“Power Purification” Law and Merkel Slow Down Progress in Ukraine-Russia Diplomacy
Vojin Joksimovich, PhD
Modern Tokyo Times
“Power Purification” Law
The Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, has passed a new law translated as “Power Purification.” It appears that the prime mover was the Prime Minister (PM) Arseniy Yatsenyuk. It should be recalled that he was Victoria Newland’s choice for the PM. She has made history as the lady who introduced the word “F” into the diplomatic language. Otherwise she is Assistant Secretary for European Affairs and the wife of Robert Kagan, leader of the younger generation of “neocons” who has served as adviser to Senator McCain, a believer in the US’ perpetual wars. It is generally recognized that all decisions about Ukraine are made in Washington, presumably including this law.
Yastenyuk said that one million Ukrainians might be affected by this law. In no time he has already removed 39 high-ranking officials including the first deputy head of the Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRI), Mikhail Gashev. Yatsenyuk explained that the ministers can only be dismissed by the parliament, while first deputy ministers, heads of state agencies, and others can be dismissed by the country’s Cabinet of Ministers. He stressed that dismissal of 39 high-ranking officials was only the first step. The second step, to be completed by February 2015, will involve the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Security Service, the Attorney General, and the Prosecutor General. The third wave, to be completed by December 2015, will involve 9,000 judges. “We need a new quality of public service, new people who are professional, honest, credible—and let them earn credibility—and who do not have the burden of past corruption, which is inherent in the public services, the judiciary, the police and the prosecution authorities,” Yatsenyuk said. It appears that anybody who served in any capacity in the duly elected President Yanukovych’s administration is on the way out. Those removed will be banned from working for a government agency for ten years.
Back to Michael Gashev and his sin. Gashev was critical of Westinghouse-made nuclear fuel assemblies for the Ukrainian Russian built reactors. He claimed they were defective, while Westinghouse claimed that errors were made during fuel loading. Ukraine has 15 reactors of Russian VVER design (Russian pressurized water reactors). Between them the country generates about 50% nuclear electricity. Westinghouse signed the contract with Energoatom, the plant operator, in 2008 and supplied 630 assemblies in the three-unit South Ukraine plant. On April 11, Energoatom extended the Westinghouse contract through 2020 and on September 24 Gashev announced that he had given go-ahead to Westinghouse shipments. However, it was too late for him so he made the first dismissal list presumably because Westinghouse complained about him. So Westinghouse broke TVEL’s nuclear fuel monopoly in Ukraine. TVEL is the Russian nuclear fuel supplier which has provided fuel for all VVERs not operating only in Russia and Ukraine but in Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Armenia, Iran, China and India.
In this purification law there is no word about de-Nazification, which Ukraine needs badly. There is a soaring neo-Nazi threat in Europe led by Ukraine, Latvia and other Baltic states. President Putin said in his interview with Belgrade’s Politika: “Regrettably, the vaccine against the virus of Nazism produced at the Nuremberg tribunal is losing its original strength in some European countries.” Ukraine’s president Poroshenko moved the Defender of Ukraine Day—the day the Red Army was established– to October 14 the date of the emergence of the collaborationist Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA), which operated against the Soviet guerillas on the side of the Nazis during WWII. A large group of Ukraine’s Right Sector activists and militants from the Azov battalion marched in Kiev chanting quotes from Adolf Hitler. They demanded declaring UIA fighters as fighters for the freedom of Ukraine.
Merkel Slows Down Progress in Ukraine-Russia Diplomacy
German chancellor Angela Merkel has become an obstacle for the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis initiated by the EU, which brought the world to the brink of a major war. Ukraine is a culturally divided country, the west oriented towards the EU and the east oriented towards Russia. Hence, Ukraine should not have been presented with a choice of the EU Association Agreement or the Customs Union with Russia, as former German chancellor Schroeder and many others pointed out. She has been blaming Russian president Vladimir Putin for the crisis designed in Washington and then embraced in Brussels including absurd economic sanctions imposed by the US/EU, which are equally hurting the Russian and EU economies. Putin is much more concerned about the impact on his budget from the recent fall in oil prices rather that an isolation impact on the Russian economy, which is already shifting from west to east and China in particular. Putin has not been the villain in the Ukrainian crisis. He has saved the West from military intervention in Syria and now he on his own is supposed to bail out the US/EU again from the crisis they triggered?!
According to the reports from Milan, from ASEM summit of Asian and EU leaders, Merkel has sparred with Putin over Ukraine in front of other world leaders. Putin has spoken of Russia’s annexation of Crimea as being lawful which Merkel contested. In her career Merkel has taken pride in being a political pragmatist. However, that hasn’t been the case when she decided to shutdown eight German nuclear power plants within 5 days after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan. There was no investigation about applicability of the Fukushima accident to the German nuclear plants, which have scored accident-free performance over decades. Her handling of the euro-crisis is also highly suspect. The Eurozone economy has stalled again in the second quarter. And now she doesn’t seem to be pragmatic about Crimea?!
Crimea is gone forever. Novorussia probably too but some negotiations there are still possible. As a pragmatist Merkel must accept that Crimea is gone forever. Legality could be debated at the level of the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. It should, however, be remembered that the ICJ ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, without the referendum, was legal. The people of Crimea have spoken. 97% of them voted to return to Russia where they resided for three centuries since Katherine the Great. More than 60% of them are ethnic Russians. Putin has saved the Crimeans from a likely bloodbath, which could have been worse than the one in Novorossia. He has allocated $5 billion for the reconstruction of the dilapidated Soviet style infrastructure and doubled their pensions. Merkel must honor self-determination. Instead she seems to be inclined to honor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s mistaken belief that without Ukraine the Russian Federation cannot be a superpower. It also seems that Merkel is following the ideology of Washington’s war party consisting of a duopoly of neocons and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) leftists. It should be noted, that “normalization” of relations with Russia seems to be on the cards in Washington for three reasons. The first, the fight against ISIS/IS in Iraq and Syria the Russians can be useful. Second, the conclusion of negotiations with Iran regarding the alleged nuclear weapons program likely needs strong involvement from political elites based in Moscow. The third, the possible reduction in engagements in the Middle East and Europe will need a balancing act and once more the Russian Federation is a positive player – for example growing relations between Egypt and Russia.
It is interesting that the leaders of Central European countries have taken a rational role in advocating scaling down EU sanctions on Russia. In the forefront are the Slovak PM Fico and the Czech President Zeman, who has compared the Ukrainian conflict with the Spanish civil war in the thirties. In Spain, Russians and the French intervened on one side while the Germans and Italians on the other. There was no aggression on either side, Zeman asserted.
Vojin Joksimovich, PHD is the author of three books and over 110 articles on world affairs
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