Yesterday, Politico reported that the Ukrainian Government worked to aid Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential elections. The actions taken by government officials included disseminating “documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”
Those documents implicated Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who worked as an adviser for now-ousted Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych. However, the concerns that the documents raised weren’t in fact over any quasi-Russian ties, though partisan reporting pushed his narrative. Rather, the documents raised the question of whether Manafort declared the income that he had received from the position. The Podesta Group, a lobbying firm co-founded by Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, also conducted work for Yanukovych. However, the Manafort narrative not only painted Trump as pro-Russian, but also provided the Clinton campaign with a smear campaign while reaffirming its stance against Russia. It was in Ukraine’s best interest to tilt the election in support of Clinton, who strongly advocated for providing Ukraine with military aid and financial support in order to fight Russian separatists in the country.
Politico noted that Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American working as a consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), met with top Ukrainian Officials in Washington D.C. about forcing Manafort’s resignation in order to perpetuate the narrative that Trump is connected to Russia. Both Chalupa and her sister Andrea have strongly pushed the anti-Russian narrative on social media, in addition to advocating that the electors of the electoral college defect from Trump. The report added, “Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.”
In addition to the Chalupas, the co-founder and CTO of Crowdstrike, the cyber security firm that the DNC hired to investigate the alleged hacks, Dmitri Alperovitch, also serves as a senior fellow to the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, which is an openly anti-Russian organization partly . The Atlantic Council is funded by Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, who also happens to be one of the most prolific donors to the Clinton Foundation. The DNC denied multiple requests from the FBI to access their servers, effectively forcing the FBI to rely on CrowdStrike’s assessment of the hacks.
The Atlantic Council has propagated anti-Russian sentiment and advocated for bolstering NATO forces in anticipation of a military conflict between with Russia long before Wikileaks released emails from the DNC and Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta. In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton its Distinguished International Leadership Award. In 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted one of several events with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was removed in early 2014. In August, Politico reported that Donald Trump’s favorable rhetoric to Russia was concerning Ukraine. The article stated, “Russia wants Trump for U.S. president; Ukraine is terrified by Trump and prefers Hillary Clinton.”
In response to their preferred candidate losing the election, Ukrainian officials are now scrambling to revert from their lobbying for Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently signed a $50,000-a-month contract with a lobbying firm to set up meetings with U.S. officials in the new administration. Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk wrote an op-ed on December 29 in the Wall Street Journal in which he argued that Ukraine needs make compromises to establish peace with Russia. After the election, reports surfaced that Pinchuk donated to Trump’s charity to try to gain the same favor and access that his donations to the Clinton Foundation afforded him. “The sole reason the Victor Pinchuk Foundation has reached out to President-elect Trump—as well as other world leaders—has been to promote strengthened and enduring ties between Ukraine and the West,” a spokeswoman for the Pinchuk foundation told ABC News.
While past elections in Ukraine have been viewed as proxy battles between the U.S. and Russia, it appears that the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. faced similar influence from two foreign countries attempting to influence an election outcome preferable to their own national interests.