Tomorrow the Netherlands goes to the polls for a referendum on the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. For international readers, here’s more information on what this referendum is, and who’s called for it. For Dutch readers, who know all that already, I just want to get straight into it, as tempting as it is to write pages on why this sort of referendum is neither effective nor democratic. Here are 4 reasons to vote Yes tomorrow.
Onderaan staat een samenvatting van de belangrijkste punten in het Nederlands! Continue reading
One year ago today I was relaxing in the sun at a party when the atmosphere suddenly changed. Somehow the news filtered through that a plane flying from Schiphol had crashed in Eastern Ukraine. At first it seemed like a horrific coincidence that this had happened precisely in a region where there was already so much chaos, but it soon became clear that this was a crime of unbelievable callousness. Separatist rebels had shot down an aircraft with 298 people on board. With God knows what on their minds, they decided that this plane flying at cruising altitude was clearly a Ukrainian military transport. Firing at their target on a complete guess, their missile’s shrapnel tore MH17 apart. Ukrainian villagers below had to endure the horrific sight of bodies plummeting into their fields and houses. Continue reading
This morning Eastern Ukraine woke up to what is supposed to be the ceasefire that leads to peace. On Thursday night in Minsk, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande managed to bring Putin and Poroshenko to a deal to end the violence; a deal that the rebels also signed up to. With the agreement being that the guns would fall silent at midnight Saturday, the artillery pounded away until the last minute. This morning though, the quiet seems to have held so far, with only sporadic shelling. So what does this second Minsk deal agree to? What chance does it have of succeeding? And what will happen if it doesn’t? Continue reading
Yesterday the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, at peace for months now, was ripped back into the war. Separatist rebels launched rockets directly at the city, taking its residents by complete surprise and killing 30 people. The attacks follow a month of intensified fighting, with the ruins of Donetsk Airport finally falling to the rebels, and dozens of civilians dying due to artillery. So why is what happened in Mariupol so important, and what does this say about the separatists? Where to from here? And on a more personal note, why do I care so much about Donetsk? Continue reading
This is a terrible thing to say, but three weeks after a ceasefire was declared in Donbass it’s the way I’m feeling. While the ceasefire has ended the large scale fighting, there has been a slow trickle of casualties ever since, with seven Ukrainian soldiers killed on Monday. With the two sides as far apart as ever, I’m starting to think that the current situation is the worst possible one for the region. I know this needs some explaining, so here goes. Continue reading
On Friday a ceasefire was announced between the separatists and the Ukrainian government, meant to pave the way to talks between the two parties. While both sides indicated they would hold their fire, at the time of writing there had still been shelling near Mariupol and Donetsk Airport. However, more is going on behind the scenes, and this ceasefire shows just how much influence Vladimir Putin has over the war in the east. It also comes just as NATO announced serious changes in its relationship with Russia. So why has a ceasefire been reached now, and what was Putin’s role? Will it last? And how will relations change between Europe and its neighbour to the east? Continue reading
This week Russia stepped up its involvement in Ukraine, apparently sending in Russian troops to open a new front in the war. The town of Novoazovsk, close to the Russian border, was smashed by Russian troops and the Ukrainian army sent fleeing towards Mariupol. The new and more open involvement in the conflict was accompanied today by President Putin calling for “talks on statehood for Eastern Ukraine”, a sign that he is not backing down. So is it certain that Russian forces are operating in Ukraine? What’s so new about this latest turn in the conflict? And why now?
Ukrainian paratroopers before the pro-Russian counter offensive