Bi­den chron­i­cles his frus­tra­tions with Ukraine’s cor­rup­tion, weak Western re­ac­tion to Rus­sia’s war

Kyiv Post - - National - BY BRIAN BONNER [email protected]­POST.COM Then-U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den ges­tures to law­mak­ers af­ter speak­ing to mem­bers of the Ukrainian par­lia­ment on Dec. 8, 2015. He is flanked by then-Verkhovna Rada speaker and cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Volodymyr Groys­man

Joseph Bi­den, the for­mer U.S. vice pres­i­dent who was Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's point man on Ukraine, writes of his frus­tra­tions with Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and Ukraine's en­demic cor­rup­tion in his new mem­oir.

Bi­den has been tour­ing the United States to pro­mote the book pub­lished on Nov. 14 en­ti­tled "Prom­ise Me, Dad: A Year Of Hope, Hard­ship And Pur­pose." He is also con­sid­ered to be a strong Demo­cratic Party can­di­date for pres­i­dent in 2020.

While much of the book is de­voted to son Beau Bi­den's strug­gle against brain cancer that claimed his life on May 30, 2015, the for­mer vice pres­i­dent writes ex­ten­sively about Ukraine's crises dur­ing his eight years as vice pres­i­dent from 2009 to 2017.

Bi­den made six trips to Ukraine while in of­fice. He fin­ished the book in the sum­mer of 2017, af­ter leav­ing of­fice with Obama on Jan. 20, 2017.

Here are five key ex­cerpts:

Yanukovych Ya leaves

Bi­den writes that he tele­phoned thenUkrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych and told him to leave of­fice be­cause he had lost the trust of the Ukrainian peo­ple af­ter Yanukovych's po­lice snipers as­sas­si­nated dozens of EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion demon­stra­tors in late Fe­bru­ary 2014.

The day af­ter Bi­den's phone call, Yanukovych fled power and went to Rus­sia, where he lives in ex­ile. He is still wanted in Ukraine on mur­der and cor­rup­tion charges.

"I made the last of many ur­gent calls to Yanukovych in late Fe­bru­ary of 2014, when his snipers were as­sas­si­nat­ing Ukrainian cit­i­zens by the dozens and we had cred­i­ble re­ports that he was con­tem­plat­ing an even more vi­cious crack­down," Bi­den writes. "I had been warn­ing him for months to ex­er­cise res­traint in deal­ing with his cit­i­zens, but on this night, three months into the de­mon­stra­tions, I was telling him it was over; time for him to call off his gun­men and walk away. His only real sup­port­ers were his po­lit­i­cal pa­trons and his op­er­a­tors in the Krem­lin, I re­minded him, and he shouldn’t ex­pect his Rus­sian friends to res­cue him from this dis­as­ter. Yanukovych had lost the con­fi­dence of the Ukrainian peo­ple, I said, and he was go­ing to be judged harshly by his­tory if he kept killing

BVthem. The dis­graced pres­i­dent fled Ukraine the next day— ow­ing to the courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion of the demon­stra­tors — and con­trol of the gov­ern­ment ended up tem­po­rar­ily in the hands of a young pa­triot named Arseniy Yat­senyuk."

‘Bick­er­ing’ ‘B duo

Bi­den comes across in the book as more of a fan of ex-Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk, ousted af­ter more than two years as prime min­is­ter on April 14, 2016 af­ter bit­ter feud­ing with Poroshenko.

Bi­den writes about his ad­mi­ra­tion for Yat­senyuk, but has less praise for Poroshenko.

In par­tic­u­lar, Bi­den writes about fre­quently try­ing to get both of them to put the na­tion's in­ter­ests ahead of their own. One such at­tempt at cri­sis man­age­ment came in Novem­ber 2014, six months af­ter Poroshenko came to power and shortly af­ter Ukraine on Oct. 26, 2014, elected a new par­lia­ment.

Bi­den had just re­turned home to the U.S. af­ter a Nov. 21–22, 2015, trip to Kyiv in an at­tempt get Poroshenko and Yat­senyuk to work to­gether. The two top fac­tions in par­lia­ment, led by Poroshenko and Yat­senyuk, were hav­ing trou­ble form­ing a coali­tion

BAas Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin pressed ahead with his war against Ukraine, Bi­den writes.

"Ukraine’s newly elected demo­cratic gov­ern­ment was in real dan­ger of crum­bling un­der the weight of Putin’s cyn­i­cal push. Ukraine’s new pres­i­dent and its new prime min­is­ter, mean­while, were hav­ing on­go­ing trust is­sues. Pres­i­dent Petro P Poroshenko and Prime Min­is­ter Y Yat­senyuk were from com­pet­ing p par­ties, and the re­cent elec­tions h had been bruis­ing and di­vi­sive," B Bi­den writes. "Their con­stitue en­cies re­mained more in­vested i in scor­ing po­lit­i­cal points than i in gov­ern­ing. The Poroshenko a and Yat­senyuk fac­tions were w wast­ing en­ergy bick­er­ing with o one an­other when they should h have been cre­at­ing in­sti­tu­tions a and se­cu­rity forces ca­pa­ble of d de­fend­ing against Putin."

