Сенатор США Крис Мерфи только что вернулся из трехдневной поездки из Украины и Эстонии. О своих впечатлениях он рассказал на своей странице на сайте "Медиум".
Целью поездки в Украину было "узнать больше о текущем конфликте в Восточной Украине и о том, как Соединенные Штаты могут поддерживать наших союзников в Восточной Европе против все более агрессивной России", - пишет сенатор Мерфи.
Во время поездки Крис Мерфи выступил с речью во Львовском Католическом Университете перед примерно 75-ю студентами.
"Эти студенты в первую очередь обеспокоены высоким уровнем коррупции государственного и частного секторов в Украине. Я узнал от них, насколько нормой стала коррупция в Украине", - пишет сенатор. "Россия пользуется коррупцией, поскольку она подрывает поддержку украинского национального правительства, которое пытается объединить страну для борьбы с российским вторжением".
Сенатор также посетил Яворовскую военную базу, где контингент Национальной гвардии Оклахомы тренирует украинскую пехоту.
"Хорошо оценить, насколько эффективно используются наши деньги на тренировку", - пишет сенатор. "Борьба за будущее этой страны должна вестись украинцами, а не американцами, но эти небольшие инвестиции в тренировки - это большие дивиденды для региональной безопасности."
Во Львове сенатор Мерфи, вместе с послом США в Украине Мари Йованович, встретился с мэром Садовым. "В какой-то момент во время ужина мэр Садовый начал жаловаться на то, что Порошенко и олигархи контролируют все средства массовой информации в стране и используют их для продвижения их политических задач. Это побуждает посла Йованович вежливо спросить Садового:" Со всем уважением, господин мэр, что вы говорите, когда люди спрашивают вас о телевизионных и радио станциях, которыми располагает ваша семья? "». На это, пишет Мерфи, Садовый ответил: "Моя жена владеет ими, а не я! И наши станции имеют честное освещение. Там нет политического склона. Не так, как на других станциях".
"Меня поражает то, насколько нормой в Украине стало, чтобы политики контролировали СМИ", - пишет сенатор Крис Мерфи. "Украинская демократия является молодой, и это напоминание о том, насколько далеко ей еще надо идти", - считает он.
I’m just back from a quick three-day trip to Ukraine and Estonia, to learn more about the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and how the United States can support our allies in eastern Europe against an increasingly aggressive Russia. As has been my habit, I’m sending you a behind-the-scenes account of the trip as a means of sharing how these experiences help shape my views on U.S. national security. I hope you’ll read it and share with friends.
This trip has been in the works for a long time. In 2013 and 2014, I traveled to Ukraine three times with Senator John McCain. As Ukraine broke away from Russia’s orbit and Russia responded by invading both Crimea and eastern Ukraine, McCain and I became the primary voices for a strong U.S. response to Russian aggression, and traveled to the region repeatedly to learn about how America could help. For most of my time in the Senate, I have been either the Chairman or Ranking Member of the Europe subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so this crisis has been under my jurisdiction. But Connecticut also has a strong, vibrant Ukrainian-American community, and early on, they pressed me to be a leader on the issue of Ukrainian sovereignty.
It’s been three years since I’ve been in Ukraine, and it’s time to get back. There really is no substitute for being on the ground in a conflict area, and since the U.S. is spending millions to support Ukraine, it’s important that I see for myself how our dollars are used. Plus, three years into the war, Ukrainians are getting fatigued, and high-level U.S. visits are always a way to let them know that we stand with them in their time of need.
I set up the trip with the current Chairman of the Europe subcommittee, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Ron’s a pretty hard-line conservative, and he and I don’t see eye-to-eye on most domestic policy issues. But we’ve worked really well together on U.S. support for NATO, Ukraine and the Balkans. I’m excited to go with him, but right off the bat our trip is in jeopardy. We are set to take an overnight flight on Thursday night, but Republicans have scheduled the vote on the budget for Thursday. It’s a truly terrible budget — huge cuts in Medicare and Medicaid in order to finance a gargantuan tax cut for the wealthy. The rules of debate on the budget allow for unlimited amendments (a process called vote-a-rama, given the quick pace and high frequency of votes), and Democrats are rightfully determined to use the amendment process as a way to highlight all the ways that this budget — a massive transfer of money from the very poor to the very rich — is dangerous for America.
