It’s been a little more than a month, forty-five days to be exact, since Poroshenko’s acclaimed ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and Russian sponsored terrorists who continue to occupy large swathes of Ukraine’s territory in Lugansk and Donetsk. And during this past month and a half, there hasn’t been a single 24 hour period where the Ukrainian army hasn’t suffered an attack from these Russian terrorists.
Donetsk airport, the $750m jewel in the crown of Eastern Ukraine’s embryonic redevelopment back in 2012, has been reduced to rubble. It has seen daily pitched battles between the Ukrainian Army, who currently occupy it, and the terrorists, who so badly want it. It’s a strategic win for them if they eventually do end up successfully taking it. It’s the only airport with a runway long enough and which remains undamaged, that can handle the myriad of military jets that are sitting across the border in Russia’s Rostov region waiting to be handed over to a new “Novorossiya” government which would then form the backbone of their air-force.
Villages across the region which were freed by Ukrainian forces are still suffering food and water shortages, with electricity supplies sporadic and sanitation and other basic infrastructure either completely destroyed or in serious need of repair. During peacetime, these people were barely able to cobble together an existence, with their already meagre pensions averaging €200. Now that the pension payouts have stopped, because bureaucrats in Kiev “have not transferred the administration from Donetsk to another part of the region”, they have now had to resort to food handouts from the Army and volunteer batallions that are stationed there to protect them.
Poroshenko is quickly losing hearts and minds. If he is serious about his desire to regain control of the entire country, as his incessant tweeting would suggest, then he needs to focus on issues at home, rather than wasting his time jetting abroad meeting with various world leaders and constantly dropping names on his Twitter feed as he does so.
I’m no world leader, I am but a simple human. But as any economics professor will teach on your first day of economics class, it’s that humans require three basic needs….
The Summer War, has for the most part reached a crescendo. The focus of Poroshenko in the regained territories has been on neither of these three areas. There should be on-going daily re-supply of the troops in both the regular army and volunteer battalion forces so they can deal with and keep at bay the constant attacks from Russia’s proxy forces. This would re-enforce the belief of an already swaying local population that they are indeed safe.
There should also be swift and meaningful efforts to feed and provide shelter/repairs to people who had their homes damaged or destroyed. The oft quoted line favoured by Game of Thrones fans, “Winter is coming” is an important one to heed. Because even if Russia does cut-off gas supplies to Ukraine as a whole, the fact remains that there are thousands of people in Eastern Ukraine who will perish regardless of the gas situation when the dead of Winter arrives. As already evidenced in Oliver Carroll’s excellent piece in Newsweek, the future looks very bleak for the civiliansup and down Lugansk and Donetsk’s recovered regions.
If these people’s needs are not met, because Poroshenko is too busy updating his Twitter-feed with more name dropping and useless meetings, the country will have a humanitarian crisis on its hands, which will only further play into Putin’s hands and result in an already wavering population shifting alliances from pro-Ukraine to pro-Putin. If that happens, then you can kiss goodbye to Eastern Ukraine forever. No amount of broken promises from Merkel, Obama, Cameron and Hollande can ever help recover those lands.
So far, the emphasis has only been centered on making political capital and appeasing the wider population in Kiev that they’re making waves and bringing about changes with the new anti-corruption laws passed and the upcoming elections for a new government. Yes, these are important steps that are vital and necessary to make so that Ukraine realigns herself with the rest of democratic Europe. But neglecting two entire regions of the country, and failing to support the military sent there to protect it will lose Poroshenko this war and WILL bring about both his and his countries downfall.