Poroshenko’s Emergency Return to Kiev

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1/21/2015

Generals Failed Us

Military defeats force Poroshenko to leave Davos ahead of
schedule.

By Petr Likhomankov

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Poroshenko hastily ended his three-day visit to Switzerland
and returned to Ukraine on the day Davos forum opened. Ukraine’s leader hoped
for political and economic successes, but received only frustration.

The failed Ukrainian offensive against Donetsk and the
barbaric Ukrainian methods that had become obvious even to Europeans who used
to sympathize with Ukraine, made Poroshenko’s meeting with the financial and political
elite of Europe and the world senseless.

Poroshenko’s misfortunes had begun as soon as he arrived in
Zurich, where he was met by a large anti-war demonstration, and his lecture
about peace in the entire world was interrupted by a local student who asked
the audience not to listen to “a child killer”. Shortly after that the
Ukrainian president launched a few disconnected tirades in Twitter and declared
himself the President of peace.

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His social network statements which sounded like self-justification,
reflected Poroshenko’s objectives in Davos. Poroshenko had hoped to give
emotional speeches about a bus “shot to pieces by terrorists” at Volnovakha,
his “peace plan” that had been gathering dust for half a year, and attempts at
reforms. Then he’d ask for financial and political assistance. While Poroshenko
was begging for money in Switzerland, it was assumed that his generals will
continue shelling Donetsk and Gorlovka and force the militia to retreat. Then
after his triumphant return from Switzerland Poroshenko would have been able to
announce on Twitter than the situation is radically different, and the
representatives of DPR and LPR can no longer be considered participants of the
trilateral contact group. That would have rendered the Minsk Agreements
irrelevant, which would mean their rewriting on Ukraine’s terms.

It was a painful blow to Kiev to hear the information
revealed by DPR Prime Minister Zakharchenko concerning Ukrainian army
casualties. Only during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday it lost 40 killed,
or ten times more than the “standard” casualty reports provided by CTO press
service. The tales told by captured “cyborgs” about how their command sent them
to slaughter caused a painful bursting of the bubble in which many war-minded
Ukrainians lived, judging by their emotional reactions in social networks.

“Glamorous patriotism, inappropriate military shows and
parades, victory propaganda allow fools to act foolishly, and high-ranking
criminals to commit crimes. The parades and shows have come to an end, ladies
and gentlemen. The recent events at the front show that we don’t even have
adequate tactical reserves to localize the actions of the adversary,” is how the
the situation was summed up a well-known Ukrainian volunteer Yuriy Kasyanov, whom nobody
would suspect of militia sympathies.

The ever-more evident loss of trust toward official media
information threatens the partial mobilization which Poroshenko “blessed” with
his signature before departing for Switzerland. Even Western Ukrainian media
cannot conceal the fact that military-age men are hurriedly leaving the country,
with many fleeing not to Poland but to Russia: the tickets for the “Lvov-Moscow”
train have been sold out month in advance.

The world opinion concerning the “counter-terrorist
operation” is also changing: when Poroshenko was in Zurich, an authoritative
German TV channel ZDF showed a report in which the Ukrainian army was accused
of killing civilians. The same conclusions were drawn by the US Associated
Press agency.

Poroshenko no longer has the ear of Kiev “hawks.” During his
absence Rada Deputy Sergey Pashinskiy said that the government is prepared to
introduce martial law in the country. That would mean Ukrainians could no
longer leave the country, Poroshenko’s concept of a local “counter-terror
operation” would collapse, and international financiers would cease
negotiations with Ukraine. Due to all that, Poroshenko’s further stay in Davos
made no sense. And now, having returned to Kiev, Poroshenko will have to put
together a new “peace plan”, in order not to lose the entire country along with
his presidential baton.

Translator’s Note: The psychological impact of the loss of
the Donetsk Airport by the “cyborgs” cannot be overestimated. It was a
high-prestige geographical location on which the Ukrainian military (and, by
extension, the civilian leadership) had staked their reputations. DPR’s victory
in that battle therefore had not only military but, especially, psychological
importance as it revealed that the Ukrainian emperor has no clothes. Given that
the Ukrainian military had launched only relatively feeble counterattacks that
failed to retake even one of several localities and outposts taken by DPR and
LPR forces, it suggests that the Ukrainian front line is holding only barely,
and might collapse in the event of a concerted Novorossia push. It is also evident that Poroshenko cannot count on even a symbolic show of Western support. Even the usually reliable and Photoshop-savvy US State Department can’t force itself to confirm yet another round of Ukrainian claims of a Russian invasion. One is left with an impression that many in the West are quietly hoping that the whole Ukraine mess would just quietly go away, even if it means Russia picks up the pieces and with them the cost of Europe’s and America’s international adventuring.

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