Ukraine Live Day 594: Promises of New Weapons And Cancelled Elections

October 4, 2015
Ukrainiane President Petro Poroshenko shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on October 2, 2015 | Office of the French President

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Poroshenko Gives Televised Address On State T.V.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has given a televised speech today which had several revelations following Friday’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President François Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poroshenko announced that new military aid was coming from the United States in the form of advanced  ground-scan radar. Bloomberg reports:

Obama said he approved supplying counter-battery systems to the debt-troubled Ukraine, Poroshenko said, according to a transcript of the broadcast on his Web page. The weapons will be used to help Ukraine detect artillery and multiple rocket launch fire, according to a White House official, who requested anonymity to discuss the assistance.

Ukraine should receive new Q36 radars this fall, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said on Twitter Sept. 30. Obama signed a memorandum last week authorizing an additional $20 million for “defense articles and services” for Ukrainian forces, a continuation of his administration’s provision of non-lethal support for Ukraine.

While the US has not yet supplied Ukraine with lethal weapons, policy experts, including retired US generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, have long pushed for the supply of ground-scan radar. This equipment is used to better track enemy vehicle movements beyond the line of sight, but it’s key value is that it can track incoming artillery fire, as well as being able to detect targets hit by outgoing artillery fire. The radar is used to better hunt and kill enemy artillery, something which is potentially important since Russia has supplied the separatists with a significant amount of artillery systems, many of which have been regularly fired from residential neighborhoods in Ukrainian cities.

This is particularly important since it appears that Russia is still supplying new weapons systems to their proxies in eastern Ukraine:

At the same time, President Poroshenko claims that there has been a breakthrough with Russia — the Russian president has promised to ask the Russian-backed separatists to cancel the elections they had planned on holding, elections which would be out of compliance with Ukrainian law and, thus, a violation of the Minsk peace agreement. Reuters reports:

“Putin promised to make every effort and to let us know no later than Tuesday that this decision (to cancel elections) will be taken,” Poroshenko said in a televised interview.

If separatist-held territory holds local elections in accordance with Ukrainian law it would be a major step toward permanent reconciliation. If they hold their own elections, it could be a step toward a perpetual conflict. But will the separatist leaders comply even if asked by Putin? Is there still time to hold legitimate elections on October 25 along with the rest of Ukraine? And what happens if no elections are held — wouldn’t this more permanently cement the rule of the current leadership which has been backed by the Kremlin?

James Miller