KYIV – Ukraine’s ages-long pursuit of stable statehood came into focus on January 22, when the country commemorated the Act of Unity proclaimed 99 years ago between Ukrainian lands that were part of the Austro-Hungarian and tsarist Russian empires.
Although short-lived, in 1919 the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) based in Kyiv, which stretched as far as the Kuban region to the southeast, united with the Western Ukrainian National Republic (WUNR) that comprised most of eastern Galicia, parts of Bukovyna and the Carpathian Mountain region.
BRUSSELS – The U.S. special envoy for Ukraine says the Minsk accords – the Western-backed blueprint for ending the war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists – have not been implemented because Moscow has not shown “willingness to implement them.”
Speaking in Brussels ahead of a trip to Ukraine and a meeting with his Kremlin counterpart in Dubai on January 26, U.S. envoy Kurt Volker also said that Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine have “produced the opposite” of what he called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objective of maintaining a “Russia-friendly Ukraine” that is “part of Russia’s orbit.”
Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric about Ukraine has changed in order to curry favor with Russians in advance of the presidential poll, but his approach on the ground has not changed, laying a potential trap for Ukrainians and meaning that his “hybrid peace” is even more dangerous than his “hybrid war,” Vitaly Portnikov says. There is the great danger that Ukrainians and their supporters elsewhere, the Ukrainian commentator says, will focus on what Mr. Putin says, rather than on what he continues to do, and thus decide that Kyiv should make concessions to someone who has made none – except at the level of propaganda (radiosvoboda.org/a/2897 3563.html). In the weeks between his televised meeting with the Russian people and his more recent meeting with media editors, Mr. Putin has changed his tone in comments about Ukraine in remarkable ways. He is no longer talking about the need for regime change in Kyiv but instead about the requirement for improving relations between the two countries. But “nothing in the situation around Ukraine has changed,” Mr. Portnikov says.
The Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday [January 18] accused Ukraine of preparing for a new war in the Donbas. It’s a pretty strange accusation because, well, there’s been an old war going on in the Donbas for nearly four years now. It’s killed more than 10,000 people. And the only reason it is going on is because Russia instigated it. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement came in response to legislation passed by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada yesterday, defining the Russian-controlled areas of the Donbas as temporarily occupied territories and calling Russia an aggressor state.
In the four years that have passed since Russia annexed Crimea, the number of Russian submarines active in the Black Sea has grown from one to seven. These submarines pose a grave threat to the security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) eastern flank. And together with the Kremlin’s military build-up on the occupied peninsula, they have shifted the balance of forces in the region in Russia’s favor. Immediately after the annexation of Crimea, Russia embarked on an ambitious program of modernizing its Black Sea Fleet, based out of Sevastopol. Originally, six Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356P/M) guided-missile frigates and six Kilo-class submarines were to be constructed and deployed in the Black Sea (Interfax, May 13, 2014).
BRUSSELS – U.S. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, has warned that the alliance will not be “dominant” in certain areas in five years if it fails to modernize and adapt to the growing threat from Russia. “I certainly have concerns with respect to Russia,” Gen. Scaparrotti told a press conference in Brussels on January 17 following a meeting of top NATO defense officials. “I think that, as an alliance, we are dominant. There are domains within this that were challenged. I think cyber is one of those.
…The act declaring the independence of Ukraine would have been impossible without the Fourth Universal. If our glorious ancestors hadn’t sown the seeds of the idea of independence in 1918, they wouldn’t have grown to almost unanimous support in the referendum of 1991. …The Fourth Universal and the Act of Union are among the most important documents of national liberation. …
Our independence will become 100 percent irreversible when we prove to the whole world and, first of all, to ourselves that we have become a successful country of successful people. …
Having survived the most painful shock caused by the war and economic aggression of Russia, we are returning to the path of recovery and development. We have to overcome external aggression, build a European Ukraine, pass it on to the hands of our children and grandchildren. This is our mission. …
– President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, speaking on January 22, the Day of Unity of Ukraine, which this year was celebrated on the 100th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Republic’s proclamation of independence in the Fourth Universal. (Excerpt cited in the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Daily Briefing.)
The statement below was released by the Ukrainian World Congress on January 22. In 2018 Ukrainians throughout the world are commemorating 100 years of Ukrainian statehood. January 22, 1918, the first Ukrainian Parliament, Ukrainska Tsentralna Rada, proclaimed with its Fourth Universal an independent Ukrainian People’s Republic. Exactly one year later, on January 22, 1919, the Unification Act joined the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic into one consolidated independent state. The events of January 22, 1918 and 1919, were not isolated moments in history but the culmination of a centuries-old struggle of the Ukrainian people for self-determination and freedom.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress released the statement below on January 21. On January 22, Ukrainians all over the world mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration of Ukrainian statehood. On January 22, 1918, the Fourth Universal of the Ukrainian Central Rada proclaimed the Ukrainian National Republic an independent, free, sovereign state. One year later, on January 22, 1919, the Ukrainian National Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic united in a single, independent and indivisible state. Today, this historic date is observed as the Day of Unity of Ukraine (День Соборности України).
…The use of mercenaries is illegal under Russian law. But since at least the 1990s, Moscow has used them as deniable proxies for its military interventions abroad. … Over the past four years, however, President Vladimir Putin has dramatically ramped up the use of private military contractors as a crucial part of his foreign policy, using them to extend Russian power in eastern Ukraine and Syria.