Ukraine Monitor Articles
The declaration of the participation of Volodymyr Zelensky was the main event of the beginning of the official campaign before the March presidential elections in Ukraine. The popular actor and producer now plays the role of “a person from outside the establishment”. Generally, he occupies the third place in polls and his chances to enter the second round are not high.
A trial of three Polish citizens accused of the arson attack on the Hungarian minority centre in the Ukrainian Zakarpattia has started in Cracow. This provocation was aimed to aggravate relations between Kiev and Budapest. Ukrainian authorities immediately suggested that Russian secret services might be responsible for the attack.
The risk of the outbreak of a military conflict in Ukraine has increased recently. If an open war (less likely) or an armed incident similar to the one in the Kerch Strait (more likely) is to take place, Moscow needs to find a pretext, a very strong one indeed. One such pretext could certainly be the use of chemical weapons in Donbass.
“It is necessary to consider a realistic possibility that Russia could launch a new act of aggression against Ukraine,” the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said on December 24. Nonetheless, if such a scenario takes place, it will probably turn out to be yet another phase of fighting between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and “People’s Republics” in the Donbass region rather than a regular war between Russia and Ukraine.
Moscow and Kiev gave each other a “Christmas gift” by extending their sanction lists. On December 25, Russian PM signed a regulation concerning this matter and on December 26 the same decision was made by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. However, the mutually imposed sanctions do not influence the real economic relations between both countries.
Ten million dollars of support from the USA and a visit of a small British warship. These are not very impressive means of support from the West for Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia in the sea. The problem has suddenly become important after the so-called Kerch incident on November 25. However, Ukraine takes a weak position in this matter.
Recent statements of the most important Russian representatives confirm that Moscow still hopes for taking control over entire Ukraine. This is the reason why Moscow does not acknowledge the independence of the so-called People’s Republics in Donbas and is developing its military potential in the Crimea, attacking the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and threatening with war.
Almost immediately after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Moscow started to deploy a large amount of modern weaponry and thousands of troops to the region. In addition, it was possible to form a large independent military unit. Once turned into a fortress, the Crimean peninsula managed to provide Russia with a certain advantage in central and eastern parts of the Black Sea.
Moscow is unlikely to make any concessions on the issue of 24 Ukrainian naval sailors detained in the Kerch Strait. Russian authorities claim that the soldiers cannot be referred to as prisoners of war while rejecting Western calls to release the servicemen.
After several years of crisis, the broken and marginalised after the fall of Viktor Yanukovych’s regime pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine have begun to regenerate. The purpose: the upcoming presidential, but mainly parliamentary elections. However, the pro-Russian camp has few advantages and many deficiencies.
The speculations that a new owner of the 112 Ukraine news TV channel is connected with the main political representative of the Russian interests by the Dnieper river, Viktor Medvedchuk, have been confirmed. The same person has recently become in possession of another famous NewsOne TV channel.
Polls show that the reaction of Petro Poroshenko to the so-called Kerch incident may damage his election plans. Many Ukrainians claim that the introduction of martial law was a result of the president’s political calculation. He had to defend one of his three campaign mottos (reinforcement of the army and defence against Russia).
Kiev warns that Russia can openly attack Ukraine. The incident in the Kerch Strait was supposed to be a prelude testing the reaction of the West. President Petro Poroshenko talks about the intense presence of Russian forces by the Ukrainian border. The same is said by Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko.
After long negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, the Ukrainian government decided to raise the price of gas for people. In return, IMF will grant subsequent parts of the financial help necessary to tackle the Ukrainian foreign debt. However, the government has to make other decisions which are to lead to the structural reform of the energy sector of the Ukrainian economy.