Not long ago, the author wrote an article about the White House’s “royal gift”, in the form of new US Ambassador Julie Fisher, to Belarus, and pointed out that her appointment was very much in line with Washington’s recent policy to “strengthen” the leadership in its diplomatic missions with individuals with considerable experience in the military-strategic sphere and in staging coups.
And finally, Ukraine’s turn has come. After all, the nation has repeatedly asked US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (also during his visit to Kyiv in February) to send it a “good” Ambassador, who, in the end, will most likely be beneficial for the White House rather than Ukraine.
It is probably not worth pointing out that for Washington, Ukraine has long become an “enfant terrible”, as a result the White House’s treatment of it has come to resemble that of a “father towards a naughty child”. Washington has been open about its involvement in this nation’s affairs for some time now. In an interview with CNN on February 1, 2015, the US President at the time, Barack Obama, talked about “putting more pressure on Russia and bolstering Ukraine”. It is also worth reminding our readers about the fact that on December 2, 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine voted to appoint US citizen of Ukrainian descent Natalie Jaresko as the nation’s Minister of Finance. To this day, the decision has had a negative impact on Ukraine’s financial state. At the time, there were persistent rumors concerning the possibility that if Arseniy Yatsenyuk (who disappointed Washington by failing to implement IMF-approved reforms) were to leave his post, Natalie Jaresko could replace him as Prime Minister of Ukraine.
It is also important to remember that there was a succession of Ukrainian Presidents, such as Viktor Yushchenko and Petro Poroshenko, whose priorities directly depended on USA’s “fatherly concerns”. After all, Washington willingly took it upon itself to “bring order” to Ukraine after Maidan (civil unrest). For instance, the United States has been giving money to the Ukrainian government via various financial institutions; essentially, setting out policies for the leadership in Kyiv to follow, and lobbying to ensure the right people get appointed. The overly servile behavior exhibited by the Ukrainian establishment towards its US “advisors” is not surprising, as Washington is seemingly in charge of just about everything: from providing financial aid and giving direct orders to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to hiring personnel for intelligence services and appointing Defense Ministers, cabinet members and presidential staff.
Media outlets have also reported about USA’s influence on decision-making processes in Kyiv on more than one occasion. One only has to recall articles about the boastful statements made by former US Vice President Joe Biden about him strong-arming Petro Poroshenko to remove Ukrainian Prosecutor General from office. Previously, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said that the US had invested more than $5 billion to promote democracy in Ukraine since 1991. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (organizations suspected of having ties to the CIA) were some of the largest investors. They financed dozens of initiatives aimed at “supporting” Ukrainian political activists, non-profit organizations (NGOs) and media outlets.
As a result, individuals who seemingly look to the United States for advice have been in Ukraine for quite some time now. Finally, the time to appoint a new US Ambassador to Ukraine has come. And according to Donald Trump, retired Lieutenant General in the US Army Keith Dayton could soon take on this role. He was born on March 7, 1949. In 1970, he graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Keith Dayton also has an MA in History from Cambridge University and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He speaks Russian and a bit of German.
Keith Dayton specialized in Russian/Soviet studies at the US Army Russian Institute (USARI) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He was also one the co-authors of a book about the future of NATO: “The Future of NATO: Facing an Unreliable Enemy in an Uncertain Environment”, published in 1991.
During his almost 40 years of service in the US Army, General Keith Dayton was the Director for Human Intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington D.C., and the Director of the Iraqi Survey Group for Operation Iraqi Freedom, which resulted in the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He also headed the Strategic Plans and Policy Division at the Department of the Army (within the Department of Defense).
Keith Dayton served as the US Defense Attaché in Russia.
In December 2010, he retired.
At present, he is the Director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (a bi-national United States Department of Defense and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense institute). In November 2018, the US Secretary of Defense at the time, James N. Mattis, appointed Keith Dayton to serve as the Senior US Defense Advisor to Ukraine.
Hence, the White House chose Keith Dayton as a potential candidate for a reason as the United States continues with its approach to appoint to the post-Soviet space US Ambassadors who have substantial experience in the military-strategic sphere, and who are capable of ensuring that desirable for Washington leadership comes to power in this region.
It appears that, at present, Ukraine is of particular interest to the United States, which explains why retired Lieutenant General was chosen as a potential US Ambassador to this nation. After all, Washington hopes that this former member of the US armed forces will be able to bring military-style order to Ukraine with his “skillful hands”. In fact, in the short-term, the United States plans to establish advanced military facilities in Ukraine, including training centers; install digital security surveillance systems in this nation; promote the work of 15 US partner biolabs there, and return Crimea to Ukraine in order to convert this peninsula into a future US military base. Preparations are almost complete to begin work on an important military transportation hub, which will be used to transfer technology, equipment and specialists to Ukraine, in an airfield in the city of Uzyn (in Kiev Oblast). A gated residential community is being built on the outskirts of the capital. However, considering the overall fall of the housing market in Kyiv, such a project seems less than timely. Yet, the construction of the residential complex should not come as a surprise. After all, US military personnel are accustomed to living in comfortable and safe areas devoid of locals. And they are planning on living in Ukraine for a long time since “promoting” democracy is not a fast process. For instance, in Vietnam it lasted dozens of years, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, the process is still ongoing.
However, the purported interference by the United States in Ukraine’s domestic politics, starting with Maidan, is viewed increasingly negatively among some of the inhabitants of this nation. Incomprehension about why two ‘Island’ class ships, which the United States offered to give Ukraine free of charge, have not been delivered as yet, and about why the country needs to purchase fairly expensive coal is growing among some Ukrainians. It appears the nation is being put at a disadvantage. The USA actively encouraged the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate to gain independence, which led to a schism within the church. Still, the patriarchate has been unable to gain prominence in Ukrainian society. In addition, an anti-Russian stance, actively promoted by Washington in Ukraine, cannot but have a negative effect on Kyiv’s much-needed economic ties with Russia. Hence, at times, Ukraine does not appear to be the United States’ ally, instead, it is a tool to be used in USA’s geopolitical interests.
Nevertheless, Washington hopes to put an end to all of these problems in the near future by appointing retired Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, with his substantial experience in the sphere of military strategy, as US Ambassador to Ukraine.
And only time and the population of Ukraine, which has not lost its resolve despite attempts to enslave it in the past centuries, will tell whether these plans will actually come to fruition.
Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.