Bi­den writes that he wor­ried t that "the brav­ery and sac­ri­fice o of so many Ukrainian peo­ple" i in top­pling Yanukovych in fa­vor o of a demo­cratic fu­ture in the E Euro­pean Union "would come t to noth­ing."

"I had spent months ex­changi ing phone calls with both P Poroshenko and Yat­senyuk, tryi ing to con­vince them each, sepa arately, to put loy­alty to coun­try o over loy­alty to po­lit­i­cal party," Bi­den writes. "I had in­vested two full days in Kyiv the pre­vi­ous week try­ing to make Poroshenko and Yat­senyuk see the dan­ger of their stub­born un­will­ing­ness to work to­gether. I was still work­ing the prob­lem on my way out of Kyiv on Nov. 22, just four days ear­lier."

Af­ter he re­turned home, Yat­senyuk called him that Thanks­giv­ing Day week­end to tell Bi­den that a coali- tion gov­ern­ment had been formed. Bi­den writes that he felt "pretty good" about the news.

‘Hard ‘H on Poroshenko’ P

Bi­den writes of his frus­tra­tion with Poroshenko's l lack­lus­ter fight against cor­rup­tion since his elec­tion in May 2014.

"I had been hard on Poroshenko since his elec­tion nine months ear­lier. I’d made it clear to him that he could not af­ford to give the Euro­peans any ex­cuse for walk­ing away from the sanc­tions regime against Rus­sia. He had to con­tinue to fight the el­e­ments of cor­rup­tion that were embed­ded in the po­lit­i­cal cul­ture of Ukraine’s Soviet and post-Soviet gov­er­nance — both in Yat­senyuk’s ri­val party and in Poroshenko’s own," Bi­den writes.

Bi­den con­tin­ued to press au­thor­i­ties to fight cor­rup­tion through­out his ten­ure as vice pres­i­dent. He writes about an­other episode in sum­mer 2015, when Yat­senyuk came to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as part of the first U.S.-Ukraine Busi­ness Fo­rum on July 13.

Dur­ing the fo­rum, Bi­den ex­horted Ukraine's lead­ers to get tough on cor­rup­tion. "Now you’ve got to put peo­ple in jail," the vice pres­i­dent told Yat­senyuk in the U. S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, in one of the speech's many mem­o­rable lines.

In the book, Bi­den writes: "Prime Min­is­ter Yat­senyuk was vis­it­ing Wash­ing­ton that day, and I needed to be there to de­liver the mes­sage that we were stand­ing by the Ukrainian peo­ple and their gov­ern­ment, but also to make sure he un­der­stood that he and Poroshenko needed to speed up an­ti­cor­rup­tion re­forms if they

wante wanted con­tin­ued as­sis­tance."

‘Pen­chant for cor­rup­tion’

Bi­den also writes that h he was wor­ried about the Euro­pean Union re­solve in sup­port­ing Ukraine and stand­ing up to Rus­sia in the war. He, in par­tic­u­lar, writes about his dis­ap­point­ment that Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, dur­ing the Feb. 6–8, 2015, Mu­nich Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence, wasn't harder on Putin.

"She was not strong enough for my taste," Bi­den writes of Merkel's speech. "And I was dis­ap­pointed when, af­ter her speech, she flatly re­fused to con­sider pro­vid­ing any real weaponry to Ukraine’s over­matched mil­i­tary."

About EU lead­ers, he writes that "none of them were hot to spend their po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal to save an emerg­ing democ­racy whose lead­ers had ex­hib­ited a pen­chant for cor­rup­tion, self-deal­ing and self-de­struc­tive be­hav­ior."

He writes about Obama's re­fusal to arm Ukraine with­out crit­i­ciz­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent, but mak­ing it clear that he sym­pa­thizes — if not sup­ports — those who be­lieve that Ukraine de­served stronger help from the West in de­fend­ing it­self, in­clud­ing gen­er­ous sup­plies of mod­ern lethal weap weaponry.

Epi­logue: E Un­cer­tainty

Bi­den ends on a note of u un­cer­tainty about whether Ukraine's lead­ers will be able to stop their own cor­rup­tion and trans­form the na­tion into a demo­cratic, law-abid­ing one de­manded by the EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion — also known as the Revo­lu­tion of Dig­nity.

He ends with an ex­ten­sive sec­tion about his Dec. 8, 2015, speech to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's par­lia­ment, in which he again called on law­mak­ers to bat­tle cor­rup­tion and put the na­tion's in­ter­ests first.

He also writes near the end of his book: "It might take a gen­er­a­tion or more to know if the Revo­lu­tion of Dig­nity in Ukraine had truly suc­ceeded."

Ex-U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph Bi­den's new mem­oir was pub­lished on Nov. 14.

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