The chocolate king of Ukraine crowned—F-16s to the Baltic?


The elections of last Sunday, 25 May, appear to have brought Pyotr (Petro) Poroshenko the presidency. From the fact that he held talks with Chancellor Merkel briefly before the elections and the coincidence of his own election with that of the former boxer, Klitshko, as mayor of Kiev, we may conclude that for the moment, the pro-EU/pro-German tendency in Ukraine has the upper hand.

The country’s population, impoverished to the barest existence minimum, thus has once again brought a billionaire to power—there were no other candidates. For those who will voice their indignation about golden toilet pots and the like once it all goes wrong again, here is Poroshenko’s residence on the Dniepr, nicknamed the ‘White House’. 


The newly elected president in one of his first statements has reassured the Russian-speaking population that their language will remain recognized. The decision (later rescinded) of the coup government in February to no longer accept Russian as a recognized language, was at the root of unrest and eventually, armed resistance in Donetsk and Lugansk provinces. However, Poroshenko also wants to continue the military operation against ‘the terrorists’.

The American government, through Secretary of State Kerry, has welcomed Poroshenko’s election as a victory for the pro-Western forces. However, Poroshenko, whose fortune has been estimated at $1.3 billion, in reality is an opportunist who has held positions in radically different government. He was in fact one of the founders of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, but when the first election of Yanukovych in 2004 was responded to by the ‘Orange Revolution’ of Yushchenko, he joined the other side and in 2009-10 he was even Yushchenko’s minister of foreign affairs. The Orange Revolution, an event after the American recipe of a youth festival with a hidden political agenda, by that time had already run aground in another round of embezzlement, and Poroshenko returned to the camp of Yanukovych who after his most recent election, helped him to a (less prominent) ministerial post. 

Kerry, Obama, and the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives, Ed Royce, may well refer to a ‘defeat for Putin’, but in reality the Russians have every reason to resume doing business with Poroshenko, as they have made clear immediately. There are gas bills to be paid, Russia suffers economically from the crisis in the neighbouring country, and it wants a quick return to normal relations with the EU.

Russia’s foreign economic relations are as follows (export of course is primarily gas and oil, which is why the Netherlands occupy the top position). Source: Wikipedia, figures for 2012. Note the negligible position of the United States in the picture as a whole. 

Exports

$542.5 billion (2012 est.)


Export goods

petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, metals, wood and wood products, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures


Main export partners

Netherlands 14.6%
China 6.8%
Germany 6.8%
Italy 6.2%
Turkey 5.2%
Ukraine 5.2%
Belarus 4.7% (2012 est.)


Imports

$358.1 billion (2012 est.)


Import goods

machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, plastic, semi-finished metal products, meat, fruits and nuts, optical and medical instruments, iron, steel


Main import partners

China 16.6%
Germany 12.2%
Ukraine 5.7%
Japan 5%
United States 4.9%
France 4.4%
Italy 4.3%

American policy and with it, the perspective from NATO, is systematically focused on confrontation. Without NATO the influence of the US on Europe would be drastically curtailed. This is why Obama tomorrow, Wednesday 28th, on his return trip from Afghanistan (where his own puppet, Karzai, did not want to meet him), will visit Europe. In Warsaw he will address the parliament to underscore America’s commitment to Europe. In the absence of a security threat, NATO would rapidly lose weight, and along with it, US influence would lose further ground accordingly. The $400 billion gas deliveries contract that Russia and China concluded last week, and especially plans to make payments under it in Russian and/or Chinese currency, is a sign of the growing economic dynamics. Germany and the EU do not want to miss that boat, but the US will not accept that development without a fight.

The outlines of a world in which the economic centre of gravity is shifting towards Asia are becoming more evident every year, and the EU has a clear interest to pursue a policy of cooperation. That is what is at stake if the Netherlands would yield to American pressure and would decide to dispatch F-16s to the Baltic in order to raise tension with Russia. 

Kees van der Pijl

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