What kind of gift will Merkel give Poroshenko on Ukrainian Independence Day?

Disclaimer: all opinions in this column reflect the views of their authors’, not of EurActiv.com PLC.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will play a decisive role in negotiating the European Council's nomination choice for the European Commission presidency. [EC]
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will play a decisive role in negotiating the European Council's nomination choice for the European Commission presidency. [EC]

What is Ukraine expecting from the visit of the German Chancellor? The answer is simple – a lot. However, if Merkel confines herself only to calls for the peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this will be the dead-end of European diplomacy on Ukraine, writes Bohdan Sumenko.


Bohdan Sumenko is  co-founder of the Information and Analytical Center Content and Consulting in Ukraine.


Scheduled for 23 August, on the eve of Independence Day, the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ukraine will spoil the mood of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. As of late, he has preferred to communicate with the former president of Ukraine Yanukovych on his own terms.

We could imagine Putin and Yanukovych observing together the official part of Merkel’s visit to Kyiv. And then Putin will calm Yanukovych down and will explain to him that it is the US to blame … and, once more, he will promise to him that Russia will declare a war against Ukraine…

In this context, the words of Strobe Talbott, America's former Deputy Secretary of State, are significant: “Russia invaded Ukraine early in the spring," Talbot told the Huffington Post. "They started with the so-called "little green men" -- Russian soldiers without insignia on their green uniforms -- then proceeded with uniforms with epaulets and the annexation of Crimea. Russia has been the force behind, and on the ground, with the separatists in eastern Ukraine. It is an invasion that is already well in place.”

The symbolism of the visit to Ukraine of the most influential leader among the European countries is an issue in itself. Putin is unlikely to be able once again to ignore, at the international level, any agreement reached between Chancellor Merkel and President Poroshenko. There is a hypothetical possibility that Merkel has a present in stock for Ukraine, which will make the Russian leader more compliant on the Ukrainian issue.

Undoubtedly, the visit is important, first of all for Ukraine. Merkel is a great leader of a great EU country, perhaps the most important.

At the same time, it cannot be ruled out that Merkel, as an extremely experienced European politician, would not openly take the side of either in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict over her visit. The list of the priority questions to be discussed by the leaders of Germany and Ukraine is well known. On the one hand, the international agenda, with Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territories and the outbreak with the support by Russia of the military conflict in southeastern Ukraine. On the other hand, Ukraine could become a test case for the territorial ambitions of Russia, which with the EU’s quiet consent, may lead to drastic changes of the geopolitical and energy maps of Europe. Nobody would possibly dare to blame Merkel for her desire to protect the business of her fellow countrymen who may suffer from the EU sanctions against Russia. Besides, there are still too many pro-Russian lobbyists for the South Stream gas pipeline project in Europe.

Germany has taken the leading role for the diplomatic settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict since its very beginning. Until Merkel’s scheduled visit to Ukraine, the effort has failed to come to fruition. As it is known, “a war begins where diplomacy ends”. No one is willing to believe that this is the last chance for so called “crisis diplomacy” and the rule of international law in the Russian-Ukrainian dispute.

The main question for the “financial engine of the EU”, Germany, is whether Europe is interested in the transformation of Ukraine into the pro-European leader on the continent’s east. Europeans should realize that Ukraine received a historic chance to become the last stronghold on the way of Russia’s imperial ambitions.

The situation in Ukraine has revealed that the analysts of the Russian secret services miscalculated and “set up” their colleague Putin in these forecasts. They didn’t allow for the main factor – waging a war against Ukraine’s ruling regime is one thing but waging a war against the Ukrainian people – is an absolutely different thing. They didn’t take into account that it is characteristic for the historic memory of the Ukrainian people to revive. No one could have forecast that the Russian army, trained in various international conflicts, could be efficiently opposed by the volunteers. Indeed, “Yanukovych and his team” made maximum efforts for the Ukrainian army to deteriorate.  And Putin had an instantaneous blitzkrieg in his plans. It succeeded in the Crimea, but failed in all Left Bank Ukraine [eastern Ukraine]. The ability of the Ukrainian people to mobilize efforts (unfortunately, at the expense of many lives) against a clearly defined enemy strongly and unpleasantly surprised the Russian “strategists”.

What is Ukraine expecting from the visit of the German Chancellor? The answer is simple: a lot. However, if Merkel confines herself only to calls for the peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this will be the dead-end form of imposing European diplomacy on Ukraine. It wasn’t Ukraine that started the hostilities.  Moreover, sentiments in Ukrainian society don’t accept the format of the “negotiating table” any more. The ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] must be brought to its logical end, and the enemy must be forced out of the territory.

That’s exactly why Ukraine today, as never before, has something to offer Europe. First of all, this is the concept of the new state with the quickly trained, combat-ready and in the future, strong armed forces. And here Ukraine can’t possibly do without the EU (including the US). It is not a question of some NATO membership. World history is full of examples when these issues were resolved within the framework of international law. It only takes the will of certain politicians and farsighted statesmen. In this respect, Merkel has been given a historic chance to launch the process and consolidate all the EU countries around this idea. However, the results of Merkel’s visit will soon show what mission the EU has prepared for Ukraine. The military Russian-Ukrainian conflict obviously can’t last for long due to the growth of patriotic sentiments among Ukrainians, disastrous for Russia...




