Ukrainian Separatist Government Sworn In


The territorial conflict in the Ukraine continues to spark as the Pro-Russian, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko was sworn in this week as head of the breakaway government in the eastern part of the country. The rebels in the eastern, breakaway part of the Ukraine held elections earlier this month, which where condemned by the Ukrainian government of Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. This election will likely have severe repercussions for the tenuous peace-process begun between the Ukrainian government and separatist forces.

Poroshenko’s government stated that the vote, and the later swearing-in of the officials elected in the elections, was a violation of the truce arranged between the two groups and could lead to more violence. The truce was negotiated in September, and stated that no elections would be held until further settlements were reached. Ukrainian President Poroshenko has claimed that this vote therefore violates the September agreement made in Minsk. Over 4,000 people have died in the conflict already, including a Malaysian airliner that was shot down over the Ukraine earlier this year.

Member states of the EU, which have been solidly behind Poroshenko’s Ukrainian government, have also stated that the elections and swearing-in of officials will not be considered legitimate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel directly contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin last week in order to inform him that the election would not be recognized by EU member states. President Putin has been a staunch supporter of the breakaway government in the eastern part of the Ukraine as well as the separatists in the Crimea.

The conflict in the Ukraine has become a proxy battle between the EU and Russia over who will be the dominant force in Eastern Europe. After the end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union, many of the governments in Eastern Europe have been seeking closer ties with the EU. However, Russia has been jealously guarding its position as the dominant force in the region. Russian President Putin has been particularly active in this regard and has been supporting the separatists in eastern Ukraine and Crimea despite international protests.

Despite the vocal condemnation of both the EU and Ukrainian President Poroshenko, the elections in eastern Ukraine were held. Organizers of the election have claimed that separatist leaders have carried the Russian-speaking eastern provinces and are thereby legally able to govern the region. Ukrainian President Poroshenko has instead claimed that, due to the violation of the Minsk agreement, he has halted the process that would have allowed the breakaway regions to obtain a special legal status that would allow them greater control over the area.

The elections were held in the area now known as the Donetsk People’s Republic, where Alexander Zakharchenko won the election. Zakharchenko, a former mining electrician, has been leading the region since it broke away from the Ukraine in April. Elections were also held in the Luhansk region as well, where fellow separatist Igor Plotnisky claims to have received over 60% of the vote. As of yet, Russia has not officially recognized the elections.


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