Why Poroshenko tries to get support of radical nationalist forces
At the request of President Petro Poroshenko, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine prepared a package of documents to get rid of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership with Russia, signed in 1997. This document will no longer be in force starting from September 30.
Commenting this event, Bogdan Bezpalko, member of the Council on Interethnic Relations under President of the Russian Federation, called Ukraine an object of foreign policy of other countries and other geopolitical centers of power: "This determines how Ukrainian political forces act, including Peter Poroshenko. If he wanted to make cooperation and friendship with Russia a central point of his election campaign, he couldn't do it. People he reports to would immediately cut off all ties with him, maybe even make him go through a trial. That's why current president of Ukraine is promoting the only possible campaign in this situation, trying to get support of radical nationalists."
According to Bezpalko, actions of political elite of Ukraine have no real power: "Ukraine can oust Russia from the Sea of Azov only if it will posses powerful military resources or if someone provided those resources to it. So far, as far as I know, the enitre Ukrainian Navy on the Sea of Azov consists of just a few boats that are inferior to similar boats of the Russian fleet in terms of their tactical and technical characteristics. It's also important to note that the Black Sea Fleet is much bigger. The rest of its fleet is in Odessa, and its capabilities are also small."
Expert called withdrawal from the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership a simple formal and even pro-Russian step: "Many politicians in Russia wanted to get out of this treaty, but Ukraine withdrawn from it itself, so Russia will bear no responsibility. Ukraine hasn't complied with most clauses of this treaty for a long time. Moverover, now the issue of Crimea's status will become less significant even for foreign policy players, because Ukraine itself withdrew from this treaty."
Bezpalko stressed that foreign policy actors play a very large role in Ukraine: "Basically, they control the country from the outside. The US Ambassador to Ukraine works with Ukrainian politicians on a personal level, forming current political agenda. Current task is to convince people to go to elections and vote for politician who relies on nationalist populism, not on social populism."
At the same time, expert noted that Petro Poroshenko's opponents, especially Yulia Timoshenko, are betting on social populism: "Drop in standard of living is so obvious that it's impossible not to use it in election campaign."
President of the System Analysis and Forecasting Center, Rostislav Ishchenko, said that election campaign in Ukraine actually began six months ago and at that time main political forces determined their agenda, which they represent at these elections: "If Petro Poroshenko's opponents demand federalization of Ukraine, the end of war in Donbass, normalization of relations with Russia (this agenda is supported by about 60% of the population), Poroshenko himself took a diametrically approach. Perhaps he was forced to do this, but Poroshenko tried to gain support of radical nationalist forces."
Ischenko predicts that if elections will be held in more or less stable circumstances, Poroshenko will lose it cleanly: "So he doesn't have many options. There's an option to cancel elections, there's an option to blame his opponents for working for Kremlin, for the FSB money, say that Putin controls them. Then he can either push them out of political filed, put them in prisons or force them to leave the country. But in order to do this, Poroshenko needs to have some powerful resources in the form of the army, the SBU. He tries to achieve that. I don't think that his statement on the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership will be last serious provocation. There will be others, because intensity must be maintained."
Expert fears that as a result, it will be even harder to return to stability in Ukraine: "There's a great danger that either Poroshenko will begin repressions, or his opponents will have to resort to radical measures in order to prevent Poroshenko from doing so. Nevertheless, situation in Ukraine is very tense."