Ukrainian interest. Show around Henichesk, Merkel’s optimism, and global challenges
Russian propaganda mixed in one bowl the issues of gas and Crimea. Angela Merkel radiates political optimism. New global challenges are a serious threat to Ukraine.
Russia has already admitted that a “blitzkrieg” wouldn’t help gain full control over Ukraine, and now the Kremlin is trying to test its new technology of manipulation. This time, the Russian media has whirled around the situation of gas supplies in the southern Ukrainian city of Henichesk, having staged a real soap opera titled "Putin brought salvation to a district center in Kherson region." Such a unique mix of the Crimean issue and the question of gas supplies, which are both prominent in the Ukrainian information space, failed to boost popularity of the Russian president, but rather caused derision among Ukrainian users of social networks.
Russia continues to pursue with its attempts to use hybrid technology of war, and not only against Ukraine. That’s why Angela Merkel’s optimism regarding the successful advancement of the Normandy Format talks seems politically flavored. The Donbas conflict settlement is extremely politically important to the German Chancellor, and this means a new round of pressure on Kyiv to implement the Minsk agreements. At the same time Angela Merkel will have to contain the pressure of the German business, which gets more impatient on the issue of lifting sanctions against Russia.
The Government of the Netherlandsm through Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has pledged to campaign in support of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement ahead of the April’s consultative referendum. Ukraine shouldn’t be deluded about the public opinion in the country, whose citizens were killed onboard flight MH17 in July 2014 in the skies over Donbas. Russia is well aware of the importance of this consultative referendum, and the Kremlin will make every effort to discredit Ukraine.
The New Year’s mass attacks on women in a number of EU member states, with suspects being the immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, can have a cumulative effect on public opinion in the European Union. The refugee problem, which arose sharply in 2015, has not disappeared anywhere. It remains very sensitive to the millions of Europeans. There is reason to believe that the attacks were orchestrated from the headquarters beyond the EU and were aimed at destabilizing the situation in Europe. In the medium term, the factor of migrants can ricochet at Ukraine’s visa liberalization prospects. Therefore, Kyiv needs to respond with an increased efficiency of internal reforms, the transition from words to action, as the EU is watching closely.
North Korea’s alleged test of a hydrogen bomb, and the crash in the Chinese stock market may mark a new stage of turbulence in world politics. And the official Kyiv should get used to the fact that the Donbas conflict and Crimea’s annexation will not constantly remain in the spotlight of the world leaders. So, the State must take systemic efforts to maintain the so much needed global focus on Ukraine. In particular, the very important platform is the UN Security Council, as Ukraine was elected its non-permanent member. Ukraine’s newly appointed Representative to the UN Volodymyr Yelchenko has already started his work on organizing the visit to Donbas of a UN Secretariat assessment mission.