Friday, 2 May 2014

The Ukrainian Civil War Breaks Out.

With the announcement that the beleaguered government in Kiev is introducing conscription, it is evident Ukraine has descended into civil war. By introducing conscription, Turchynov has effectively admitted that his government had lost control over the eastern regions and can only rally support by a levee en masse.

By reintroducing conscription, the provisional government aims to channel the revolutionary impetus behind the Euromaidan protests into supprt for it against pro-Russian militants and force upon the Ukrainian nation the choice of being either for or against a government which has a shaky legitimacy in Ukraine as a whole.

From the outset of the crisis and the overthrow of Yanukovych, the Fatherland Party of Tymoshenko has desperately tried to court popularity by playing the west Ukrainian nationalist card. The inclusion of Svoboda and Right sector politicians in government was a sop to the ultra nationalists who dominated much of the street fighting.

With the uprising of pro-Russian militants in the east, tacitly backed by Russia, the course is now set for a civil war in which NATO and the western powers cannot intervene militarily ( as in the Balkans) and the prospect of an election on May 25th cannot take place in much of Ukraine.

Elections in the west and central Ukraine could see more gains for the far right in the circumstances. If that happens and the eastern regions are still in turmoil, then the Ukrainian state would be even more fragmented, something that separatists in Donestsk and Slaviansk would use to force through break away republics even more.

The chances of there being a free and fair election recede by the day. Uprisings and revolutions seldom bring about peace and stability. The protests in Kiev, after Yanukovych rejected the EU trade deal, were quickly hijacked by the losers of the 2010 elections, the Fatherland Party, and by the far right.

The Fatherland Party was hardly popular even during the Maidan Protests. After Yanukovych was ousted and Tymoshenko was released from prison, it was clear she had scant support, one reason for ramping up the rhetoric about 'nuking' the Russians and speaking favourably about the use of paramilitary forces.

For an unelected interim government in Kiev, one dominated by a party elected out of office in fair and free election in 2010, to have come to power and banned Russian as an official language should have given alarm in the capitals of Europe. No condemnation of the Ukrainian far right was uttered by any European government.

The EU powers miscalculated in giving their open support for a Ukrainian revolution without being able to know who would come out top in Kiev. The failure to distance itself from or to condemn the Ukrainian far right played into the hands of the Kremlin which could portray the protests in the Maidan as part of a 'fascist coup'.

For the US backing the Kiev government and the far right in Ukraine was no problem. US diplomats had openly lauded co-operation with local councils dominated by Svoboda in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk as a means for energy corporations such as Chevron to gain the right to exploit the Olesska gas field.

Gazprom's opposition to western corporations muscling in to Ukraine was evident. Despite the fact Yanukovych had not acted to prevent these gas deals, the US saw the chance to decisively roll back the political power of the Party of the eastern regions without thoughts for the potential divisions in Ukraine that could be caused.

Energy geopolitics has been the major reason why both the US and Russia are at loggerheads over Ukraine. Exxon Mobil had been drilling off the south west coast of Crimea in the Black Sea before the crisis and consequent annexation of the region by Russia after its population voted for secession from Ukraine.

As Kiev orders a military operation on Slaviansk to maintain 'territorial integrity', as opposed to promising federalisation and seeking a diplomatic resolution, the civil war in Ukraine began.Ukraine as a unified state controlled Kiev is a fiction to be maintained because it was as a whole that Ukraine was going to be supported by the West.

A truncated Ukrainian state without the southern and eastern regions would be of limited geopolitical and economic significance to the West. With Crimea already lost, the potential value of bringing the Ukrainian Black Sea coast within NATO's sphere of influence at once becomes more important and yet beyond its grasp.

With Ukraine's economy sliding into complete ruin, the EU and US failed to provide enough cash and the IMF reforms mean drastic changes that could bankrupt eastern Ukraine's industries and drive citizens in Kharkhiv and Donetsk closer towards support for the pro-Russia militants. 

The Slaviansk offensive by Friday 2 May 2014 was reported by the BBC to have left 'many dead'. Ukraine would seem to have passed the point of no return with Russia making noises about Kiev "leading Ukraine to catastrophe" and a demand for a emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to be held.

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