News Release

Incentives for Ukraine Crisis


LEV GOLINKIN, golinkin at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, a memoir of Soviet Ukraine, which he left as a child refugee. Since the book’s release, he’s had pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post and numerous other outlets.

Golinkin states that both sides in Ukraine have an incentive for escalation. He said today: “Looks like the Ukrainian president [Petro Poroshenk] will get that declaration of martial law. Again, this will most likely result in postponing the election, which works to his advantage since he’s currently polling at 8 percent. Martial law will allow mass suppression of anything from public gatherings to groups that are considered a ‘danger’ to Ukraine.

“It’s noteworthy that Ukraine had NOT declared martial law over the past four years, even when the fighting with Russian-backed rebels was very hot. This makes it suspicious that the president suddenly wants to declare martial law so close to elections. If losing hundreds of soldiers a day wasn’t enough to declare martial law, why are they doing it now?

“It’s also dangerous given some of the radical paramilitaries employed by the Ukrainian government. In the past they’ve been given free rein to attack Roma, LGBT groups etc. — with no consequences — it’s disturbing to think of how much that would escalate under martial law.

“On the Russia side, Moscow has not given a valid reason for opening fire on — and seizing — the three Ukrainian ships. That also is a problem. Past four years of this conflict has been mostly he-said-she-said, but here is a clear case of Russia seizing ships — they should be providing reasons.” He also notes that Putin’s popularity has “taken a big hit” recently “after backing unpopular pension reform.”

He added: “This year has been terrible for the NATO/DC charade of pretending Ukraine is a beacon of democracy. There’s been report after report from human rights groups saying the far right is out of control, coverage of pogroms against the Roma, and endless stories of corruption. … This is doubly important given that now, the Trump administration is actually supplying weapons to Kiev.”