Ukraine: Time for reflection in a new reality

As South-Eastern Ukraine spins out of control, as the Fascist Junta in Kiev loses popular support and looks on impotently, as suspicions appear that the ones who fired on the Maidan protesters were mercenaries from "activist" positions in Hotel Ukraina, now is not the time for sabre-rattling, it is time for intelligence.

The bottom line in any situation of conflict is that people get hurt, families lose loved ones, women are raped, children die or lose their limbs, faces, sight or parents and the atmosphere at funerals is the same everywhere, at least in Europe and North America. With the common value of respect for human life at heart, however far from this were those who fired at the police and also on the crowds of activists in Kiev in February, creating a cause in blaming President Yanukovich, it is time to talk.

Ukraine in mid-April is not Ukraine in mid-February. An illegal Junta has seized power by deposing the President without respecting the norms for Impeachment or removal and without the existence of any of the four conditions for such a situation under Ukrainian law, and this illegal Junta has inside it or close to it those who call for the death of Russians and Jews, terrorists with links to al-Qaeda, torturers and murderers. This Junta rose to power to the backdrop of cries of "Death to the Muscovite" and "Death to Russians and Jews" during the Maidan Putsch.

The Junta was quick to impose Russophobic measures without thinking things through, such as banning Russian as an official language in a country where over half the population in some areas are ethnic Russians and in which many people do not understand Ukrainian very well, if at all. In a country in which the majority of the residents in the East would be happy to live in a Federative State which respected their laws, customs, culture and language instead of making death threats and outlawing these Institutions, this was hardly the most intelligent way to start off.

The result? The Crimea has now rejoined Russia in a free and fair open referendum, South-Eastern Ukraine has spun out of the control of Kiev and its forces and the war of words seems to be escalating. Conflict, however, is the least attractive scenario to any of the sides in the crisis because the bottom line is people get hurt, families get torn apart, children see their grandparents or parents die, grandparents see their children or grandchildren torn away from them prematurely, people suffer, people cry, families lose their homes. Only a Satanist, a sadist or a psychopath could favour such a nightmare.

So, rather than sabre-rattling and sanctions, it is time for reflection. The illegal Putsch and those behind its murderous rise to power sparked off the crisis. Russia simply enacted a reaction to the original action. The legal scenario would be a return to full power of President Yanukovich, who would stand for re-election in December of this year as agreed, if he so chose, to be confirmed in office or out of it in an election process. This is called Democracy, not armed thugs taking to the streets or mercenaries firing on crowds, which seems to be the side the West is taking. Surprise, surprise.

Given that this scenario appears implausible, if not impossible, then an election process in May might be seen to legitimize, if not actually legalize, the newly elected Government, and this Government has two choices: press ahead and see the tension rise in the South-East of the Ukraine and face the consequences or else play the intelligent card and listen to the people. Eastern Ukraine is not Western Ukraine and to retain balance in such a geo-political tightrope, a policy of equilibrium must be followed and the politics of finding the point of equilibrium implemented. It is about finding a win-win situation in a crisis which to date promises to be a lose-lose.

The Russian position for a Federative Ukrainian State seems to be the most logical, the most plausible and to date the only sensible path towards crisis management. True, this is a position for the Ukrainians to take on their own territory, just as it is the prerogative for Russian troops to move as they wish, when and how they wish, on Russian soil, while at the same time the Americans consider it is their prerogative to move their troops in Iraqi territory. If such a bold yet necessary Federal approach is unwelcome in Western Ukraine and Kiev, then a process of consultations, with integrity of Eastern Ukrainian culture and language guaranteed, would at least attenuate extreme situations and alleviate potential bloodshed.

Hopefully, Thursday's 4-Party talks will focus more on de-escalation and a balanced approach to crisis management, taking into account all the positions and not just those of a Fascist-inspired Junta which grabbed power in Kiev. But let the West be warned: failure to take into account the aspirations and preoccupations of the Eastern Ukrainians is a policy which promises to have sequels.

Perhaps with de-escalation a reality and more than just promises from the Fascist-inspired Junta in Kiev (who would trust them after all when it is not clear even today that mercenaries did not fire on the crowds in Maidan Square?), we can all move back to where we were before February 20?

With one exception. Crimea is Russia. Get used to it.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey