Political pressure is mounting both at home and abroad on Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, with critics arguing he lacks direction in combating a pro-Moscow insurgency in the east and not moving fast enough on reform.
A month after Ukraine held its first parliamentary polls since the ouster of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, politicians continue to wrangle over the formation of a coalition government. Seeking to assuage criticism over the tardiness, Poroshenko promised Monday the country soon will have a new government.
The delay due to political jockeying over cabinet positions has attracted the irritation of visiting foreign leaders, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. During a trip last week to Kyiv, he urged Ukraine’s political establishment to form a new government soon.
“It should be done in days not weeks,” Biden said.
With government formation delayed, so, too, are the sweeping reforms called for by the Maidan protesters who unseated Yanukovych earlier this year. And activists warn of trouble ahead if reform is not taken up quickly, and endemic political corruption stamped out.
Yuriy Bereza is the commander of the Dnipro militia, one of 37 pro-unity volunteer battalions that were formed to combat the Moscow-backed separatist insurgency in east Ukraine. He’s unhappy with the slow pace of change since the Maidan uprising.
“I don’t understand why it is all going so slow,” he said. And he doesn’t understand why the politicians are treating Ukraine “like a Lego toy,” assembling something one day only to throw it out the next to try something else. He fears that Poroshenko is not capable of rapid change.
Bereza is not the only one who is fearful. Alexander once owned a small advertising agency in Donetsk, but closed it and fled with his wife and two children when the city fell to separatist fighters.
The family is now living in one room, quickly exhausting its savings and is relying on charity to help. He said his future and Ukraine’s are inextricably tied, and that his biggest burden everyday is “living without any future plans. Live without understanding what will happen the next day.”
Coming to grips with the consequences of Yanukovych‘s misrule wouldn’t be easy under any circumstances, but with a Moscow-backed separatist insurgency still raging in the east, it will be even harder for any new government to overcome the challenges.
Some pro-unity volunteer fighters are annoyed at the restraints on them. They would like to go on the offensive.
Dnipro battalion commander Bereza said he believes it would be possible to launch a commando raid on central Donetsk and recapture government buildings there from the separatists. Because of the Minsk cease-fire agreement, however, the government won’t give the go-ahead.
He said the separatists breach the truce daily, and Ukrainians are the only ones restraining themselves.
Once a new government is formed, many Ukrainians will expect rapid change and a solution to the insurgency. Some see that as a very tall order.