Ukraine’s eternal war in solitary confinementUkraine’s eternal war in solitary confinementUkraine’s eternal war in solitary confinement

Ukraine’s eternal war in solitary confinement

Andriy Manchuk
Ukraine’s eternal war in solitary confinement
War is not just convenient – it has become a way of existence of the regime established in the latest five-year plan


Negotiations in Paris, with the participation of Putin, Macron, Merkel, and Zelensky, have predictably produced no significant results. The Ukrainian side has openly taken a course to “freeze” the conflict – and what was presented to the public in the form of agreements reached at the meeting, in fact, is an ordinary bluff, and does not entail progress in the peace process.

The participants of the meeting once again declared their intention to exchange prisoners – but the problem is that the Ukrainian authorities refuse to include many political prisoners in the exchange lists, treating them as ordinary criminals. A key proposal for a full troop withdrawal that could stop the war was strongly rejected by Kiev. “The withdrawal of troops was proposed by Russia along the whole contact line, Ukraine did not agree to it, because it is not profitable for Ukraine to withdraw,” frankly writes a journalist who was present at the negotiations with reference to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov. And although Zelensky promised to introduce into Ukrainian legislation the notorious “Steinmeier formula” – i.e., signed clauses of the agreements in Minsk – he immediately declared that he does not intend to implement them.

The result of this touted meeting could not be different – because the end of the war is really unfavourable to the Ukrainian side, which, in general, is completely satisfied with the status quo that now exists. And the Ukrainian political class that was formed in the country following Euromaidan thrives at the expense of the endless conflict in the east of the country, and is its main beneficiary.

In the war, they make money from the business schemes around it, it served as a career elevator for grant-eaters and ultra-right-wingers, strengthened intelligence services and the army, led to the success of roguish “volunteers”, and provides a whole army of “human rights activists”, journalists, and “activists”.

The incitement of hatred has become a profitable craft that online gunmen engage in on Facebook, and nationalists can violate any laws with impunity, having received the status of an inviolable caste. All the troubles are written off on the war, and neoliberal reforms, the zeroing of social benefits, and the endless robbery of Ukrainian citizens justify it. And social discontent is stopped by the authorities under slogans of combatting external and internal enemies, at the same time with the destruction of leftist organisations that could mobilise people for a protest.

Finally, the Ukrainian government successfully sells its anti-Russian export agenda, turning it into the main source of income – especially since it is fully in line with the interests of its patrons in Washington DC, who provide Ukraine with re-lending to pay off loan debts and give it support in the international arena. So, as Foreign Minister Prystaiko said at the NATO summit, Ukraine will in any case defend the “eastern flank” of the free world – whether the Europeans like it or not.

“I think it is the great grace of God”, said Cardinal Lyubomir Guzar of the Ukrainian turmoil, expressing the common opinion of the Ukrainian elite. War is not just convenient – it has become a way of existence of the regime established in the latest five-year plan. Its representatives dream only that it should continue forever, and they have no serious reason to fight for peace – to the extent that the word itself has now become synonymous with capitulation, and any call for compromise is equated to treason. A media propagandist explicitly stated that the country should fight for at least half a century in order to not sacrifice civilisational values and sacred Ukrainian land. And the experience of many countries in Africa, the Middle East, or the 50-year war in Colombia indicates that nothing is entirely unrealistic in this scenario.

The fate of people living in Donbass does not concern anyone in this situation. President Zelensky cynically claims that, after the reintegration of the region, those who are dissatisfied with the Ukrainian authorities can leave Ukraine – although these words are similar to a poorly hidden invitation for ethnic cleansing. And the speaker at the rally, Tyagnibok, called to take away passports from Lugansk and Donetsk residents if they do not prove their loyalty to the national idea, removing their voting rights for five or seven years.

Politicians are well aware that these offensive phrases repel territories non-controlled away from them – but they don’t worry about this at all, placing a stake on the continuation of a drawn-out war. Tens of thousands of people who cross Donbass checkpoints in both directions every day clearly point to the artificial nature of the fratricidal conflict. However, it fully suits in its current form the majority of representatives of the politically active minority that holds Ukraine in its hands.

“‘Patriots’, torpedoing peace talks, of course, are not going to fight with Donbass and Russia standing behind it. Patriots don’t need Donbass in any other form besides being on its knees, but even better if it’s deserted. The residents of Donbass here are despised and hated. I.e., for the sake of returning these territories not only are they not ready to make concessions – they demand to pay more. Despite all the propaganda, no one believes in the ‘Buryat threat’. No one expects Russian troops to cross the border and actually get to the ass of a hamster in embroidery. It is safe and even comfortable to be a militarist and a hater of Russia. Everyone is convinced that time is on their side. After all, the Russian Federation ‘will sooner or later fall apart’ or an ‘anaconda’ will strangle it to death.

The economic interests of the active minority have long been unrelated to the economy inherited from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The return of Donbass and the restoration of economic relations with Russia are important for the inhabitants of the few remaining industrial regions. For Kiev and Lvov citizens it is important to work for foreign clients here or in Poland, as well as to have access to budget flows and grants. And all this is just easier without Donbass and without Russia than with them. I.e., the masses have plenty of reasons to protest against any agreements, except perhaps the capitulation of the LDPR. And this is precisely the big problem of our peaceful resolution,” – writes the Kiev journalist Vyacheslav Chechilo.

Of course, most Ukrainian citizens are well aware of the need for a peaceful compromise – which is regularly evidenced by social surveys. Many understand that ending the conflict is a prerequisite for the economic revival, social emancipation, decriminalisation, and democratisation of society – if the country still has any real chances. And it was these people who cast their votes for Zelensky and the deputies representing him, desperately hoping for change in the political course of the country.

However, there was no reason for these hopes. The new government is doomed to continue the policy of the old one, implementing its slogan: “Army, Faith, Language” – after all, it serves the interests of those who are deeply interested in continuing the bloodshed in Donbass. The Orwellian struggle against peace talks become the main civic valour of the derailed intelligentsia, and the former prisoner Oleg Sentsov, who now became the main speaker of the party of war, publicly demanded that the flabbergasted members of the European Parliament return nuclear weapons to Kiev. Ukrainian politics finally turned into an endless rotation of the wheel of militaristic samsara, which will spin for years and destroys many human fates.

And this dooms Ukraine to an eternal war in the solitary confinement of nationalism.

Andriy Manchuk

Translated by Angelina Siard


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