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Ukraine After Martial Law: Neither Peace, Nor War

Local observers note that Poroshenko looks set to receive the support of the West, and that increases his chances of winning the election, even if some tampering with the vote takes place.

Dmitry Babich

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Authored by Dmitry Babich via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


In Ukraine, the electoral campaign preceding the presidential elections scheduled for March 31, 2019, officially kicked off on December 31, 2018. Meanwhile, the martial law imposed on 10 of the country’s regions (with more than half of Ukraine’s population living in them) was lifted days before the campaign started – on December 26. The martial law, which continued for one month, granted Ukraine’s unpopular president Petro Poroshenko dictatorial powers. He could shut down any media outlets, cancel and postpone any elections, arrest any people suspected of “collaboration” with Russia for an indefinite period of time. Protest rallies and political activities, such as party conventions and parliamentary investigations, were also put on hold.

The question is: can the elections, due to be held 3 months after the ending of the martial law, be considered free and fair? And can president Poroshenko be tempted to impose the martial law again before the elections? In any democratic country, Poroshenko would have rather slim chances with his low voter approval rating at 11.6 percent (the data from the latest poll conducted by the Kiev-based International Sociology Institute). The strongest candidate, the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is 10 points ahead of him with 21.6 percent.

Poroshenko imposed the martial law on November 26 because of the arrest of three Ukrainian military vessels near the Kerch straits in the Black Sea, where both Ukraine and Russia have big ports and military bases. The Russian side claimed that the Ukrainian vessels illegally entered the Russian territorial waters before trying (unsuccessfully) to enter the Kerch Strait – a narrow water pass connecting the Black Sea with the Azov Sea. That sea is a shallow water reservoir, most of it unfit even for medium-sized military ships. Just a few years ago no one could imagine the Azov Sea being unimportant strategically, since Russia controlled Azov since the 17th century and almost all the population living on its shores was Russian-speaking. The biggest Ukrainian port on the Azov Sea, Mariupol, with its Russian population, was part of the anti-Maidan rebellion in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine in 2014. The city also took part in the unrecognized referendum on federalization of Ukraine that same year, but in a few weeks, in May 2014, Mariupol was seized by the Ukrainian army, which was already advancing against the rebellion on Donetsk and Lugansk, using tanks, aviation and artillery.

Now the Azov Sea suddenly became hugely important in the eyes of both the EU and the US. After the two Ukrainian small navy ships and a tug boat (with 24 people on board) were arrested by Russians for entering the waters which even before Crimea’s reunification with Russia were considered Russian waters, both the US and the EU suddenly started taking the problems of the Kerch Strait close to heart. President Trump cancelled his scheduled meeting with president Putin in Argentina in the end of 2018, saying the two leaders would meet when the Ukrainian seamen and ships are returned to Ukraine. France’s and Germany’s leaders Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel on the eve of the New Year suddenly developed a strong desire “to see the Ukrainian seamen celebrating the holidays with their families,” making a special strong-worded statement against Russia on the subject.

“It is interesting to note that, when the Ukrainian border guards in March 2018 arrested 10 seamen aboard a fishing vessel Nord in March 2018 inside the Azov Sea, Merkel and Macron did not make any protesting statements,” comments Bogdan Bezpalko, the head of the Center for Ukrainian and Belarusian Studies at the Moscow State University. “That fishing boat was operating from Crimea, the seamen were the residents of a fishing village there. So, formally, they were Ukrainian citizens for the Ukrainian authorities. (Ukraine still considers Crimea its territory, despite the region’s voting for reunification with Russia in 2014 – D.B.). But the fishermen were still arrested for pursuing economic activity from Crimea, which is “an occupied territory” in the eyes of Kiev. The sailors spent several months in Ukraine against their will, and the captain is still detained there. And these people were not military, they did not try to pass under the strategically important Crimean Bridge with arms and without permissions. Similar situations happened to other Russian vessels, but the EU did not react. Now it does.”

The hypocrisy of the American and European leaders with their numerous “concerns about the state of democracy” became especially evident, when no one in the US and the EU protested against Poroshenko’s decision to impose the martial law after the incident near Kerch Strait, which was no match to the tragic peak of the civil war in 2014-2015. According to Ukrainian opinion polls, no less than 60 percent of Ukrainians did not approve of Poroshenko’s decision, seeing in it only an attempt to stay in power, having nothing to do with defense of the country.

