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  • Colonel Motuzyanyk: Ukraine has not committed any armed provocations on administrative border with Crimea and no Ukrainian intelligence officers were detained on the peninsula
    UKRAINE CRISIS MEDIA CENTER Aug 11, 2016

    Kyiv, August 11, 2016. Ukraine has not committed any armed provocations on the administrative border with Crimea and no officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine have been detained in the temporarily occupied Crimea. “The Russian Federation made another step in the informational warfare. The Federal Security Service of Russia and Putin accused Ukraine of instigating provocations on the administrative border between the Kherson region and the occupied Crimea and came up with a series of threats towards our country. All of Moscow’s statements made yesterday contradict reality. […] These Kremlin’s actions and statements were made in order to discredit Ukraine, undermine the Minsk Agreements, and escalate the conflict in the east of Ukraine caused by the Russian aggression,” said the spokesman of Presidential Administration on ATO-related issues Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, emphasized that it is Russia that “has been generously financing and actively supporting terrorism on the territory of Ukraine, bringing it to the level of its state policy.” “Our partners from the United States of America discarded these false allegations of Russian authorities. For instance, the US State Department and Geoffrey Pyatt, the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, emphasized that there was no proof to back these Russian allegations, as Ukraine refuted them. We call upon citizens to stay alert,” added the spokesman.

    http://uacrisis.org/wp-content/uploa...4tqSB5QMeO.jpg

    Militants violated the ceasefire 12 times in Luhansk, 23 times in Donetsk, and 32 times in Mariupol sectors in the ATO zone yesterday. One Ukrainian serviceman died in combat and four were wounded.

    Tensions stay high in the Luhansk sector in the vicinity of Popasna, Bakhmut road and Stanytsia Luhanska. “The enemy opens fire during the hours of darkness using small arms and grenade launchers. Mortar launchers were used in Krymske and Stanytsia Luhanska yesterday,” said Col. Motuzyanyk.

    Militants’ combat activity resumed near the Donetsk airport in the Donetsk sector. Russia-backed militants instigated a provocation involving the use of grenade launchers near Pisky in the afternoon. Insurgents shelled Ukrainian positions in Opytne from artillery and large machine guns late at night. Russian proxies started the day with mortar attacks in Avdiivka and finished the day with the same. In addition to mortar launchers, militants were shooting from grenade launchers of various systems and small arms. The armistice held in the Avdiivka industrial area during the day. “The Svitlodarsk bulge and the northern outskirts of Horlivka were yet more areas where militants were active. In total, 23 hostile attacks took place in the Donetsk sector yesterday, with more than half of them involving the use of heavy armor,” added the spokesman.

    It was the first time in the last two weeks in the Mariupol sector that militants were not shooting in Krasnohorivka and focused their combat activity on the adjacent Mariinka. Russian proxies started shelling Ukrainian positions with grenade launchers and small arms around 6 p.m., following which they drove in the armor and opened from armored personnel carriers and infantry combat vehicles. “Attacks stopped late at night. Two children – an eight-year-old and a 13-year-old – were injured in Mariinka as a result of hostile combat activity. Moreover, three residential buildings were damaged in this town in the occupants’ aggressive actions,” said Col. Motuzyanyk. Militants also were active in Novotroitske and Hnutove-Shyrokyne frontline area in the Mariupol sector. Attacks were mostly conducted during the hours of darkness in this area. “Adversaries launched over 60 mortar shells at Talakivka defenders’ positions. At the same time, enemy delivered an intense artillery attack at ATO troops’ positions in Vodiane at dawn, launching 70 122-mm missiles. Moreover, the enemy was conducting mortar attack at our positions in Shyrokyne for 60 minutes at night. In total, 32 hostile attacks took place in the Mariupol sector, and six of them involved use of heavy armor,” informed Col. Motuzyanyk.

    According to the updated information, five militants died on August 8-9 and 16 more were injured. So-called “1st” and “100th” brigade, “9th” and “11th” regiments of Russian occupational forces incurred losses. Militants organized three flights of unmanned aerial vehicles yesterday, all of them in the Mariupol sector.

    According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, rotation of a subdivision of the 331st parachute regiment of the 98th division of Airborne Forces of the Russian Federation (home base – Kostroma) took place on the temporarily occupied territories. This militant subdivision is fighting in Avdiivka-Mariinka frontline area.

    Military intelligence informs that another batch of reinforcements arrived for militants from Russia. Three self-propelled artillery mounts “Gvozdika”, three self-propelled artillery mounts “Akatsia” and five trucks with artillery ammunition were transported through Diakove towards Debaltseve using low-bed trucks. Following the unloading of the equipment, the trucks returned to the territory of the Russian Federation.
    11.08.2016 / !Press Releases, #Video, Press Briefings Colonel Motuzyanyk: Ukraine has not committed any armed provocations on administrative border with Crimea and no Ukrainian intelligence officers were detained on the peninsula | UACRISIS.ORG

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    • Fears Mount of Full-scale Ukraine-Russia Clash
      VOICE OF AMERICA Jamiie Dettmer Aug 10, 2016

      KYIV —

      The sound of battle has long gone. But the ghosts remain in Ukraine's Independence Square, where more than two years ago police and protesters clashed for weeks amid acrid black fumes billowing from burning tires.

      In Ukraine's Maidan where sniper rounds once cracked, there are now foreign tourists. Where 53 people were slain either with clean shots by expert marksmen or gunned down at closer range by less skillful assassins, there are now snaking lines of school kids visiting from other Ukrainian cities.

      The kids listen in various states of indifference or interest to the guides explaining the events that led to the ouster of President Vladimir Putin's satrap Viktor Yanukovych.

      That ouster triggered the Russian land-grab of Crimea and what Ukrainian and Western officials say is Moscow-fomented separatism in the country's mainly Russian-speaking eastern region of Donbas.

      http://gdb.voanews.com/C37AE855-4446..._w610_r0_s.jpg
      FILE - Memorials mark the spots where demonstrators were massacred during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv. (L. Ramirez / VOA)

      For all of the calm now in Maidan, Ukrainian officials fear the Kremlin is limbering up for another destabilizing offensive in the east. They say it is part of Moscow's hybrid war involving dirty tricks and misinformation to snap Ukraine back into the Russian orbit and prolong a state of uncertainty to hinder the government in Kyiv from accomplishing the political reforms Maidan protesters demanded.

      Mounting tensions

      And tensions are increasing, not only in the Donbas but on the Ukraine-Crimea frontier following the off-and-on closure over the weekend of all three border crossings by Russia. Kyiv accused Moscow on Tuesday of stepping up military activity on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014 within weeks of Yanukovych's fall. More helicopter gunship sorties reportedly are being flown along the border, as well as surveillance drone flights.

