Ukraine roundup

I’ve just got time for a quick roundup of the latest developments in Ukraine.

First, and most importantly, the Supreme Court has suspended publication of the election result while it considers the case brought to it by Yuschenko. This is probably more routine than a sign of any clear intent on the part of the Court, but it does indicate that they’re taking the complaint seriously and are not dismissing it out of hand, as happened with a case Yuschenko brought earlier in the week, I believe.

Also, according to The Periscope, Kazakhstan, China, and Armenia have recognized Yanukovych – probably unaware of the Supreme Court decision to not decide today.

Second, the EU/Russia summit took place today, though there doesn’t seem to be anything concrete coming out of that yet. The official report from the summit is here (pdf file) and it’s more interesting in what it doesn’t say about Ukraine. Note that almost every other issue mentions refers to the EU and Russia jointly agreeing whereas Ukraine was merely the subject of an ‘exchange of views’. I think we have to wait for a statement from Solana (or possibly Barroso or Balkenende) to find out more. On the same note, Solana’s address to the Foreign Relations Committee yesterday can be foung here (also a pdf)

The situation in Ukraine itself appears to be developing into a standoff – Victor and friends keep posting at The Periscope and it seems to be following the same pattern as the last couple of days – rumours of movements of troops and miners, coupled with announcements of official support for Yuschenko from various locations. The latest news is that the Deputy Economy Minister has resigned and said he is ‘with the people’ and rumours are that Yanukovich is trying to make sure he has the loyalty of the rest of the Cabinet, particularly energy ministers. Maidan continues to post reports of military commanders stating they are with Yuschenko.

The protest in Independence Square continues, of course, while strikes are taking place across the country in support of Yuschenko.

There are also reports that Lech Walesa has tried to negotiate, but hasn’t achieved anything. He’s supposed to be holding a press conference around now, but there are no reports yet.

Via Harry, PORA now have an online petition up which they’re asking people to sign.

And quickly around the blogs – something new from Neeka, Le Sabot has photos and background.

Update: (Tobias 18:11 CET) One more night to come up with a solution. In other good news, after having been approached by numerous government officials as well as cnocerned citizens, lieutenant-general Mykhaylo Kutsyn, officer in chief of the Western Operational Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stated that ?[his] actions are directed towards unquestioning fulfillment of the law and Constitution of Ukraine and [he] officially declare[d] that divisions of the Western Operational Command will not fight their own people.?

That is certainly good news. Although I am not at all familiar with the Ukrainian military organization – I assume, given the East-West cleavage, it would be important to get a similar stament from the other Operational Commanders. (via Maidan.net)

Update: (Tobias, 19:24 CET) Jamie of bloodandtreasure has a useful link to a Ukrainian military guide at globalsecurity.org.
Apparently, Ukraine has three regional military commands, Western, Northern, and Southern (see this map). Kyev is situated in the Northern military command.

Update: (Tobias, 21:17 CET) The showdown may have begun. Victor Katolyk reports that, following a “declaration of truth” by several hundred Ukrainian television employees, several tv stations have begun broadcasting “real” news. While several hundred Policemen appear to have pledged allegiance to the people, and former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko apparently declared the beginning of a seige of Presidential Administration, Cabinet of Ministers, and the Parliament, there are also reports of pressure on Supreme Courst judges and their families to rule in favor of Mr Yanukovich.

While Russian President Putin, speaking at the EU-Russian summit in The Hague, remained firm that the victory of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was “absolutely clear”, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende finally clearly rejected the results as forged: “The election did not meet the international standards. Therefore the EU is not able to accept the result.” Maidan.net reports that the European Parliament will hold an emergency session devoted entirely to the situation in Ukraine next week.

It could become a serious problem that President Putin has gone further than even the Ukrainian administration in “ruling out” any kind of negotiation and accusing the West of stirring violence in Kyev. Moreover, for the moment, Russia seems not concerned about developing an exit strategy, but is fueling the flames – according to EUbusiness.com, “the president of the foreign affairs committee of the State Duma lower house of parliament, Konstantin Kossachev, also made clear on Thursday it was time for Russia to defend its territory, after a period of letting the West ‘back such or such a leader of such or such a country of the post-Soviet space, as long as they were pro-Western and therefore anti-Russian'”.

