Preventing a break-up

April 08, 2014 - 12:26:06 am

Ukraine’s interim government should deal with Russian incursion with a stronger resolve.

The incursion of Russian supporters into the Russian speaking regions of Ukraine is a breach of sovereignty and needs to be outrightly condemned. Ukraine has been badly squeezed by Kremlin’s vaunting ambition for regional supremacy and Vladimir Putin’s misplaced geopolitical priorities. The takeover of Crimea by Moscow and its annexation by Putin are illegal in international law. Despite this, Moscow has justified the move and supported Crimean separatists, provoking more of those harbouring secessionist tendencies.  

Ukraine is historically and culturally important for Russia. It was part of the Soviet empire and became an independent nation when the USSR broke up in 1991. The southeastern province of Crimea was part of Russia before it was given to Ukraine by Nikita Khruschev in 1954. Moscow has used this ruse to justify its annexation of Crimea. Even former USSR president and Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev supported Putin’s move, calling it the righting of a historical wrong.

As if Crimea was not crime enough for Putin, the Russian strongman has embarked on other misadventures. Russia has been concentrating troops near the eastern borders of Ukraine since the Crimean takeover. Though there have been denials by Moscow, western powers keeping a watch on the situation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has confirmed that military buildup on the eastern frontiers of Ukraine has been threatening the country. 

Pro-Russian protesters seized official buildings in the eastern cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk on Sunday night. They were demanding referendums on joining Russia. Their true intentions were exposed yesterday when they tried to declare the city of Donetsk “an independent republic.”

About 120 activists calling themselves the “Republican People’s Soviet of Donetsk, seized the chamber of the regional assembly and read out a “proclamation of an independent state”. 

Action by the aggressors is surprising, but what is more surprising is Kiev’s passivity towards Russian-supported aggression. It was hard for Kiev to prevent the separation of Crimea, but statements from the interim prime minister and president in Kiev show a lack of resolve against preventing further break up of the country. Ukraine is not the first country which has seen a break up. That should not give anyone a power for further dismemberment. Did the thousands of protesters at the Maidan brave bullets and batons for a day when a foreign power would usurp territory and call it it’s own.  Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk are very much part of Ukraine and should remain so. Kiev should seek the help of its military in taking on the pro-Russia militia that has invaded the country. This will show the resolve of the interim government and test the leaders who have been tasked with steering the country. Kiev shouldn’t also hesitate to seek the help of Nato in defeating Russian aggression.