Donbas blockade fervor: Authorities believe it would end in a month or so

Author : Ihor Rymskyi

Source : 112 Ukraine

Why President Poroshenko has been previously harshly criticizing blockade, but then has suddenly changed his mind
09:15, 20 March 2017

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Donbas blockade
Laura Litvinenko

Police checkpoint near Kostyantynivka, March 13, 2017

Blockade disaster became… useful

The railway blockade of Donbas began back in late January 2017. Then some representatives of individual volunteer battalions, together with a group of people's deputies, began blocking the railway communication between the occupied part of Donbas and the rest of Ukraine, among other things, taking the railway tracks into pieces.

The authorities responded with a lengthy information campaign about the harm of the blockade. A number of deputies from the "Bloc of Peter Poroshenko" (BPP) and Prime Minister Groisman unanimously declared that the blockade of Donbas would lead to an economic catastrophe.

Related: Voice for all: Two sides of Donbas trade blockade

"We ask you to urgently gather a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to consider the issue of ending the illegal blockade of railways in Donetsk and Luhansk regions," a group of MPs from the BPP wrote in a letter to Petro Poroshenko. For his part, Prime Minister Groisman noted that the actions of the participants of the blockade lead to multi-billion losses.

"Losses from the blockade amount to $ 3.5 billion a year," the head of government said.

The active and unofficial work on lifting the blockade continued. According to our own sources in the Presidential Administration, during visits to Bankova oligarch Rinat Akhmetov persistently urged Poroshenko to take measures to unblock the railway blockade.

Related: Donbas: World's last proletarian revolution

Bankova began to take more active efforts to unblock the temporarily occupied part of Donbas. Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi, who was called one of the supporters of the blockade, was invited to the presidential administration. During the meeting, he was persistently persuaded to help stop the blockade.

"Sadovyi was asked to contribute to the partial unblocking of supplies of coal and construction materials to the temporarily occupied part of Donbas," noted our sources in the presidential administration. But soon after the meeting there was a partial unblocking of a number of sites for which coal was supplied.

However, less than two months have passed since the beginning of the blockade. But the authorities decided to take the initiative in this matter just now. Why?

Related: Donbas trade blockade: pros and cons

According to our sources in the presidential administration, the decision to convene a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council was taken on Monday, March 13. A good incident for Bankova was an incident involving MP Volodymyr Parasyuk at one of the roadblocks in Donbas.

"Just imagine, if Parasyuk appeared at the roadblock with a weapon, this would be a civil war," one of the deputies from the Bloc Petro Poroshenko told.

On Wednesday morning, NSDC Secretary Olexandr Turchynov announced the suspension of movement of goods across the line of demarcation. He noted that in order to remove these restrictions, it is necessary to regain control over Ukrainian enterprises, as well as to remove heavy weapons.

Why the blockade is beneficial for Poroshenko and when it would be stopped?

So why did Poroshenko decide that it was high time to lead the blockade of Donbas, which was originally unofficially supported by people close to the former head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration, Ihor Kolomoisky? According to our sources in the Presidential Administration and the "Bloc of Peter Poroshenko," in such a way, Bankova among other things expected to achieve increased sanctions against Russia.

Related: Dispute over Donbas blockade ended with shooting in Kharkiv

"Poroshenko hopes that the EU would expand sanctions against the Russian Federation in connection with the actual seizure of a number of Ukrainian enterprises in Donbas," our interlocutors explain, assuming that the United States could also join the process.

French Foreign Ministry criticized the official Moscow for legalizing the "passports" of the self-proclaimed republics, as well as the "nationalization" of enterprises belonging to Rinat Akhmetov, but still urged the official Kyiv to continue its efforts to end Donbas blockade.

Related: EU calls to stop Donbas trade blockade

Another possible reason is the reaction to the beginning of reconciliation within the "Opposition Bloc," where a group close to Yuriy Boyko and Serhiy Lyovochkin supports early parliamentary elections. Recently, Rinat Akhmetov's group has become more loyal to its party members in this matter. What does not like Bankova. Supporters of the head of state also believe that, by supporting the blockade, the guarantor was able to score rating points. Opponents also point out that the risk of a final loss of the temporarily occupied territory is increasing.

However, the Presidential Administration expects that the blockade of Donbas would not last long.

"Of course, Donbas blockade inflicts economic damage, but our team expects that in a month or two they (representatives of the self-proclaimed DPR) would begin to regain control over Ukrainian enterprises," our sources in the President Administration claim.

Related: Militants about blockade: We don’t care

Although the leader of DPR announced that he "does not care" about the blockade.

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