreign country”. Ukrainian authorities have initiated criminal proceedings and have asked American authorities for their cooperation. However, neither the State Department nor the Department of Justice has responded to this request yet and it does not seem like a good idea for anyone to hold their breath until they do.
Even before the Ukrainians’ announcement, there had been mounting pressure on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to shine a light on the shady circumstances under which Ambassador Yovanovitch was ousted from her post in Ukraine, and to protect a long-serving career diplomat with a sterling reputation. But so far, there has been no indication that Mike Pompeo is willing to step up and do his duty. Likewise, Bill Barr’s DoJ has made no move to uncover the nefarious activities of the rogue players who were running a separate foreign policy scheme that had nothing to do with the best interests of the United States and everything to do with securing a second presidential term for Donald Trump.
In their public announcement of the investigation, Ukrainian authorities make a point of stating that it is not their intention to interfere in U.S. domestic affairs. It is quite understandable that the Ukrainians are very careful about how they frame their political and legal actions because the country is still in a very vulnerable position and highly dependent on aid and support from the United States and other nations. On the other hand, it is also very interesting to note that the statement contains an explicit reference to the issue of one nation interfering in the domestic affairs of another. Ukraine is very subtly twisting the knife here and it is quite possible that those who opposed Donald Trump’s demand for opening an investigation involving American citizens in the past are savoring the irony inherent in the fact that Ukraine is now indeed publicly announcing an investigation – but it is not the one that Team Trump had been pushing for.
It is a good thing that roles are not reversed and that the U.S. does not depend on military aid from Ukraine or any other country because it is not altogether clear that the United States government in its current iteration would pass the smell test and that the country would qualify as a recipient of aid and international trust right now.