President Poroshenko’s Problems and the Crisis of the US ‘Ukrainian Project’

President Poroshenko’s Problems and the Crisis of the US ‘Ukrainian Project’

President Poroshenko’s Problems and the Crisis of the US ‘Ukrainian Project’

Poroshenko’s succession of political setbacks reflects his regime’s unsavory history.


Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments are at Cohen reminds listeners that the new Cold War is preventing Washington and Moscow from cooperating on issues of vital national security, now mounting threats of terrorism (including nuclear terrorism) in Europe, and that Ukraine remains the political epicenter of the new Cold War. Poroshenko, president of the US-backed Kiev government, has suffered a recent succession of political blows, including right-wing and “liberal” threats to overthrow him; an inability to appoint a new prime minister; the Dutch referendum vote against giving his government a European Union partnership; the Panama Papers revealing his offshore accounts; and more. The US political-media establishment blames Poroshenko’s problems on Ukraine’s rampant financial corruption and on the “aggression” of Russian President Putin, but Cohen argues that the underlying cause is the actual, rarely discussed political history of Poroshenko’s “Maidan Revolution” regime.

As the second anniversary of Ukraine’s civil war (and US-Russian proxy war) approaches, Cohen looks back on some of the disgraceful episodes of the proclaimed “Revolution of Dignity.” That history includes the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president in February 2014; Kiev’s refusal to seriously investigate the “Maidan snipers,” whose killings precipitated the former president’s ouster, snipers who now seem to have been not his agents but those of right-wing Maidan forces—or to bring to justice extreme nationalists behind the subsequent massacre of pro-Russian protesters in Odessa; the Maidan leadership’s refusal to negotiate with suddenly disenfranchised regions of Eastern Urkaine but instead to launch an “anti-terrorist” military assault on them; and even the questionably democratic nature of Poroshenko’s election as president.

All this was done officially in the name of “European values” and in order to “join Europe.” Two years later, the civil war has taken nearly 10,000 lives, created perhaps 2 million Ukrainian refugees, empowered armed quasi-fascist forces that threaten to overthrow Poroshenko, and left Ukraine in economic and social ruin. The Dutch referendum was not the first sign that the European Union has wearied of the disaster it helped to create. Two of its top officials had already stated that Kiev had no chance to join the European Union for “20 to 25 years.” More and more Europeans are asking why their leaders forced Kiev in 2013 to chose between the EU and its traditional trading partner, Russia, instead of embracing Putin’s proposal for a three-way economic arrangement. In cold-war Washington and its media, Cohen notes, the question as to why the Obama administration also imposed the choice on Ukraine is not even raised—only more blaming of “Putin’s Russia” for the tragedy that continues to unfold.

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