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What Comes Next in 2015: What happens to Ukraine?

  • January 26th, 2015
  • Posted by EU Australia

MarionopolThe Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko has again called for help from the West after fresh outbreaks of fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists in Eastern parts of the country.
FIGHTING ON TWO FRONTS

From late September separatists stepped up attacks on government positions occupying the highly-contested Donetsk airport, eventually taking them over on 21.1.14.

Petro P.Mr Poroshenko (picture) said Russia had deployed more than 9000 troops and 500 tanks, other armour, and artillery in the Donbass region; and international monitors agreed there had been indiscriminate bombardments in civilian areas.

UkraineIn the last week attention shifted to the seaport of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov South of Donetsk; a key to Russian access to the Crimean Peninsula occupied by Russia since March, (See map).

Thirty people were killed by shelling from the pro-Russian side, according to reports from diverse quarters.

See BBC video: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30974283

DIPLOMATIC EXCHANGES

Federica MogheriniFederica Mogherini, the EU High Representative responsible for foreign policy (picture), spoke to the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and has called a meeting of the 28 European Union Foreign Ministers for this Thursday at Brussels.

Senior officials have continued talking about resistance to “appeasement”; the Russian government has accused Ukraine of setting off the latest round of fighting, “militarising” the situation in breach of the cease-fire accord agreed to last March, indifferently observed.

President Barack Obama today stepped up the American government’s condemnation of Russia in the Ukraine, suggesting fresh economic sanctions against Moscow were coming, and adding to the rhetoric from his State of the Union address last week (20.1.15).

The Russia side looked to be “hell-bent on engaging in military conflicts”, he said.

Addressing Congress on the State of the Union, he said:

“Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as we were reinforcing our presence with the frontline states, Mr. Putin’s aggression, it was suggested, was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That’s what I heard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters. That’s how America leads: not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”

BAD FEELING OVER AUSCHWITZ

In a side issue indicative of bad feeling in Central Europe, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin is staying away from this week’s 70th anniversary commemorations of the liberation of the Auschwitz death by the Soviet army.

The Polish government has been steeply critical of Moscow over its interventions in Ukraine – one of a chain of former Soviet satellite states nervous about any signs of a reversion to colonial hegemony.

Officials in Warsaw has said they did not feel like inviting the Russian President, but issued a general invitation to diplomatic services, and he got offended about it.

Reference

Barack Obama, Obama’s State of the Union 2015 Transcript (Full Text) and Video, NYT, NY, 20.1.15. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/21/us/politics/obamas-state-of-the-union-2015-address.html?_r=0, (26.1.15).

David Stern, Ukraine conflict: Poroshenko vows to ‘calm’ Mariupol fighting, BBC, London, 25.1.15. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30974283, (26.1.15).

Pictures  EU

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