December 5, 2014—Since the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine this past February, the question of just how much tensions between Russia and Ukraine will escalate has lingered. And the answer is still unclear going into 2015.
But this past week, three new developments were reported that could impact the international contest. Which of these do you think is the most important?
1.) The new pro-Western government of Ukraine, lead by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has been officially recognized by its parliament.
From the article at ABC News:
Five political blocs, including Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front party, last month formed a parliamentary coalition that has vowed to enact an agenda of drastic economic and political reform.
New Cabinet ministers include several figures who received Ukrainian citizenship by presidential decree, including Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, an American with experience working for the U.S. State Department.
Many of the ministers in the Cabinet retain their posts, including the foreign, defense and interior ministers.
The incoming government has vowed to root out corruption and re-orient Ukraine toward Europe. President Petro Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk have both said they eventually want to see Ukraine join the European Union and NATO.
2.) There is still conflict, interspersed with armistices, in the Russia-Ukraine border region.
From the article at BBC:
Earlier the rebels reported a truce at the bitterly contested airport. And a ceasefire was agreed in nearby Luhansk region, European observers said.
Fighting has raged at the airport for three days. The rebels hold the city.
Under the new deal for Luhansk, the sides agreed to a ceasefire starting on Friday. A withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of confrontation was agreed for Saturday, 6 December. But it is not yet clear how wide the demilitarised zone will be.
3.) Sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea necessitated a plan for a new oil pipeline called the South Stream to get around Ukraine through to European trading partners of Russia. The European Union (EU) opposed the South Stream to heed Russian influence in the region, and now the contentious project has been halted by Russian president Vladimir Putin in favor of a deal with Turkey.
From the article at Reuters:
Putin accused the EU of denying Bulgaria, heavily dependent on Russian gas, its sovereign rights, and said that blocking the project “is against Europe’s economic interests and is causing damage”.
EU-candidate Turkey’s deepening energy ties with Russia are likely to raise eyebrows in Europe and the United States, coming as Western powers have imposed economic sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine, and as Europe tries to lower its energy dependence on Russia, which supplies about 30 percent of its gas needs, half of that via Ukraine.
Do you think the restructuring of Ukraine’s government, the cease-fires, and Russia’s new oil deal will create a more peaceful environment for 2015? Share your predictions in the comments.