Verstyuk: Borrowing from Russia to pay Russia

If Ukraine starts paying Russia for gas using Russian money, it will ultimately enter into a vicious circle that will lead to Moscow fully engaging in Ukrainian policy, said Yurchyshyn of Razumkov Center.

Given the heavy-handed politics contained in the Russian borrowing conditions – the bailout package is also contingent on quarterly reviews – the Ukrainian government now has more reasons to contact the IMF or the European Union and ask for an alternative financial assistance package.

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The Ukrainian Front: Neo Soviets & Neo Nazis

At recent demonstrations and meetings with the media recently held in Kharkiv, it would have seemed frightening enough that a Ukrainian Front had been created. It may have also been frightening to think that the Russian version of the Hell’s Angels (known to hit the road with Putin himself) had declared itself active in Ukraine for the purpose of “defending” the country. While orthodoxy and hardline pro-Russian sentiment runs through both of these groups, what one did not expect to be at the vanguard of defeating the ‘western fascists in Kiev’ was, well, actual neo-Nazis. Maybe this is a form of fighting fire with fire, or two negatives canceling themselves out (although the propagandized disinformation about their being any sort of fascist movement in the west or kiev should be, again, denounced as false), but the sight of Kharkiv mayor Hennadiy Kernes, himself Jewish, standing beside these men while making a peace gesture is enough to make any observer do a double-take.

Circulated on social media sites in the aftermath of the UF conference was the following:

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nazarneo-Nazis

Nazar Dolitsky is described by Channel 5 as a biker from Sevastopol. (He also received some brief airtime on Russia24 while at demonstrations in the city) Innocuous enough, with his St. George Ribbons and telnyashka, he certainly fits the profile of a neo-Soviet joining rank with the Ukrainian Front, but there remained enough reasonable doubt that the man making the Hitler salute was undeniably the same man. Of course, until the internet did what it’s good at, and found his social media profile to verify the photo in question. This is what one can gleam from his online presence:

If this were a man in the crowd the association could be easily dismissed – but it’s not. This is a leader of a motorcycle club in Russia, an active neo-Nazi and a man taking the stage with political leaders and giving interviews. In a leadership position, whatever the capacity, this is a troubling sign of what the Ukrainian Front is all about, and who will be enforcing their version of justice.

Motyl: A Russian Threat to Ukraine?

Imagine two possible scenarios: (1) a full-scale invasion of all, most, or much of Ukraine and (2) a limited invasion of one or two provinces of Ukraine. In both instances, the point would presumably be annexation, occupation, or longer-term control…(full article)

In this article, Alexander J. Motyl examines the political implications and consequences of Russian military intervention in Ukraine. The article gives a revealing overview of what could potentially happen in this oft spoken scenario. Of note, of course, are the absolute negatives to such a scenario:

what would the international consequences of a large-scale invasion be? Remember: such a move would mean a crass and blatant violation of every single international norm regarding state behavior. Ukraine poses no threat to Russia. It possesses no weapons of mass destruction and houses no anti-Russian terrorists. An invasion would be just that—an invasion, a blatant aggression, an imperialist land-grab. In violating United Nations norms, the Helsinki Final Act, the standards of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and every other postwar accord, Russia would be declaring itself a rogue state. Its ability to play a great-power role as an international mediator would be shot. Its relations with China, Turkey, Europe, and the United States would go into nosedive. A cold war would be likely. North Korea might cheer, and the some on the American left might develop elaborate pro-imperialist justifications, but most of the world would condemn Russia. The rogue state would inevitably become a pariah state.

Read more at Alexander J. Motyl’s blog

A Nation Divided?

Much has been made of Ukraine’s West v. East paradigm, but is it a valid demarcation of the country’s political leanings? The issue with post-Orange Revolution political discourse is that the Kuchma and Kravchuk eras have largely been forgotten while commentaries reach to the historic past to find reason for electoral leanings in the Soviet and even Imperial era. This is incredibly short sighted as we have several, common era elections in independent Ukraine’s history to look at to see if this trend holds up. And that’s the problem – it doesn’t.

1991 saw Viacheslav Chornovil go up against the heavily favored Leonid Kravchuk with the latter taking all but Galicia. 3 years later, however, we see Galicia warm up to Ukraine’s first president (presumably voting for the lesser of two evils). The presidential elections of 1999, though, saw another about face with Kuchma now taking the West while the Communist Party grew unevenly in the center, south, and east. It’s only when we get to the Orange Era that Ukraine fixates itself on an immutable east-west axis between the democratic opposition and the Party of Regions. The same Party of Regions, mind you, that was supported by Kuchma; thus completing his east-west-east lap around the country.

Now when looking at the animated map below, what stands out? For one, Crimea, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson can’t make up their mind, voting Kravchuk, then Kuchma, but finally settling in on the pro-Russian Communist and Regions.

[one_sixth]idea of a predictable West too goes out the window[/one_sixth]

Similarly, Galicia is too the only collective of regions in the West that has voted for 5 different presidential nominees in the 5 elections. Factor in that the region is now resurgent in its support for Svoboda, and the idea of a predictable West too goes out the window.

Kirovohrad, Poltava, Vinnytsia, and Chernihiv all voted Kuchma, then Communist, then Yushchenko/Tymoshenko. Here we see a complete turnaround from “pro-Russian” to “pro-European” stereotypes. These four provinces are proof positive that hearts and minds can be won and swing states are alive and well.

Ultimately, the 2015 (or sooner) presidential elections, if free and fair, could very buck the trend that we’ve seen since 2004. The fact of the matter is, simplistic divides, while easy to represent in the media, don’t always hold the test of time. The United States is notorious for its Red v. Blue state battleground, but while the Northeast is typically Democrat and the South is typically Republican, there are always swing states and always variety. Ukraine is no different. With the ever changing, volatile political landscape of 2013 and beyond, there is just no telling where to draw the east-west line in the sand just yet.

Ukraine elections map