Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
25th June, 2016
by Eduard Popov
Supporting the idea of a Brexit in the UK referendum became an information bomb for Petro Poroshenko, who came to power under the slogan of Ukraine joining the EU. London was seen as one the main lobbyists of Ukrainian interests in the EU. Another lobbyist, Poland, is not such a powerful foreign policy player as the UK. Another reason for the frustration is the blow struck to the attractiveness of the European Union. Until now, European countries have sought to enter the Union and not come back. Therefore, the decision of the British people expressed in the referendum is perhaps the strongest foreign policy defeat of the Poroshenko regime.
The aim of the information policy of the Ukrainian authorities is to turn defeat and failure into victory and success. In this case, representatives of the Ukrainian authorities tried to convince the citizens that nothing bad had happened. The first to speak on this subject was President Poroshenko on his Facebook page: “I believe that, despite the results of the referendum, the UK remains in the European Union and will defend common European values.” Attempts to justify it were very awkward. Poroshenko, in fact, urged all to ignore the outcome of the referendum — such were the meaning of his statement. For democratic politics, especially the leader of a European country, the call to ignore the results of a referendum is just blasphemous. Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Paruby similarly, but more cautiously, expressed this. He said that the UK will remain a key partner of Ukraine, despite the results of the referendum on a withdrawal from the EU. Probably Paruby considered Poroshenko’s actions to be a blunder and did not call to ignore the outcome of the referendum.
In Parliament, the news from the UK was taken with a mixture of utopianism and realism. MP Hanna Hopko said that Ukraine is ready to take the place of the UK in the EU. According to Vice-Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko, Brexit will have negative consequences for Ukrainian diplomacy. “Now that the EU is more deeply immersed in its own serious problems, it is harder to defend our position,” she said. Other MPs share Gerashchenko’s pessimism, but there is a utopian urge to expand the EU to the East (MP from the Radical party Andrei Lozovoy).
Perhaps the most realistic assessment of the event was given by the head of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE Vladimir Ariev. He predicted the abolition of the anti-Russian sanctions in 2017 and the postponement of the abolition of the visa-free regime for Ukraine and Georgia for an indefinite period of time. According to Ariev, the European Union can now dissociate itself from “external stimuli” and focus on domestic issues to prevent a “chain reaction”.