The New Ukraine: A Pathway to Peace with Zelenskiy?

With  the election of the  comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine may possibly be entering a new era-  or not….

With  no  known  specific  policy  agenda items Zelenskiy is a blank  canvas,  but there are drivers that  indicate where  the new government may  head,  based on  historical  trends.

While promising to  eliminate the endemic corruption that  has been  rampant in  Ukraine since  the Soviet Union was dismantled on December 25th  1991 ( as have many  other recent politicians like Brazil’s new president Bolsonaro or President Trump’s ‘draining of the swamp’) Zelenskiy’s credentials are not promising. His main  backer appears to be the  Ukrainian /Israeli/Cypriot  billionaire ( the second or third richest  person  in Ukraine) Ihor Kolomoyskiy,  who  fled Ukraine in  2016  (to  Israel?) after being accused by  Ukrainian officials of embezzling $5 billion from  his now nationalized Privatbank.  Once favoured by  the post Maidan   Ukrainian government and appointed governor of the  Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Kolomoyskiy is  also   accused of  using his wealth  and paramilitary  forces  to  threaten other businesses into  submission. Wikipedia notes that: Kolomoyskyi has used Privat’s “quasi-military forces” to enforce hostile takeovers of companies, sending a team of “hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws” to forcibly take over a Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006,[26]and has used “a mix of phony court orders (often involving corrupt judges and/or registrars) and strong-arm tactics” to replace directors on the boards of companies he purchases stakes in.[27

You  may be amused (or not)  of this account of  Kolomoyskiy’s  behaviour  in 2014  in attempting to  reclaim  his ‘rightful’  ownership of “Ukrtransnafta”  a Ukrainian  company which  manages the transport of oil through the Ukrainian pipeline network.

Kolomoyskiy also owns the TV channel on which Zelenskiy’s comedy programmes were shown and has provided security, lawyers, and vehicles for the candidate.  Zelenskiy however,  denies,  somewhat  implausibly, any influence  by  Kolomoskiy on his political  agenda as president.

The former President Poroschenko, the confectionery  billionaire and   apparent CIA asset, attempted to  portray  Zelenskiy ( and all  the other presidential  candidates) as Putin’s stooges;  a  ploy that  has been used extensively by   Ukrainian American  intelligence assets in the Ukraine since the breakup  of the Soviet Union. Zelenskiy, while speaking Russian,  does not appear to  have the inclination or motivation to  break  away  from  these current Ukrainian  mindsets,  although he has indicated a willingness to  at  least  talk  to  the Russians about the breakaway  primarily  Russian  speaking  oblasts of  Donetsk and  Lugansk .

Despite a lack  of  evidence ( somewhat  surprising in  this age of satellite  imagery) Ukraine and many  Western  governments have continued to  insist  that  Russia is directly militarily involved in  the breakaway  regions. The Minsk  Protocol of 2014, designed to  halt the   savage war between  the  breakaway Donbass paramilitaries and the Ukrainian   government and paramilitary forces (many of the paramilitary  having neo-nazi connections and using nazi-like terms to describe their  ‘untermenschen’ Russian speaking opponents) , has failed to  stop  the fighting,  with  both  sides accusing the other of breaking the agreement.  Kolomoisky   himself has been  accused  of ‘funding the Aidar, Azov, Donbas, Dnieper-1, and Dnieper-2 battalions that engaged in a brutal campaign of looting, torture and murder during Kiev’s Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) military action against eastern Ukraine, starting in April 2014 as well  as being involved in  the burning of Odessa’s Trade Union building with much  loss of life .  Russia issued a warrant in 2014 for Kolomoyskyi’s arrest  for “organizing the killing of civilians”.

Despite monitoring by  an independent OSCE force, violations of the ceasefire by  both parties  continue to  occur on  a day  by  day  basis.  We can be thankful at  least  that  former president  Poroschenko’s attempts to  further stir up  racial  hated using the bigotry  of the far right groups,  have not won the day  in Ukraine ( for now).  For  that, Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian  Jewish   communities too  will  be thankful; despite his  billionaire sponsor’s apparent support for those groups; Patriots of Ukraine, Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) and White Hammer .

While   inflation and unemployment have reduced somewhat  since 2017,  Ukraine  continues to  be  mired deep in  a financial  crisis,  with   the EU and IMF stating that  they do  not consider Ukraine has done enough  to  reduce  government corruption  or  government subsidies . Zelenskiy will  be caught between  the need to  satisfy  his billionaire supporters,  satisfying  the demands of the IMF  and EU, while appeasing his voters and improving their lot,  and somehow reducing the scale of the conflict  in  the East.

As the media onslaught and  historical emnity to  ‘foreigners’   and national ‘patriotism’  of western  Ukrainians has surged   since Soviet days ,  the window of opportunity for reconciliation between Eastern ,  largely  Russian  speaking Ukrainians  and  the Western  EU oriented populations has begun  to  close.  Fears of a Russian invasion  have been  fanned  relentlessly by    intelligence operatives from U.S.  and U.K.  and several  other Western European  states with  Ukrainian media increasingly hyping the perceived threat  to  the benefit of the oligarchs and  political  forces.  As Ukraine’s biggest  trading partner,  and with   its  many hundreds of years of ethnic , religious  and language  connections , Russia  seems unable to  counter that  spin. For the medium  term  at  least  that  may mean  a Ukrainian nation both  divorced from  its historical  Rus  roots,  and also unable to  to  achieve recognition as a European  nation.

A nation  which  can   achieve harmonious integration of both of these paths ,  despite outside  interventions ,  would be the best  of futures. Can Zelenskiy begin  the  perilous journey  down  that  pathway; juggling the  competing interests of Russians,  Europeans and Americans  whilst maintaining Ukrainian independence?- it is just possible….


Links

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/22/the-buried-maidan-massacre-and-its-misrepresentation-by-the-west/

ConsortiumNews comments to  the above webpage  by  “Abe”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volodymyr_Zelensky

https://www.wsj.com/articles/putin-shows-carrot-and-stick-to-new-ukraine-leader-11556210091

https://www.rferl.org/a/so-far-zelenskiy-is-high-on-charisma-and-light-on-policy-do-ukrainians-care-/29868871.html

https://program.ze2019.com/

https://www.politico.eu/article/volodomyr-zelenskiy-ihor-kolomoisky-the-comedian-and-the-oligarch-ukraine-presidential-election/

 

Zelenskii beat Poroshenko – what will happen next?

https://www.thenation.com/article/neo-nazis-far-right-ukraine/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-election-zelenskiy-oligarch/mutual-friends-and-borrowed-cars-how-ukraines-would-be-leader-is-linked-to-tycoon-idUSKCN1RS147 

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