Mychailo Wynnyckyj: Thoughts from Kyiv – 16 June 2014

Mychailo Wynnyckyj PhD Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla AcademyDuring the past few weeks I have relaxed somewhat. The Ukrainian Presidential election ran smoothly; President Poroshenko spoke brilliantly at the Rada on the occasion of his inauguration; news of the anti-terrorist operation in the eastern regions of Ukraine seemed to show that the ring around the Russian mercenaries was closing. So, I decided (like many in Kyiv), to return to my daily routine for a while. But Saturday’s downing of a military transport aircraft near Luhansk airport with 49 servicemen onboard, followed by today’s gas supply shut off (predictable, but nevertheless unpleasant), and news of renewed Russian troop movements on Ukraine’s eastern borders have got me worried again.

Trying to predict the future is a bad idea. I have been ribbed by several of my readers for having wrongly predicted imminent Russian invasion before.  I am not a psychologist, nor a psychotherapist – I don’t know what Putin is planning to do during the next couple of days/weeks. And it would seem that much depends on the decisions of this one man. Speculation as to his true motives abounds: amassing economic power (including personal wealth), expressing Russian nationalism (which could mean anything from Dugin-style Eurasianism to a more modest concern for Russian-speakers in the “near-abroad”), maintaining authoritarianism (i.e. fear of losing power due to a revolutionary demonstration effect). Putin’s motives are likely a combination of some or all of the above. Whatever the real state of affairs inside his head, the aggressive nature of the policies and actions of the Kremlin is becoming increasingly worrying: a local war in the Donbas has already started, and its spread seems increasingly inevitable.

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Mychailo Wynnyckyj: Thoughts from Kyiv – 12 June 2014

IMychailo Wynnyckyj PhD Professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academyn case there was still any doubt about the true nature of the war in Ukraine’s eastern regions, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced to the press this afternoon that several Russian tanks had crossed the border near the town of Snizhne (Donetsk Oblast). Amateur video footage of T-90 tanks has now been broadcast on all local newscasts, and has again catapulted the Ukrainian “crisis” to top story status on international networks. According to latest reports (10 pm), one tank was disabled during a battle with Ukrainian forces near the border, but three others have been filmed driving through Makiyivka en route to Donetsk, together with two trucks full of heavily armed men.

The Ukrainian armed forces do not possess T-90 tanks – this modernized version of the Soviet-era T-72 is deployed only in Russia.

Until today, the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions had involved mercenaries armed with Russian-supplied weaponry – including the ultra-modern “Stinger”-style missile that last week shot down a Ukrainian military transport aircraft at an altitude of over 4000 meters (approx. 12000 ft.). But tanks are not supplied to mercenaries. This type of equipment is always manned by army personnel.

It is safe to say that Russian troops (regulars – not hired mercenaries) have now invaded territorial Ukraine. This act has nothing to do with local separatism (or even state-sponsored terrorism): Russia has invaded the sovereign territory of Ukraine. This cannot be interpreted as anything other than an act of war.

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Military vehicles break through Ukrainian border from Russia

Ukrainian army attacked the enemy tanks near Horlivka

by Vitalii Usenko

A column of military vehicles passed through checkpoints seized by terrorists

A column of military vehicles passed through checkpoints seized by terrorists

As reported by the Ukrainain channel TSN, a column of military vehicles, such as armored personnel carriers and armored cars with artillery, penetrated Ukraine from Russia. Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Minister of Interior announced this news at a briefing in Kyiv on Thursday, June 12 (video, in Russian, from TSN News report). He noted that military vehicles and equipment are coming through seized Ukrainian checkpoints on the eastern border with Russia.

According to “intelligence data and relevant surveillance, we can see that over the past three days, despite claims of the Russian Federation that they welcome the peace process and that orders have been given to tighten control over the border from the side of Russia, penetration of columns through seized by terrorists checkpoints, particularly in Ďiakovo (Luhansk region) continues,” said Avakov.

In addition, Avakov confirmed the information that appeared earlier in the media that Ukraine’s border was crossed by three tanks on June 12.  The tanks then went to Snizhne (Snaezhnoye), a town in the Donetsk region. “Then the two tanks moved toward Horlivka, in the Donetsk region where they were attacked by our [Ukrainian] armed forces,” said the Interior Minister. Continue reading

Parasyuk on the bad, and the good, at Poroshenko’s Presidential inaugural banquet

ParasiukVolodymyr Parasyuk is the Maidan sotnyk/company leader who emerged as one of the most well-known and respected heroes of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity. After opposition leaders signed an EU-brokered deal to end the conflict in Kyiv in February 2014, the 26-year-old Parasyuk addressed the crowd on Independence Square and issued an ultimatum that helped to turn the tide against Yanukovych and caused the ex-president to flee.

