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Looking “East” once more

June 13, 2014

There has been nothing written about the goings-on in eastern Ukraine in this blog for a while – other than a few lines relating to thoughts of what President Poroshenko would try to do the day after he was elected.

“Naturally, once sworn in, President Poroshenko need immediately deal with issues in the east of the nation. How he will choose to do that will no doubt become clear very swiftly after his inauguration. Regardless of whether force, dialogue or a combination of both are his policy of choice, he would be wise to make his first domestic visit to Donetsk.”

Since then there has been no mention of events in the east.

Why would there be?  Nobody reads this blog for daily or hourly bloody blow by bloody blow accounts.  This blog stumbles around in the policy and political arena, attempting to predict directions and outcomes, as well as occasionally passing an erudite comment on the Ukrainian democratic model – be it being deconstructed or constructed at the time of writing any particular entry.

Crimea is and remains a disaster.  The new Odessa Mayor since his election has returned all the odious and corrupt to City Hall.  Ex RADA MPs jailed for murder have been released a full 10 years early by corrupt Kyiv courts.  The list goes on and on, but in short, there is a lot of Ukraine that cannot be forgotten about because of the troubles in a small part of the east of the country – headline grabbing as that may be.

However, going more than a few weeks without mentioning eastern Ukraine would also be remiss to say the least – and particularly so now there is a new Ukrainian President with a plan.

The question is how well with the plan work?

The obstacles are many and of varying difficulty to overcome.

The most obvious difficulty is that there needs to be somebody to negotiate with from the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts that represent the disillusioned, but whom have not bloodied their hands in any fighting.

Perhaps even more difficult, is finding a  leader whatsoever.

Thus far few if any “self-declared” mayors/governors seem to last no more than a few weeks before either being replaced, or falling out with their counterparts resulting in the fragmenting of any “people’s” political framework.  The percentage of Russian “self-declared leaders” seems to have risen whilst that of Ukrainian “self-declared leaders” is falling – though that ebbs and flows as they rise and fall.

Who to sit down with, when those with whom you do, may not last as a representative for even the duration of any negotiation?  How many to sit down with when the self-declared leaders are so fragmented and disjointed?  That continued further fragmentation seems likely for the time being.

What to do in the meantime?  Continue to drive out or kill those armed against you, or cease hostilities in the hope some form of coherent and consistent leadership and narrative emerges? – This in the full knowledge that any such a ceasefire is likely to be neither lasting and also abused.

As has been written here before, there are several paymasters behind several groups.  Those paymasters do not have the same visions of a Donbas, or Ukrainian future.  Indeed their motivators are different.  Their funding will continue – or not – as they wish.  As such, their mercenaries will continue to fight – or not – regardless of who sits down at the negotiating table opposite President Poroshenko.

Without any clearly defined and accepted leadership emerging from Luhansk and Donetsk of a purely political nature, who sits opposite at any negotiating table?

If and when that eventually occurs, where is the middle ground?  Where will the compromise be?  The presidential parameters and plan is clear.  Thus far there is no desire from the other side to cede any negotiating ground.

Even if there were some meeting in the middle in some form of variant of the Dayton Agreement or Northern Ireland Peace Agreement – neither of which fit the Ukrainian circumstance well – both in many respects were little more than putting a band aid on a very large wound, and neither have effectively dealt with the underlying, festering, issues.

What is a better outcome?  The fact there is currently nobody to negotiate with, and that in effect prevents a Transnistrian styled governance emerging and taking root – or the fact that there isn’t, meaning open ended fighting against little more than warlordism?

Perhaps a policy being considered is simply a continued squeeze by the authorities whilst watching “self-declared” this and that emerging and disappearing, fighting amongst themselves, eventually to pick up the pieces?

Can anybody answer Evgeniya’s question above with any degree of certainty?

Under the current circumstance and employing the current tactics, there seems to be no answer in either the short or medium term – presidential plan or otherwise.

 

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