Such an official statement about Ukraine being Russian property will likely be counterproductive should it become widely known in Ukraine.

Update: (Tobias, 22:33 CET) The FT wonders if Ukrainian Oligarchs, who have supported Yanukovich and clearly stood to gain from his victory, are now beginning to think about hedging their bets.

Most remain wedded to Mr Yanukovich, especially the barons of his political heartlands in the industrialised Donetsk region. But a few are beginning to wonder whether Mr Yanukovich still offers the best protection for their interests.

Many are also coming under pressure from employees who are openly supporting Mr Yushchenko – putting up posters in factories and workplaces and taking time off for demonstrations.

Update: (Nick 0005 CET) The Times has a map showing the breakdown of the votes in the elections

5 thoughts on “Ukraine roundup

  1. I typed this in an older posting moments ago, I’m just reposting it here.

    I?m not fully up to speed on the internal demographics of the Ukraine, but wasn?t there a redrawing of the borders of Soviet republics that was done to diminish the ethnic concentration of the various regions? For instance, the ethnically Russian region of the Crimea was drawn to be included into the Unkraine. When the USSR crumbled, they just kept the republics as drawn under the Soviet era.

    I wonder how the election would have changed if regions like Crimea were returned to Russia.

    Feasible? A good idea in any case?

  2. If (say) Crimea and the Donetsk Basin became Russian in 1991-1992, then without a doubt Yushchenko would have won.

    Talking about redrawing borders, though, is very premature. So far, there’s enough Ukrainian identity to go around.

  3. One thing I saw that was exercising Putin’s mind was the fact Yushchenko was thinking of entering into an economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. If this was the case, presumably Putin is fearful about watching yet more countries slip increasingly out of the Russian sphere of influence. I imagine it is leaning from the Kremlin that was behind the recognitions of Yanukovych from the countries mentioned today.

    We keep getting so many conflicting signals! Sometimes we hear about demonstrations in the cities in the East; then we hear about how they are resolutely in the Yanukovych camp. Today the signals from within the country are good – the suspension of results by the Supreme Court – but on the realpolitik scale, Russia’s strident support is really worrying. Putin evidently thinks he can test the EU/US resolve on this.

    The British delegate to oversee the elections said the most common trick he saw was invisible ink being used in the ballot rooms. There are so many stories coming out about corruption that this result is not going to stand. A second vote may happen, but the way things are appearing to me, this will be decided by the people, and how far Yushchenko can get the people on his side.

  4. We keep getting so many conflicting signals! Sometimes we hear about demonstrations in the cities in the East; then we hear about how they are resolutely in the Yanukovych camp.

    Those aren’t conflicting. Fraud or not, large majorities in the east voted for Yanukovich. One of the reasons is that the opposition was portrayed as a kind of fascist nationalist movement bankrolled by the US in order to steer Ukraine away from brotherly Russia. A lot of people bought it, and it has created a reserve of hostility that can easily be exploited (which is in constrast to the remarkably positive attitude of Yushchenko supporters.)

    Neither side has a massive grass-roots movement in the east of the country. Authorities are providing incentives for pro-Yanukovich rallies. Some folks, mainly college-educated liberals and students, demostrate for the opposition. Latest rallies were in the low thousands in Crimean cities, in the low tens of thousands in Kharkiv (Ukraine’s center of higher education), and in the low tens in the proletarian Donetsk (where you’re likely to get beat up for wearing orange out on the street.)

    All power structures in the two halves of the country seem to follow the party line so far, including even Kharkiv educational authorities. 26 colleges in the city have jointly called their students not to engage in civil disobedience. There are two recent reports from Kharkiv on Maidan (in Russian) from students who say that their school administrators are using threats of punishment to discourage even pro-opposition activism.

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