Last week the Russian newspaper Vzglyad featured an article claiming that the US Intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment concluded that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko may not last until Ukraine’s 2019 presidential elections. Vzglyad further claimed that this conclusion is supported by the latest polls and most Ukrainians were in favor of holding early elections.
Many Russian propagandist sites picked this fake and added their own embellishments claiming that President Poroshenko having received a black mark from the Americans was embittered. Tsargrad TV declared that the US intelligence community announced early presidential elections in Ukraine. The Politicheskoye Obozrenye website posited that Poroshenko was losing power in Ukraine and could follow in his predecessor’s footsteps and flee Ukraine.
Russian media conveniently forgot the most salient aspects of the Worldwide Thread Assessment regarding Ukraine, namely that “Russia will continue its military, political and economic destabilization campaign against Ukraine to stymie and where possible reverse Kyiv’s efforts to integrate with the EU and strengthen ties to NATO”. Russia will also “work to erode Western unity on sanctions and support for Kyiv”.
Regarding President Poroshenko, the assessment states what is widely known, that popular frustrations with slow reforms, low living standards, perceptions of deepening corruption, and political polarization ahead of scheduled elections in 2019 could bring on early elections.
There is no mention of regime change or of a black mark against Poroshenko in the Assessment.
As for the claim that Ukrainians are in favor of early elections, a recent poll conducted for the International Republican Institute shows that over the course of the last three years 15 to 28% of Ukrainians supported early elections, a number that is very far from a majority.
This is not the first time that Russian media have portrayed Ukraine as a puppet of the United States, claiming the country’s fate is decided in Washington. In 2016 Russian media widely predicted that the West was dissatisfied with President Poroshenko and was looking to replace him.