The West says goodbye to Ukraine. Just figure it out!

Today, October 1st, a serious incident happened in Donetsk, the largest city in the rebellious Donbass, when a school and bus stop came under fire (picture below). According to initial reports there were eleven dead and 41 wounded, mostly at the bus stop; a few teachers but fortunately no schoolchildren. This grave violation of the agreement reached in Minsk September 5th following Russian mediation, reveals the continuing activity of neo-Nazi elements on the Kiev side and their refusal to accept the truce. 

However, in our media we hear little abour Ukraine any longer. However incredible it may sound, everything points to the West abandoning Kiev to its own fate. According to the Indian diplomat, M.K. Bhadrakumar, this has to do with the fact that Ukraine is entering the winter season with an economy sliding down with double-digit figures, much worse than expected. According to earlier estimates the country needed 50, but following recent recalculations, 100 billion dollars to stay afloat—but president Poroshenko, received with full honours in Washington, received only 50 million from Obama to get through 2015. An amount that would invite ridicule if it wasn’t such a pithy sign of how the West one moment proclaims civilization itself is in danger, only to turn its attention elsewhere to wage war on another front the next.

The sanctions against Russia remain in place, but Obama counsels Kiev, without blinking an eyelid, to remain on good terms with all neighbours, east and west, in particular the economic and interpersonal relations with… Russia.

As signs that the West is abanding Ukraine Bhadrakumar mentions the surprising summary decision of the EU to put the Association Agreement that was the original bone of contention and the civil war and which was signed by Poroshenko, in the freezer until late 2015; a fact noted in the media only in passing; strong EU support for the Minsk agreement; the top secret meeting between the foreign secretaries of France, Germany and Russia on the sideline of the recent Paris meeting regarding the Islamic State; recognition by NATO that Russia has withdrawn its troops from the border with Ukraine; and the meeting between ministers Lavrov and Kerry in New York.

Experts are predicting that nobody is keen to start filling up the bottomless pit that is Ukraine. Poland and Lithuania, ready to form a common brigade with Ukrainian military participation, of course lack the funds. Germany then? Everything, the usually very well informed Bhadrakumar notes, points to another diplomatic victory for Putin, because signs are that Poroshenko is eyeing Moscow to pull him out of the morass. That is less surprising than it seems because as noted before, Poroshenko is an opportunistic oligarch who is willing to do business with other oligarchs and Putin represents the oligarchs of Russia.

In the West this is no secret. Bhadrakumar concludes his article with a quote from the former British defence minister, the hardline Tory, Liam Fox, who warns that we must stop with empty threats directed against the Kremlin because there are ‘different ways of dealing with the Ukrainian situation’.

So now it is only a matter of convincing the neo-Nazi’s picking the chestnuts from the fire for Kiev in the east and who have to be placed on top of the list of suspects of the Donetsk incident referred to earlier.

In an article about of these groups, the Azov batallion, in The Guardian, titled ‘the Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat’ on 10 September last, so five days after the Minsk agreement, it was predicted that this group and comparable volunteer units are the greatest threat to the country’s stability. Their admiration for Hitler, the sporting of SS symbols, and other signs of their political profile, are cited to make clear their intentions. More particularly the unanimous intent to take the fight to Kiev should the mission in the east be called off. The Azov battalion is being financed by the governor of Donetsk, the oligarch, Serhiy Taruta, but the article notes that its member will not shrink from removing his boss in Kiev, Poroshenko, and replace him with a dictator. And they will bring along their foreign volunteers like Mikael Skillt, a Swedish sharpshooter who is fighting with them—I noted before the striking presence of Nazis from Sweden in Ukraine.

The typical volunteer formations fighting for Kiev are Ukrainian nationalist ultras or Nazis, but most of the Azov fighters have Russian as their first language and they are remarkably positive about some of the fighters opposing them, such as Igor Strelkov, a former officer of the Russian secret service, FSB. Indeed the article notes that these Azov-Nazis are just as negative about those in power in Kiev as they are about Putin, whom they wish will soon have his own ‘Maidan’ to deal with. The Ukrainian military leadership is particularly hated; it is being held responsible for the heavy losses in the east.

The Azov battallion and comparable groups like the Aidar battallion according to Amnesty International have committed grave crimes which should not remain unpunished. The West however has decided to look the other way and whilst the country is sliding into the abyss, Poroshenko and his companions from now on can deal with the situation on their own.

Kees van der Pijl

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