Events, dear boy……September 4, 2014
This morning a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine was apparantly agreed by telephone between Presidents Poroshenko and Putin – or perhaps not as fighting continues.
It has to be said – it would be something very clever indeed. A ceasefire agreed between Ukraine and Russia, when Russia has always robustly and absolutely denied any involvement in the war in Ukraine. Not only that, The Kremlin has always point-blank denied even having any influence of the anti-Kyiv fighters.
That a cessation of fighting may come from declaring a ceasefire with a party that claims to have absolutely zero involvement in, or influence over the conflict really is truly very clever indeed. A model for ending all conflicts globally in fact, and with immediate effect. A quantum leap forward in international relations and diplomacy beckons if this model is proven to work.
In the immediate term, it now remains to be seen whether actions will speak louder than previously uttered and entirely mendacious words from certain parties. The question is whether the ceasefire – should those on the ground actually cease firing – will hold. Particularly as the details of agreements behind it are yet to emerge.
Hope is not a strategy, and actions speak louder than words.
Nevertheless, as expected, it appears that the Ukrainian government has indeed managed to agree the removal of Ukraine’s legal non-aligned status. A new defence policy, official or otherwise, is going to have Russia as an aggressor nation running as a golden thread within. That much is clear. Fanciful talk, perhaps, of a wall being built the length of the Ukrainian-Russian border has been floated. Whatever the case, Russia is no longer seen as a friendly or even neutral nation on Ukrainian borders.
Indeed, a decree disbanding Ukrainian involvement with the CIS nations was signed today by the president. Whether a physical wall be built or not – a legal and diplomatic one is certainly being erected. How high remains to be seen.
These issue and more of course capturing the headlines.
However, somewhere in and amongst all this was an announcement that Ukraine is going to look to increase its nuclear power. Ukrainian nuclear power being an issue written about here a few times historically – usually for reasons that could and should worry.
The Westinghouse incidents linked above aside, it is understandable from a Ukrainian viewpoint that nuclear remains a part of its energy mix.
Naturally new Russian reactors and plants are definitely out. With France still selling Mistral warships to Russia, spending $billions with the French will not sit well with public opinion, despite France having tremendous nuclear power experience and domestic reliance.
But there is something to be said for striking a deal with a company such as RWE Nukem on several fronts should they be given “preferred bidder” status from the Ukrainian government.
Firstly they are German and it would naturally increase German interests in Ukraine going forward. Secondly, whilst much of the site work will be carried out by Ukrainians, there will certainly be pleasing ripples throughout the RWE supply chain in Germany too. German business is certainly not overly pleased with the blow-back sanction effects on Russia, but has fallen in line with Chancellor Merkel thus far. Next, depending upon how any such deal is structured, RWE may have a permanent vested energy supply interest in Ukraine, whilst simultaneously playing its part in clearing the very murky waters within Ukrainian energy. Notwithstanding any such new plants would be built and commissioned to ENSREG standards.
RWE Nukem or any other, the point being, a politically defined preferred European bidder – and Germany stand out being the driver of so much in Europe – would have a long term and strategic benefit to Ukraine with a deal that is thought through thoroughly.
Not headline making amongst today’s news of course – but probably of greater security importance than any proposed wall looking long term.