Vovan and Lexus, Russian pranksters known for trolling Western politicians, celebrities, and other public figures, revealed Tuesday that they had tricked George W. Bush into speaking with them. The former president played an instrumental role in the second wave of NATO’s eastward expansion, and the first Euromaidan crisis in Ukraine in 2004.
The United States didn’t keep its word to Moscow on NATO’s eastward expansion due to shifting circumstances, and the Bush administration always wanted to see Ukraine join the Western alliance, George W. Bush has revealed in a candid interview with Vovan and Lexus.
“I wanted [Russia] on the fringe of NATO, I wanted Ukraine in NATO”, Bush, who served as US president between 2001 and 2009, told the pranksters, who posed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a portion of the interview that aired Thursday at a Russian educational forum.
“I thought for a while that Russia would be more cooperative. And then [Vladimir] Putin changed dramatically”, Bush said.
“I felt that Ukraine needed to be in the EU and NATO”, he added.
Asked to address Russia’s oft-repeated argument that James Baker, US secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, had promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand the bloc eastward in 1990, Bush Jr. suggested that such promises were irrelevant because they were made a long time ago.
“Listen, times change. Baker was the secretary of state with my dad, which was years ago, and so, uh, the United States [was working under the] principle of adjusting to the times. And that’s why we’re trying to show our support for your country now”, he said.
Asked whether he agreed with the sentiment that the conflict in Ukraine was really a confrontation between the West and Russia, Bush answered curtly “Yeah”.
As for the argument that the US recognition of Kosovo in the 2000s on the grounds of its right to “self-determination” from Serbia paved the way for Russia’s recognition of the Donbass republics, Bush appeared briefly stumped, before assuring that “if you prevail, or when you prevail, a lot of these various issues are gonna be off the table”.
“Your mission is to destroy as many Russian troops as you can, and the question is, will you continue receiving the help you need. And I certainly hope so”, Bush said. He added that it was “very important” for the US to “continue to lead” in aiding Ukraine in achieving its goals.
George W. Bush presided over the second wave of NATO’s post-Cold War expansion, welcoming Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia into the bloc in 2004. Between 1999 and 2020, 14 nations of the defunct Warsaw Pact, the former Yugoslavia, or the ex-USSR itself were absorbed by NATO. At its Bucharest summit in 2008, the alliance recognised Ukraine and Georgia’s “aspirations” toward eventual NATO membership.
Vladimir “Vovan” Kuznetsov and Alexei “Lexus” Stolyarov are a Russian comedy duo that has spent more than a decade trolling politicians, celebrities, royals, and other public figures around the world.
Their YouTube channel was taken down in March after they released videos of intimate conversations with British Defence chief Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel, revealing the true extent of covert UK military support for Ukraine, and the possibility of seizing Russian tycoons’ properties in London and handing them over to members of Ukraine’s political elite.