Martial Law, the Kerch Strait, and the Donbass War

The situation in Ukraine has been quiet in the news over the last few years, as the world has begun to accept that Crimea now belongs to Russia and that the war out in the Donbass region will likely continue. With Petro Poroshenko’s upcoming presidential election, the Ukrainian president may have needed to stir up a conflict with Russia in order to turn around his dismal performance in the polls. War helps to win elections and solidify one’s political position.

After three Ukrainian vessels entered Russian territorial waters and were captured in the Kerch Strait, even President Trump threatened to cancel his meeting with Putin in Buenos Aires. After the final report is released, there will likely be more condemnation from the United States, despite Ukraine not being an American ally. The anti-Russia rhetoric in the West will likely spark yet again, and Poroshenko raised the possibility of a war between Russia and Ukraine.

In addition, Poroshenko also took the opportunity to gain near-dictatorial authority from the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) and put large sections of Ukraine under martial law, which allows for the suppression of speech and protests. Why declare martial law now? There has been a war brewing in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts for years, and this action was not taken. Could it be that the Ukrainian president is attempting to gain relevance by making the situation seem worse than it actually is? This may increase his chances of success in the upcoming election, but this misleading and manipulation of the political situation is unfair to the Ukrainian people. It also may bring the United States into the fray, and we know that the United States government would be happy to be involved in yet another overseas conflict. It has already taken sides and supported the Ukrainian government in its attempt to suppress the separatist movements in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Since the Euromaidan protests and the illegal ousting of former President Yanukovych in 2013, residents of eastern Ukraine have been protesting, and looking at maps of presidential elections in Ukraine, you can start to see why. There is a divide between the pro-Russia and pro-European camps in that country, and many of the regions in the eastern areas vote for pro-Russian candidates and have large Russian-speaking populations. So, when the West (mostly the United States) tries to convince the world that the separatist movements are really an attempt by Russia to violate Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, it really neglects the actual situation there. Specifically in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (both of which border Russia), the people often feel disconnected from Kiev and its pro-European policies.

It is not really a surprise that the 2013 revolution and Russian annexation of Crimea triggered a separatist movement and local elections (which are always condemned by the West) in the Donbass region. Yet, this struggle in Donetsk and Luhansk reminds of another historical separatist movement: the American Revolution. So, when American politicians condemn this movement, they in effect neglect our own history of separation from Great Britain and the right of self-determination. Whether this movement is supported by Russia (the United States was supported by France), let us hope that Ukraine and Russia ultimately do not engage in an overt war over a minor incident like what occurred in the Kerch Strait and that the United States does not encourage Ukraine to make imprudent moves by supporting it and its actions.

Thank you for reading, and please check out my book, The Global Bully, and website.
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Published on November 28, 2018 03:19
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