      Ukraine's general staff is reinforcing units in Kherson, the Ukrainian region bordering Crimea, and residents say they have spotted anti-tank rocket launchers being transported by Ukrainian forces.

      The Russians also are building up in Crimea. The deputy chairman of the outlawed Crimean Tatars' Mejlis, or council, Nariman Dzhelalov, wrote on his Facebook page August 7: "Witnesses report that large groups of Russian military hardware have been massed near Armyansk and Dzhankoy [in northern Crimea]."

      On Wednesday, Russia's Federal Security Service claimed it had thwarted an armed Ukrainian incursion into Crimea that aimed to sabotage critical infrastructure. The FSB said a Russian soldier and an intelligence employee had been killed in clashes, and a group of Ukrainian saboteurs had been arrested.

      That drew a curt denial from Yuriy Tandit, an adviser to Ukraine's security service SSU. "Ukraine is not trying to regain Crimea by force," he said.

      The mounting tensions along Ukraine's border with Crimea coincide with a weeks-long uptick in fighting in the Donbas, where a Ukrainian soldier was killed Monday and five others wounded.

      To the outside world, the confrontation in the Donbas is another one of Moscow's "frozen conflicts" subverting former Soviet countries on Russia's periphery, such as Georgia and Moldova, and blocking them from moving on from their Communist pasts — and, in Ukraine's case, from joining Western institutions.

      Frozen isn't how it feels for Ukrainians living or fighting in the east more than two years after pro-Moscow separatists seized government buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk, and 18 months since Ukraine and Russia concluded an armistice, known as Minsk 2.

      Rising violence, civilian deaths

      U.N. officials worry at the rising civilian casualty toll: in June, 57 people were wounded and a dozen killed. Last month, eight civilians were killed and 65 injured.

      Monitoring groups suspect the numbers of civilian casualties are higher. July was an especially deadly month for Ukraine's military, with 42 soldiers killed and 181 wounded.

      Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for Ukraine's presidential administration, says that from Sunday to Monday, pro-Moscow separatists launched 47 attacks on Ukrainian positions; more than 50 attacks were recorded Monday to Tuesday.

      Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Ukraine for the jump in fighting, claiming he is "seriously concerned" about the escalating violence.

      Some Ukrainian officials worry the increased violence is a prelude to full-scale fighting and the world may be witnessing the start of another land-grab launched by Russia during an Olympics. They point out it was during the Winter Olympics in the southern Russia city of Sochi in 2014 that Putin and his generals planned the annexation of Crimea.

      ‘Something bigger’

      Other analysts and Ukrainian officials suspect what is happening in Donbas is part of a two-year destabilizing pattern that has seen a rise in provocation, only to be followed by a period of quiet. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) accuse both sides of violating the cease-fire.

      Motuzyanyk told VOA that Kyiv is only responding to Moscow-directed provocation. He says the separatist and Russian forces number 45,000 on Ukrainian territory, a mixture of local recruits, former Russian servicemen and current Russian military.

      And he argues the separatists' political leaders are "just puppets and have no say about what happens." He adds, "The military forces are commanded directly by Moscow."

      The Ukraine spokesman says, "It is disappointing to see the Russians using heavy artillery again. It is summer now and it easier to move vehicles and to launch military actions. And there is a huge possibility we might see something bigger, but we have large forces along the contact line. And in order to breach it, they would have to amass even more forces."

      Both sides appear readying for that "something bigger" by redeploying forces.
      Fears Mount of Full-scale Ukraine-Russia Clash

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      • Russia stalls Normandy talks until "positive steps" by Kyiv Russia says it makes little sense to hold Normandy format meetings until it sees real positive steps from Kyiv, the Foreign Ministry of Russia said in its statement.
        UNIAN 11 Aug 2016

        As President Vladimir Putin noted on August 10, given the current situation and until we see real positive steps from Kyiv, like renouncing terror and provocations, it makes little sense to hold Normandy format meetings, like the Beijing meeting in early September requested by Mr Poroshenko recently," the statement reads. Earlier today, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has tasked the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry with arranging telephone talks with the leaders of Germany and France in the "tripartite Normandy format." The president also requested to hold talks with U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and to initiate a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as was reported.

        Russia stalls Normandy talks until "positive steps" by Kyiv

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        • Believe, don’t bend: tyrants can’t live forever
          UNIAN Yuriy Kulikov 11 Aug 2016

          Had the Kremlin leader cared at all about the residents of the Crimean peninsula, stolen from Ukraine, he would not have set up his KGB-style provocations during holiday season.

          Instead, he gave a very untimely gift to the Crimeans in early August, having come up with a bogeyman story about the evil "Ukrainian terrorists" and shelling of Crimea by armored vehicles from mainland Ukraine.

          But where is the logic? In the first days of August, the Russians close up the Kerch ferry lane, in order to deploy in Crimea new military equipment, then transport it to Dzhankoy and other Crimean cities, and then announce that they are searching in the north of the peninsula for a group of people, dressed in uniforms of soldiers of the Russian army, they close down the checkpoint at the administrative border with mainland Ukraine, and then run a story about the arrest of "terrorists"…

          Where is the evidence of attacks by Ukrainian armed forces on the territory of Crimea? Why are the members of the "Ukrainian sabotage group" Crimean residents with Russian passports, with only one Ukrainian, who is moreover either kidnapped from the territory of Ukraine or unfairly lured into the Crimea?

          And the most important question is why would Ukraine want this? How can any terrorist attacks bring the return of the peninsula to Ukraine?

          The feeling that we are witnessing the beginning of a large-scale special operation of Russian spec-ops forces, aiming at influencing both the domestic set-up (in connection with the upcoming elections to the Russian State Duma) and the international relations, was confirmed by Putin, himself.

          On the heels of the earlier statements, he passed his recommendations to the civilized democratic world to inflict pressure on Kyiv, and to the Ukrainians – not to be distracted from the accumulation of irritation over "the poor state of economy" due to the rule of the “junta”. I wonder how long will the Russian leader sing this song about the illegitimacy of the Ukrainian authorities? One might want to remind him that, since the Revolution of 2014, three waves of elections have already passed in Ukraine - presidential, parliamentary and local. The regime was changing the way the Ukrainians wanted it to change.

          In the recent months, many analysts, including those from Russia, acknowledged that Moscow doesn’t know what to do with the post-revolutionary Ukraine. Neither do the Russian leaders know how to continue their Donbas campaign and get out of the Minsk process painlessly for the initiators of war. According to their assessments, the situation is now frozen, so the Kremlin decided to give a stone a push. As we know, Putin always sets up a mess during the Olympics: in 2008, there was an armed invasion of Georgia, in 2014 – the Russian army invaded Crimea. That’s a kind of an "Olympic" tradition in Russia.

