For­mer Ukrainian diplo­mat to U.S. blames Chaly for de­cay in re­la­tions

Kyiv Post - - National - BY JOSH KOVENSKY KOVENSKY@KYIVPOST.COM

One week be­fore the in­au­gu­ra­tion of U. S. President Don­ald J. Trump in 2017, an ar­ti­cle was re­leased in U.S. po­lit­i­cal web­site Politico sug­gest­ing that “Kyiv of­fi­cials are scram­bling to make amends with the president-elect af­ter qui­etly work­ing to boost Clin­ton.”

At the cen­ter of the story was a man named An­drii Telizhenko, a for­mer diplo­mat at the Ukrainian Em­bassy in Washington who claimed that a Demo­cratic Party op­er­a­tive had met with him seek­ing com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion on the Trump cam­paign.

Over the course of sev­eral months, the ar­ti­cle caused a small com­mo­tion in Washington and Kyiv, with Trump tweet­ing about it in July 2017, and a Repub­li­can se­na­tor open­ing a con­gres­sional probe into the matter.

Now Telizhenko has turned on Ukraine's Am­bas­sador to the United States Va­leriy Chaly, ar­gu­ing that Chaly dis­cred­ited him­self as a diplo­mat by sup­port­ing the Clin­ton cam­paign and re­fus­ing to meet with Trump of­fi­cials dur­ing the cam­paign.

“It was the am­bas­sador him­self, he mis­led the president on this sit­u­a­tion,” Telizhenko told the Kyiv Post. “Let’s change the lead­er­ship of the em­bassy in DC. It wasn’t a se­cret that Chaly was go­ing around the di­as­pora pro­mot­ing the Demo­cratic can­di­date."

The Ukrainian Em­bassy in Washington is­sued a state­ment to the Kyiv Post say­ing “we stand by our words that the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine didn't help any can­di­date in Elec­tion 2016. Ukraine is proud of its bi­par­ti­san sup­port in the US.”

But Telizhenko ar­gues that a sense of “in­sult” has lin­gered since the 2016 elec­tion, dam­ag­ing the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries, and lead­ing to a June 2017 meet­ing be­tween Trump and Poroshenko to be down­graded be­low the level of an of­fi­cial visit.

“Al­lies shouldn’t drop-in or dropout, they should come for an of­fi­cial meet­ing with a del­e­ga­tion,” Telizhenko said.

He claimed that Ukraine was forced to spend $600,000 on BGR con­sult­ing, a D.C. lob­by­ing firm, to ar­range the meet­ing.

“It’s not a prob­lem that our ad­min­is­tra­tion is us­ing a lob­by­ing firm, ev­ery­one else in the world uses lob­by­ing firms,” Telizhenko said. “But we had to use it to get our meet­ing be­cause of the un­pro­fes­sion­al­ism of our em­bassy in Washington.”

Telizhenko frames the re­la­tion­ship as a missed op­por­tu­nity, cost­ing Ukraine lost mil­i­tary aid dol­lars and ease of Ukrainian of­fi­cials in ob­tain­ing high-level meet­ings in Washington.

“Poroshenko and Trump are the same, men­tally,” he said, adding that he "hopes" Chaly hasn't stayed in his po­si­tion due to "some per­sonal friend­ship with the president."

Telizhenko also dis­misses talk of Rus­sian in­flu­ence in the Trump White House, point­ing to the hawk­ish views of of­fi­cials like De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor John Bolton.

But oth­ers cast doubt on Telizhenko’s claims, sug­gest­ing that he’s a dis­grun­tled for­mer em­ployee try­ing to de­velop con­tacts in Repub­li­can power cir­cles for his own pri­vate po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing busi­ness.

“There were more neg­a­tive con­se­quences for me in Kyiv than there were pos­i­tive ones,” Telizhenko said of the re­sponse to his crit­i­cism, adding, “A real friend de­liv­ers the truth up front.”

Ukraine's Am­bas­sador to the U.S. Va­leriy Chaly speaks at the Ukrainian Em­bassy in Washington D.C. in April 2018. For­mer em­bassy em­ployee An­drii Telizhenko ar­gues that Chaly should have stepped down from his post as am­bas­sador fol­low­ing the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. (UNIAN)

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