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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Porochenko joue sa partition, l’est paye la note

by Damien Roustel

Poroshenko Plays Partition Card, East Foots Bill

Translated Tuesday 18 November 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

The Ukrainian president has decided to shut down all public services in the regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists, validating de facto splitting the country in two.

One more step, and undoubtedly a big one, has been taken towards the east-west partition of Ukraine. On Nov. 15, the Ukrainian government decided to shut down all public services in the eastern regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Petro Poroshenko’s presidential decree forces the government to take measures within a week “to shut down state organizations, institutions and companies in the diverse territories where ‘anti-terrorist operations’ [Kiev’s name for its military operation in the east – editor’s note] are under way.” This applies to schools, hospitals and emergency services. “This is a decisive measure; we’re finished playing little games. All of the structures financed by the state out there will be withdrawn.,” a top Ukrainian official stated to the Agence France Presse.

A risk of “total war”

This radical decision comes after the elections, opposed by Kiev, that were organized by the self-proclaimed popular republics of Donetsk and of Lougansk. The decision certainly betrays the failure of the Ukrainian government to re-conquer these regions, at a time when military reinforcements, which have certainly come from Russia – although Moscow denies any intervention – raise fears of “total war.” This decree is probably not unrelated to Ukraine’s economic problems. Social benefits will no longer be paid. The inhabitants will have to show their passports on leaving the secessionist territories if they want to continue to receive social benefits. De facto, the government is creating a border. In a month, the Ukrainian central bank is to stop providing banking services to companies and to private individuals. By that time, the civil servants, the courts and the prisons will have been transferred out of the separatist zones.

“I learned in the media of the economic blockade of the Lougansk and Dontesk regions. I think that it’s a big mistake, because with their own hands they’re cutting off these regions [from the rest of the country – editor’s note]. Why?” Vladimir Putin wondered. “We’ll talk about this with Petro Alexeevich Poroshenko,” he added.

At the G20 summit, which ended on Nov. 16 in Brisbane (Australia), the Russian president was the target of criticism. His American counterpart, Barack Obama, accused him of being “a threat to the world,” while Australian prime minister Tony Abbott reproached him with wanting to restore the “lost glory of tsarism.” In the face of this icy welcome, the Russian president preferred to return hastily to Russia.

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