Prof. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, who heads IWP’s Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies, published an article yesterday on Ukraine on the web portal of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research. His analysis discusses ousted president Viktor Yanukovych’s alleged and foiled attempt to crush the Maidan Uprising, “Operation Wave,” and the case of the infamous Kyiv snipers. Why was the regime unable to crush the popular uprising? Were the snipers provocateurs hired cynically by the opposition to smear the government, or were they actually Russian FSB sharpshooters doing Moscow’s (and Yanukovych’s) bidding? Prof. Chodakiewicz answers these questions below:
Ukraine: Operation Wave
SFPPR News & Analysis
March 19, 2014
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
During three long months of increasingly violent demonstrations in Ukraine some observers asked themselves a question about an allegedly imminent crack down. When? And how? One assumed that the government of Viktor Yanukovych, to maintain itself in power and to preserve its credibility, had to act. And since political concessions, such as rescinding the super powers of the presidency the chief executive had usurped for himself, granting an amnesty to the demonstrators and rioters, and promises to reopen negotiations with the European Union, failed to calm the population down, the only option left was to crush the protest violently: first in Kyiv on Maidan, and then elsewhere. This was seemingly obvious. But apparently nothing happened, or nothing extraordinarily violent. Why?
For three months Poland’s foreign minister Radek Sikorski played a crucial role of liaison among the European Union, Germany in particular, and the Ukrainian government and the opposition. He was also involved because stabilizing Ukraine was in the Polish neighbor’s own interest. Sikorski badgered the opponents of post-Communism to compromise with the post-Communists in power. On February 20, the eve of what appeared like a “historic” accord, Sikorski compelled the opposition to sign an agreement with the Yanukovich regime because, if you don’t, warned the Pole, “you will all die.” Nary two days later, the erstwhile Ukrainian president escaped from the capital into exile in Russia. The opposition set up a new coalition government, some, in particular in the streets, grumbling bitterly that the Pole had forced their hand prematurely and nearly robbed “the Ukrainian people” of their victory over Yanukovich and his pro-Muscovite, Russophone orientation.
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