Always Russia’s Man in Ukraine: Dmytro Firtash and the Gas Lobby

Last month’s decision by an Austrian court to grant the request of the Department of Justice to deport Ukrainian gas oligarch Dmytro Firtash to stand trial in the US will have enormous consequences for Ukrainian politics. Ukraine’s current President Petro Poroshenko and the last three – Viktor Yanukovych, Viktor Yushchenko and Leonid Kuchma – have and continue to have close corrupt ties to Firtash.

Throughout the history of Ukraine’s independence, Western experts, intelligence services and diplomats have always possessed more information about the leaders of Ukraine’s gas lobby than have the country’s presidents, prosecutor-generals and Security Service (SBU). The reason for this is because the Ukrainian side always covered up how little it allegedly knew and because its work was politically driven. When President Yushchenko ordered the SBU to investigate who was behind the gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo (RUE) US Ambassador William Taylor offered to tell him and President Vladimir Putin leaked the information to the Russian government newspaper.

Trump’s Reset with Russia will Again Fail

The unexpected election of Donald Trump as president has brought shockwaves in the US and throughout the world with headlines talking of a ‘crises in foreign policy’ (link). His victory is allegedly a ‘boost to Putin’ (link). Trump’s election campaign rhetoric certainly merits caution in his domestic policies.

During the election campaign, Trump was heavily criticised for having close ties to Russia and saying positive words for Russian President Vladimir Putin. US intelligence agencies accused Russia of hacking into Hilary Clinton’s campaign and working for Trump’s victory. Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell described Trump as an ‘unwitting agent of Russia’ (link). Russian State Duma deputies applauded his election (link).  Nevertheless, an improvement in relations between nuclear powers US and Russia is unlikely to take place for seven reasons.

The UK academic journal Europe-Asia Studies declined to publish my letter commenting on a review of Richard Sakwa’s book FrontlineUkraine.

Dear Editors,

Richard Sakwa’s letter to the editor (Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 68, no. 6, August 2016, pp.1102 –1104) concerning his book Frontline Ukraine requires further commentary and discussion. Frontline Ukraine does not provide a new and intellectually challenging new approach to the study of contemporary Ukraine because of three reasons.

The first is that it is difficult to describe Frontline Ukraine as a scholarly work. It is more akin to an ideologically driven study whose premises are commonly found on the left (Stephen Cohen, Jonathan Steele, and others) and among right-wing realists (Henry Kissinger who Sakwa quotes, Rajan Menon and Eugene Rumer, John Mearsheimer, and others) that blames the West (US, NATO, EU, democracy promotion, etc.,) for the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis…

Ukraine’s Phoney War

The head of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said that Ukraine would not recognise any documents from the State Duma after this months elections which were also held in the Crimea. Ukraine would not henceforth not recognize any legislation adopted by the Russian State Duma.

During the same week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested against Russia taking over as head of the CIS at a time when it is blocking the work of Ukraine in the Council of Heads of State of the CIS. Ukraine declared that Russia could not be head of the CIS until Ukraine’s returns sovereign control over the Crimea and Donbas, Russian forces and equipment are withdrawn from Ukraine, Ukraine again controls its borders with Russia and Ukrainian prisoners are released from captivity in the separatist enclaves and in Russia…