Deadly fighting in eastern Ukraine must end “this week,” Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko has pledged. He was speaking at talks involving an envoy from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine. Meanwhile, fighting has continued in and around the rebel-held city of Sloviasnk.
Tag Archives | Petro Poroshenko
It seems contradictory: on the one hand Moscow is moderating its rhetoric on Ukraine and calling for talks with newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko, on the other we have reports that a large contingent of heavily-armed Chechens, the ‘Vostok Battalion,’ is now in eastern Ukraine, something that could not have happened without Russian acquiescence–and which probably was arranged by them. However, I think that they actually fit together to suggest that the Kremlin is looking to position itself for potential talks with the new presidency in Kyiv, something that requires reversing not just the rhetorical trend towards hyperbole but also the slide towards warlordism on the ground. After all, for Moscow meaningfully to make a deal, it must be able to offer more than just a willingness not to destabilise the east any more, it must be able to deliver at least a partial peace on the ground.
Having decided to fight this non-linear conflict largely through local allies, adventurers, deserters and opportunists–albeit encouraged, armed and protected by Moscow–the Russians appear to be coming to realise that this is war on the cheap but also war off the reservation, something they cannot readily control. Indeed, the new pronouncements by “Donetsk People’s Republic” defence chief Igor Strelkov (or Igor Girkin) that lawlessness and indiscipline within the militias would be treated harshly, punctuated by the execution of two looters, also represents another sign that Moscow’s men on the ground are trying to get the situation under control.
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had scarcely made it out of prison, where she had spent the last 2 and half years on politically motivated charges courtesy of Viktor Yanukovych, before international media outlets went wild.
The image of Tymoshenko, going straight from jail to the stage in front of victorious Euromaidan crowds was iconic to say the least. While Western leaders applauded her release alongside the broader shift of power in Kiev, articles attacking the former Prime Minister’s image and anti-corruption credentials were just as present. “She’s no angel,” read Christopher Dickey’s piece in The Daily Beast, while Caroline Holmund in Foreign Policy Journal detailed Tymoshenko’s “close relationship with Pavlo Lazarenko” throughout her business career, calling her guilty by association.
There is no question that Tymoshenko has been and always will be divisive, sparking admiration among millions as well as anger from her detractors, a sort of Ukrainian Hilary Clinton. The fact is that Yulia Tymoshenko is a complex character; she is perhaps the only woman to successfully navigate Ukraine’s cutthroat post-independence business world and come out on top, and doubtless the most charismatic political figure in Ukraine today. While articles that raise questions about Tymoshenko’s past career deserve to be read, it is always easier to tear things down than build them up in the new media age. More than anything, such articles negate the positive case that can be made for Tymoshenko.