Fos_Tonkin's picture

In my opinion the best thing would be to make a referendum in every Ukrainian region whether they want to remain part of the current Ukrainian State, whether they want to become independent or whether they want to join Russia. That would be the best way to show who is the big liar - current Ukrainian/Nazi authorities or Putin's mafia-style regime. In all cases I feel sorry for the ordinary people living in Ukraine most of whom just try to survive on daily basis, while feeling equal contempt for both their own country and Russia. But still it is up to them and only to them to decide their own future. As to the article itself - just another silly, biased, propaganda shit (I would have said the same thing even if the article was pro-Putin).

Jay's picture

What did you expect from a European news site? Have you ever noticed who the supporters are on the left side of the home page? Cast your eye on the very bottom.

Eurochild's picture

This is quite clearly an opinion piece and it is specifically stated that the author is "Bohdan Sumenko... co-founder of the Information and Analytical Center Content and Consulting in Ukraine". So, it's a pro-Ukrainian point, not a pro-Putin point. I guess it's a bit strange, though, to expect a piece on Ukrainian opinion to... reflect Urainian opinion. Doesn't matter whether you agree with it or not, but it's important to understand what average Ukrainian opinion is.

Well, Donetsk supposedly had a referendum to proclaim their independence, but even Mr Putin doesn't accept it. Moreover, some regions may have quite mixed opinions, there is no clear cut desire for one way or another and a referendum will only exarcebate tensions between the holders of the two opinions. Besides, it's quite clear that there is no majority desire in any particular region to leave Ukraine and join Russia in eastern Ukraine - even Putin isn't calling for that. And, let's not forget, the "rebels" are mostly from Russia, not Ukraine. The recently resigned self-proclaimed prime minister of the People's Republic of Donetsk, Alexander Borodia, is a Muscovite!

I don't really know which other countries are requested, in order supposedly to bring peace, to have votes to decide on whether to dismantle and destroy themselves. Do you suggest that Irag does that? Or Syria? What about Russia, which has plenty of separatist tendencies in its border areas. Why not give the Chechens an independence vote?

On the other hand, Russia could just make the tiny effort to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbour, an internationally recognised sovereign state.

Jay's picture

Some Ukrainians want neither Russia nor this new illegitimate government that has taken over and is fracturing as I type. It's difficult to distinguish who is native and who is not when a person has both Russian and Ukrainian passports. That latter could very well be why Crimea was lost.

Opinions by European writers favoring Ukraine are allowed, seen any that are not?

Jay's picture

seen any that are not?

Didn't think so.

Individual Freedom's picture

The article is a sad piece of Ukrainian government propaganda. The only real thing should be - fully agree with Fos_Tonkin - referendum in all areas of what is today known as Ukraine; most probably Ukraine would lose at least 30% to 40% of its area due to area that were once Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania etc. still populated with native speakers of Russian, Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian etc. For this reason there will be no referendum as the criminals of whatever color sitting in Kiev will not allow it. So, unfortunately, the lives of people in Ukraine will stay miserable. It is difficult to think of any other country that in 23 years since independence achieved so little. And joining EU won't help them either, they are just another puppet government of another vassal state. Shame.

Jay's picture

Spain’s autonomous Catalonia region promises to be the next hot spot With 7.5 million Catalans speaking their own language and running a large economy in northeastern Spain. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to block Catalan plans for a Nov. 11 independence referendum and to ignore the results.

Current President of the European Commission Barroso says the autonomous Catalonia region is an "internal problem", same doesn't apply to Ukraine though in Barroso's opinion.

Of course meddling Merkel weighed in on this issue recently saying she was against Catatonia independence.

Fos_Tonkin's picture


I doubt not that the article reflects Ukrainian point of view, delivered by a Ukrainian author. And that is actually the problem for me - I do not believe that Ukrainian point of view deserves to be published on the pages of an European journal - whether euractiv, or any other. However, even if that is still the case, each "pro-Ukrainian" article should be followed by a "pro-Russian" article. Why? Because none of those opinions has a sufficient probative value to deserve the merit of being presented independently in an European news portal.

Otherwise, I agree that making reference to Syria or IraG is appropriate since that those countries have the same problem as Ukraine does - artificially-drafted frontiers which do not correspond to any ethnical, historical, cultural or political logic. I would also add that that was the problem of some other countries in the past such Yugoslavia. And you know how it ended. And because of that, I passionately believe that the best option - for everyone in Ukraine and beyond, would be to dismantle that country and thus to avoid what we've seen in Srebrenica.

Eurochild's picture

Oh dear, apologies for the typo - IraQ.

Why shouldn't a Ukrainian view be published in a European media outlet? Are you saying we should be like Russia, where the law suppresses alternative viewpoints in the media?

I find it very difficult to understand why you do not believe Ukrainian voices should be heard. Do you not believe Ukrainians should have a say in the future of their own country? Do you believe that Ukrainians are sub-human and should therefore be silenced?

I want to hear Ukrainian voices, whether I agree with them or not. That is important for getting to understand a crisis.

I would certainly be very interested in hearing what the pro-Russian separatists believe and in reading something written by them, but, what is really funny, is we don't really know exaclty who they are and they don't seem to have any coherent arguments that could be put down in a written form. Perhaps you know of something available in English by someone from the pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. Please link it as I would be very interested to read it and know their arguments.

By the way, didn't you get the memo? Pratically all national borders of every state in the world are artificial, the result of treaties, wars, etc. Aside from island states, can you name any "natural" borders?

Jay's picture

Finding a balance of both for and against the subject matter is the question here. To do that, a media source must be neutral in it's presentation of the news. Otherwise the news is biased and not worth reading because the reader already knows the gist of what the author is writing. You can usually tell in the first paragraph.

Southron's picture

This is an opinion piece - it is stated at the begining of the page (perhaps not very clear).