2019-11-23: Interview with Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky by the New York Times

A striking reversal of allegiances for Ukraine may have been signaled in a recent NYT interview with Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, considered to be one of the main influences on newly elected president (and ex-comedian) Volodymyr Zelenskiy:

[Billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky], widely seen as Ukraine's most powerful figure outside government, given his role as the patron of the recently elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has experienced a remarkable change of heart: It is time, he said, for Ukraine to give up on the West and turn back toward Russia. They're stronger anyway. We have to improve our relations, he said, comparing Russia's power to that of Ukraine. People want peace, a good life, they don't want to be at war. And you — America — are forcing us to be at war, and not even giving us the money for it.

Kolomoisky recognizes the instrumentalization of Ukraine in the ongoing US cold war against Russia:

[H]e told The Times in a profanity-laced discussion, the West has failed Ukraine, not providing enough money or sufficiently opening its markets. Instead, he said, the United States is simply using Ukraine to try to weaken its geopolitical rival. War against Russia, he said, to the last Ukrainian. Rebuilding ties with Russia has become necessary for Ukraine's economic survival, Kolomoisky argued. He predicted that the trauma of war will pass. Give it five, 10 years, and the blood will be forgotten, Kolomoisky said. I showed in 2014 that I don't want to be with Russia, he added. I'm describing, objectively, what I'm seeing and where things are heading. He said financing from Russia could replace loans from the IMF, which has pushed for anti-corruption reforms that annoy Ukraine's entrenched business interests. We'll take $100 billion from the Russians. I think they'd love to give it to us today, Kolomoisky said. What's the fastest way to resolve issues and restore the relationship? Only money.

Various deep-state officials signaled their disapproval of Kolomoisky, despite previous association. Perhaps this distaste may have origins in Kolomoisky's willingness to make peace with Russia in cooperation with Trump:

Kolomoisky said that if he were Ukraine's president, he would proceed with the investigations sought by Trump. Asked if that risked exposing Ukraine to blowback if a Democrat were to win next year's presidential election, Kolomoisky responded: If they get smart with us, we’ll go to Russia. Russian tanks will be stationed near Krakow and Warsaw, he said. Your NATO will be soiling its pants and buying Pampers.

Kolomoisky declined to specify his activities to promote peace in Ukraine, recognizing that the US was unlikely to be helpful:

Kolomoisky said he was feverishly working out how to end the war, but he refused to divulge details because the Americans will mess it up and get in the way.

Not much mainstream attention seems to have been paid to his remarks, despite their high-status provenance in the Gray Lady. Outside that bubble, however, some note has been taken. John Helmer provides valuable background and context for Kolomoisky's remarks, including a bit of background on his interviewer, cub reporter Anton Troianovski. Helmer suggests the interview reflects a move by US intelligence officials to promote Kolomoisky as an enemy of the US:

Kolomoisky may be the biggest Ukrainian bank robber the FBI has ever pursued, or he may not be. But until a few weeks ago, when he began to threaten the US Government's strategy of war against Russia to the last Ukrainian, and an alliance between Kiev and Moscow to deploy Russian tanks in shooting range of the Polish cities of Cracow and Warsaw, he was a US asset. Now the newspaper in New York has arranged for Kolomoisky to place himself in the bull's-eye as America's Public Enemy Number One.

Moon of Alabama sees the interview as a trial balloon for a peace initiative by Zelenskiy:

It is not in the interest of Ukraine to be a proxy for U.S. deep state antagonism towards Russia. Robber baron Igor Kolomoisky, who after the Maidan coup had financed the west-Ukrainian fascists who fought against east-Ukraine, says so directly in his recent NYT interview . . . Kolomoisky's interview is obviously a trial balloon for the policies Zelensky wants to pursue. He has, like Trump, campaigned on working for better relations with Russia. He received nearly 73% of all votes.

And Patrick Armstrong sees rats fleeing a sinking ship:

RATS, SHIPS, UKRAINE. Kolomoisky's interview. Shattering: a major player in post-Maidan Ukraine; funded Azov; fully supported the coup although he fell out with the others; thought by many to be the power behind President Zelensky. Key points. It's time for Ukraine to turn toward Russia. Washington is forcing Ukraine to be at war — a war against Russia to the last Ukrainian. The EU and NATO will never take Ukraine in and it's time to accept reality. Russia will give money. If the Americans get smart with us, we'll go to Russia. Russian tanks will be stationed near Krakow and Warsaw. Your NATO will be soiling its pants and buying Pampers. He is trying to end the war but is afraid that the Americans will mess it up and get in the way. When a Kolomoisky switches sides, it's over. Stay tuned.

All this should be seen in light of an upcoming Paris meeting of Putin, Zelinsky, Merkel, and Macron, also little-reported here in the US MSM:

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris on December 9 for their first face-to-face encounter, seeking to end the half-decade conflict in Ukraine, the French presidency said Friday [2019-11-15]. The leaders will join French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the four-way summit aimed at resolving the conflict in the east of Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have declared breakaway regions, the Elysee Palace said.
What are the odds that Putin welcomes Zelinsky (and Ukraine) as brothers?