Ukrainian interest. Provocation in Lutsk, consolidation in Malta, and reanimation of GUAM
A shell fired from a grenade launcher at the Polish Consulate General in Lutsk has become a new link in the chain of provocations directed against the development of Ukrainian-Polish relations. The Congress of the European People's Party addressed the Ukrainian issue. GUAM member states will try to revive the organization by creating a free trade area.
Volyn has long been a particularly sensitive region for Polish-Ukrainian relations. Masterminds behind a recent provocation against the Consulate General of Poland in Lutsk were well aware of that. The shooting which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday was followed later the same day with a staged “rally on highway” in Lviv region, where a group of citizens who stressed being part of the Polish community tried to block the Lviv-Rava Ruska motorway. However, the law enforcement response was effective this time.
Ukraine’s top officials promptly condemned the provocative attack on the consulate, which Poland called a terrorist act. It is easy to guess that the extreme right forces in Poland will raise the issue of Ukraine's inability to ensure the safety of diplomats. Promoting the idea of Ukraine being a failed state is a task the Kremlin is especially eager to fulfill, both with its own and others' hands. It is no wonder that the Russian Foreign Ministry decided to determine what the “Ukrainian people” is and what it needs, without engaging the Ukrainians.
It is rather showing that this double provocation took place almost immediately after the Warsaw meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy said that the Polish and Ukrainian parliamentarians agreed on a joint action plan. However, following the shelling in Lutsk, the Polish side suspended operations of all diplomatic missions across Ukraine, while President Duda demanded decisive actions to investigate the crime. It is interesting to note that FSB-controlled Russian pranksters attempted to set up a hoax conversation between Poroshenko and Duda, acting on behalf of the Ukrainian presidential administration. However, they ultimately failed as they have not been aware of the fact that the two leaders have already held an actual telephone conversation. In the current situation, it is important not only to ensure the security of diplomatic missions in Ukraine, but also to intensify the dialogue between Poland and Ukraine. The position of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s informal but influential leader might contribute to this as he has already claimed there was a Russian trace in the latest anti-Polish provocations on Ukrainian soil.
Petro Poroshenko during the Congress of Europe’s major political force, the European People's Party - met with the opponent of the current Polish government, head of the European Council Donald Tusk. But this, of course, this was not the only meeting held in Malta, which gathered representatives of the European political establishment. Poroshenko also discussed the situation in Donbas with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (this dialogue should be continued during a telephone conversation, to be joined by French President Francois Hollande), and with the head of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.
Special attention should be paid to the meeting of the Ukrainian president with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, where the latter proposed legalizing dual citizenship for the Hungarians living in Ukraine. The official Budapest played a simple two-step game: last week, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen spoke in favor of Hungarian autonomies abroad, and now Orban is raising this sensitive issue for both Ukraine and Hungary. It should be noted though that the Hungarian prime minister at the same time supports visa liberalization for Ukraine and the country’s European integration path. This means that the official Kyiv will have to find the answer to Budapest’s proposal that will suit the Hungarian partners.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that sanctions against Russia would remain in force until the Minsk agreements are fulfilled and Crimea returns to Ukraine. Such a message was traditional for the administration of Barack Obama, with which the team of Donald Trump seeks to have as little in common as possible. However, there seem to be no intentions in Washington to change the approaches to settling the Donbas conflict, especially in the light of Russia's defiant behavior on the international arena.
Paranoid perception by Vladimir Putin has brought to life analogies between anti-corruption rallies in Russia with the "Arab spring" and the Ukrainian Maidan. Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s master is not going to change his approach to molding international relations. Moreover, Russia seeks more and more to demonstrate its claims toward increasing its influence.
Meanwhile, an attempt was made in Kyiv to resuscitate GUAM as prime ministers of member states of the organization that long remained in lethargic sleep have signed an agreement on setting up a free trade area. It is worth remembering that this year, the first interstate association in the post-Soviet area without Russia's participation will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and the member states have one way or another become victims of the Kremlin's aggressive influence. Finding a common economic interest for the post-Soviet space is a chance that can give a new impetus to the once promising association.