          But our tradition is not to succumb to provocations and not to bend to the will of a dangerous enemy, who has neither honor, nor dignity. This is our land, and we have nowhere else to go...

          Meanwhile, it is painful to see what is happening to Crimea and the Crimeans. First, they were fed fears of a fictitious threat coming from the "Ukrainian fascists", then they were robbed of their Homeland, and now they are targets of special services. I remember how the Crimean puppet administration lured Ukrainian tourists to rest on empty Crimean beaches and offered the Ukrainian youth to come for season jobs serving Russian elite at Crimean resorts. Now it is clear what can await our citizens in case they go for a trip to the occupied peninsula. Any innocent Ukrainian can face a real threat of terrorism charges and a backpack carefully prepared by the FSB, full with “material evidence” of their “subversive activity”. And there is no chance to prove that you are simply a tourist.

          Mahatma Gandhi once said the words that are relevant for us today: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
          Believe, don’t bend: tyrants can’t live forever | UNIAN

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          • Germany says lifting sanctions on Russia will not be possible anytime soon
            UAWIRE ORG August 11, 2016 4:27:00 PM

            Germany has no plans of lifting sanctions against Russia in the near future, as stated by the German Commissioner for Cooperation with Russia, Gernot Erler, reports Deutsche Welle.

            The situation in eastern Ukraine is being taken into consideration in Germany. According to Erler, violations of the truce and ceasefire agreement are recorded almost every day during the last few weeks. All this led to numerous casualties on both sides, said Erler.

            It is also reported that all 28 EU member countries are ready to discuss the lifting of sanctions only after the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

            The economic sanctions were imposed on the Russian Federation in the summer of 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea and the military conflict in the Donbas. As a result, the Minsk Agreements were concluded in 2015, which provided for a cease-fire. Based on the provisions of the agreement, the weapons must be withdrawn and constitutional reforms should be initiated.

            In July, the EU officially extended sanctions against Russia. UAWire - Germany says lifting sanctions on Russia will not be possible anytime soon

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            • Why Russia manufactured Crimean “terrorism”. Five versions
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Yevhen Buderatskyi 2016/08/12

              On August 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to comment on the latest developments in Crimea. He explained that the increase in Russian military activity on the peninsula was nothing other than preventive action against some “Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group” that attempted to “organize a terrorist act in Crimea.”

              It is noteworthy that Putin’s statement was made only on August 10 whereas the events themselves, according to the Russian side, took place as early as August 7 or 8. Why was the declaration announced only now?

              Version 1. Pretext for declaring war

              Many experts have drawn historical analogies between the “Gleiwitz incident” (false flag Nazi operation in August 1939 that served as Germany’s pretext for invading Poland — Ed.) when Germany staged an attack by Poland on itself, creating a formal pretext for the start of World War II.

              As fantastic as this version appears, it is nonetheless true that both on the Russian and the Ukrainian side predictions about the approaching “major war” are voiced with increasing frequency. The escalation of hostilities in Eastern Ukraine and the declarations about Crimea may be links in the same chain.

              Given the fact that Russian propaganda frequently resorts to methods used by Nazi Germany, it is impossible to rule anything out. However, the main problem with this version is that the “attack on Crimea” cannot serve as adequate explanation for intensifying actions against Ukraine since the international community considers Crimea as Ukraine.

              Version 2. Provoking Ukraine to make mistakes

              In order to understand Putin’s statement on Crimea, it is worth reviewing the not-so-distant events in Georgia eight years ago. The August Russian-Georgian war was preceded by informational attacks, each one similar to Putin’s statement.

              The purpose of these actions was to provoke the Georgian side to react. At the same time, the Russians were trying to arrange everything to make it appear that Tbilisi had gone crazy and that the Georgians themselves had attacked Russia.

              In this case, Russia hopes to sow doubts in the international community and provide pretexts for Ukraine’s partners to distance themselves from Kyiv. In 2008, Georgia succumbed to such provocations to some extent, which is why Ukraine must not repeat Tbilisi’s mistakes.

              Version 3. Elections in Russia

              Recent opinion polls indicate that although support for Vladimir Putin remains high in Russian society, a growing number of Russians are indifferent to the Russian president.

              This situation would not be critical if did not occur before elections to the Russian State Duma, to be held in September. Putin is deathly afraid of an internal explosion and often uses amplification and hysteria about foreign enemies to distract the Russian population from domestic problems.

              Given that Turkey is a friend again and the US is not paying special attention to Moscow’s forces, the Kremlin has returned to the long hackneyed scenario with “Ukrainian fascists.”

              Version 4. Raising the stakes on the international scene

              Vladimir Putin in his Crimean declaration has already managed to emphasize that, given the current situation, negotiations in the “Normandy format” are meaningless.

              In fact, the Russian president hinted that Moscow does not see any sense in the Minsk agreement and threatened to withdraw from the peace process.

              Keeping in mind that the West frequently states that there is no alternative to Minsk 2, Putin’s statement may be nothing more than basic bargaining: for example, offer us something if you do not want us to withdraw from the “Minsk process.”

              What the Kremlin wants exactly is unclear. However, since Crimea was chosen for the newest provocation, it is possible Crimea itself is subject to bargaining.

              Moscow often “tosses out” unexpected topics into the foreign policy dialogue in order to raise the stakes. This has happened many times. One could mention the unexpectedly active intervention in the Syrian conflict. The Kremlin likes to draw attention to itself because this is the only way the Kremlin boss feels important.

              Version 5. Crackdown in Crimea

              In assessing Putin’s statement it is necessary to take into account the foreign policy aspect. On August 9, Putin held a meeting with the Turkish leader Recep Erdogan, which was presented as a reconciliation between Russia and Turkey.

              Turkey has long taken the position of not recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and has supported the Crimean Tatars, although it did not support sanctions against Russia in response to the annexation.

              Russia’s inability to break the resistance of the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula is obvious and the Kremlin needs some explanation for even greater crackdowns in Crimea. “Ukraine’s incursion” appears a strong argument for Russia’s behavior. Nevertheless, given Turkish support for the Crimean Tatars, tough countermeasures could have caused Ankara’s displeasure. Therefore, one should not exclude the possibility that during Putin’s meeting with Erdogan, the Turkish president could have promised not to interfere in the situation in Crimea in exchange for something more substantial for himself.

