Ukrainegate is an important intrigue of the US election campaign. Against the background of Ukrainegate, even Russiagate has faded; the Democrats had pinned high hopes on the belief that the “collusion” of Donald Trump with the Kremlin would compel his expulsion from the White House. However, the Robert Mueller investigation, which had sought to uncover traces of Russian interference in the 2016 election, did not find evidence of collusion. Now that Democrats’ hopes have not been realised, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has tried to connect Ukrainegate to Russiagate. Evidence of this connection has not yet been submitted.
In the meantime, Ukrainegate is gaining momentum and looks like a funnel that swallows the involved and not-quite-involved politicians alike. The very idea of impeaching Trump on the basis of his “inappropriate” connection with Ukraine arose as a replacement for Russiagate. Without formulating a nationwide political programme, the Democrats have relied on attempts to discredit Trump and media dirty laundry. The main calculation, as with Russiagate, was to maintain the initiative and gain time.
The search for evidence of Trump’s direct political and financial pressure on the president of Ukraine in order to obtain compromising information on rival Joe Biden continues. While Trump is making excuses, the Democrats are advancing and will present new materials that can serve as an accusation. He will be reminded of racism or statements resembling racist ones, sexism, nepotism and everything else that will help to tarnish his already not-so-clean reputation. Democrats reckon that, thanks to this reputation, media coverage and impeachment hearings, most Americans will opt for the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she is. Indeed, in politics, emotions and personal taste play a significant, if not decisive role.
It is difficult to say what these facts will be and who else the Ukrainegate funnel will suck in. Meanwhile, the rating of Joe Biden, according to polls, is now lower and that of another Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Warren, has fallen sufficiently. Assistants of Giuliani, two of whom are from Ukraine, were arrested in connection with election campaign finance violations. An investigation is underway against Giuliani himself. There may be new disclosures regarding the Hillary Clinton headquarters’ connections with Petro Poroshenko in 2016, as well as how these connections are used against Trump today. Perhaps we will learn something new about relations between Nancy Pelosi and her son Paul with respect to the Ukrainian gas business. The election race offers great opportunities.
The outcome of the described political struggle is not predetermined and depends on a number of uncontrollable circumstances. Among them are not only new emerging facts, but the possibility of an economic recession. The recessions in the American economy are cyclical, and it cannot be ruled out that the last one will be associated with Trump’s risky trade and economic policies.
Opinion polls do not yet show a clear attitude for or against impeachment. The initiative is on the side of the elites, and here the situation is also far from certain. On the Democrats’ side are initiative, congressional hearings, liberal media and special services. On Trump’s side is a fighting character, a Republican establishment and a conservative media machine. The president’s “administrative resource” should not be discounted, along with his willingness to take extreme domestic and foreign policy measures. There is no doubt of his readiness in the event that he gets cornered.
For the outside world in general, and Russia in particular, the development of Ukrainegate means a period of relative passivity in American foreign policy. It is possible that, as Andrew Bacevich said, “except as a source of sadomasochistic diversion, the entire agonizing experience will, therefore, prove to be a colossal waste of time and blather.” It is also possible that the political crisis, expressed in the conflict between the legislative and executive bodies, will continue to increase until the elections and even after them. In both cases, the country will be swallowed up by internal problems, weakening its influence on international arena.