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How Russia, Ukraine View U.S. President Donald Trump's Impeachment

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California) displays the signed Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump on January 13, 2021.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California) displays the signed Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump on January 13, 2021.

As in the United States, the second impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump on January 13, 2021 for allegedly inciting the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol has sparked a variety of responses, both positive and negative, in Current Time’s coverage zone.
During our live TV coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment vote, U.S. and international relations specialists from Russia and Ukraine – two countries with their own deep histories of political conflict and turmoil – shared how they assess recent events in the United States.

(Answers have been edited for clarity and length. Questions summarize those asked.)

What Will Be The Consequences Of President Trump's Impeachment For The U.S.?

“We’re now seeing open enmity; even hatred between people. That’s what fundamentally distinguishes this situation from all the previous ones because people are taking what happened, including the elections, as a zero-sum game . . .

I think that these elections – for Trump in particular, but especially also for Biden, when he will be president over the next four years – will be a headache. They have shown that very difficult times lie ahead for the States; times of division and conflicts. And Joseph Biden’s main task will be to at least try to, if not solve, then freeze [these conflicts] so that the whole situation does not get out of control.”

- Ilia Kusa, international policy expert, Ukrainian Institute of the Future (Kyiv, Ukraine)

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"[O]f course, it’s very important here that the president (Joseph Biden) is urging unity – this is what distinguishes Biden from Trump. At least, in his political rhetoric, he talks about unity. But to what extent he will be ready or how free he will be to take some middle-of-the-road way [is unclear] .....

[O]n one hand, the Democrats need to focus on the 2022 elections, when they’ll need to hold onto Congress. For this, they’ll need, as before, to mobilize [their] left wing. And, on the other hand, they need to act in such a way as not to break off the right. That is, to find that very middle that can suit both the Republicans and also the Democrats.

That’s a very complicated task. And it’s not for sure that Biden is up to it. It seems to me like a long-term task for generations [of Americans]. "

-Viktoria Zhuravleva, director, Center of North American Studies, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences
(Moscow, Russia)

Should President Trump Be Left In Office?

“As an expert, if I were asked to advise Democratic politicians, which is very unlikely, there are pros and cons [to impeachment], and Trump, in any case, is likely to stay in office until January 20, until the inauguration of Joe Biden. . . Maybe it’s OK to play for an escalation [of the political situation] now. But, of course, further maintaining the nation’s division and following the advice of those who particularly annoy Trump’s core electorate would probably be dangerous already for the Democrats.”

-Mikhail Troitsky, dean, The MGIMO School of Government and International Affairs
(Moscow, Russia)

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“It’s obvious that Trump has now committed a more serious crime against the U.S. Constitution [than in 2019]. If in the previous impeachment, the situation had to do with some small European country, Ukraine, where he just pressured the Ukrainian president, then, now, the situation has to do with an attack on the foundations of U.S. democracy, on the foundations of the U.S. Constitution . . .

[The issue of impeachment ] has to do with whether the representatives of the Republican Party are ready, once again, to prove that they belong to the great party of [President Abraham] Lincoln, to the great party of [President Ronald] Reagan, that they’re personally not obliged to President Trump, former President Trump; that, in any case, they’re prepared to stand up for the constitution of the United States . . .”

-Kateryna Smagliy, executive advisor, Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine
(Kyiv, Ukraine)

What Impact Has The Impeachment Had On The U.S. Image?

"[T]hat unrest (Trump supporters’ January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol) that happened, of course, gives an argument to those politicians who are anti-American, anti-Western, and pro-Russian. You hear a lot of people now manipulating the fact that there were these protests and Twitter’s ban [on President Trump’s account].

Consequently, unfortunately, this undermining of the U.S. image also won’t go away. I think that the effects will be pretty long-lasting.”

-Hanna Shelest, Security Studies Program Director,
Ukrainian Prism Foreign Policy Council (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Does The Closure Of Trump’s Facebook, Twitter, And YouTube Accounts Amount To Censorship?

“You can take it as censorship by a social network, but, on the other hand, where else, in what other country, can you see private companies coming down on a president? It’s doubtful that would happen in a country with few freedoms.”

-Pavel Koshkin, expert, Russian International Affairs Council (Moscow, Russia)

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“They (the Republicans) are saying to the Democrats: ‘You supported this (the chaotic 2020 protests against police violence and racism). This is allowed, but it’s forbidden for a group of people to declare they don’t accept the election results.’ I think this has an impact on their (the Republicans’) electorate. On top of which, President Trump has been shut out of social media. And this discussion can pour fuel on the fire."

-Mikhail Troitsky, dean, The MGIMO School of Government and International Affairs (Moscow, Russia)

What Impact Have The Last Four Years Had On U.S. Media?

“Mass media is seen as less objective, more biased, and that bias is justified as a means of battle with those people who already trample on objectivity and have declared an information war on these journalists. There’s no one to justify here – neither Trump, nor journalists …

Far be it from Russia to say that these standards are falling, but how they (journalists and politicians) behaved in this situation is also not a straightforward issue.”

-Pavel Koshkin, expert, Russian International Affairs Council (Moscow, Russia)

Ukraine Featured In President Trump's First Impeachment. How Do Ukrainians View His Second Impeachment?

“For Ukraine, it’s not very good news because Ukraine, first of all, receives benefits from the relationship with the U.S. when there’s bipartisan, strong support. That is, both the Republican and Democratic leaders consider the Ukrainian issue to be one that consolidates the U.S. elite. If hostility will continue between the two elites, then, in general, it will be difficult to count on any kind of consistent foreign policy. Therefore, of course, Ukraine’s attitude toward these groups is that it’s very important that the degree of conflict among the U.S. political elite and society decreases.”

-Oleksandr Sushko, political analyst and director,
International Renaissance Foundation (Kyiv, Ukraine)

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“You know, they're very actively following it. Here, in Ukraine, these caricatures, memes in social networks, have even been going around about how Ukrainians in villages are following each U.S. state and small town during the elections more than their own local elections, which took place literally a week before the U.S. elections ...

On a political level, it’s understandable that [Ukraine’s] official position [toward the impeachment] is rather restrained. On the other hand, I know that everyone is following very closely what’s going on, what consequences this will have, including on the domestic situation in the U.S. And everyone perfectly understands that any crisis inside the U.S. will have consequences for both Europe and for Ukraine because [incoming President Joseph] Biden today will have to be busier with domestic issues than with foreign policy … "

-Hanna Shelest, Security Studies Program Director,
Ukrainian Prism Foreign Policy Council (Kyiv, Ukraine)