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Punitive operation, mounting chaos to overshadow Ukrainian presidential inauguration

May 28, 2014, 16:46 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, May 28. /ITAR-TASS/. The election of business tycoon Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine’s president heralded an upsurge in the punitive operation by the Kiev-controlled forces against the supporters of federalization in the southeast of the country, with the death toll up to several dozen. Although Poroshenko had promised that first and foremost he would visit the defiant Donbass coalfields in a bid to start a dialogue with the insurgents, the past two days have seen heavy casualties — the worst since the moment the conflict flared up in eastern Ukraine. Not less than 40 lives have been lost and 43 wounded survivors of attacks are in hospital.

The United States and NATO threw their weight behind Poroshenko’s latest actions. The president-elect is in no hurry to say anything about the possibility Ukraine may join the North Atlantic Alliance. Also, he came out against holding a referendum on Ukraine’s accession to NATO, initiated by the leader of the Batkivshchyna party, Yulia Tymoshenko. However, this is possibly a question of time and information technologies, experts say.

On Tuesday, the news arrived Kiev was harboring plans to start the process of Ukraine’s secession from the Commonwealth of Independent States, the CIS.

Amid this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that “Poroshenko’s visit to Russia is not on the agenda yet.” Lavrov condemned the intention to end the military crackdown on the East, which Kiev keeps calling “counter-terrorist operation”, by intensifying hostilities. As for Ukraine’s intention to quit the CIS, the Russian Foreign Ministry interpreted it as a blow on Ukraine, and not on the CIS.

“All attempts to forecast a favorable march of events in Ukraine are fundamentally wrong. Chaos in Ukraine is snowballing in all spheres. The election of a new president will not bring about any fundamental change. One oligarch has been replaced by another, and the very same oligarchs have seized power in regions. Now they will follow their own unwritten spoken code of conduct, the way they have been doing all the way, even when holding senior civil service posts. They have no intention to make long-term plans, let alone establish a constructive relationship with Moscow, simply because many of them have undergone “crash instruction courses” in the West,” the director of the Centre for Military-Political Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Alexei Podberyozkin, told ITAR-TASS in an interview.

“The new president has no clear legitimacy or his own team. The one that is now in power will get paid for the job done from its overseas handlers and vanish into thin air,” he said. It is the United States that runs the show in Ukraine. On Monday, the EU’s energy commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, said that Ukraine would pay its two-billion-dollar outstanding debt for natural gas by Thursday. But Kiev, so eager to enter the European Union, has preferred to defy this message on orders from Washington. It is not accidental that Sergei Lavrov has described Washington’s intervention in the gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine as “laughable.” This is a statement of the hard fact that in reality runs the show in Ukraine,” the analyst said.

“The United States is keen to preserve a two-thousand-kilometer-long belt of instability along the border between Russia and Ukraine. Washington has for 23 years pursued a strategic policy of preventing Ukraine’s integration with Russia in any form, of nurturing Russophobic elite hostile to Russia. In fact, Washington has achieved its aim,” Podberyozkin said.

“Kiev’s hope for integration with the European Union and admission to NATO arouses much skepticism. It is a great headache for the West. Ukraine may be integrated with individual EU and NATO programs, but surely not as a full-fledged member. The West needs the 45-million Ukrainian population as a consumer, but not as a provider of coal, steel or rolled stock. The EU is perfectly aware that in order to tear Ukraine away from Russia it has to be offered something — not very much, though — in compensation. Therefore the forecast for Ukraine looks not consoling. It may find itself in the position of Bulgaria or Romania, countries abandoned by their intellectuals where industries are degrading and unemployment is sky-high,” Podberyozkin said.

“As for Ukraine’s intention to leave the CIS, Kiev will be in no hurry to take that step, otherwise it would have to cancel the visa-free regimen or be prepared to welcome home the 3-5 million Ukrainians who are earning a living in Russia,” he said.

“Poroshenko’s wish to employ the military scenario to put Ukraine’s eastern regions under control may worsen the situation still more. In these regions, Russian speakers account for majority of the population. Russia will be unable to ignore that fact,” the analyst warned.

“By pushing ahead with the so-called counter-terrorist operation in the Southeast, where a majority of the population is pro-Russia minded, Kiev puts itself in a situation where the beginning of a dialogue with Moscow would be possible only over the protection of Russian speakers’ interests in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics,” the president of the National Strategy Institute, member of the military-industrial commission under the Russian government, Mikhail Remizov, has told ITAR-TASS.

“Kiev’s intention to start the process of secession from the CIS is not an infringement of Russia’s interests. On the contrary, it is an excuse for ignoring the existing norms of free trade between Ukraine and the other members of the CIS,” the political scientist said.

“The Ukrainian political elite’s plans for holding a referendum on joining NATO does not mean that the North Atlantic Alliance will be ready to admit a very weak country. Hypothetically, the presence of NATO’s military facilities in Ukrainian territory, in other words, the alliance’s military presence near the Russian border, should not be ruled out. Nor should one exclude the possibility of creating a miniature copy of NATO consisting of the Baltic countries, Poland and Ukraine,” the analyst said.

“In a situation like this Russia should achieve the guaranteed recognition of the rights of Russian speakers in the Southeast of Ukraine within the tightest deadlines. Otherwise, the situation may go out of control,” Remizov said.

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