Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ukraine's Doomed Elections

New Eastern Outlook
Ulson Gunnar
May 13, 2014

Presidential elections in Ukraine are supposedly to be held on May 25, but the unelected regime to preside over them in Kiev faces a nation not just deeply divided, but literally fleeing out from under its self-proclaimed authority. And as Kiev attempts to hold the country together, primarily through the use of heavy weapons deployed against civilian populations, it is difficult to understand how any election can be held under such conditions, let alone be recognized as legitimate.

Despite this glaring reality, both the United States and the European Union insist that the May 25th elections be held, and held quickly. No mention is made of what legitimacy such elections hold even as running gun battles are waged in the eastern part of the country, particularly the province of Donetsk where a recent referendum has paved way for greater autonomy from Kiev.

Kiev's inability to assert authority over a growing segment of Ukraine's population coupled with the fact that it came to power extralegally poses an acute problem for both the regime itself and its American and European backers. By holding elections, even under such chaotic conditions, Kiev and its backers hope to establish greater legitimacy for their version of Ukraine. Kiev, the US and EU have declared a recent referendum held by the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk "illegal." This implies that both Donetsk and Luhansk are part of Ukraine and fall under the authority of Kiev. It also implies that they will participate in the upcoming election. A similar stance has been taken regarding now Russian Crimea.

Kiev's Conundrum 

If elections are held "nationwide" as Kiev and its American and European backers define Ukraine (which includes Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk) the failure to actually conduct polls in these three regions will by consequence void the entire election or at the very least call into question their legitimacy. Should elections exclude these regions, it will be a concession by Kiev, Washington and Brussels that these three regions no longer exist within Ukraine or under Kiev's authority. With that precedent, other regions who refuse to recognize Kiev's authority will be given a clear-cut exit, particularly if upcoming elections result in the current regime staying in power. Either way Kiev attempts to hold upcoming elections, it will come out the other side weaker still.

Complicating the elections further are ongoing "anti-terror operations" Kiev is conducting, where it is in effect, invading parts of its own territory in a desperate attempt to assert its authority. Elections carried out while heavily armed regime troops attempt to put down anti-Kiev demonstrations and take over government buildings in restive towns across the country would appear to mirror claims made by the United States in particular regarding Crimea's referendum being held "at gunpoint."

The Washington Times would report specifically that, "President Obama emphasized that the Crimean ‘referendum,’ which violates the Ukrainian constitution and occurred under duress of Russian military intervention, would never be recognized by the United States and the international community.” It can only be assumed then, that an unelected regime in Kiev cannot organize an election under Ukrainian law, nor could its results be recognized by the "international community" with it occurring under duress of ongoing military operations in areas where the regime's primary opposition is based.

And while this glaring conundrum stands to confound Kiev, Washington and Brussels, in reality, American and European media houses combined with Western "election monitors" will likely spin the elections as both "free" and "fair," with results favoring the current Western-friendly regime declared incontestable. Confirming this is the current rush to hold the elections in the first place.

Elections Held Under Duress of Armed Violence 

Moscow had cited ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine as cause to delay pro-autonomy referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk. The US and EU hailed the call for delaying the referendums by Moscow and claimed Russia  was "backing down." Now it would appear that the US and EU are in Russia's position. With ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine continuing unabated including 11 dead just this week in Donetsk, according to the West's own standards, the election should at the very least be delayed. Applying the West's standards regarding the Crimean referendum, armed troops operating in the streets of Ukraine constitute "duress" and make elections untenable and their results "illegal."

The astounding hypocrisy that will follow as elections are held regardless of these points, signifies an almost palpable desperation from the regime in Kiev and its American and European supporters. They are willing to resign credibility in exchange for a "democratic" stamp of approval upon their struggling Kiev regime.

The necessity to lend legitimacy to a regime who day-by-day has an increasing amount of Ukrainian blood on its hands as it clings to power, is a matter of political life-and-death. The premature crumbling of the regime in Kiev would allow not only for pro-Russian political forces to return to power, but because of the violence and the regime's Nazi-connections, a mandate would exist to prevent another Euromaidan-style uprising from unfolding again any time in the foreseeable future. Now, not only do Ukrainians recognize the danger of the powers that now occupy Kiev, but a growing audience around the world does as well.

The upcoming elections are a chance for Kiev, Washington and Brussels to cement their narrative together, no matter how many pieces it has fragmented into since the beginning of the Euromaidan protests in 2013. While they will most likely succeed in carrying out the elections, their mandate will be questioned not only in Ukraine, but well beyond its borders as well. The deferral to elections as a cure-all for a lack of political legitimacy is a trick Washington in particular has used one-too-many times. Washington may discover that this trick has reached its point of expiration in Eastern Europe's Ukraine on May 25.

Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook