27 October 2016

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Ukrainian interest. Deadly report, sharp president, and debate without Ukraine

The international investigation has proved that the Boeing 777 flight MH17 in the summer of 2014 was downed from a Russian air defense system Buk, which was brought into Ukraine on the eve of the tragedy and transported back to Russia shortly after the terrible crime was committed. The president of Israel showed the lack of deep knowledge of Ukrainian history. First televised debates of the U.S. presidential candidates saw no mentions of Ukraine.


The Joint Investigation Commission presented the preliminary results of its probe into the causes of the air crash  in Donbas in the hot summer of 2014. The investigators have rejected versions of the terrorist attack on board the aircraft, downing by a warplane or destruction due to technical problems. The findings confirm the original version of Ukraine: the aircraft was shot down by a Russian anti-aircraft missile from an air defense system that guarded the positions of pro-Russian militants. At the same time, the JIT do not rush to blame Russia in committing this war crime, choosing to narrow the number of suspects to a hundred.

The Russian government has decided to respond to the JIT findings with the denial of the obvious. The newly elected Duma deputies competed in shielding the Kremlin and blaming Ukraine and the West. Russian FM Sergey Lavrov refused to apologize for the downed airliner, which, by and large, further aggravates the situation. However, the present lack of formal charges against Russia should not deceive anyone: this unprecedented investigation requires rock solid evidence to bring to justice specific individuals responsible. With their short-sighted actions, the Russian leaders are losing the last bits of trust in their words. Interestingly, this process takes place against the backdrop of the collapse of U.S.-Russian efforts to find common ground regarding the Syrian conflict. Washington and major EU powers put forward an ultimatum before Russia to stop the barbaric shellings of Aleppo. In general, the JIT report on MH17 crash looks deadly for Russia's reputation.

Meanwhile, the Western leaders remain focused on the conflict in Donbas. Barack Obama and Angela Merkel in a telephone conversation confirmed the need for all sides to implement Minsk agreements. Too bad that the Kremlin-controlled militants are in no rush to fulfill an agreement on disengagement of forces and hardware in three sectors along the contact line, continuing their attacks on Ukrainian positions and at the same time  not allowing the OSCE SMM to monitor the situation.

Commemoration events in connection with the 75th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy were somewhat  overshadowed by a statement by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. During his visit to Ukraine, he expressed confidence in the involvement of the OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] in mass killings of the Jews during World War II. With such statement, Israeli president opted  for a quite unfair generalization and jeopardized the development of bilateral relations. On the other hand, this statement, delivered from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada, is yet another evidence of the need to re-build Ukraine’s information policy, abandoning reactivity in favor of creative offensiveness.

Kyiv was visited by head of the European Council Donald Tusk and European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. Tusk discussed with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the prospects for ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, while Ms Malmström brought some good news announcing a batch of extended quotas for the Ukrainian producers. The European Union continues its carrot and stick policy regarding Ukraine as the allocation of the next tranche of financial assistance is postponed until 2017.

In a televised debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump there was not one mention of Ukraine. Frankly, this is a logical thing, since the situation in Ukraine is not a foreign policy priority for Washington, and it is the internal problems of the United States and the vision of overcoming them which is the real priority in the fight for the votes. Today it is more important to see a more determined stance of the 45th U.S. president against Russia, which continues to pose a threat to the whole civilized world with its actions.

Yevgeny Magda

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