Yesterday’s election in Ukraine, even if after countless countings over the next days it gives President Petro Poroshenko’s Block a clear victory, is not expected to change anything to the better for the war-torn country. Kiev held this election in the loyal regions and the pro-Russian rebels in Luhansk and Donetsk are to hold theirs early next month. If Poroshenko though doesn’t have his way in the vote, the formation of a new government may become a challenging equation.
The reason is the unbelievable hodgepodge of candidates touching the underworld at many points. A ‘lawful’ trick is finding citizens with the same name as your opponent, and persuading them to enlist as candidates in the same constituency. As for the electoral arguments and methods used, most times they fall within the boundaries of deception or unholy dealings and relations.
The political spectrum contains anything but players who can guarantee a promising future for the country’s millions. Overall, Poroshenko himself represents only one part of the equation, whereas the other fragments lie with the Russian speaking self-proclaimed revolutionaries of the East.
Elections don’t mean much
During the pre-election period, while Kiev’s political lot were absorbed in lacerating each other, the serious developments and negotiations for the country’s future were going by rather unnoticed. For one thing the rebels in the East continue their slow and blood stained advancements aiming at getting back from the government forces the city of Luhansk and Mariupol. However what is more important relates to reports that the Russian natural gas monopoly, Gazprom has struck an agreement with its Ukraine counterpart, Naftogaz. Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine were cut off last June.
Ten days ago this newspaper was a rare exception in discerning an agreement between Russia and the EU at the Europe-Asia Conference in Milan. In this north Italian city on Friday 17 October, after successive meetings between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the EU duo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Francois Hollande, the Kremlin ruler astonished everybody when he announced that Russia will resume deliveries of natural gas to Ukraine covering ‘at least this winter’. Of course he asked that Kiev pays the arrears for past supplies.
Last Friday 24 October the international news agencies reported that the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart struck an agreement about gas prices for the winter. BBC reported that “Ukraine and Russia have ‘found consensus’ on a deal to end their gas dispute, according to the boss of Ukraine’s state gas firm. Andriy Kobolev told the BBC Naftogaz was prepared to settle part of its debts, while the two parties had agreed a price for gas this winter”.
Obviously, this news is a direct outcome of the settlement between the EU leaders and the Kremlin ruler earlier in the month. This was a rare exception. On most occasions during the past months Russia had acted aggressively over the Ukrainian crisis. The culmination of this policy was the annexation of Crimea in the Federation, a step that the West Europeans couldn’t swallow. In repose to that, the EU imposed a series of deep biting sanctions against Moscow. In the economic front the European Union practically cut off Russia from the western financial system.
The direct outcome was a continuous fall of the foreign value of the rubble and a sizeable and poisonous exodus of capital from Russia. At the same time the Kremlin’s trade retaliations proved to be a boomerang. Russia banned almost all food imports from the West, a step that resulted in a series of prices hikes of food in the vast country. It seems that during the past few weeks Moscow understood the hard way that Russia cannot do well without good relations with the rest of Europe.
This may not be news, but it appears that the ruler of Kremlin needed some time to grasp it. The European Sting on 20 October wrote, “In her long history, Russia as an imperial or communist power of global range had always been a core European country, leaving its marks on the geopolitical developments in the Old Continent and being deeply influenced by it at the same time. Realistically, Russia’s economic relations with the rest of Europe cannot be substituted by anything else. There is more in it. There are a lot more things tying the two sides together. In reality, if Russia could ever cut off the rest of Europe from its energy supplies, Europe world retaliate and cut out Russia from the rest of the world. And this in no way can be mended by a Moscow’s opening to Beijing. Geography and history cannot be altered”.
Gaining much for little?
It is certain by now that despite Kremlin’s polemic rhetoric over the Ukrainian crisis meant for the internal audience, Putin has decided that Russia cannot sustain long isolation from the West. An Asian turn is obviously not a sustainable option. That’s why Gazprom will not let the Ukrainians freeze this winter. By the same token Kiev and Brussels will have to swallow that Crimea is definitively a part of the Russian Federation.
However, given that Crimea cannot be easily perceived outside the sphere of Moscow’s influence, the ‘price’ paid by the EU to Russia in exchange of the West’s absolute control of Kiev is quite negligible. Judging from facts, in reality Russia was forced to accept the dismembering of Ukraine. As things stand now, whichever government is formed in Kiev, it cannot avoid the complete dependence on the West. The other option is Moscow, and it is appalling.