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Kiev’s Fierce Battle Against Peace Initiatives

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Kiev's Fierce Battle Against Peace Initiatives

Ukrainian radicals light flares during a rally outside the Russian embassy in Kiev, Ukraine March 14, 2020. IMAGE: Reuters / Gleb Garanich

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) set out to hold a peacekeeping forum, calling to de-escalate the situation in Eastern Ukraine.

The response from Ukrainian authorities? The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine reacted with threats.

On August 17th, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church decided to hold a peacemaking forum “People of the World”.

The forum began on September 21st and is being held at the Svyatogorsk Lavra.

The goal of the forum is to develop an action program to end the conflict and restore peaceful life in eastern Ukraine.

The organizing committee of the event included well-known Ukrainian public figures, representatives of culture, medicine and education, who support the Church’s initiatives to end the war in Donbass.

However, on the eve of the forum, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov warned the organizers of peace forums about criminal liability:

“The organizers of various “peace forums” should be reminded about the criminal liability for anti-state activities and note that the NSDC Office of Ukraine is closely monitoring the situation in the state on the eve of the elections and the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine will react to any attempts to undermine the internal political situation.”

According to the official, attempts to do at least something for the earliest possible achievement of peace in the east of Ukraine is “an effective instrument of the Russian hybrid war.”

He appears certain that the purpose of religious processions and peaceful forums is “to promote the ideas of the so-called “Russian world”, to justify Russian aggression against Ukraine, to promote anti-Ukrainian theses of Russian propaganda.”

Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) asks a representative of the authorities:

“Is it possible that death, injury, destruction and grief of ordinary people, our brothers and sisters, do not soften the hearts of modern “scribes” and “Pharisees”? What other cup of suffering must we all drink, so that real talk about the world, and not formulations justifying its rejection, can finally be heard from all sides? How much longer can you drown out the aspirations of the majority of ordinary people, who are the real and only source of power in our country, with volleys of real and information cannons?”

Interestingly, just a few days before Danilov’s scandalous statement, the National Security and Defense Council published a document entitled “The Strategy of National Security and Defense of Ukraine”.

It says that “Ukraine is striving for peace. Peace is the key to the development of Ukraine. The establishment of peace, the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine <…> is the highest priority of the state. ”

According to the speaker of the UOC, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, Danilov’s statements contradict this document and can be qualified as anti-state activity.

Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, generally believes that after such words, the head of the NSDC in a state governed by the rule of law was obliged to resign, and his threats and accusations regarding the Church’s peacemaking initiatives are absurd and groundless.

Organizations such as the National Corps, Right Sector, Municipal Varta, as well as the European Solidarity and Svoboda parties consider the ratification of the Minsk agreements a “betrayal” and the end of the war a “triumph of revanchist forces.” At the same time, representatives of these parties and organizations call themselves patriots of Ukraine and claim that they defend the territorial integrity of the state and its independence, and also fight for peace.

For example, the leader of the European Solidarity Party, Former President Petro Poroshenko, at the very beginning of his presidency, promised that the conflict in the East of Ukraine can only be resolved peacefully. But after a while, his position changed so radically that he called the peace agreements with the Russian Federation to end the war in Eastern Ukraine meaningless.

On July 27th, 2020, representatives of the National Corps, European Solidarity and organizations sympathetic to the former president of Ukraine organized protests against the ceasefire reached in Eastern Ukraine.

In a statement by Poroshenko’s party, the ceasefire is directly called high treason:

“A man named Zelensky has forbidden the Ukrainian army to defend Ukraine. It seems that there is high treason here … The Ukrainian army is attacked from the rear. It was attacked by a man named Zelensky.”

In turn, the leader of the “National Corps” Andriy Biletsky goes further than Poroshenko and offers his solution to the “problem of Donbass” – to starve the citizens of Ukraine living there.

According to him, “we can arrange not a clown, but a real adequate blockade. Cut off the flow of electricity, water, everything that Ukraine supplies to this territory. We must build a wall and force them to surrender. This way we will quickly end the suffering of people.”

Such a peculiar understanding of humanism by Biletsky is not surprising, because in the structure of the Ukrainian government there are people who support him.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister for “Reintegration of the Occupied Territories of Ukraine” Oleksiy Reznikov agreed with the need to turn off the water in Eastern Ukraine.

But, according to him, it is a matter of time, because at the moment the shutdown of water in Eastern Ukraine will leave the residents of Mariupol without water.

He assured that the Ukrainian government is working on this issue, in particular, it plans to build a water pipeline bypassing Donetsk and Luhansk.

Regarding peace in Donbass, representatives of the “patriotic” Ukrainian churches – the UGCC, the OCU and the UOC-KP take a position similar to the radicals and Poroshenko.

As, peace is the final goal in Eastern Ukraine, but peace is not an option.

And one could presume that these are all not-that-official claims, but where is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government in supporting these intiatives, is probably a question that should be raised.

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