World View: Russia Forced to Change Tactics after Ukraine's Election

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Ukraine's new president promises peace in a united Ukraine
  • Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election
  • Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

Ukraine's new president promises peace in a united Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko lights a candle in St. Sophia Cathedral after his inauguration in Kiev on Saturday (AP)
Petro Poroshenko lights a candle in St. Sophia Cathedral after his inauguration in Kiev on Saturday (AP)

Petro Poroshenko, who was elected president of Ukraine on May 25, promised to reunite Ukraine in peace in his inauguration speech on Saturday. He said, "I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands — please lay down your arms," and he promised amnesty "for those who do not have blood on their hands." He insisted that the Crimean peninsula "was, is and will be Ukrainian," although he did not indicate how Ukraine can regain control of Crimea.

Poroshenko has spoken recently with Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and apparently they've known each other for a long time, as Poroshenko's candy empire does a lot of business in Russia. Poroshenko promised in his speech that he would open a corridor of "safe passage" to Russia, something that Russia had demanded in the U.N. Security Council, and Putin appeared to respond by ordering tightened security along the border to prevent illegal crossings.

Pro-Russian rebel leaders in the east dismissed Poroshenko’s speech. A rebel leader, Denis Pushilin, said, "At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks). Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces." AP and Bloomberg

Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election

Polls have indicated for some time that even the Russians living in eastern Ukraine do not eastern Ukraine to be part of Russia. After the revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, replacing him with an interim government Kiev, most of these same Russians don't like or trust the Kiev government either.

But according to James Sherr, Ukraine specialist from London think tank Chatham House, the election of Petro Poroshenko is changing some minds, and improving the prospects for Ukraine. At the same time, Vladimir Putin and the Russians are forced to change tactics. This is my transcription of his interview on BBC:

"[Saturday's inauguration speech] was crucial. I think with this speech Ukraine is now clearly back in the center of its drama, and Poroshenko has projected an image of someone who can take Ukraine into the future. This was a very purposeful, positive and realistic speech, and it's done something very important in Ukraine where, for months, there has been an interim government, a lot of indirection and uncertainty, and in the west the preoccupation for months has been almost exclusively on Russia, and if Ukraine has any image at all, it's been largely negative. So coming on top of these very impressive elections with this very high turnout on the 25th of May, I think this is now presenting a very different image, and it helps to establish a different dynamics. ...

He's reaching out to his own country's well-being, and it's important to bear in mind when you talk about separatism in the east, we're talking about activity in two eastern regions, out of six. And if you look at the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, which are predominantly Russian speaking -- that's nine regions. And in only two, and at that only parts of two, are the separatists pretty firmly in control. So that context has to be borne in mind.

The Russians' tactics are rapidly adjusting. When the Russians started this whole enterprise in eastern Ukraine, they expected that the citizen population living there would rise up in their support. And that has not happened. We had hundreds of thousands of people on the street in Kiev [referring to the original protests in December], you have not have that in Dnetsk and Luhansk -- the fighters have been supported by at most crowds of hundreds, and at most a few thousands.

So they started changing tactics then. And I think the election itself has been a further blow to them. Their preoccupation still is to get Western acquiescence in an overall deal that will federalize Ukraine in such a way that the regions it partially controls will not only have autonomy, but have veto power over the central government itself. That's what they mean by federalization. It has no resemblance to what the term means in any other country in the world. I think that's understood inside the EU. It's certainly understood by president Poroshenko."

Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

Iraqi officials have been caught by surprise at the size of three days of attacks across the country by the jihadist group Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Gunmen attacked city buildings and neighborhood in Samarra on Thursday, and gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the northern city of Mosul on Friday. On Saturday, jihadists attack Anbar University in the Iraq city of Ramadi, killing the guards and blowing up a bridge leading to the school. Iraqi special forces launched a counterattack to retake the campus, where most of the students are Shias.

ISIS continues to grow and size and strength, having killed more than 4,400 people this year alone. It began in Syria when the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad started slaughtering thousands of innocent Sunni women and children, and driving millions from their homes. It has become the rock star jihadist organization these days, where tens of thousands of young people from all of the world have come to join. It's growing in both Syria and Iraq, and is threatening the Shia-led government in Iraq.

ISIS continues to grow for several reasons:

  • Bashar al-Assad is carrying out a policy of "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his opponents, mostly Sunni civilians.
  • Russia and Iran are providing unlimited supplies of weapons to al-Assad to carry out is torture and extermination of Sunni civilians.
  • The Obama administration flip-flopped on its "red line" threat that there would be consequences if al-Assad used chemical weapons. Al-Assad used sarin gas on civilians last year, and continues to use chlorine and ammonia in barrel bombs filled with explosives, screws, nails and other shrapnel. Al-Assad uses chemical weapons with complete impunity.
  • The Shia government of Iraq, with the support of the Shia government of Iran, has inflicted enormous discrimination on the Sunni minority in Iraq, infuriating Sunni jihadists.
Terrorism violence has grown almost every month since the total withdrawal of American forces in December, 2011. ISIS continues to grow and become a major threat to the Mideast and to the world. The National (UAE) and Ammon News (Jordan)

 
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