Ukraine: The Empire strikes back

4 березня, 2014

Публікація на EUobserver

Two months ago the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, warned his EU colleagues that after the Olympic Games in Sochi are over Russia intends to actively intrude in Ukrainian affairs.

Did he have intelligence about Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine?

The operation of the scale unfolding in Crimea must have taken several weeks to prepare.

But as things quietened down in Ukraine over the past week and the transitional government slowly gained control over the country, few gave credibility to such warnings. A Russian incursion seemed unlikely due to the lack of turmoil in Ukraine which could have given it a pre-text.

There have been very few reports of protests against the new government since Ukraine’s former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, fell from power on 22 February. A small anti-EuroMaidan rally in Kharkiv on 23 February gathered less than 2,000 people.

Most of Ukraine was instead mourning the victims of Yanukovych’s brutal attempt to keep power. Videos of the vanity and decadence of his private mansions, and those of other key figures in his regime, also grabbed people’s attention.

And so, it begins

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Ukraine: Dream of Change

23 лютого, 2014

Публікація на EUobserver

The latest death toll, according to Ukrainian officials, is 88 people (Photo: Jeroen Akkermans RTL News Berlin)
For many, the fight for genuine democracy, especially in view of the potential return of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko to power, is far from over.

For others, the smoke of uncertainty over the future of eastern and southern Ukraine is equally worrying.

How did we get here?

The tragic escalation in Ukraine after riot police tried to clear the EuroMaidan last Tuesday was a point of no return.

The death toll – the worst bloodshed in the modern history of the country – extinguished any illusion that anything but ousting the dictator, Yanukovych, would be acceptable to protesters.

You cannot negotiate with someone who has declared and waged war on his own people, whom he calls “terrorists.”

It was a dirty war: riot police tortured detained activists; hired criminals burned cars, beat, and killed protesters and journalists; rooftop snipers used live ammunition against medical volunteers.

Yanukovych utterly delegitimised himself.

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