While I’ve been all-Iraq the past few days here, it’s worth noting that all the other things that threaten to destroy the planet haven’t gone on hiatus just because ISIS had a good week and a half. Take Ukraine (PLEASE! HAHA THAT JOKE NEVER GETS OLD), for example. The election of a new president whose legitimacy was at least somewhere north of “a violent mob put me in office” promised a new phase in the crisis, maybe one involving sincere outreach to the separatists in the east and a commitment to repairing relations with Russia.
Well, Poroshenko has been on the job for 10 days, give or take, and so far the separatists have shot down a military transport plane trying to land at Luhansk, they’re parading Soviet-era tanks in the streets, Russia has cut off natural gas shipments to Ukraine (that’s what happens when you don’t pay your bills), and Ukraine’s interim (and he will be “interim”) foreign minister called Vladimir Putin a “dickhead” on Saturday in front of a crowd of angry Ukrainians who were ready to storm the Russian embassy in Kiev (calling Putin a dickhead was he way of defusing the situation). Also, today a gas pipeline exploded in central Ukraine, which might have been entirely coincidental, but what are the chances? All in all, a promising start. My latest at LobeLog:
While there is no immediate risk to Ukrainian citizens from Gazprom’s decision to shut the gas off, since relatively little gas is used during the warm summer months, the country is well short of the amount of gas it would need to stockpile to get through the winter; so an extended dispute could have a very damaging impact. Also at possible risk are Russian gas shipments to the rest of Europe, half of which flow through Ukraine; Gazprom will continue to supply enough gas through Ukraine’s pipelines to meet European demand, but warned Ukrainians not to tap into that supply. An explosion hit the West Siberian gas pipeline today in the central Ukrainian Poltova Province, but it is not yet clear how much damage the explosion caused, and there is no indication as to its cause.