Ukrainian interest. Relapses of Stalinism, meetings in Belgrade, and Polish diversity
The Russian government cynically combines in its policy certain relapses of Stalinism and Putin's willingness to join the EU in countering cyber threats. Petro Poroshenko paid a visit to Serbia, the country traditionally looking up to Moscow. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew noted that the Russian Orthodox Church has no right to consider Ukraine its canonical territory. Representatives of the Polish government on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Volyn tragedy sent a number of varying signals to Ukraine.
The Kremlin is conducting a very "original" preparation for the meeting of Vladimir Putin with Donald Trump. It's not just a matter of minimizing a public phenomenon to the people of Vladimir Putin. In Russia, Stalinist methods against Ukrainian political prisoners are actively used: the Crimean Vladimir Balukh, who was starving in Crimea, was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment on a fabricated charge by the invaders. Stolen by Russian special services in August last year in Belarusian Gomel, 20-year-old Ukrainian Pavel Griba severely beat convoy and robbed Russian prisoners. Against this background, the possibility of Oleg Sentsov's cousin Natalya Kaplan to see her brother in the colony in Labytnangi looks just a glimpse of light in the realm of medieval darkness.
Whatever is happening with Ukrainian political prisoners does not prevent Putin from gaining political profit from the Russia-hosted FIFA World Cup 2018, which allows the Kremlin to form a positive international perception of their country. Emmanuel Macron's readiness to attend the semifinals game with the participation of national team France is an excellent confirmation of this assumption. It is interesting to note that Putin, as if reaching out to his "friend Emmanuel", expressed readiness to join the EU in confronting cyberattacks. From the outside, it reminds of a wolf's willingness to take part in a discussion at a rabbit panel. By the way, it is highly unlikely that Macron will take a detour from that St. Petersburg game to visit political prisoner Oleh Sentsov.
Petro Poroshenko visited Belgrade, the capital of a traditionally pro-Russian Serbia, where he met not only with the country's leadership, but also with the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irenaeus. It is too early to speak of the meeting's strategic outcome, and it is obvious that some discussions (for example, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin talking Serbian mercenaries in Donbas) were anything but easy. Obviously, one also needs to recall the increase in trade turnover between Ukraine and Serbia, political contacts on the topic of Kosovo and Crimea, and even the general prospects for European integration, of which Petro Poroshenko spoke fairly optimistically during a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart.
On a separate note, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew publicly stated that the Russian Orthodox Chucrh never had the right to call Ukraine its canonical territory. Perhaps, such a definite position regarding the prospects for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to receive autocephaly from Fanar had not been voiced before, but that does not mean that the Kremlin and the Russian clerics reconciled with the prospect for the Ukrainian religious landscape to change dramatically and unfavorably for Moscow. We are yet to see the official decision of the Holy Synod and prepare for the various consequences of such decision.
On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Volyn tragedy, several Polish politicians made their statements relating to Ukraine. Andrzej Duda intends on July 8 to honor the memory of the Poles killed in Volhynia, while Petro Poroshenko will visit the village of Sagryn in Poland, where in the spring of 1944, more than 1,000 Ukrainians were killed by the Krajowa Army. Worth noting is the interview by MP Morawiecki with Russia's RIA Novosti, where the Polish parliamentarian has traditionally critically assessed the role of the UPA [the Ukrainian Rebel Army] and lamented the lack of positive dynamics in the Polish-Russian relations. This is certainly not the first such accusation, but this time it was made by the father of Poland's current prime minister, a representative of the ruling party "Law and Justice".
By the way, PM Mateusz Morawiecki is very consistent in exploiting the theme of "Ukrainian refugees", who in fact have become an important part of the Polish economy, covering a wide range of vacancies.
However, some more pleasing news are also coming from Poland. Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchinski during the Forum of Trimarium Regions announced his intention to create the Parliamentary Assembly of the Trimarium and considered inviting Ukraine and Moldova to participate. This is a good chance for a group of post-Soviet states (Georgia should be added as well) to receive a new impetus and a new format of relations with the West.