Ukraine revolution in one year: Far from over

By Pramod Raj Sedhain.

The Euro Maidan Revolution’s first anniversary has been commemorated on the backdrop of civil war and nations divided over various issues. Uprising in the heart of the Ukraine’s capital Kiev’s Independence Square changed the regime but the country faced an unprecedented bitter proxy war between Russia and West. Ukraine revolution has witnessed the consequences thus entering the bloody and costly civil war. It was hoped that the revolution would create a better Ukraine but regretfully it turned out to be disastrous inciting the first ever dangerous geopolitical clash since the end of Cold War.

After the revolution turning into the worst bloodshed, six-hour long meeting and negotiation between European Union (EU) and Russian envoys reaching a decision with President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders to sign a pact on 21 February 2014. But aftermath the successful deal, the opposition overthrew the Moscow-friendly President Yanukovich. He then fled to Russia and branded it a “coup”. Moscow too had a similar position and its own geopolitical strategic assessment.

As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia used all its influence, which Ukraine took its stand. Ukraine did not have any systemic solution of such a complicated challenge. Even its Western supporters were not very keen to protect it. Western nations failed to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and faced a devastating impact in the geopolitical game. Europe is still dependent on Russia and they did not want to military support in Ukraine. Due to the immense pressure of the United States, the EU increased economic sanctions against Russia. They, however, are not ready for militarily support. But Russian troops amassed on the country’s eastern border might move anytime if they see a big geopolitical threat.

Following the regime change in Kiev, unmasked militia took control of the Crimean Peninsula. After a referendum on 16 March, Russia annexed Crimea on 18 March. Ukraine seemed to face bitter blow since it lost the industrial region that provided about 16 percent of gross domestic product, according to Reuters news agency. Russian strategists prepared all range of options since the Orange Revolution in 2004 but the West did not have any strategic viable option in Ukraine. Ukraine’s parliament put a ban on Russian language triggering demonstrations in cities across eastern and southern Ukraine, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Odessa that eventually started the war. Hopes to create better Ukraine turned terrific and bitter civil war. The country has been struggling against worse circumstances.

Yanukovych political stronghold in eastern Ukraine has been under the control of the rebels. This has virtually Russia’s full-scale influence. Likewise, the western part of the country has been under western influence. The West and Russia have been using their sphere of influence and leverage in the divided country. After President Yanukovych got closer with Russia, pro-western protests sparked in the capital. The western nations want Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit while Russia has been trying to get rid of Western influence in Ukraine.

Across eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists moved into government buildings in April 2014 raised the Russian flag a Kiev ordered an “anti-terrorist operation” but conflict did not prevent . Economy progress, opportunity, hope and future are lost and much of the industrial town was in ruins. After lost the sizable territory, Ukrainian forces are demoralized and weary and Rebels’ started self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Resolving an ongoing crisis in Ukraine is limited and Moscow and western strategic calculation is far gap.

Ukraine’s incompetent political system and miscalculation has led to unfortunate circumstances. Despite the political and security control, the new leadership adopted a sudden u-turn. Without effective control over the country that could retreat in every sense, including politically, militarily or economically. The country’s new leadership in power failed to deal the complex situation and crisis triggering ethnic fighting in the eastern region.

Ukraine’s leadership has failed to address the principle demands of its people. The country’s conflict is far from solution. The leadership could resolve the crisis but since it has favored closer ties with EU and US by totally underestimating Russia, chances to address the conflict remain slim. Ukraine’s failure to control the border and rebellion will incite the country’s division on ethnic base.

Anti-government separatists have upper hands in two regions Donetsk and Luhansk. They are in total control of these regions. The rebels have already controlled the strategic Debaltseve city and might open coastal front by the Sea of Azov to heading strategic port of Mariupol. Government-held cities too are still under threat. After a year of fear, mistrust, tears and shadow, people have very little hope. More than 5,600 people have been killed in the fighting since mid-April last year. The country’s crisis has become even worse than before indicating deadly battlefront.

New ceasefire deal reached in Minsk for the second time but failed to make any major breakthrough. Implementation of the agreements is not an easy task. Now that, the best way out would be to deal the issue practically with mutual trust rather than militarily. The Western-backed Ukraine wants to regain its control over the rebel held territory while the rebels seem to be more dependent on Moscow. Such strategically geopolitical goals between the rival powers have different influence, equation and aim at fueling new crisis.

If Minsk cease-fire agreement will collapse, the Ukraine government has rare option to full-scale mobilization of troops in the war-torn region. However, winning the war would be difficult since it cannot stop the rebels’ advancement because it is sure that Moscow would back the separatist forces. Martial law might be used as what President Petro Poroshenko publicly said. But such a hardest approach cannot be the remedy.

Such move will be swiftly responded by Moscow with full scale support of the rebels since they are already in control of major strategic grounds across the eastern part. The U.S. considers to flow arms to Kiev while Russian response could be out of control. In such a scenario, what one can easily consider is that the new round of flare-up in a conflict and flow of heavy weapons flow will see more complicated situation in the coming days. Therefore, lasting peace in Ukraine is far from the ground.

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