Ukraine: talks and tanks

Submitted by Matthew on 18 June, 2014 - 1:37

On 13 June newly-elected Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke for the first time on the phone.

The Russian government has, for now, rejected calls from the pro-Russian separatists in control in Donetsk (eastern Ukraine) to send Russian troops into Ukraine.

Yet in several respects a negotiated settlement looks somewhat further away.

Russia has stopped gas supplies to Ukraine, citing unpaid bills. Ukraine has lodged a counter-claim for a refund on gas purchases for which, it says, it paid too high a price.

Ukraine says it has enough gas in stock to last some months, and both Russia and Ukraine say that supplies of Russian gas through Ukraine to Western Europe will continue.

The Kiev government continues small-scale military action to regain territory in the east, and claims to have regained control in Mariupol. More people have died in the fighting.

The Ukrainian government, backed up by US authorities and partially by NATO, which has published satellite photos, claims to have spotted three Russian tanks in operation in eastern Ukraine.

Putin's aim is probably a deal giving Russia guarantees over the whole of Ukraine, but the separatist regime in Donetsk is useful to him as a fallback and bargaining counter.

We support the right of Ukraine to national self-determination; seek to help the frail Ukrainian left to unite workers in Ukraine, east and west, against all the oligarchs; and demand that the West gives Ukraine real help by cancelling debts.

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