Ukraine: Geneva halt for Easter

Vladimir-Putin-Snowden-Is-Still-in-RussiaThe call to all sides to refrain from provocation and violence came as the major conclusion of this week’s Geneva talks between US, Russia, European Union and Ukraine foreign ministers. With the signature on the final document, Ukrainian citizens observed the creation of a second major international declaration, destined to resolve the profound crisis of Ukrainian statehood – the first one, signed by ousted President Yanukovich on 21 February was short-lived. The massacre on Maidan Square abruptly terminated diplomatic efforts and pushed the country into disarray.

This pre-history feeds the scepticism of public opinion:  can the declaration signed as far away as on the banks of Geneva lake convince protestors at Dnepr River to acknowledge the interim government of Kiev and give up their independence claims?

Some have interpreted the position of Russian Minister Lavrov in Geneva as an abandonment of the federalization plan and an ultimate ‘betrayal’ of Russians in eastern Ukraine, made under the  further threat of sanctions.

But it didn’t take long for eastern Ukrainian bloggers to respond: as they were not represented as a party to the negotiations, they consider themselves as not being obliged to follow the guidelines – they expect the ‘junta’ in Kiev, who ascended to power through violence, to make the first step towards disarmament. After the eastern Ukraine violent clashes, where loss of life was reported, it seems that the protestors are not willing to raise a white flag at Geneva. It would be a challenge for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to make them change their minds.

After the order of interim President Turchinov to send the troops to the East to fight the protestors declared as ‘terrorists’, the trust is simply not there – the policies of the new rulers in Kiev have changed at the speed of roulette:  from the initial law banning the Russian language to granting it an almost official status, to the ‘anti-terrorist’ operation against the separatists of the East just a few days ago, to a promise of attribution powers for the regions. However, all these are far from being a jackpot for the separatists aspiring towards independence and the creation of a new state, ‘Novorossiya’ – reviving the historical name of the Russian province, literally ‘New Russia’.

Obviously the profound crisis of the Ukrainian statehood is aggravated by this lack of trust on behalf of the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine, in the genuine character of the Kiev declarations – the social networks are full of threats of retribution: “We can throw you promises first and we can start hanging you after,” bloodthirsty tweets that are receiving numerous ‘Likes’. The promise of the gallows for the separatists by Ukrainian internet-users has more impact on the separatists’ state of mind than the Geneva diplomatic artwork and the timid efforts of the OSCE.

Meanwhile, the buzz on a new wave of  upcoming US sanctions against Russia does not leave much hope of ending the conflict with the Geneva declaration, it is just a pause in the ongoing drama of the ‘Balkanization’ of Ukraine. Composed of different territories within different political contexts, the country represents a complex patchwork of cultures related to different civilizations – subsequently, world powers are standing behind their correlating communities.

Defending their protégées in Kiev, the EU is considering economic sanctions, such as a ban on technologies to hinder Russia’s modernization. However, these will backfire on Europe, as the anticipated rejection of France to sell Mistral helicopter carriers to Russians would deprive the French economy of €1 billion – a move that will hardly be understood by French workers, whose interests are to be sacrificed for the good of the interim Kiev government, including seven (!) notorious oligarchs.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier is calling to divert the creative energy from sanctions to the regulation of the crisis. Apparently, the US economy is not interdependent with Russia, and in the case of sanctions there will be no direct negative effect. Reportedly, there have been US threats to freeze President Putin’s assets in Switzerland.  But it is not in Mr. Putin’s character to succumb as an ultimate sacrifice to US geopolitical ambition.

It is hardly a coincidence that during the direct talks with President Putin, the US’s biggest ‘trouble-maker’ Snowden showed up – the Russians have hinted that they have more aces up their sleeves to continue the power game. As long as le rapport de force is applied, there will be no end to the crisis in Ukraine.


Anna van Densky



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Category: A Frontpage, Blogspot, Expert comment, Russia, Ukraine

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