              Any of these versions is nothing more than a guess. However, Ukrainian authorities should take the statements by Putin seriously since they are evidence of a change of position on Ukraine. Pretending that nothing is happening is not a good idea. http://euromaidanpress.com/2016/08/1...five-versions/


              Source: Espreso TV

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              • The Power Vertical Brian Whitmore Aug 12, 2016
                The Daily Vertical: How We Talk About Crimea
                The Daily Vertical: How We Talk About Crimea


                The Power Vertical Brian Whitmore Aug 12, 2016
                The Daily Vertical: Putin's Post-Fact World
                The Daily Vertical: Putin's Post-Fact World
                ==========================================
                The Power Vertical Brian Whitmore August 12, 2016
                Podcast: Putin's Strongman Club

                Are the autocrats of the world trying to unite?

                Vladimir Putin's summits this week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rohani were the latest illustrations of how the Kremlin leader is working overtime to build alliances with the illiberal regimes of the world.

                On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we look at Putin's efforts to build an Authoritarian International.

                Is it a true challenge to the West? Or an act of desperation?

                Joining me are veteran Kremlin watcher James Sherr, an associate fellow with Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia program, and Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a columnist for The Washington Post, and the author of the books Theories Of International Politics And Zombies and the recent The System Worked: How The World Stopped Another Great Depression.

                Also on the podcast, James, Daniel, and I will discuss the tensions this week in Crimea and what they may portend.

                Enjoy...Podcast: Putin's Strongman Club

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                • Is Putin Preparing a New Attack on Ukraine?
                  12.08.16 | Anders Aslund HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

                  Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Kremlin on August 10. Credit: Kremlin.ru
                  First published by the Atlantic Council

                  Observers have greatly feared that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would start a small regional war this August. Russia has moved up its State Duma elections to September 18. Although only Putin’s parties are allowed to win, he has a predilection for “small and victorious wars” to mobilize his people.

                  In 1999, the second war in Chechnya preceded his rise to president. In August 2008, Russia attacked Georgia. In February 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a move that was greatly popular in Russia. Its war in Syria has been an unmitigated success. For the last two years, Russia’s economy has been in recession, giving Putin all the more reason to mobilize his compatriots around a small war.

                  August is the best time for Moscow’s military action because Western decision-makers are on holidays. The Berlin Wall was initiated in August 1961, the invasion of Czechoslovakia occurred in August 1968, and the Moscow coup took place in August 1991.

                  The parallels with the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war are striking. That conflict started with the Olympic games in Beijing. The United States president was a lame duck amid the presidential election campaign. Russia was pursuing a large-scale military exercise called Caucasus 2008 in the Northern Caucasus. The Kremlin blamed Georgia for an implausible attack.

                  A war in August has seemed quite likely for domestic reasons, but where? In the last week, it has become clear that Ukraine will be the target. Major Russian troop movements with hundreds of tanks and heavy artillery to the Donbas and Crimea were reported during the weekend. They were part of a big Russian military exercise named Caucasus 2016.

                  On August 6, the Russian puppet leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky, was severely wounded by a car bomb in Russian-occupied Luhansk. Ukrainian intelligence blamed internal power struggles in Luhansk, while Russia blamed Ukrainian intelligence.

                  During August 6-7, Russian troops amassed in northern Crimea. Roadblocks were set up and the three checkpoints connecting the region to the rest of Ukraine were closed. Vague Russian reports complained about some Ukrainian incursion. President Petro Poroshenko called the Ukrainian troops on high alert.

                  Then Putin focused on diplomacy. On August 8, he held a meeting with his Security Council in Moscow with only half of the twelve permanent members present, suggesting urgency. Immediately afterwards, Putin went to Baku, where he met with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. On August 9, he hosted Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan in St. Petersburg.

                  Today, on August 10, the FSB and Putin made dramatic statements. The FSB, the KGB’s successor, published a statement on its website claiming that it had averted terrorist attacks prepared by Ukraine’s special forces against critical infrastructure in Crimea. The alleged aim of the action was to “destabilize the social and political situation during the federal and regional elections.”

                  According to the statement, on August 6-7, a group of terrorists were detected and one FSB employee died in a firefight. Several Ukrainian and Russian citizens were detained with twenty homemade bombs. During the night of August 8, special forces from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry carried out two more attempts to break through with terrorist groups. After an intensive firefight, one Russian soldier died.

                  So far, Russia has not presented any evidence, and this part of Crimea has been closed to visitors. Ukrainian commentators suggest that the Russians’ problem might have been deserters.

                  This official statement has been followed by officially orchestrated “leaks” from law enforcement through government media. One alleged that the saboteurs aimed at blowing up the large factory Crimean Titanium; another implied that they intended to bomb a carload of Crimean leaders on the road from Simferopol to Yalta.

                  Instantly, all of Ukraine’s defense institutions denied it in the sharpest terms, evidently attentive and ready. They stated that nothing had happened and that the FSB statement was an attempt to justify the Russian military’s aggression on the temporarily occupied territory. National Security and Defense Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov called the statement “hysterical and mendacious” and added that “this provocative FSB nonsense is party of the hybrid war that Russia pursues against our country.”

                  Scariest was Putin’s uncompromising statement that “Ukraine is choosing terror” and that Kyiv was trying to provoke a conflict with Moscow. He addedthat “these are very worrying reports. Indeed, our intelligence services prevented a sabotage and reconnaissance group from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry from infiltrating Crimean territory. In this situation, a Normandy format meeting would not make much sense right now.” The Normandy group that oversees the Minsk process was supposed to meet at the upcoming G-20 meeting in China on September 4-5.

                  Putin continued: “We will do everything we can, of course, to ensure security at infrastructure facilities and protect people, and we will take additional security measures, serious additional measures, technical and others.”

                  Poroshenko responded that Putin had “fantasized terror acts” to threaten Ukraine. It was Russia, he said, that was generously financing terrorism in Ukraine.

                  Putin appears to have chosen the time and place. He has done the necessary diplomatic footwork. His military has marched up. He has fabricated a casus belli that resembles the Gleiwitz incident in 1939 that preceded Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland. Given where the Russian troops are located, the Kremlin might want to seize the long-discussed land bridge from Mariupol to Crimea after it has failed to build a bridge over the Kerch Strait.
                  Is Putin Preparing a New Attack on Ukraine? :: khpg.org
                  Anders Åslund is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

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                  • BuzzFeed Hayes Brown Aug. 12, 2016 07:34
                    Russia Cut Off The Internet In Crimea
                    The shutdown occurred at the same time Russia says it was repelling an attack from Ukraine, a claim that Kiev denies.

                    Russia shut down the internet in the annexed territory of Crimea almost entirely just days before Moscow announced that it had foiled an alleged terror attack that Ukraine had plotted in the region, a research firm has said.

                    The Russian government on Wednesday claimed that its security service, the FSB, had gotten into a shootout with a “group of diversionaries” that had crept across the border with Ukraine on Saturday night with a large amount of explosives. That incident and a second on Monday, according to the FSB, resulted in the death of two Russians, Russia said. Though Russia said the latter attempt was covered with massive shelling from the Ukrainian side of the border, no reports from the area at the time back up that claim.

