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Poroshenko’s Kerch Strait Adventure Goes Wrong

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Poroshenko's Kerch Strait Adventure Goes Wrong

On November 28, the martial law entered into force in 10 regions of Ukraine bordering Russia, Belarus and the breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. It will last till December 26. Then, it should be lifted or prolonged.

According to local sources, the move caused a panic among local population of the regions inflicted by the decision.

France and Germany do not support the introduction of new sanctions against Russia in the wake of the November 25 incident in the Black Sea, according to Die Welt.

On November 28, Die Welt reported citing sources in the EU’s diplomatic circles that German and French representatives had standed against any anti-Russian sanctions over the incident at a private meeting of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels on November 27. Instead, France and Germany are going to continue their diplomatic efforts over the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Translating from diplomatic language to common English, this means that Petro Poroshenko’s adventure to stage a military provocation near the Kerch Strait appeared to be total failure. Ukrainian ships were not able to pass the strait violating the establsihed rules. Russian coastal guards stopped and arrested the ships. The martial law was imposed only in 10 Ukrainian regions and Poroshenko is still facing a “threat” of the presidential election on March 31, 2019.

The NATO and the US also limited its support to the Poroshenko regime by formal moves.

Despite this, Porshenko continues its attempts to escalate the situation further and to achieve his two main goals:

  • to gain additional support among the local population by fueling the war hysteria and to delay the presidential election if it’s possible;
  • to gain additional support from Western states (money, weapons, diplomatic assistance) and to show the Ukrainian “strength” on the international stage by triggering new anti-Russian sanctions.

Giving an interview to Ukrainian media, Poroshenko claimed that the Russian “attack” on Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait “is only the beginning” of something bigger. The President further claimed that “intelligence” shows that Russia is preparing for a possible invasion in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Russian side is strengthening the coastal and aerial security of the Republic of Crimea. On November 28, the Russian military announced that it is deploying a new division set of S-400 Triumph air defense system in Crimea. On November 27, Bal coastal missile systems were sent to the area near the Kerch Strait.

At the same time, Crimean courts have imposed two-month pre-trial detentions on all 24 Ukrainian servicemen detained as a result of the November 25 incident. If the situation develops in this direction, the only results gained by Poroshenko regime will be the further pressure on Ukrainian forces operating in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and the furher fall of support of the current president ahead of the 2018 election in Ukraine.

The economic successes of the current Ukrainian government is also under question. Ukraine’s national Commission on questions of regulation of energy and utilities (NKREKU) is going to halve tariffs for services of gas transportation to the entry points and exit points.

If the decision is employed, the tariffs for gas transportation services for all cross-border entry points in the gas transportation system will be reduced in 2.1 times – from $12,47 to $6,04 per 1 thousand cubic meters per day (excluding VAT). The importance of the Ukrainian gas transportation system is decreasing with the nearing launch of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 project.

So, Ukraine is attempting to keep the share of the gas transportation to Europe through halving the transit cost. On the other hand, this is turning the gas transportation system into a less profitable project. Some experts even specualted that the Porshenko government is just assisting the US effort to deter the Nord Stream 2 project and to boost its influence in the EU energy market. One of the most interesting speculations says that if Nord Stream 2 is aborted, Washington will just take control of Ukraine’s gas transit system under some pretext and will start dominating in the European energy sector.

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