When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Ukraine

Poroshenko's Dilemma: Total War Or Cede Donbas?

The new Ukrainian president's attempt at peace has failed. What now?

Fateful decisions weigh on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Fateful decisions weigh on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Cathrin Kahlweit

-Commentary-

MUNICH — The intense pressure that Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko faces is visible in his body language. After the May election, he projected outward optimism, teddy bear charm — and he had a peace plan. Now he looks very tense during public appearances, grinding his teeth and balling his hands into fists.

The president’s peace plan hasn't worked (he announced late Monday that he would not extend a unilateral ceasefire.) The fighting — and dying — continue in eastern Ukraine, where the separatists show no willingness to compromise, apart from the release of the two teams from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). But even that was simply symbolic and had nothing to do with the war.

Gestures from Moscow are mostly symbolic as well. The concrete demands outlined in Poroshenko’s peace plan — the freeing of checkpoints and border crossings and turning in arms and stopping weapons deliveries — have so far fallen flat.

All other issues have been relegated to the back burner: conversations about protecting the Russian language; about more power for the regions; about local elections; about more financial autonomy; and about the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

For the separatists and their puppeteers, it’s no longer about political reform, about compromises in the interest of the Ukrainians they claim to represent. It’s about amassing territory.

Uptake on the one-sided ceasefire called 10 days ago was thus modest in Ukraine, but it was accepted as the political price for the promises made before the election and as a gesture towards Brussels and Moscow based on the thinking that it might work — even though hardly anyone could really believe that after the annexation of Crimea and the military infiltration in eastern Ukraine.

With the temporary ceasefire expired, Poroshenko had to make a decision: Should he give in to the army hawks and the Ministry of the Interior, who want to declare war against Russians and pro-Russians? Then there are the voices that say: “We are Ukrainian patriots. We must rescue our country. We can’t wait for Brussels to do something because it’s too caught up in itself.”

Those voices are getting louder every day, and this segment of the political elite argues that the Russians already have a firm grip on the Donbas region and that it’s probably too late to win it back unless Ukraine gets in there and fights for it. There is a lot of support for this position among regular Ukrainians who increasingly see Poroshenko as a lame duck — someone who talks too much and gives too much, not a leader but a ruler without a country.

But there’s another, fast-growing, point of view in Ukraine popular with both intellectuals and politicians. They are asking themselves if it might not be best to simply let the Donbas region go? Anybody who’s still there would prefer Russian ties anyway. Give Moscow that piece of land so the rest of Ukraine can live in peace. Poroshenko is going to have to come up with an answer for that too.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Ideas

A Brief History Of Patriarchy — And How To Topple It

Many people assume the patriarchy has always been there, but how did it really originate? History shows us that there can be another way.

Women protest on International Women's Day in London in 2022

Ruth Mace*

The patriarchy, having been somewhat in retreat in parts of the world, is back in our faces. In Afghanistan, the Taliban once again prowl the streets more concerned with keeping women at home and in strict dress code than with the impending collapse of the country into famine.

And on another continent, parts of the U.S. are legislating to ensure that women can no longer have a legal abortion. In both cases, lurking patriarchal beliefs were allowed to reemerge when political leadership failed. We have an eerie feeling of travelling back through time. But how long has patriarchy dominated our societies?

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