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You're reading: Poroshenko administration slams Pinchuk’s idea to trade Crimea for Donbas

An op-ed by Ukraine’s billionaire oligarch Victor Pinchuk published in the Wall Street Journal in which he suggested that Ukraine should trade Crimea for Donbas got a harsh response from the administration of President Petro Poroshenko.

In an op-ed that appeared on the Wall Street Journal website on Jan. 4, Kostyantyn Yelisieiev, deputy head of the presidential administration, commented on Pinchuk’s article, saying that compromises on Russia’s terms are “the wrong policy.”

In his Dec. 29 op-ed titled “Ukraine must make painful compromises for peace with Russia,” Pinchuk wrote that Ukraine should give up hopes of soon membership in the European Union and NATO in exchange for peace in Donbas. He also argued that elections in war-torn Donbas are vital for the country’s future.

“Conflict in the east was initiated from abroad and is not a genuine autonomy movement or civil war. There will not be conditions for fair elections until Ukraine has full control over its territory. But we may have to overlook this truth and accept local elections. Such compromises may mean letting down Ukrainians from the east who have suffered enormously,” Pinchuk, a renowned philanthropist and a son-in-law of ex-President Leonid Kuchma, wrote.

In its recent Oligarch Watch series, the Kyiv Post published a profile of Pinchuk where it was noted that Pinchuk had been keeping silence on Putin and Russia’s war against Ukraine to secure his business ties with Russia. Political analyst Taras Berezovets told Kyiv Post that he didn’t remember “a single case where Pinchuk said anything about… Putin’s aggression.”

In his reaction op-ed, Yelisieiev wrote that there were red lines that no one in Ukraine would dare to cross. He wrote that there should be no reversal in the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.

“This would be a surrender of independence, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It would be like a return to the Soviet past in Ukraine — something, even Mr. Pinchuk wouldn’t welcome,” Yelisieiev said, adding that neither Donbas nor Crimea could be part of a trade-off for peace. He ensured that they will “never abandon the Ukrainians who were trapped behind the Iron Curtain of Russia’s military invasion in Crimea and Donbas.”

Yelisieiev also argued that no elections in Donbas are possible with “Russian boots on Ukraine’s soil.”

“The Kremlin would definitely like to legalize its hybrid occupation and puppet regimes in Donbas by Ukrainian hands. No one should fall into this trap,” Yelisieiev wrote. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported on Jan. 3 there were at least 40,000 Russian fighters in the east of Ukraine, including 5,000 Russian regular army troops.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported on Jan. 3 there were at least 40,000 Russian fighters in the east of Ukraine, including 5,000 Russian regular army troops.

Over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s military was attacked 52 times, including positions in Donetsk’s Oblast towns Shyrokyne, Pavlove and Vodyane. In Luhansk Oblast, Novooleksandrivka and Stanytsya Luhanska, 16 kilometers north-east of Luhansk, remained hot spots as the Russian-backed fighters were using grenade launchers.


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In 1954 Crimea was transferred to UkrSSR.

In 1991 the Soviet Union ended.

In 1994 the Budapest Memorandum was agreed by Belarus, Kazakstan, Russia, UK, Ukraine, USA (later others gave assurances).

In 2014 Russia invaded Crimea, and unrest in eastern Ukraine began.

Like it or not the Budapest Memorandum was not upheld with force by any western powers. So although we may find the re-transfer of Crimea to Russia, or the actions in the Donbas distasteful, hypocritical, aggressive, disgusting, etc. etc. We the western powers were not willing to do anything.

What does this mean for Ukraine and Ukrainians? It's meant firstly their economy has been destroyed, and is heavily indebted. It means they have a war in the east of their country that has costs thousands of people. And a president who not only looks strikingly like the last one, he also seems to pursue his own interests as far as possible in exactly the same way.

Victor Pinchuk is simply stating the obvious. If Ukraine is to not become a country devastated by war, with a basket-case economy run by crooks it needs peace, and time to rebuild. He also stated quite clearly it will take 15 - 20 years to rebuild. Nothing so far that he said did not make sense.

What can be considered controversial is: 1. Crimea should be given up - it has already effectively been given up. And even though Crimea may be Ukraine, it's now being connected to Russia by a bridge, and all Ukrainians who live there who do not support the Russian incursion at this point have left 2. that an exchange should be made for peace in the east by accepting the loss of Crimea.