                    Dyn Research, a firm that specializes in tracking outages, noted that two Crimean ISPs dropped off almost entirely in the early morning hours of Monday.

                    Soon after, Krymtelekom — a Crimean telecom company — blamed the outages in Crimea near the border with Ukraine on routine maintenance. The company even went so far as to promise that the work would be completed, and the internet restored, by Aug. 10.

                    But on Thursday, Olga Kovitidi, a Crimean representative in Russia’s parliament, told an independent news station that the shutoff had happened on purpose “for security reasons.” “This was to ensure that certain special forces… so there would be no infiltration,” she said to Dozhd, an independent TV station. “For security reasons, these measures were necessary, and people understand why.”

                    Ukraine for its part has denied all of Russia’s claims, which come just weeks ahead of the first nationwide parliamentary elections that Crimea will be able to take part in after its 2014 annexation.

                    “Russian security services are trying to distract the population of Crimea and the international community from its criminal actions, turning the peninsula into an isolated military base,” the Ukrainian defense ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
                    https://www.buzzfeed.com/hayesbrown/...oxV#.qeEPVbykG

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                    • UNSC reaffirms its position on Ukraine's territorial integrity, except for Russia –Yelchenko Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, says Ukraine has expressed its thanks to members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), except the Russian Federation, for their support of Ukraine's territorial integrity.
                      UNIAN 11 Aug 2016

                      The Security Council members have reaffirmed their strong position regarding the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine, including Crimea, Yelchenko told reporters in New York after the UN Security Council closed meeting that was devoted to the situation in Crimea.

                      Yelchenko said Ukraine was pleased with the UNSC position, except for one country.

                      Yelchenko also stated that he had asked his Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin to provide the organization with evidence regarding Russia's accusations voiced against Ukraine. Yelchenko said he could hear only words.

                      He also informed that Ukraine had sent an official request to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, urging them to gain access to Crimea, in particular, to those people who, as Russia claims, had been detained in connection with the so-called "terrorist activity."

                      According to Yelchenko, Ukraine has requested those organizations to report the results of their communication with the detainees to the OSCE and the UN Security Council.

                      As was reported earlier, the United Nations Security Council has held a closed meeting today to discuss Russia's provocations in Crimea.

                      UNSC reaffirms its position on Ukraine's territorial integrity, except for Russia –Yelchenko

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                      • Who Killed Pavel Sheremet?
                        VOICE OF AMERICA Jamie Dettmer Aug 12, 2016

                        KYIV, UKRAINE —

                        The bomb blast was just 100 meters away, terrifying the skittish British businessmen who already were worried about whether Kyiv was safe. The explosion came the morning after Ukrainian translator Eugene Rysunkov had dropped them off at their four-star hotel.

                        “They were just sitting down to breakfast and they were shocked,” says Rysunkov. “I had reassured them that conflict and war was far away - that Kyiv is as safe as any other European city.”

                        The Britons weren’t the only ones shocked by the July 20 car bombing that killed Pavel Sheremet, a pioneering journalist and radio talk-show host who left his home country of Belarus six years ago after run-ins with its autocratic leader, Alexander Lukashenko, and a suspended prison sentence.

                        The high-profile murder in the heart of a district housing embassies and diplomats took Ukrainians aback — and police investigators now tasked with identifying the killers.

                        Last day alive

                        Sheremet was driving to work when a bomb exploded under the Subaru SUV belonging to his girlfriend, Olena Prytula, the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda. She wasn’t in the car. The bomb had been triggered by remote control, investigators say, but they won’t confirm earlier statements by officials that the bomb consisted of 500 grams of TNT.

                        “Assassinations are rare things in Ukraine,” says Viktor Gunko, the deputy chief of the investigations section at the Ministry of Interior. “And unusual when it comes to journalists in Kyiv,” he adds.

                        Observing Ukraine from afar might strike some as an odd statement - Ukraine is hardly associated with peace these days. For 28 months, there has been on and off fighting in the east of the country, and images still remain fresh for many of protesters being gunned down in 2014 in Kyiv’s Independence Square as they battled to topple President Vladimir Putin’s ally, Viktor Yanukovych.

                        In the past 25 years, journalists have been murdered or died in mysterious circumstances - 11 in all; but, with the exception of two killings, they took place outside the capital and involved local journalists prying too deeply into political corruption, organized crime or the affairs of oligarchs.

                        One of the most notorious slayings came in April 1995, in Sevastopol, when Vladimir Ivanov, then editor-in-chief of the daily The Glory of Sevastopol, died four days after being blown up by a rudimentary bomb planted in a trash can. His murder came after he exposed some Crimea mobsters. He’d been campaigning also for semi-autonomy for the Black Sea peninsula - and doing so didn’t endear him to Ukrainian ultranationalists.

                        The most high-profile murder of a journalist in Kyiv before Sheremet was in September 2000, when Georgy Gongadze, an editor at Ukrayinska Pravda, disappeared. A leaked recording that appeared to implicate then-President Leonid Kuchma and two senior aides in the journalist's disappearance sparked a huge political scandal.

                        Very symbolic execution

                        Sheremet’s highly public slaying smacks more of Moscow than Kyiv, say his friends. They compare it to the 2006 assassination in the Russian capital of journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, who was known for her opposition to the Second Chechen War and was an uncompromising critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

                        “It was a very symbolic execution - Pavel could have been killed in another, quieter way,” says his friend Oleh Rybachuk, a former deputy prime minister and now a civil rights campaigner. “It struck me where he was killed was important too - right in the heart of the diplomatic quarter of Kyiv. When was the last time a journalist was killed in a car bombing like this - it never happens in Ukraine.”

                        The assassination was meant to send a message, says Rybachuk. “It was a political killing and I think this goes back to the Russian intelligence services,” he says. Rybachuk links it to what he sees as Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine involving on and off war in the east and disinformation.

                        “Hybrid war means keeping your opponent stressed and frightened,” he says. “I can’t believe he was doing some investigation that got him killed. We know reporters who are doing very complex investigations involving big money. And I am not aware of him having any case he was delving into.”

                        Rybachuk was on Sheremet's last radio show. “He had the gift of talking in a simple way about complex stuff.” They discussed political corruption in Ukraine; but, most of Sheremet’s focus was, as always, on freedom of speech issues and President Putin. “He had Russian dissidents often on his show - he was very well known in Russia,” Rybachuk says.

                        Other friends say they wonder if the slaying was a domestic one. “Sheremet was also a threat to corrupt Ukrainian officials,” says Olexiy Haran, a political scientist at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Sheremet’s partner believes she and the Belarus journalist had been under police surveillance for months.

