Avedis Hadjian writes: A saying usually misattributed to Trotsky, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you,” describes the Ukrainian conflict, which now has almost all the elements needed for a civil war: well-armed rival sides, opposing views of national history and destiny, and a foreign instigator and sponsor for eastern Urkaine’s separatists — Russia. Yet it lacks the critical ingredient of an appetite for fight among many of the population.
Most Ukrainians are doing their best to go about their business and, whatever their views, say they see Russians and Ukrainians as brotherly nations and do not want a war. In the presidential election of 25 May there was high voter turnout everywhere — except in the east, where pro-Russian separatists blocked polling stations — and Ukrainians gave a commanding victory to confectionary magnate Petro Poroshenko, with 54% of the votes. The Russian government said it would respect the will of Ukrainian voters and expressed its readiness to cooperate with the new administration in Kiev.
But it remains to be seen if Poroshenko’s election will help curb the violence. The pro-Russian separatists’ acts of intimidation, which prevented most people in the Donetsk region from voting (only 16% of registered voters cast ballots), and brazen attacks that have left dozens dead in recent weeks — including an all-out assault against the Donetsk airport, which they seized a day after the election — demonstrate that they are intent on undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity. [Continue reading…]