Now this may be distasteful or disgusting to some, but to others this type of real politik is the only thing that will work.

We need to ask ourselves 2 questions: 1. will Russia ever pull out of Crimea? 2. will the west/NATO ever come to the rescue of Ukraine?

If the answer to no.2 is no, then the answer to no.1 is no as well. It is awful, terrible, but please we want to see Ukraine move again in the right direction, grow, improve it's infrastructure, rebuild schools and hospitals, and stop the brain drain!

In a world full of timid politicians, it is refreshing to read the statesman-like, "damn the torpedoes full speed ahead" statements emanating from the President's office. Yelisieiev's column should be "must reading" for Donald Trump and western diplomats, politicians, and pundits.

Trump has shown himself to surround himself with likeminded people who rely on conjecture rather than facts presented by others that run contrary to his narrative. I expect a continuous struggle as Trump will put his business ties before the welfare of the world, thankfully though Congress overwhelmingly does not have the same view concerning Russia.

Sadly, I agree with you as to your doubts concerning Trump's preference for conjecture rather than facts. I also think that he truly believes that some sort of "bury the hatchet" deal with Russia will be his foreign policy "accomplishment" .....not unlike Chamberlain's certainty - after Munich - that he came back with an assurance of "peace in our time". In as much as any sell-out of Ukraine would be resisted by Ukrainians and may encourage Russia on a path to carnage and the beginning of a new "world war" , that "accomplishment" is likely to be equally short-lived.

There never can be lasting security in the betrayal of friends and trading off the lives of thousands for short term fame as a "deal-maker". The other side understands the cowardice and vanity that underlie such deals.

Let us hope that our "conjectures" as to Trump are in error and he may well end up being another Ronald Reagan. I have not given up on him....especially because all we have to go on is simply dribs and drabs of isolated comments and a few dubious associates. He has done well in most of his appointments to date. Perhaps hard information can dispel his conjectures.

There is a lot of hand ringing when it comes to what people think Trump will do regarding Ukraine. He has appointed retired four star General Mattis aka Maddog Mattis as Sec. Defense. Four star General Kelly another Marine at Homeland Security and three star General Flynn Army at National Security and as of today Senator Dan Coates Director of National Intelligence who served on defence and intelligence committees in the Senate. All of these gentleman know Russia and Vladimir Putin and what he is capable of. Trump appointed these people because he as a businessman and CEO knows that he needs the counsel of the best and brightest. Trump also tweeted in response to Putin's statement about Russia modernizing their nuclear forces that if they want an arms race we'll have an arms race.
Trump has stated that he wants good relations with everyone who wants good relations with the US, hence the ball is in Putin's court if he wants good relations, the US doesn't have to do anything it's all up to Putin.

Flynn from what i read seems to like Russia. Honestly i believe Trump is far more dangerous to Ukraine and the world. Trump will put his own business interest ahead of USA or any other nations needs. I think Trump would be very happy in Russia where he could become more rich!

I also believe the USA may have to impeach Trump to remove his cancer

The "hand-ringing" is a reasonable reaction to Trump's own comments on Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine as well as the warm relations he claims to have with Russian leaders. It is a reasonable reaction to his staff's insistence on watering down proposed language in the Republican party's platform supportive of Ukraine. It is a reasonable reaction to his appointment as his key foreign policy architect a person who received Russia's highest award as a "friend" of Russia., And the "hand ringing" is further supported by serious and unanswered questions as to the extent of his and his family's business dealings with Russian oligarchs and indebtedness to them....information that would generally be found in his elusive tax returns.

The "good relation with everyone.....etc." stuff is the language of diplomacy that is as easily articulated by Putin as by Trump. And a tweet to demonstrate (to his detractors) that he is not soft on Putin does not compensate for his long-standing belief that NATO is simply an anachronism and that the whole US intelligence community is in error in blaming Russia.

Where there is smoke there generally is a fire, and - in this case - the smoke is entirely of his making.

However, your point that he has also appointed some very excellent people (including his choice of Vice President) into top positions who understand Putin's intentions towards the U.S., Europe and Ukraine is well taken and is a reassuring counter balance to which most Ukrainians, East Europeans, and western national security experts cling.

No one - at this stage - knows what Trump will end up doing. But the "hand ringing" is not unreasonable as regards an individual about whom very little is known and that which is known is not very reassuring.

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