By August 2019, after months of Volodymyr Zelensky’s presidency, the state of relations between Ukraine and Russia had de-facto worsened.
The situation at the contact line between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and self-defense forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics remains tense despite the recently announced “harvest” ceasefire. Ceasefire violations, artillery duels and even sporadic clashes erupt on a daily constant basis. Both sides regularly report casualties among their forces.
Ukraine also continued contributing efforts to escalate the situation in the Black Sea region. On July 25, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) announced that it had detained Russia’s Nika Spirit (Neyma) tanker at the port of Izmail. The SBU claimed that the tanker was used to block the movement of Ukrainian Navy ships during the Kerch Strait incident.
“The Ukrainian Security Service and Military Prosecutor’s Office have detained Russia’s Neyma tanker that blocked the movement of Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait,” the statement reads. “A pre-trial investigation made it clear that Russian FSB border guards had carried out an act of armed aggression against Ukraine’s Nikopol and Berdyansk warships and the Yany Kapu tugboat in the Kerch Strait at the direct order of senior FSB officials,” the SBU claimed.
The Ukrainian side says that tanker Nika Spirit flying the Russian flag was identified at the port of Izmail through its IMO number and the Equasis information system as the Neyma tanker that had been used to shut the Kerch Strait.
On August 10, Ukrainian authorities seized tanker Mriya claiming that the very same ship, then called Vilga, was involved in delivering fuel to the city of Sevastopol (Crimea) in June 2015. Kiev also claims that the ship had violated Ukraine’s rules of entering and leaving Crimea.
Ukrainian de-facto actions are in contrary with the official Ukrainian propaganda arguing that the Zelensky administration is actively working to ‘return’ Ukrainian military sailors detained by Russian coastal guards during the Kerch strait incident in 2018.
On August 14, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry admitted that Kiev has rejected Russian proposals to take back the sailors because it does not like the proposed ‘format’ (the Russian demand to guarantee the participation of sailors in the criminal investigation regarding the provocation staged by the Poroshenko regime. So, the Zelensky administration prefers to blame the Kremlin for its own unwillingness to take the sailors back.
This situation is only a part of the wide-scale anti-Russian propaganda campaign held by the regime.
On August 19, President Zelensky called on Israel to recognize the so-called Holodomor of 1932-1933 as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The statement followed negotiations between the Ukrainian president and Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Ukraine and Israel have long-standing historical ties. Our nations have together experienced all the tragedies of recent history – the Holodomor and the Holocaust, the Second World War, the totalitarian Soviet regime,” Zelensky said.
Both leaders visited the National Historical and Memorial Reserve “Babyn Yar” in Kiev to pay tribute to the victims of the Babyn Yar tragedy and the Holocaust. During his remarks on the side, Zelensky accidentally forgot to mention that Babyn Yar was site massacres against civilians by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators (the very same people that are currently promoted as heroes in Ukraine).
As to the Holodomor itself, it should be noted what the current Ukrainian government means under this term. The Holodomor is the tragedy (famine) caused by policy of the Soviet leadership in the 1930s. The famine targeted the Black Earth region of Russia, some areas of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other then-Soviet regions. This tragedy was mostly provoked by the then leadership of the USSR, which at that period mostly consisted of non-ethnic Russians. Most of them were ethnic Jews, people of Baltic origins, and ethnic Ukrainians. It should be noted that the USSR has always positioned itself as the mufti-ethnic supranational state, where the Soviet nation was being considered as the only nation.
The first large famine targeted the USSR in 1921-23. The civil war and a dry steak caused it. The next famine (1932-33) was a result of the so-called Trotskyism policy in the second half of the 1920s. By the middle of the 1930s, the USSR policy changed significantly, moving away from the idea of widespread export of communism at the cost of the USSR resources. Instead, the USSR focused on upbuilding of socialism (communism) in one country.
Another important thing is that the famine of 1932-33 targeted the eastern and southeastern Black Earth areas of modern Ukraine. Then, these territories (Novorossiya and Malorossiya provinces of the Russian Empire) were mostly populated by ethnic Russians. The population was described as Velikorosses (over a third of the local population) and Malorosses (over a half of the local population). There have been almost no people identifying themselves as “Ukrainians”. The “Ukrainians” at that time were concentrated in territories occupied by Poland after the Soviet-Polish War (1919-1921). Now, most of these areas are known as Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Volin and Rivne regions of Ukraine. In fact, the demographic growth in this area started after the World War 2 because they suffered from the Nazi occupation much less than other USSR territories temporarily seized by Nazi Germany. The reason was that Ukrainian nationalists and radicals from these regions were actively collaborating with the Nazis.
Returning to the current state of relations between Ukraine and Russia, it’s important to note the lack of any real progress regarding the Minsk process intended to settle the conflict in the region of Donbass via political measures and de-escalate the situation there.
Therefore, the real situation has in fact worsened over the past few months. This tendency could be compared with ‘positive expectations’ that the world often has regarding representatives of the US Democratic Party. Since the 1990s, representatives of this party has been actively employing ‘peace language’. They use terms like “democracy”, “freedom of speech”, “human rights” and other terms of this kind. Nonetheless, often when representatives of the Democratic Party gain power in the US, the world becomes more dangerous than previously.