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22 January 2017

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Pinchuk proposes Crimea trade for Donbas peace, drawing harsh criticism - Kyiv Post

Billionaire oligarch Victor Pinchuk has supported Ukraine’s integration with Europe through his Yalta European Strategy Conference, but he’s now promoting a different line, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Ukraine should give up Crimea and medium-term hopes of European Union and NATO membership in exchange for peace in Donbas, Kyiv Post reports.

Photo from UNIAN
Photo from UNIAN

Pinchuk’s article – published on Dec. 29 under the headline "Ukraine must make painful compromises for peace with Russia" – argues that Ukraine should remove EU membership and its claim to Crimea from its national policy priorities as part of a broad deal to end Russia’s war against the eastern Donbas, according to Kyiv Post.

"We should also make clear that we are ready to accept an incremental rollback of sanctions on Russia as we move toward a solution for a free, united, peaceful and secure Ukraine," Pinchuk wrote in the column. "The Ukrainian lives that will be saved are worth the painful compromises I have proposed."

Pinchuk's proposal has sparked debate in Kyiv political circles, with the country’s pro-Western activists expressing emotions ranging from revulsion to a cynical appraisal of Pinchuk’s business interests in building ties with both Russia and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Kyiv Post wrote.

Hanna Hopko, an independent lawmaker who heads the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said that Pinchuk was sacrificing Ukrainian statehood for his own business interests.

On the Crimea issue, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov wrote on Facebook that Pinchuk "urges us — Ukraine and Ukrainians, including Crimea and Crimean Tatars — to surrender." In Chubarov’s words, Pinchuk just suggests that Ukrainians destroy Ukraine’s national dignity with their own hands.

Others suggested that Pinchuk was using the op-ed as a means to gain traction with the incoming Trump administration.

McCain brands Russia's U.S. election hack "act of war"Political analyst Taras Berezovets told the Kyiv Post that Pinchuk's op-ed sends troubling signals to Ukraine. Berezovets argued that there are people in Trump's team who are ready to follow the Kremlin’s initiative to restart U.S.-Russian relations with Ukraine at stake.

Volodymyr Fesenko, a political scientist and head of the Penta political studies center, told the Kyiv Post that Pinchuk’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal was not a signal to Ukrainians or Ukrainian politicians, but to Trump's new administration.

Fesenko also said that Pinchuk, like any savvy oligarch, was adjusting to new business realities.

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