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In Ukraine, Many Wake Up To 'Nightmare' Of Trump Victory

  • Christopher Miller

KYIV -- Ukrainians have expressed disbelief and worry after they awoke to discover that a U.S. election outcome many had feared -- a Donald Trump presidency -- had become reality.

"Tell me I'm sleeping and this is a terrible nightmare!" a shocked Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Kyiv-based NGO Anticorruption Action Center, wrote on Facebook on November 9.

"Please someone tell me this is not happening..." tweeted civil activist Kateryna Kruk as it became apparent that Republican candidate Trump was closing in on a victory over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

"It's 5 A.M. in Kyiv, but I am scared to go to bed now. With Trump in the office, Putin can easily turn Syria, Ukraine into his new Chechnyas," tweeted Myroslava Petsa, a Ukrainian journalist at the Poroshenko-owned Kanal 5 news station, referring to places where many thousands of civilians were killed during Russia military operations.

Kyiv considers Washington to be its strongest ally in its fight against a revanchist Russia, and Trump's statements during the campaign have prompted concerns that he may be more accepting of Russia's actions in Ukraine than the current administration.

Many ordinary Ukrainians fear that Trump might end U.S. sanctions against Russia over its interference in Ukraine, formally recognize Russia's 2014 seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and allow the Kremlin to restore its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.

Some want specific answers from Trump regarding his position on Ukraine, and they want their leaders to pry them from him.

"Ukraine's [Petro] Poroshenko [and] Pavlo Klimkin must now demand [of] Trump full clarity, explanation of his stance on Ukraine's sovereignty!" wrote Serhiy Kiral, a parliament deputy of the pro-European Samopomich party, referring to the president and foreign minister, respectively.

There have been signs that relations between a Trump White House and Kyiv might not be as warm as relations between Ukraine and the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama have been.

During his campaign, Trump snubbed Poroshenko when the Ukrainian leader visited New York in September, failing to reply to a request for a sit-down on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

As of midday local time in Kyiv, the only message of congratulations from a member of Ukraine's government to Trump had come from a tweet by Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman that did not name the president-elect.

"Congratulations to the president of the United States with a victory in the election. I hope that the new administration will continue to support the course of Ukraine," Hroysman wrote.

Poroshenko's statement came in the late afternoon during a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

In passing on his congratulations to Trump on behalf of Ukraine, the president reiterated to Yovanovitch the importance of keeping U.S. sanctions against Russia in place and said he looked forward to working with the new Trump administration "in our fight against Russian aggression, in our fight for freedom and democracy, and sovereignty and territorial integrity, where the United States remains our reliable partner."

At least one Ukrainian politician appeared to seize on the opportunity to promote his closeness to the U.S. president-elect.

On Facebook, Mikheil Saakashvili, the firebrand former Georgian president who resigned as governor of Ukraine's Odesa region on November 7, shared a photograph of himself with Trump during the opening of Trump Tower in Batumi, Georgia, in 2012, when he was head of state.

"I've known [Trump] for more than 20 years, we are friends. I accurately predicted [his win]," Saakashvili wrote. He added a word of caution as to not place himself too close to the controversial Trump, saying the American businessman turned politician had "a strong personality with unpredictable policy...we must be careful."

Lithuanian-born former Ukrainian Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius took an optimistic approach, tweeting: "Life goes on. Everything will be fine."

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    Christopher Miller

    Christopher Miller is a correspondent based in Kyiv and covers the former Soviet republics. He can be reached at millerjchristopher@gmail.com

     

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