But the extended debate threatens our trip. We start voting on amendments at 3pm. Our flight out of Dulles Airport is at 10pm. After about three hours of votes, Democrats start to signal that we are ready to take a final vote. Johnson finds me on the floor. “Looks like we’ll be fine to make our flight,” he says.
But there’s a new wrench in the works. My pal Senator Rand Paul, the only Republican who is voting against the budget, decides to make one of his patented stands. He is demanding a series of votes on amendments to dramatically cut spending to lower the deficit impact of the budget. Though I’m not going to support any of his amendments, he has a point — by cutting taxes for the wealthy by so much, the budget actually expands the deficit by a whopping $1.5 trillion. As I’m learning, Republicans seem to only care about deficits when a Democrat is in the White House.
But Paul’s stunt means that we might miss our flight. And that’s exactly how it turns out. We finish voting by 9pm, about a half hour too late for us to speed to Dulles to make the plane. Johnson decides that shortening the trip by a day doesn’t make it worth it, and he declares that he’s going back to Wisconsin instead. Since I’m the lead on the trip, and we’ve set up meetings and visits throughout Ukraine and Estonia, I need to go through with it, and we book a 5pm overnight flight for the next day.
We fly overnight to Frankfurt and transfer to a small plane to head to Lviv, Ukraine, in the western part of the country. The delayed departure means I won’t have time to meet with President Petr Poroshenko in Kiev, which is disappointing because my relationship with him goes back to the early days of the 2013 Revolution of Dignity, when he stood with McCain and me on stage at one of the biggest protests of the Revolution. As we get up in the air, the pilots tell us that Lviv is socked in by fog, and we might not get clearance to land. Plan B is to fly to Budapest instead and wait for the weather to improve. Ugh — this trip seems cursed.
Thankfully our pilots are able to land despite the low cloud ceiling, and we head off to my first speech at Ukrainian Catholic University. The Lviv area is where many of those in the Ukrainian community in Connecticut come from, and the Connecticut diaspora has specifically been very supportive of this school. That’s why I’m here to give a speech in front of about seventy five students (a pretty good turnout for a Saturday afternoon!). These students are primarily concerned with the high level of public and private sector corruption in Ukraine. I learn from them how normalized corruption has become in Ukraine — teachers, doctors, parking enforcement officers all take money on the side to carry out functions that we would simply take for granted in the United States. Russia benefits from the corruption, because it undermines support for the Ukrainian national government that is trying to rally the country to fight the Russian invasion. I leave the speech energized to do more to help Ukraine in this fight for cleaner government.
Next, we drive an hour north to Yavoriv military base, where a contingent from the Oklahoma National Guard is training the Ukrainian infantry to more effectively fight in eastern Ukraine. Whenever I travel abroad, I try to visit U.S. troops just to say thanks. But it’s also good to see how our training money is being put to good use — the Russian invasion has been stalled for almost two years, largely because the capability of the Ukrainian army has seriously improved. The fight for the future of this country has to be waged by Ukrainians, not Americans, but this small investment in training is paying big dividends for regional security.
Back in Lviv, we have a long, fascinating dinner with the Mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, who is a major political player in Ukraine. Lviv is Ukraine’s second biggest city and Sadovyi is also the head of a political party that has become increasingly critical of Poroshenko’s slow pace of anti-corruption reforms. Our excellent Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, wants me to press the Mayor to make sure that any protests against the government remain peaceful — any political violence in Ukraine could undermine U.S. and European support for the government.
But I also get a sense of how norms and standards are still very different here than in America. At one point during dinner, Mayor Sadovyi provides us with a long complaint about how Poroshenko and the oligarchs control all the media in the country, and use it to promote their political agendas. This prompts Ambassador Yovanovitch to politely ask Sadovyi, “With all due respect, Mr. Mayor, what do you say when people ask you about the TV and radio stations that your family owns?”
He brushes this concern off without a flinch. “My wife owns those, not me! And our stations provide fair coverage. There’s no political slant at all. Not like those other stations.”
I’m struck by how normalized it’s become in Ukraine for politicians to control media. And the lack of self-awareness that would allow Sadovyi to complain about other political leaders’ media ownership when he and his family are doing the same thing! I concede to him that the U.S. has its own challenges with media ownership as a handful of big, politically connected corporations gobble up more and more newspapers, TV stations, and online media sites. But that’s different from the effective state ownership of media, I tell him. Ukraine’s democracy is young, and this is a reminder of how far it still has to travel.