It is commonly argued that Russia’s war against Ukraine is a war fought “by politicians” and therefore shouldn’t concern regular Ukrainians and Russians. In reality, it’s the other way around.
While regular Ukrainians are killed in the trenches in the Donbas, Ukrainian leaders are surprisingly unconcerned about maintaining close links to Russia, it seems.
The most famous case has been, of course, President Petro Poroshenko’s confectionery factory in Russia’s city of Lipetsk. The factory had worked — and presumably paid taxes to Russia’s budget — for three years of Russia’s war against Ukraine, finally stopping in 2017.
Speaking at an investment forum in Kharkiv on Sept. 29, Poroshenko said proudly he didn’t have business in Russia. “I used to do business in Russia, but war changed everything,” he said. It took three years for the war to “change everything” for Poroshenko. And for some in Ukraine, the war hasn't changed anything at all. The relatives of Serhiy Semochko, the first deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, frequently visit Russia-occupied Crimea, according to a report by journalists from Ukrainian investigative project Bihus.info. They found that members of Semochko’s close family also hold Russian passports and own businesses either in Crimea or Russia. Semochko told reporters he wouldn't comment on his private life. Moreover, in the three days since the report came out on Oct. 1, not one top Ukrainian government or law enforcement official has commented on the discovery either.
Poroshenko, who appointed Semochko in July, kept silence, and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov was busy tweeting about the death of French singer Charles Aznavour on the day the report was published.
The only reaction came from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, whose investigators opened a probe into Semochko.
This shameful silence was reminiscent of the similar lack of reaction to the dozens of attacks on activists in various parts of Ukraine, some of them deadly, that have taken place since 2017.
The attacks continued for months without any reaction from the country’s leadership. Only when activists scheduled a protest near the Poroshenko administration in late September did the president make a written statement about the attacks. He “shared the activists’ concerns” and asked the police to investigate the attacks, but that was all.
Ironically, it comes as Poroshenko is starting a re-election campaign that centers on the idea of him as Ukraine’s savior against Russia.
With intelligence like this, Ukraine may indeed need saving.