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

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

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 onSaturday. He said, “I am calling on everyone who has taken arms intheir hands — please lay down your arms,” and he promised amnesty “forthose who do not have blood on their hands.” He insisted that theCrimean peninsula “was, is and will be Ukrainian,” although he did notindicate 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, asPoroshenko’s candy empire does a lot of business in Russia.Poroshenko promised in his speech that he would open a corridor ofU.N. Security Council, and Putin appeared to respond by orderingtightened 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 impossiblefor him to come (to Donetsk for talks). Perhaps with security, agroup, 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 ineastern Ukraine do not eastern Ukraine to be part of Russia. Afterthe revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich,replacing him with an interim government Kiev, most of these sameRussians don’t like or trust the Kiev government either.

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

“[Saturday’s inauguration speech] was crucial. Ithink with this speech Ukraine is now clearly back in the centerof its drama, and Poroshenko has projected an image of someone whocan take Ukraine into the future. This was a very purposeful,positive and realistic speech, and it’s done something veryimportant in Ukraine where, for months, there has been an interimgovernment, a lot of indirection and uncertainty, and in the westthe preoccupation for months has been almost exclusively onRussia, and if Ukraine has any image at all, it’s been largelynegative. So coming on top of these very impressive electionswith this very high turnout on the 25th of May, I think this isnow presenting a very different image, and it helps to establish adifferent dynamics. …

He’s reaching out to his own country’s well-being, and it’simportant to bear in mind when you talk about separatism in theeast, we’re talking about activity in two eastern regions, out ofsix. And if you look at the eastern and southern parts ofUkraine, which are predominantly Russian speaking — that’s nineregions. And in only two, and at that only parts of two, are theseparatists pretty firmly in control. So that context has to beborne in mind.

The Russians’ tactics are rapidly adjusting. When the Russiansstarted this whole enterprise in eastern Ukraine, they expectedthat the citizen population living there would rise up in theirsupport. And that has not happened. We had hundreds of thousandsof people on the street in Kiev [referring to the originalprotests in December], you have not have that in Dnetsk andLuhansk — the fighters have been supported by at most crowds ofhundreds, and at most a few thousands.

So they started changing tactics then. And I think the electionitself has been a further blow to them. Their preoccupation stillis to get Western acquiescence in an overall deal that willfederalize Ukraine in such a way that the regions it partiallycontrols will not only have autonomy, but have veto power over thecentral government itself. That’s what they mean byfederalization. It has no resemblance to what the term means inany other country in the world. I think that’s understood insidethe EU. It’s certainly understood by presidentPoroshenko.”

Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

Iraqi officials have been caught by surprise at the size of three daysof attacks across the country by the jihadist group Islamic Emirate inIraq and Syria (ISIS). Gunmen attacked city buildings andneighborhood in Samarra on Thursday, and gunmen and suicide bombersattacked the northern city of Mosul on Friday. On Saturday, jihadistsattack Anbar University in the Iraq city of Ramadi, killing the guardsand blowing up a bridge leading to the school. Iraqi special forceslaunched a counterattack to retake the campus, where mostof the students are Shias.

ISIS continues to grow and size and strength, having killed more than4,400 people this year alone. It began in Syria when the Shia/Alawitepresident Bashar al-Assad started slaughtering thousands of innocentSunni women and children, and driving millions from their homes. Ithas become the rock star jihadist organization these days, where tensof 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-ledgovernment 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 totalwithdrawal of American forces in December, 2011. ISIS continues togrow and become a major threat to the Mideast and to the world.The National (UAE) and Ammon News (Jordan)

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