                        Evidence of third party

                        Investigator Viktor Gunko is cautious about divulging details of the ongoing probe into Sheremet’s murder. He nods in agreement that the killing was connected with Sheremet’s work but declines to comment on whether an overseas power was involved, saying he doesn’t want to compromise the inquiry. Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general, Eugene Yenin, told VOA that the evidence so far suggests the involvement of “a third party.”\

                        Last week, police released video footage of a man and woman who are suspected of planting the bomb. Both suspects were wearing loose-fitting track suits and baseballs caps, which helped obscure their faces from the CCTV cameras. The woman appears to have planted the bomb.

                        A Ukraine military intelligence official laughs at the killers’ appearance. “My suspicion is they were contracted local criminals. They looked like characters out of a Hollywood movie. They weren’t intelligence operatives and for me this points to Russia’s Federal Security Service rather than Russian military intelligence,” he says. Who Killed Pavel Sheremet?

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                        • REUTERS Commodities Devika Krishna Kumar NEW YORK Fri Aug 12, 2016
                          Oil climbs in volatile trading, propped up by weaker dollar

                          Oil prices rose about 1 percent in choppy trading on Friday, a day after its biggest gains in a month, as a weaker denominating currency, the U.S. dollar, helped support crude.

                          The dollar weakened after U.S. retail data showed sales were flat for July, against expectations of a modest rise. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar traded 0.3 percent lower.

                          Brent crude futures were 39 cents a barrel higher at $46.43 a barrel, a 0.9 percent gain, by 10:54 a.m. ET (1454 GMT), up from a three-week high of $46.66 earlier in the day.

                          U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 50 cents to $43.99 after touching its highest level since July 25 at $44.17 per barrel.

                          Both price benchmarks rose more than 4 percent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al-Falih said that oil producers would discuss potential action to stabilize oil prices during a meeting next month in Algeria.

                          "Although we regard such an agreement, let alone its implementation, as unrealistic, it is dampening fears of a continuation of the OPEC price war," Commerzbank said in a note.

                          Iran slashed its September official selling price for light crude to Asia by $1.30 a barrel, the latest sign that exporters are willing to accept discounts in return for market share.

                          An outlook published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that said it expected the supply and demand balance to tighten towards year-end also supported prices.

                          Traders said a drop of 8.1 percent in China's oil output in July, to a five-year low of 16.72 million tonnes, also lifted prices because it would mean Asia's biggest economy has to import more crude.

                          "As both a consumer and a refiner of oil – the country's refineries processed 2.5 percent more crude oil than last year in July – China is thus contributing to the tightening of the oil market," Commerzbank said.

                          Oil prices are still more than 12 percent below their last peak in June, as brimming storage tanks and production that exceeds consumption weighs on markets.

                          Prices have, however, recovered since U.S. crude fell below the $40 a barrel level early this month.

                          Traders were also awaiting data on U.S. rig counts at 1 p.m. ET (1700 GMT).

                          "Despite the recent bounce in prices, we continue to believe that the oil market remains in oversold territory," RBC Capital Markets analysts said in a research note.

                          "As such, the price path forward will likely remain choppy and non-linear since price moves can and will often be exacerbated in either direction."
                          Oil climbs in volatile trading, propped up by weaker dollar | Reuters

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                          • Ukraine’s Unrequited Passion for Europe Part 1
                            EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/08/12

                            Euromaidan Press is publishing an article by a famous Polish political researcher, Executive Director of the Polish-Ukrainian Foundation PAUCI Jan Piekło. The article is interesting as an example of a full analysis of relations between Ukraine and Europe. But no less important is the fact that Mr. Piekło has been appointed as the new ambassador of Poland to Ukraine and is expected to start his work in autumn 2016.

                            Mr. Piekło is one of the initiators of the report on Russian war crimes in Donbas that has been handed to the International Criminal Court in Hague. As a journalist, Jan Piekło reported on the Romanian revolution of 1989 and the war in former Yugoslavia. He is an author of two books about the Balkans.

                            This article is an abridged version of a piece that had originally been published by the Heinrich Boell Foundation.
                            -------------------------------------
                            The history of EU-Ukraine relations tells of missed opportunities and of unfilled expectations and risks to put the EU’s credibility at stake.

                            The history of EU-Ukraine relations tells of missed opportunities, paradoxes, various sets of misunderstanding and of expectations. We can start our story like a classic fairytale: ‘Once upon a time, just after the Orange Revolution, Ukrainians had a great chance to reform their country and join the community of European democracies, but the EU and the Western political leadership successfully missed an opportunity to include Ukraine in the European integration process.’ This also happened thanks to significant Russian interference and conflicting interests of the corrupt Ukrainian oligarchic elites.
                            -------------------------------------
                            It was a time when a wave of enthusiasm swept through the world and
                            expectations were extremely high.
                            -------------------------------------
                            However, soon frustrated and tired of the constant political in-fights within the ruling Orange camp, Ukrainians decided to change sides and gave the political mandate to Viktor Yanukovych’s Blue camp. Although the potential of the Orange Revolution wasn’t fully exploited, its legacy remained.

                            Although the potential of the Orange Revolution wasn’t fully exploited, its legacy remained.

                            The old EU Member States’ objection against Ukraine’s membership eliminated the use of the ‘carrot’ which had worked so well and speeded up transformation in the central European countries. The various internal reasons in Ukraine: the lack of consensus between the main political factions, corruption, stagnation and suspension of the necessary reforms resulted in the emergence of ‘Ukraine fatigue’ in the West.
                            --------------------------------
                            A symmetrical syndrome of ‘EU fatigue’ developed in Ukraine, deepening the frustration and giving munition to the supporters of the so-called ‘pragmatic’ approach of the Party of Regions.
                            --------------------------------
                            The EU pretended to keep the dialogue with Kyiv and its elite pretended to listen to Brussels when finalizing the procedure of negotiating the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (AA + DCFTA) with the EU. In the meantime, Russia secretly began making plans for annexing Crimea and subordinating Ukraine to the Kremlin’s rule.

                            Yanukovych’s refusal to sign this Agreement in Vilnius in November 2013 came as a surprise. Suddenly, the Ukrainian president put a new condition on the table: the EU should invite Russia as a participant in the negotiations. This was the end of the illusions for Brussels, but not the end of the pro-European saga in Ukraine. The Ukrainian civil society, social activists, students and opposition leaders took to the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, demanding the government to resign and sign the AA with the EU. This ended in bloody clashes with security forces and provocateurs, the death of hundreds of young activists and finally the escape of the ousted Yanukovych to Russia.