Parasyuk said he was surprised, given that he had not been a “loyal” supporter during the election campaign, to have received an invitation to the inaugural banquet in honour of newly elect Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv.  But Parasyuk promised that he would share his impressions of the event.

I will start with the negative.

As I drove up towards the the Mystetskiy (Cultural) Arsenal, I constantly got stuck in traffic jams and witnessed how the “Lexuses and Mercedes” of our officials calmly drove out into oncoming traffic lanes and violated all known traffic rules.  I understood, yet again, that there are some people in our country who feel they can just spit on the laws.

During the first 15 minutes I was plagued by one question: what am I doing here?Gathered, at the banquet, was a unique contingent of those who throughout all the years of independence had “cared” for Ukraine and promised us a wonderful future but, for some reason, we have what we have.  Putin is not to blame for everything.

The culmination was the appearance of Akhmetov and the “regional” scum.  Fortunately, Simonenko was not there (I heard that he was getting a tan somewhere in rotting Europe). The Regionals (Party of Regions members) walked around in groups, only talked among themselves and constantly looked around to their sides.  I wanted to approach them and “chat,” but they immediately, as if having seen someone familiar, turned away from me and fled.

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Poroshenko’s inauguration to be celebrated on Maidan

poroshenkoElectionsCelebratory events on the occasion of the inauguration of the newly elected president of Ukraine will take place on Independence Square (Maidan) in Kyiv.

On Thursday, the corresponding order was signed by Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov, the president’s official website reports.

A statement explained the motivation behind this decision as being,  “In connection with the completion of the election campaign, the implementation of the expression of the peoples’ will, and the election of the president, which is a guarantee of the further strengthening in Ukraine of values shared with the European Union, democracy and the rule of law.”

“Given the great importance in establishing the European choice of Ukraine of the peaceful protest movement on Independence Square in November 2013- February 2014, and in order to pay tribute to the fallen participants of the peaceful protests, and in pursuance of the Article 112 of the Constitution of Ukraine, it has been resolved to:

1. Conduct celebratory events on Independence Square in Kyiv on the occasion of the assumption of office by the newly elected president of Ukraine.

2. Establish a working group to ensure the conduction of celebratory events on Independence Square in Kyiv on the occasion of the assumption of office of  the newly elected president of Ukraine.

The working group is to be headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Yarema, and also includes Vitali Klitschko; Culture Minister Yevgeniy Nyschuk; Head of the KSCA (Kyiv City State Administration) Volodymyr Bondarenko; Chief of the Kyiv SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) Yuriy Artyukhov; Head of the Central Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyiv Yuriy Moroz.

3. Mandate the working group to immediately:

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Medics appeal for blood donors and financial aid for wounded Ukrainian soldiers

Wounded Ukrainian soldiers, who took part in the ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operations) in Donbas, continue to be transported to Dnipropetrovsk. Twelve fighters, who received serious injuries, are getting medical treatment in the Dnipropetrovsk Mechnikov regional hospital. This was stated by Sergiy Ryzhenko, the head doctor at the hospital.

According to him, several military doctors have “managed to return soldiers back to life, practically from the dead.” Moreover, he described how a severely wounded officer, who lost approximately 3.5 litres of blood, was rescued.

“He had very slim chances of surviving, but our specialists were able to rescue him. We are very grateful to all of the doctors who have come to donate blood for the soldiers but, unfortunately, this is not enough,” said Ryzhenko.

He has appealed to all concerned Ukrainians to come this Friday, May 30, to the Mechnikov Hospital to donate blood for the wounded soldiers.   The reception of volunteer donors will start at 10:00 a.m.

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Of all the elections I’ve observed, it was the calmest and best run, says Canadian MP Peggy Nash

By Olena Wawryshyn, EMPR

Canadian MP Peggy Nash (right) with Canadian MPs Ted Opitz (centre) and James Bezan (far right) in Kharkiv, while pro-Ukrainian rally just passed by

Canadian MP Peggy Nash (right) with Canadian MPs David Christopherson (left) Ted Opitz (centre) and James Bezan (right) in Kharkiv, while a pro-Ukrainian rally just passed by

Canadian MP Peggy Nash, who was in Ukraine as an election monitor for the fourth time said, on CBC Radio a day after the May 25 presidential election that “of all the elections I’ve observed, it was the calmest and best run.”

Nash, who is vice-chair of the Canada-Ukrainian Parliamentary Friendship Committee was a monitor in Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine.  “We never felt in danger or intimidated at polling stations we visited,” she said.

She also said that in the 10 years that she has been visiting Ukraine as an election monitor the election process “seems to improve every time.”  The election workers “were better educated in the process,” she said.  “The stations we visited were well run and competently run.”

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