Angela Merkel has visited Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, who is in the midst of an election campaign. There’s disappointment in Kyiv at his failure to implement reforms, and hopes of EU-style democracy are fading.
The German chancellor’s visit to Kyiv can safely be filed under the heading of “reliable diplomacy.” Since early 2016, when Angela Merkel committed Germany to long-term engagement with Ukraine by supporting the second Minsk peace agreement, there’s been plenty of contact between the countries’ leaders, in person and on the phone. Berlin and the majority of its EU partners have condemned both Russia’s annexation of Crimea — illegal under international law — and its military campaign in eastern Ukraine. The United States has even gone so far as to supply arms to the Ukrainian army.
Kyiv’s most important supporter in the European Union has announced she will not seek re-election in 2021. Merkel has demonstrated her commitment, but Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has been less conscientious about keeping his promises.
Forthcoming Ukrainian election
Assuming Angela Merkel really does hang on until the end of her term in office, she may be in a position to welcome Poroshenko’s successor. Elections will be held in Ukraine in March and April 2019, and most opinion polls are placing Poroshenko fourth or fifth. This is predominantly his own fault.
As a successful chocolate manufacturer from the town of Vinnytsia, when Poroshenko was elected president after the pro-European Maidan protests in the winter of 2013/2014, he initially said he would sell his business empire. Becoming president was a remarkable career move. After all, as an economic expert, Poroshenko had been part of the inner circle of the previous, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was chased out of office in February 2014.