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MOSCOW, April 24. /ITAR-TASS/. With only a month remaining before Ukraine’s early presidential election, slated for May 25, the political and economic crisis in the country is way far from being settled. The poor situation remained deadlocked despite a communique on the conflict de-escalation, brokered by Russian, US, EU and Ukrainian top diplomats in Geneva on April 17.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who are longtime partners and rivals, keep exchanging accusations of failing to fulfill Geneva accords on Ukraine.
Lavrov criticizes the United States for being behind the actions of the Kiev authorities in the southeastern regions of Ukraine, where local residents march in protests demanding the free election of the local authorities and to speak and use the Russian language without restrictions. The minister said the current Ukrainian authorities decided to go ahead with the military operation in the southeast of the country after US Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev. The operation was launched after a secret visit of the CIA chief to the Ukrainian capital on April 13.
Kerry says at the same time that Russian military forces are involved in the Ukrainian developments and Moscow gives orders to protesters in the southeast of Ukraine to seize administrative buildings.
Lavrov says in response that Moscow has never sent any military to Ukraine and is unable to instruct Ukrainian nationals to disobey the authorities.
Taking into account all the above-mentioned facts, preparations for the presidential election in Ukraine are unfolding against a background of debates on the future structure of the government. Presidential campaign favorite Petro Poroshenko believes that the mooted broad decentralization of the authorities within the frames of the constitutional reformation must not end with the change of the unitary structure of the state. The new draft Constitution, supported by Poroshenko, stipulates broad extension of local authorities’ powers, but has not a single notion about the federalization.
Supporters of the federalization course in Ukraine are in the minority among the registered presidential candidates. Most outstanding supporters of the federal structure among them are Mikhail Dobkin from the Party of Regions, and Petro Symonenko from the Communist Party.
However, recent protests by coal miners in the country’s industrial center of Donbass made all debates on the state structure look less important.
“The foundation has been always more important than what is built above it,” Sergei Kulik, the director for International Development at the Russian Institute of Contemporary Development, told ITAR-TASS commenting on the protests.
“Protests by miners and the problematic social and economic situation in Ukraine could force the European Union into signing an economic deal with Kiev as part of the country’s European integration. As we all know, only a political deal of Ukraine’s European integration has been signed as of now between the EU and Ukraine. Brussels is currently not as loud as Washington, because after Moldova’s European integration the EU would not manage to carry the Ukrainian burden as well,” the expert said.
Promised assistance for Kiev by the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) exists only in verbal form. The European Union gradually realizes that without the cooperation with Russia it would be unable to cope with the assistance program for Kiev to prevent the collapse of the Ukrainian economy. Therefore, I believe it is possible that Geneva-II talks on the resolution of the poor social and economic situation in Ukraine would take place in the near future,” Kulik said.
“As for the federalization issue I can say that no one has yet proposed the concept (of this issue). It may all end with the formation of the regional governors election principle within the frames of the constitutional reformation. Not a bad outcome at all. However, no matter who wins in the presidential election, the new person in power will have to set wits on how not to severe economic relations with Russia. Because the economic situation in Ukraine will only deteriorate further with the reduction of Ukrainian goods exports to Russia,” Kulik said.
Yevgeny Kozhokin, the dean of the Academy of Labor and Social Relations, said “Russia had for 23 years respected the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine and been reinforcing this respect by bilateral agreements, economic aid and preferential natural gas supplies.”
“However, very dependent people came to power in Ukraine after the recent coup there. That neighbouring country, exceptionally important for Russia, has obviously turned into a puppet, eager to trade its economic independence to the European Union and its military independence to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as soon as possible,” the expert said.
“There are no doubts at all that Geneva-II consultations on Ukraine must be held, since the solution of the problems in that country will be impossible without the participation of Russia and the United States. It should be explained to the United States that Russia does not seek a split-up of Ukraine, but wants stability by means of creating a federal state,” he said.
“There is a surprisingly widely spread belief that democracy comes to the former Soviet states from the West. However, in Ukraine, the West is dictating not democracy but unitarianism, totalitarianism, suppression of the will many people who did not vote for Ukraine’s acting President (Oleksandr) Turchynov and who deny support for the current government,” Kozhokin said.
The expert belives that Russia and the United States should reach a compromise, which is the only way of preserving the integrity of Ukraine and maintaining stability there.
“This is the only rational scenario to settle the current geopolitical crisis in Ukraine,” he said.
“There is also another scenario, which stipulates a confrontation that would involve the world’s two largest nuclear powers: Russia and the United States,” Kozhokin said. “Such scenario is paranoidal.
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