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                            • Ukraine’s Unrequited Passion for Europe Part 2
                              --------------------------------
                              The real full-scale crisis came soon with the Russian annexation of Crimea, the hybrid war and the military invasion of eastern Ukraine. This situation created a deadlock in which it was impossible to solve the most serious crisis on the European continent since the Balkan War.
                              ---------------------------------
                              At the same time, the EU became a target of numerous terrorist attacks. The massive and uncontrolled migrants flow plus the economic and political crisis the EU faces today made the European response to these security threats weak and inadequate. The spirit of solidarity faded away, replaced by growing insecurity, uncertainty and isolationism.

                              Disappointments in blue and orange
                              Everybody will remember the scenes from the time of the Orange Revolution in December 2004 when the crowd of supporters on the Maidan applauded Viktor Yushchenko as a victorious challenger in the (due to fraud) repeated presidential election.

                              Six years later, everything was different.

                              In the first round of the last race on 17 January 2010, Yushchenko gained only 5.45% (compared to the 52% in 2004), which eliminated him from the contest. The winner of the 2010 presidential race in Ukraine was Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the ‘blue’ Party of Regions, who lost the election to the ‘Orange Revolution’ coalition five years ago. Yanukovych voters believed he would finally bring ‘order and stability’. Also a substantial part of the political elite in the EU believed that he was a ‘pragmatic politician’ who would be a ‘credible partner’ for business talks.
                              -----------------------------------
                              With growing concern, we soon had to watch the process of the reversal of democracy in Ukraine.
                              -----------------------------------
                              The Party of Regions manipulated the local elections in 2010. Journalists and civil society started reporting cases of intimidation and violation of freedom of the press, local NGOs found themselves under heavy administrative pressure. Then came the selective arrests of and trials against Yanukovych’s political opponents. In the Freedom House Index ‘Freedom in the World 2011’, Ukraine was downgraded from the ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ status. The country began moving into a ‘soft authoritarian’ model of governance. Yanukovych had already crossed the red line. If he had accepted the conditions of the EU, he would have lost the support of his oligarchs and the next presidential election, and, in result, he might even have landed behind bars. This urged him to follow the path of his northern neighbor – Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s Belarus. Yanukovych couldn’t care less about Ukraine’s engagement with the EU; he was minding his own business, i.e. defending his position of power with all possible means.
                              ------------------------------------
                              The country began moving into a ‘soft authoritarian’ model of governance.
                              ------------------------------------
                              Yanukovych had already crossed the red line. If he had accepted the conditions of the EU, he would have lost the support of his oligarchs and the next presidential election, and, in result, he might even have landed behind bars. This urged him to follow the path of his northern neighbor – Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s Belarus. Yanukovych couldn’t care less about Ukraine’s engagement with the EU; he was minding his own business, i.e. defending his position of power with all possible means.

                              Yanukovych’s refusal to sign this Agreement in Vilnius in November 2013 came as a surprise. Suddenly, the Ukrainian president put a new condition on the table: the EU should invite Russia as a participant in the negotiations. This was the end of the illusions for Brussels, but not the end of the pro-European saga in Ukraine. The Ukrainian civil society, social activists, students and opposition leaders took to the streets of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, demanding the government to resign and sign the AA with the EU. This ended in bloody clashes with security forces and provocateurs, the death of hundreds of young activists and finally the escape of the ousted Yanukovych to Russia.

                              The real full-scale crisis came soon with the Russian annexation of Crimea, the hybrid war and the military invasion of eastern Ukraine. This situation created a deadlock in which it was impossible to solve the most serious crisis on the European continent since the Balkan War.

                              At the same time, the EU became a target of numerous terrorist attacks. The massive and uncontrolled migrants flow plus the economic and political crisis the EU faces today made the European response to these security threats weak and inadequate. The spirit of solidarity faded away, replaced by growing insecurity, uncertainty and isolationism.

                              Disappointments in blue and orange

                              Everybody will remember the scenes from the time of the Orange Revolution in December 2004 when the crowd of supporters on the Maidan applauded Viktor Yushchenko as a victorious challenger in the (due to fraud) repeated presidential election.

                              Six years later, everything was different.

                              In the first round of the last race on 17 January 2010, Yushchenko gained only 5.45% (compared to the 52% in 2004), which eliminated him from the contest. The winner of the 2010 presidential race in Ukraine was Viktor Yanukovych, the leader of the ‘blue’ Party of Regions, who lost the election to the ‘Orange Revolution’ coalition five years ago. Yanukovych voters believed he would finally bring ‘order and stability’. Also a substantial part of the political elite in the EU believed that he was a ‘pragmatic politician’ who would be a ‘credible partner’ for business talks.

                              Yanukovych at a Party of Regions summit in 2012
                              With growing concern, we soon had to watch the process of the reversal of democracy in Ukraine.

                              The Party of Regions manipulated the local elections in 2010. Journalists and civil society started reporting cases of intimidation and violation of freedom of the press, local NGOs found themselves under heavy administrative pressure. Then came the selective arrests of and trials against Yanukovych’s political opponents. In the Freedom House Index ‘Freedom in the World 2011’, Ukraine was downgraded from the ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ status. The country began moving into a ‘soft authoritarian’ model of governance. Yanukovych had already crossed the red line. If he had accepted the conditions of the EU, he would have lost the support of his oligarchs and the next presidential election, and, in result, he might even have landed behind bars. This urged him to follow the path of his northern neighbor – Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s Belarus. Yanukovych couldn’t care less about Ukraine’s engagement with the EU; he was minding his own business, i.e. defending his position of power with all possible means.
                              The country began moving into a ‘soft authoritarian’ model of governance.

                              Yanukovych had already crossed the red line. If he had accepted the conditions of the EU, he would have lost the support of his oligarchs and the next presidential election, and, in result, he might even have landed behind bars. This urged him to follow the path of his northern neighbor – Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s Belarus. Yanukovych couldn’t care less about Ukraine’s engagement with the EU; he was minding his own business, i.e. defending his position of power with all possible means.

                              Yanukovych had already crossed the red line. If he had accepted the conditions of the EU, he would have lost the support of his oligarchs and the next presidential election, and, in result, he might even have landed behind bars. This urged him to follow the path of his northern neighbor – Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s Belarus. Yanukovych couldn’t care less about Ukraine’s engagement with the EU; he was minding his own business, i.e. defending his position of power with all possible means.

                              Let’s return back to Yushchenko. During his term, Ukraine began its not totally successful courtship with the European Union and NATO and developed free media and a relatively strong civil society sector. A middle class was born and the free market economy matured challenging the mindsets of big oligarchs, who still influenced the country’s politics.
                              -------------------------------
                              But Yushchenko didn’t manage to combat corruption and reform the country, so the process that started with the Orange Revolution was not completed.
                              -------------------------------

                              Yushchenko’s efforts to strengthen the Ukrainian position in the Black Sea region and build a coalition of countries supporting democracy to balance the influence of Russia failed. His efforts to join NATO met the resistance of Berlin and Paris and failed.

