The civil war in east Ukraine - the self-proclaimed republic of Novorossiya - is back on and raging as violently as ever, with unconfirmed reports that even Russia has now gotten involved:
3 Russian military helicopters crossed Ukrainian air space in Luhansk at 8.20 am this morning. via @ukrpravda_news— Ryskeldi Satke (@RyskeldiSatke) July 3, 2014
This follows what BBC reported was the death of at least nine civilians during an attack on a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. "The rebels have accused the Ukrainian army of shelling and bombing the village of Luhanska. But Ukrainian officials said their forces were not in the area, blaming the rebels themselves."
In other words more of the same, and certainly not helping any attempts at peace or even a ceasefire, as Russia and Ukraine are again stuck accusing each other of scuttling all attempts at ending hostilities. As Reuters noted, in a telephone conversation with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Poroshenko repeated a promise that Kiev could return to the ceasefire, on three conditions. "A statement on his website said he wanted assurances on a 'bilateral' truce, the release of hostages, and the deployment of international monitors to check Ukraine's porous border with Russia. Moscow denies Ukraine's charges that it is letting fighters and weapons cross into the east of the country."
Curiously, besides Putin benefiting from higher oil prices as a result of geopolitical instability, and a far better venue to achieve that nowadays would be Iraq anyway, one wonders who actually has more to gain from perpetuating the fighting.
Yet the most surprising news of the day comes not from the contested region, but from Kiev where Ukraine's president Poroshenko appointed a new Ukraine defense minister, Valeriy Heletey. His first promise? To not only re-engage Russia in Crimea, but to be victorious in doing so. From BBC:
New Ukrainian Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey has promised that the army would retake Crimea, restoring the country's territorial integrity.
Addressing parliament in Kiev, he said: "There will be a victory parade... in Ukraine's Sevastopol."
Lt Gen Heletey, 46, was approved by MPs in Kiev after being recommended by Mr Poroshenko as someone who would work day and night to restore the military capability of the country's armed forces. His remark about Sevastopol was applauded by the chamber.
We are confident Putin had a different, and far more amused reaction to the statement.
But while we applaud Ukraine's attempts at generating populist enthusiasm, a far bigger problem for the nation will be if, as we explained previously, Russia not only manages to finally conclude the South Stream, which despite Europe's attempts at sabotage, is proceeding according to schedule, but diverts all gas transit away from Ukraine. At that point, Ukraine will be completely irrelevant not only to Russia, which already has under its control, via separatist groups, the industrial regions in the east, but to Europe. It goes without saying that the second Russia makes Ukraine irrelevant as a core transit hub to Europe, all the promises from Europe, NATO, IMF and of course, America, will be gone with the wind. Only then will Ukraine discover just how credible its newly found allies are...