Ukrainian opposition to “Steinmeier formula” capitulation is nationwide

"We are against war, but we are also against defeat," reads the placard held by a participant of the "Let's Stop Capitulation" rally in Kyiv on 6 October 2019. Photo: Dmytro Karpiy/Facebook

"We are against war, but we are also against defeat," reads the placard held by a participant of the "Let's Stop Capitulation" rally in Kyiv on 6 October 2019. Photo: Dmytro Karpiy/Facebook 

Op-ed, Russian Aggression

While the protest in Kyiv not unexpectedly attracted the most attention, the fact that Ukrainians came out in more than 30 cities across their country may be more important. On the one hand, and in sharp contrast to Russian protests, it shows that protests in Ukraine can “go national” very fast.

Rally "Against Capitulation" in Zelenskyy's hometown of Kryvyi Rih. October 6, 2019. Photo: Pervyi Horodskoy

Rally “Against Capitulation” in Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih. October 6, 2019. Photo: Pervyi Horodskoy

And on the other, it suggests that as Ukrainians face up to what Volodymyr Zelenskyy has agreed to in the Steinmeier plan, the share of opponents to that plan has risen from just over a quarter of the population to a far larger share (atr.ua and facebook.com/ProtectUkraine).

That doesn’t mean that Zelenskyy will reverse course or that there will be a Maidan that brings to power a government that will do so. But it does mean that he, others in Kyiv, and — even more importantly — others in the West who assumed that “Steinmeier” is the end and that they can now look away from the Ukrainian tragedy and resume “business as usual” with Russia may be disabused.

Ukrainian state flags mark locations of protests against capitulation under the Steinmeier formula on October 6, 2019. Note that there was a protest in all Ukrainian regions except Russia-occupied Crimea, but more protests were in the Donbas (closer to the front line). Image: facebook.com/ProtectUkraine

Ukrainian state flags mark locations of October 6, 2019 protests against capitulation under the Steinmeier formula. Note that there was a protest in all Ukrainian regions except Russia-occupied Crimea, but more protests were in the Donbas (closer to the front line). Image: facebook.com/ProtectUkraine

The struggle against resurgent Russian imperialism will continue. At the very least, the Ukrainian protesters are going to call out those who have fallen into the trap of assuming they can trust Moscow, actions that will also likely be denounced by those who say “give peace a chance.”

They may not win in this round: the situation and the powers arrayed against them are probably too strong. (For a frank but pessimistic assessment, see Illia Ponomarenko: Ukraine could have prevailed in Donbas, but now is doomed to unjust peace.)

But the protesters too are part of a new reality, one that points in a very different direction over the longer term, a time frame neither Zelenskyy nor most of the politicians now in office appear to be giving much thought to. They should, because their “victories” now are likely to prove as hollow and shortlived as others achieved in the same way in the past have been.

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Edited by: A. N.

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