UPDATE Tuesday, May 27: Poroshenko's victory has been welcomed by both the United States and, a bit less enthusiastically, by the Russians, too. The president-elect, as he appears to be, says that he'll visit Moscow to talk to Putin, and that his first trip will be to eastern Ukraine to try to resolve the mini-crisis there. That's all good, and perhaps the crisis in Ukraine — which has been overblown by many into an incipient WW III — is over, or at least winding down. No doubt, Ukraine will keep the military pressure on the rag-tag separatists in the Donets Basin, without launching the kind of all-out offensive that would put pressure on Russia to intervene on their behalf. Stay tuned.
ORIGINAL POST Leave aside the nonsense and chatter over Ukraine—the less-than-astute observation from Prince Charles that Vladimir Putin is a new Hitler and Putin’s own efforts to portray modest violence in eastern Ukraine as a “dangerous civil war”—and it appears that things are getting better in Ukraine just days before its presidential election is held. Unfortunately for Ukraine, the winner is likely to be yet another unsavory billionaire and oligarch, but that’s just about all Ukraine has had to choose from in recent years, and there’s no Thomas Jefferson on the ballot. But even Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who’s been decrying “fascists” all over Ukraine, appears to agree that the leading candidate, if no Jefferson, is at least not a fascist.
Still, as Ukrainians get ready to head to the polls, even in most of the east, Putin says that even though he considers the May 25 elections illegitimate, he’ll respect the new president of Ukraine and that he’s ready to work with him or her, according to The Moscow Times:
We want to calm the situation and we will respect any choice Ukrainian people make. … I just hope the violence will halt after these elections. We will work with the new Ukrainian authorities.
Not only that, but after several weeks of promising to withdraw Russian forces from just across the border with Ukraine without actually carrying out any pullback, Russia now seems to be removing some of those forces, says the Kyiv Post, citing NATO’s commander. There are still deadly skirmishes in the east, including one that left at least thirteen Ukrainian soldiers dead and another in which Ukraine says that its border guards halted armed men from crossing into Ukraine from Russia—but in any case it’s overwhelmingly clear that most Ukrainians in the east, whether Russian-speaking or not, don’t want partition or division of the country and don’t support the ersatz “people’s republics” that have been proclaimed by would-be Lenins in the Donbas region.