Ukraine Watch: Donetsk’s Last Stand?

It’s been a while since I’ve written an article about the potentially unstable conditions in Ukraine’s eastern territories that might threaten a Western man’s bride search in that country.  Judging by some replies from marriage agencies in Ukraine, life seems to be proceeding normally despite some escalation in violence as the provisional government was trying to establish order in regions that supposedly voted for succession from Ukraine.

My read on the situation was that May 25th, the day that Ukraine was to elect their new president, would be the milestone that determines how this latest crisis in the FSU would play out.  Despite global news coverage, it seems like the world was holding its breath while government leaders around the world hastily formulated strategies to be implemented based on the outcome of Ukraine’s election.

Then something interesting happened.

Rinat Akhmetov

Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, took action by mobilizing his employees to work with the police in confronting the rebels in Mariupol and Donetsk.  That, in itself, is something you don’t see everyday.  What makes this turn of events even more remarkable is that Akhmetov seemed to be more effective at quelling the rebellion than the Ukrainian military!

With elections still to come, Akhmetov’s actions indicated to me that most Ukrainians in the east of the country favored a unified Ukraine.  I doubt that a rational player such as Akhmetov wouldn’t have done what he did if he wasn’t certain that public opinion was on his side.  Plus, this would make it far more difficult for President Vladimir Putin of Russia to rationalize that this latest development was the result of meddling from “western fascists”. Putin’s propaganda machine likely suffered a significant setback as well as making any sort of overt Russian military action in Ukraine unfeasible.  How can Putin justify “saving” Russian speakers in Ukraine that don’t want to be saved while the whole world is watching?  Putin was already softening his stance by suggesting that he would abide by the election results.  It wasn’t long after Akhmetov’s civil activism that Putin withdrew the forces that he deployed along Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin

Well, the final nail was driven in on May 25th when Petro Poroshenko won an open and transparent presidential election by such a large margin, that it wouldn’t have mattered if the separated regions voted or not.  Poroshenko is being portrayed as a pragmatic man who campaigned on closer ties with Europe while trying to mend the political rift with Russia.  So his victory is as clear a mandate by the people as anyone can hope for, and he has started to hit the separatists hard to bring Donetsk back into Ukraine where it belongs.

Whatever hope Putin had of acquiring new territory or influencing autonomous regions in Ukraine vanished on May 25th.  This isn’t a defeat for him by any means.  He seized Crimea and recently signed an energy deal with China, so he can at least call this a win.

RUSSIA-SOCHI-XI JINPING-VLADIMIR PUTIN

It’s hard to know what is going on in Putin’s mind.  He most certainly wants to reconstitute the Soviet Union or Russian Empire in some way.  It’s not a matter of if he tries again, but when and where.  He most certainly knows by now that any overt attempts to do so in Eastern Europe will only push those countries further into NATO or the EU’s sphere of influence.  If he wants influence there again, it will cost him time and money and Russia doesn’t really have much of either.  He might decide to move south next time, perhaps in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan or Georgia.  The 2008 Georgian War with Russia demonstrated that the West can’t really do much but watch if Russia decides to nibble away at some territory on its southern frontier, and most of the countries along Russia’s southern border don’t have a clear foreign policy for their citizens to rally around and resist any attempts at annexation by Russia.

What does this mean to the bride seeker?

Surprisingly, very little.  The only significant change that I might see is that a bride seeker from the West will likely need a visa if he wants to meet girls in Crimea since it’s effectively Russian territory now.

Otherwise, there’s not much difference.  Mordinson’s marriage agency in Kharkov, Ukraine is as close to the border between Ukraine and Russia as a bride seeker is likely to get and they are still open for business and accepting clients.

Kharkov hosted an international marathon on April 12, 2014 that seemed to go off without a hitch.  Click to see the video. (the video’s privacy settings won’t allow me to embed the video here)

Brandon from Canada seemed to hit it off with a cute blond on May 24th, the day before the election! Click to see the video.

Lloyd from the UK found this raven beauty on May 16th.  Lloyd even mentions that none of the unrest seems to have hit Kharkov.  Click to see the video.

If anything, this is great news!  Despite the unrest being reported, it seems very localized and not in much danger of escalating.  But these events will be a reminder to the Ukrainian girls that life in Ukraine still has the potential to change for the worst at a moment’s notice and they will likely be more receptive to marrying foreigners and immigrating to stable western countries than they might have been in recent years.  I can see no reason why a western man can’t find love in Ukraine.

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