Sunday, September 13, 2015

Business as Usual in Ukraine...or not

Someone chided me for not updating the Ukraine situation in a long while.  I guess it is time.  There is a great deal of change or none depending on what you look at. There are likely more than 50 articles per day across my Facebook news feed or my email.  some days I read them all and some days I can't face any of them.

Minsk II calls for "special recognition" in a new Ukrainian constitution of the Russian controlled Donbas.  This is Russia's attempt to bury the Donbas inside Ukraine in such a way that it will render the country ungovernable and totally under Kremlin control.

Europe and America continue to put a great deal of stress on Ukraine unilaterally living up the the Minsk agreement whether or not Russia does.  Russia, of course, says it has no responsibility to the Minsk agreements as it is not involved in the conflict.

A new constitution has gone to the Rada for first or second reading (I forget which).  It does devolve certain powers to the Oblasts but falls far short of making Ukraine a Federation as Russia demands.  It contains a clause that says to the effect that special status for the Donbas will be determined in a separate law.

Proroshenko says there will be no further discussion of special recognition until all foreign troops and equipment is removed from Donbas and Ukraine is back in full control of the Russian border.  Like that will happen.  Ukraine's best bet is a frozen conflict that leaves Russia holding the bag.  Whether Putin will allow that to happen or not is open to debate.

Putin has opened another front in his hybrid war with the west, this time in Syria.  Russia has a naval base in Syria and has openly supported Assad against all comers.  Russia is moving troops, planes and ground equipment into Syria and offering to "cooperate" with America against ISIS.  This puts America in the awkward position of either refusing help against ISIS or helping Russia to support Assad, whom America has been opposing through support of certain rebel groups.  There is also suspicion Putin will try to trade this for a freer hand against Ukraine.

At the same time the ceasefire is suddenly holding.  There have been no shelling, no rocket attacks, no infiltration of rebel troops, no one killed or injured for the first time in 18 months.  This is likely part of Putin's strategy to sow more discord in Europe relating to non-renewal of sanctions. The Russian economy is in the tank and Putin needs to get at least EU sanctions lifted so he can in return lift the bans on imported food, medicine and whatever.  The Kremlin's response to Western sanctions has always been to make the Russian people suffer.

The new constitution is not without its detractors.  Three far right nationalist parties, led by Svoboda, held a mass rally in front of the Rada during the reading and voting demanding that all devolution of powers away from the central government be removed.  A grenade was thrown and three National Guard were killed and several people injured. Russian agents may have been involved in stirring the pot as Russia uses both the far right and left to its advantage.

Adding insult to injury, I just saw this today.  Russia has of course been hauling coal across the line from Donbas to Russia since day 1 and their "humanitarian convoys" have loaded high tech equipment from Donbas factories for their backhaul.  Now armed Russians have entered Donbas with combine harvesters and threshed the sunflower crop, hauling it back to Russia, leaving the farmers with bare fields.

More some other day.


7 comments:

  1. judas priest...I despise that Putin..what would happen if someone just took him out? is it business as usual or would there be changes?

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    1. It would make no difference actually. Putin didn't make Russia, Russia made Putin

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  2. Funny; I just mentioned to Hubby the other day that I was wondering what was happening in the Ukraine since you hadn't posted an update lately. I was hoping that no news was good news...

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    1. Not likely good news for a long time in this regard

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    2. Hopefully Putin is not distracted - focus on Syria - and will deescalate the focus on Ukraine. It seems the world is more concerned about Syria and Putin's infringement there. Does Putin actually want a confrontation with NATO and how far will it go?
      the Ol'Buzzard

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  3. That should have read: Hopefully Putin is now distracted...
    O'B

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    1. I think Putin is hoping his foray in Syria will distract the world from Ukraine but we will see. His speech at the UN will give some indication of how far he is willing to go. Do not rule out nuclear. While the world would be horrified if Warsaw were nuc'd, Putin could care less unless Moscow and St Petersburg were totally destroyed. Smaller cities are small change.

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