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Vitaly Portnikov: A crisis situation requires competency

January 9 crisis meeting related to Ukraine International Airlines plane crash that took place on January 8 in Teheran, Iran. Photo: official website of the President of Ukraine
January 9 crisis meeting related to Ukraine International Airlines plane crash that took place on January 8 in Teheran, Iran. Photo: official website of the President of Ukraine
Vitaly Portnikov: A crisis situation requires competency
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
The tragedy that occurred with UIA flight PS752 in Iran demonstrates that Ukraine finds itself once again caught up in the vortex of yet another serious political crisis – the second in the past few months.

The first crisis situation was linked to the United States, when a telephone conversation between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskyy eventually led to the announcement of impeachment of the American president.

Today, we have another unprecedented situation. The Western leaders were right in assuming that the Ukrainian aircraft was shot down by the Iranian military. However, we can already see how the scenario is unfolding – Iran and its allies may deny such a mistake, while Western leaders insist on the veracity of their version. And, this is only the beginning… The behaviour of the Ukrainian government will ultimately determine our country’s authority on the international scene, the attitude of our allies, and the understanding on whose side Ukraine really is – not in terms of declarations, but in facts.

The way out of this situation is very delicate. It requires a great deal of political skill and experience. It is a job that requires love not just for your fellow countrymen, but also for political activity. Because political activity is a great art, much more complicated than working as a television comedian… it cannit be learnt unless you have a certain aptitude for it.

Even if it were possible, such training would require time and a period of political calm, not the political storm currently raging in our country. As we go from one crisis to another, our government simply does not understand how to respond to these new challenges. They “learn” how to govern using us and the country, and pretending not to notice that this is not a vulgar television series about the failure of a teacher on a bicycle, but real life! The price of error is the fate of our country, the fate of our people. The concept of governance cannot be learned in a crisis situation, just as it is not possible to learn how to fly an aircraft when the engine starts failing.

That is why Ukraine reminds us of a plane where the cockpit is controlled by some occasional passengers on a concert tour. And the situation is all the more horrifying because Zelenskyy’s irresponsible voters have purchased tickets on this risky flight for all of us, those who did not understand that an aircraft needed an experienced crew in order to fly, and those who had no doubts regarding flight crew licensing.

It remains to be hoped – as is usual in the case of Ukraine – that we will finally land somewhere in complete safety… at least in some kind of a desert, from where it will take us a few more decades to reach our chosen destination.

Update January 11:

Iran admits that it shot down the Ukrainian airliner. In a statement aired on Iranian state TV, Iran’s military has said that it “unintentionally” shot down the passenger jet due to “human error,” promising to hold those accountable responsible.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, January 11:

“Even before the termination of investigation by the International Commission, Iran admitted its fault in the crash of the Ukrainian airliner. But, we insist on a full admission of guilt. We expect Iran to assure a full and open investigation, bringing those responsible to justice, returning the bodies of the dead, payment of compensation, and official apologies through diplomatic channels.”

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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