“If Poroshenko needed additional powers to use arms against a possible Russian aggression, he did not have to impose a martial law,” said Mikhail Pogrebinsky, head of the Kiev-based Center for Conflict Studies. “In 2014 Poroshenko used aviation, artillery and tanks against the rebellion in Donbass, without any martial laws. He just called it an “anti-terrorist operation” and used the most destructive weapons, without any consequences from the West. So, people in Ukraine don’t trust the president now, they see in the martial law just another trick aimed at cancelling elections or winning them dishonestly.”

Macron’s and Merkel’s demand to Russia “to provide a secure, speedy and unhampered” passage of all international vessels through the Kerch Strait (something Russia has never refused to do) also smacks of hypocrisy. The Russian foreign ministry pointed to the fact that Ukraine’s military vessels passed through the Kerch Strait weeks before the incident of November 25. Nevertheless, American state department’s chief negotiator on the issues of Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Kurt Volker, threatened Russia with additional sanctions from both the US and Europe for “hampering international navigation.”

“We are used to sanctions and do not expect justice from the West,” explained Vladimir Zharikhin, the head of the Ukrainian department at the Moscow-based Institute for CIS Studies. “What is sad, it is the consequences of the confrontation for the Ukrainian election. A chance to change Ukraine’s disastrous policy line is being missed.”

On December 28 Poroshenko convened a special closed meeting of the country’s top generals and security officials to discuss the outcome of the martial law. Poroshenko said he actually would have preferred to keep the martial law, but the requirement to have a three months long electoral campaign made this variant impossible. However, Poroshenko’s chances of winning increased – even without an increase in his ratings, he saw his enemies demoralized. Despite the fact that Yulia Tymoshenko warned about Poroshenko’s plans to cancel the elections by an imposition of the martial law as early as in July this year, her faction did not put up much of a resistance to Poroshenko’s idea (the vote in the Rada was 270 against 60 in favor of the martial law). Tymoshenko’s faction avoided a fight. And a fighter which does not fight – this fighter has lost already.

Local observers note that Poroshenko looks set to receive the support of the West, and that increases his chances of winning the election, even if some tampering with the vote takes place. As for a new “series” of martial law, there are lots of enthusiasts for this kind of solution in Ukraine.

For example, a Rada deputy named Vitaly Kupryi registered in the Ukrainian parliament a draft law, which requires the president to declare Ukraine “in the state of war with Russian Federation,” cutting all transit of Russian oil and gas through Ukraine (an idea not likely to receive support from the EU).

So, the likeliest outcome will be a state of tension, “neither peace nor war,” which would allow people not to see a dramatic worsening of their situation while allowing Poroshenko to stay in power.

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fredCudwieserShaun RameweOlivia Krothruca Recent comment authors
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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

‘But the fishermen were still arrested for pursuing economic activity from Crimea, which is “an occupied territory” in the eyes of Kiev’. “Occupied territory”… that’s rich. Of course Crimea (all of it) has been Russian territory since 1783 or thereabouts. Whereas until 1991 there had never been such a nation as “Ukraine” through all recorded history. (And personally I find the declaration of Ukrainian independence legally rather fishy – after all, the area was part of Russia for over a century before the 1917 Revolution, so when the USSR dissolved itself Ukraine should simplay have reverted to Russia). But talking… Read more »

Veth
Guest
Veth

Crimea is Ukraine, occupied by a Nazzi-Junta in Moscow does not change that.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Ukronazi moron! Idiots like you have brought the Ukraine to its present state of a failed, bankrupt hell-hole, that will never recover. All by yourselves: you are the most stupid people in Europe, if not the whole world.

ruca
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ruca

Ok if you think Crimea is Ukraine, go try to take it back.

fred
Guest
fred

people like you live in a fact free universe where brains are replaced with rotting excrement
or in a for profit prison the cheapest place for CIA trolls to operate

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Ukraine is Russia; the sooner it will join the motherland again, the better.

Veth
Guest
Veth

Spoken like a Nazzi. Russian troops invaded Ukraine, started the Holy war!

Joe
Guest
Joe

Moron!

Olivia Kroth
Guest

He always shows up here when Ukraine is discussed. He must be some sort of Ukrainian agent/troll.

Cudwieser
Guest
Cudwieser

Troll, yes. Agent, no. Even Kiev has standards for their propaganda. Veth is little more than a useful idiot and antagonist. He has no teeth and his bark is getting more distant every day.

Shaun Ramewe
Guest
Shaun Ramewe

Lying thieving corrupt murderous Kiev and its sicko ZioWestern backers are a joint basket case.

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The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

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“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

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“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

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The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

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