‘First Let Merkel, Hollande Know’: Lugansk Delivers Ultimatum to Poroshenko

If Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko intends to tighten the Donbass economic blockade, he should make such decisions in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who brokered the Minsk-II deal together with Russian President Vladimir Putin, head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic said.

On Friday, the Ukrainian parliament introduced a bill to ban trade with the so-called “temporarily occupied territories.” Continue reading

Steinmeier and the Oligarchs

KIEW/DNEPROPETROVSK/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin is increasing pressure on Kiev that it enforces the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. Observers consider the continuation of the civil war to be perilous. On the one hand, they see the risk of loosing even more territory to eastern Ukrainian insurgents, while on the other, it is unclear how the country’s total economic collapse can be avoided without ending the hostilities. Therefore, on the weekend, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier traveled not only to Kiev, but also to Dnepropetrovsk, the town of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Even though Kolomoyskyi has recently stepped down as governor, he still wields significant influence over the – in some cases – fascist militias, which refuse a cease-fire. To put pressure on the fascists, who had helped execute the February 2014 Kiev coup, but are uncontrollable in the civil war, Berlin must make a deal with Ukrainian oligarchs. These same oligarchs had been the focus of the protests at the Maidan. Several times last year, Foreign Minister Steinmeier held personal consultations with powerful oligarchs – including President Poroshenko – or politicians directly dependent on them. The Ukrainian oligarchy has emerged unscathed from last year’s upheavals.

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