Foreign media digest 31 October 2014

Following NSDC and UCMC analysts’ reports, here are the list of the main topics in Western media where Ukraine was present:
• Discussions of the results of elections in DPR and LPR. Everyone recognizes elections invalid, widely quoted Poroshenko, point out on Zakharchenko’s participation in Minsk negotiations, as those elections violate those deals.
• Discussions of the results of “gas talks”. Many hints that EU does not understand how Ukraine will pay off debts to Gazprom.
• Discussions of the results of the parliamentary election. They emphasize that Poroshenko is losing his time and chance to reform the country, that he is a bridge which connects yesterday Ukraine and Ukraine of the post-Maidan period.


Now that Ukraine’s electoral battles are over and the conflict in the country’s eastern regions is frozen, one of thethree scenarios could unfold: Quick and painful economic and regulatory surgery, a slide into Russia’s suffocating embrace or chaos, as gangs of former volunteer fighters from the eastern war go on the rampage. There are worrisome indications that the laws aren’t having much effect. President Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire, hasn’t acted on his promise to sell his businesses once in office. At the same time, International Investment Bank, of which he is the principal shareholder, has increased its assets by 50 percent since the beginning of the year, even as the Ukrainian banking system as a whole only grew 5 percent.
The window of opportunity for Ukraine to seize the first — and best — option is rapidly closing, but politicians squabbling over portfolios and bureaucrats who perpetuate the old corrupt system seem oblivious to the urgency. To a handful of outsiders who are pushing for rapid change, failure to act would be a tragedy.
One of these outsiders is Kakha Bendukidze, a former business tycoon who engineered Georgia’s successful economic deregulation under then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. It’s a frustrating experience, he said in an interview in the lobby of a Kiev hotel.
Another frustrated outsider, Vitaly Shabunin, who heads the non-governmental Center for Resisting Corruption, says a culture of corruption remains entrenched. “Under Yanukovych, corruption was a well-organized state system,” Shabunin said. “Now, it’s like guerilla warfare: It has shifted to a lower level. All the old schemes still exist.” Shabunin, who is Ukrainian, saw glimmers of hope: The post-Yanukovych government is more susceptible to public pressure and its primary motivation isn’t to steal, he said. “They want to go down in history as the good guys,” he said. “Well, they need a country in which to be the good guys”. We will know by the end of the year whether he’s right.

Overlooked is the fact that Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko came to power during two different, but equally critical, phases of the conflict in Ukraine and as a result represent different political priorities. Yatsenyuk, who was designated prime minister by the Maidan Council when Yanukovych fled, represents the revolutionary spirit of Maidan. Poroshenko on the other hand, was elected president and as an oligarch embodies a mix of Ukraine’s past and possible future. While both parties agree that Ukraine should be heading in the European direction, points of contention will arise in exactly how to achieve this goal.
The National Interest:
Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk are already focusing on reforming Ukraine in a way that will be appealing to the West in hope of receiving more military and financial aid, even proposing to name the coalition the European Coalition. That being said, the enthusiasm for closer ties with Europe, recognized in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, has not been reciprocated by the West. The support that the EU and United States have provided to Ukraine thus far has been mostly rhetorical. Instead, Western governments are too preoccupied with pigeonholing the Ukraine crisis as an external conflict predominantly caused by Russia…But, if Poroshenko wants to set Ukraine on a path to peace, stability and economic prosperity, he should not be distracted by the West’s pom-pom waving and instead work towards consolidating diverging views within his government in a way that would invite foreign aid, but not cut ties with Russia completely. In forming a coalition over the next week, it would be a grave mistake for the Ukrainian president to align his country’s interests exclusively with the West with the hope of receiving more military and financial aid.

Residents of the western part of Ukraine are tired of the war with pro-Russian rebels. Ukraine elected the most pro-European parliament in its history Sunday — in part because the most pro-Russian parts of the country didn’t vote at all. Now some people in western Ukraine wish their nation could just walk away from the rebels who want to be a part of Russia. The
Washington Post:


Ukraine and Russia reach accord on natural gas deliveries.
The New York Times:
The main concern for theEuropean Union was its reliance on the shipment of gas through Ukraine for about one-fifth of its supplies. The deal was “something of a coup for E.U. negotiators given the real reluctance on the side of both Ukraine and Russia,” Timothy Ash of Standard Bank in London wrote in a note to clients on Thursday. Mr. Ash speculated that German pressure on the government in Kiev may have pushed Ukraine to conclude a deal while the government in Moscow may have been wary the European Union could tighten sanctions and stymie the business interests of Gazprom.
Gas peace for five months.
Der Spiegel:
New “winter package” guarantees natural gas supplies not only to Ukraine, but to Europe. By the end of the current year Ukraine needs to pay off Gazprom some old debts worth $3.1 billion. Yet it is still unknown how the country which is balanced on bankruptcy could do this. According to European commissar Oettinger, Ukraine had provided funds for the purchase of gas in the household. He also pointed to the programs of help that have already been adopted by EU and IMF. Other programs could perhaps be decided next year.


Zakharchenko: “We are preparing for the war.”
The leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko in an interview Yle said that separatists are not satisfied with autonomy within Ukraine, they demand only complete independence for which they are willing to fight. We have our own country. We are building our state and are preparing for democratic election.”