Espreso. Global

Ukraine-Poland relations, Trump's electorate and Putin's interview with Carlson. Espreso's conversation with political scientist Mahda

28 February, 2024 Wednesday

Ukrainian political scientist Yevhen Mahda talks about the protests on the Polish-Ukrainian border and the loud statements of US President Donald Trump

The conversation took place in the Komentar program on the Espreso YouTube channel. Below is the text version, which was prepared by Danyil Diomin.

From this text you will learn:

  • What caused this behavior of Polish protesters?
  • Why did Putin need an interview with Tucker Carlson?
  • Why does Trump have so many supporters?
  • What will happen when the term of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's presidency expires

The behavior of Polish protesters at the border, throwing out Ukrainian grain that was harvested under fire, harvested on mined fields, and harvested at the cost of farmers' lives, is something beyond my understanding. Are there still citizens in Poland who do not realize that if Ukraine falls, Poland will be next?

Let's try to think about what is happening with a cool head. First of all, Putin's "raids" on Poland are far from new. In fact, four years ago, even a little more, he told the leaders of the CIS countries, and then in other conversations, that the Polish ambassador to Germany in 1934-1939, Józef Lipski, was a "bastard and an anti-Semitic pig," a literal quote, and that the Poles were just as involved in the Holocaust as the Germans.

This is Putin's lying format, a pseudo-historian, and this is his reaction to the position of the Polish authorities in support of Ukraine.

I think that in general, Putin is quite clearly aware of the consequences of his statements against official Warsaw, and I am far from convinced that the cards that Minister Radoslaw Sikorski posted on social media were an appropriate response. However, I must say right away that every government has the right and opportunity to choose its own response format.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski
Photo: gettyimages

Let's get back to the Ukrainian grain on the Polish road. I think this was done, among other things, for the simple reason that Polish law enforcement officers have not yet assessed the actions that [inspirer of protests, Lublin businessman] Rafał Mekler and his colleagues have been taking since mid-November…

It was, in my opinion, a demonstrative act. And it deserves a reaction from Polish law enforcement. And I believe that it is entirely within the competence of the Ukrainian authorities to talk about this and demand it. Because it's hard for me to imagine why suddenly on Sunday, believers, obviously, decided to pour grain directly onto the road? There's too much symbolism in this, you know? And I don't believe that it all happened for no reason.

I don't like conspiracy theories, but I am well versed in various hybrid technologies of influence, and I realize that this is exactly the case when there were real grounds to talk about targeted measures aimed at Polish-Ukrainian relations. Polish-Ukrainian cooperation is of great concern to the Kremlin - it's no secret. 

You talk about symbolism. Can we also fight with symbolism?

We can and we should. And there are several information fields in which we can work. This includes a collection of cases where people died in the fields trying to sow or harvest. These are indeed the cases of farmers who have become military men and are defending Ukraine. These are also fields that were seized, as I said, or simply burned. Almost every week we receive damage to Ukrainian granaries because the shelling is quite intense. 

But all this should be done not in the Ukrainian information space, but in the Polish information space. Back in November-December last year, I called for joint events to be held in Poland, so that we could explain to Polish society, for example, why Poland is suffering losses due to the blockade of the border. How would Polish society react if Polish grain ended up on a German autobahn or a French highway?

An interview with Putin and Tucker Carlson. Why does the Kremlin need this?

Putin said nothing new. In fact, neither his rejection of Ukrainian history nor his attacks on Poland are new. What is relatively new is the idea that "you don't have to help Ukraine, we are ready to negotiate." Well, he has long been saying that we are ready to negotiate for the simple reason that Putin is afraid that the West will not recognize the results of the presidential campaign. The vote will take place in mid-March. Domestically, it will not have any resonance, but on the world stage, it will be the second slap after the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Putin, which was in mid-March last year.

And his focus on the conservative Republican electorate is understandable, but on the other hand, he exaggerated a bit. Because I have my doubts that the Rednecks in the United States have started to look at Ukrainian history or take Putin at his word. 

Why does Trump have so many supporters?

The vast majority of Americans are isolationists by their political nature. They have little interest in what is happening in the world around them. And the factor of external influence is very indirect. That is, the task of the Biden administration is to prevent parallels between the situation in Afghanistan and the situation in Ukraine. The Republicans' task, on the contrary, is to show that they are spending every effort and opportunity to increase people's incomes and welfare in the United States.

Trump is a phenomenon in this sense, because he first suppressed the Republican establishment in the political sense in 2016, became a presidential candidate and won the presidential election, defeating Hillary Clinton. And now he is seeking his nomination and running for the presidency with an eye toward victory.

If I recall correctly, the term of office of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, expires in May 2024. What will happen next? In what status will Zelenskyy lead the country?

His powers are terminated only when the next president takes office. But it would be nice for the authorities to communicate this issue. Leonid Kuchma, for example, also worked for several months longer in his position during the Orange Revolution, and this could also be mentioned.

By the way, if the government had heeded the recommendations to form a government of national unity, it would have had many more arguments. Because it would have been a process of transition from an office-presidential to a parliamentary-presidential republic, as provided for in the Constitution.

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