                              At this point, the Ukrainian-Russian relations reached boiling point. Yushchenko demanded the withdrawal of the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the Crimean port of Sevastopol by 2017 and accused Moscow of distributing Russian passports to the inhabitants of Crimea. He already sensed the emerging thunderstorm.

                              Probably Yushchenko will be remembered as the founder of the modern Ukrainian identity. Not having enough courage and parliamentary support for launching the fundamental reforms Yushchenko concentrated on history and the process of constructing a national identity.
                              ---------------------------------
                              Yushchenko paid the price for being a democratic president confronted with challenges he simply couldn’t conquer.
                              ----------------------------------

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                              • Ukraine’s Unrequited Passion for Europe Part 3

                                He was not a strong, charismatic man with a strategic vision, his background was accounting and finance; he failed to pass the test on calculating in global political terms and leading his country in the very difficult time of transformation and crisis. Paradoxically, his term in office paved the way for his old rival Viktor Yanukovych whose manipulation with voting results had initiated the Orange Revolution to winning a fair and democratic election.

                                The old EU Member States’ objection plus Western fear of the Kremlin’s reaction prevented that Kyiv was offered EU membership perspective. Instead, the EU proposed Ukraine and other, including non-European, states a new instrument called the European Neighborhood Policy. Kyiv’s reaction was one of disappointment and frustration; Ukrainians considered themselves to be a European nation and not neighbors of Europe, as for example the Maghreb countries.
                                Eastern Partnership, the Polish factor, and Russia

                                The Eastern Partnership (EaP) – a new Polish-Swedish initiative was announced on 23 May 2008. The Polish diplomacy secured the support of Sweden for proposing to Brussels a kind of ‘eastern upgrade of ENP’. Ukraine welcomed this new initiative, finding it more convincing and attractive.
                                ----------------------------------
                                For Poland, Ukraine is a strategic partner in Eastern Europe. Success of democracy in neighboring Ukraine means stability and secure borders for Warsaw.
                                ----------------------------------
                                These objectives determined the Polish support for Ukraine’s revolutions and the backing of Kyiv’s EU and NATO aspirations. Also, Poles and Ukrainians share the same history and culture.

                                Russia’s view on Ukraine differs from the Polish: it sees Ukraine as its ‘nearest neighborhood’, an imminent part of the Russian civilization which should be returned to the motherland.

                                Since the moment of Ukrainian independence, Moscow tried to regain its influence over the former Soviet republic by using different means. But the Orange Revolution and then Maidan Revolution/Revolution of Dignity both ended with a spectacular failure of Russian diplomacy.

                                Benefiting from the economic boom and high energy prices, Russia claimed to become an equal partner of the United States very soon. The EU was not even considered to be a serious competitor for Russia. The Kremlin knew well how to play the game of splitting European unity. Pro-Kremlin experts promoted a vision of Moscow and St Petersburg quickly becoming the new financial centres of the world, and proposed a big free trade zone stretching ‘from Lisbon to Vladivostok’. In order to captivate Western minds, Russia used various instruments: energy/economy, frozen conflicts, propaganda, hybrid technologies, bribes and corruption.

                                For Russia, losing Ukraine was an overwhelming trauma – Kyivan Rus has always been a spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox tradition. Moscow without Kyiv is an organism without spiritual meaning: its soul remained in the onion shaped golden copulas of churches on the hilly bank of the Dnieper, the same churches that the Soviet regime had tried to brutally destroy. This proves that history likes paradoxes. The former KGB colonel, later President, Vladimir Putin pretends to believe in the same God as the Russian tsars …

                                Russia is a challenging subject for EU Institutions and Member States, because in fact there is no such a thing as a common European eastern policy. The key EU countries are often driven by wishful thinking or a ‘Russia first’ business policy (like for example the Nord Stream 2 lobby in Germany). Russian propaganda even succeeded in influencing the thoughts of many people in the European Union.
                                ------------------------------
                                The Russian annexation of Crimea and the Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine have shown that the EU does not have a policy which can successfully oppose the neo-imperialistic ambitions of the Kremlin.
                                ------------------------------
                                This has caused uneasy feelings in central European and Baltic states – after all. Russia could use similar arguments (and means?) for justifying the return of a stronger Russian influence in the region.

                                We can be sure that Putin will make good use of his time in office to expand his Euro-Asian Union project and for strengthening Russia’s position as a ‘global power’. The EU itself has a rather limited capacity to respond properly to this challenge, but in cooperation with NATO it should prepare a scenario for dealing with possible conflicts and growing chaos in the region. The renaissance of transatlantic relations and a rapprochement between the Old Continent and the US could be the only long-term option for reversing the backlash in the region. It will take time, the political will of both sides and a consensus among EU Member States.
                                -------------------------------
                                Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, three Eastern Partnership countries which decided to sign Association Agreements with the EU are now left without any form of security and political guarantees. Ukraine was even deprived of the territorial integrity assurance included in the Budapest Memorandum.
                                --------------------------------
                                With a war ongoing on the European continent (about 1000 km from the eastern EU border) and unable to respond to Putin’s aggressive policy, the European Union has found itself in a situation where its basic credibility is at stake. Russia’s destabilization efforts can invalidate the Eastern Partnership Initiative and bring the partner countries back under the Kremlin’s control. This would mean a fiasco for the EU as a successful political project. The result would be a Yalta-like new division of the world.

                                Recommendations for the European Union:
                                1. Assistance and support for the implementation of AA, DCFTA and reforms in Ukraine
                                2. Helping to strengthen democracy and rule of law in Ukraine (with a special focus on combating corruption)
                                3. Include a perspective of EU and NATO membership in the dialogue with Kyiv.
                                4. Providing training, intelligence and military equipment, which could help Ukraine to protect its sovereignty and limit the death toll among civilians and combat soldiers.
                                5. Working on a new format of a peaceful solution for the Ukraine-Russia conflict, which will include the issue of Crimea.
                                6. Helping to elaborate a strategic solution for dealing with the IDPs/refugee crisis in Ukraine.
                                7. Support for generating growth of the SME sector and increase of foreign investment in Ukraine.
                                8. Stimulating Ukrainian involvement in a wider regional cooperation within the framework of EaP.
                                9. Engaging Ukraine (and the EaP countries which signed AA agreements with the EU) in a deeper cooperation on various levels with the EU partners.
                                Ukraine’s Unrequited Passion for Europe -Euromaidan Press |

                                Source: eu.boell.org

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