Kiev in Crisis

Patriotism Belies Ukraine’s Dismal Fortunes

Merkel Poroshenk Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the press conference in Berlin.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Tensions in eastern Ukraine could flare up, causing even more turmoil in a country already hit hard by its economic crisis.

  • Facts


    • Tensions are mounting in eastern Ukraine, with troops amassing and rhetoric becoming more belligerent.
    • President Petro Poroshenko’s personal popularity is just 14.6 percent.
    • The IMF predicts the Ukrainian economy will contract by 9 percent this year.
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Before rushing off to Berlin on Monday for a crisis meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande to discuss a path to peace in eastern Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, took time to address an emotion-laden Independence Day spectacle in Kiev.

“We must walk through the 25th year of independence as if we are walking on thin ice,” he told crowds at  celebrations marking the country’s secession from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991. “We have to understand that the slightest misstep can be fatal.”

Mr. Poroshenko reviewed the “independence parade” with its array of flags and 2,300 members of the military.

The country has already lost Crimea to Russia and is engaged in ongoing clashes with separatists in the eastern part of the country, despite the Minsk II cease-fire accords that were signed between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in February.

Speaking after the talks with Mr. Poroshenko and Mr. Hollande, the German chancellor said later Monday evening that “first and foremost, everything must be done to make the cease-fire a reality.”

There have been continuous violations of the official cease-fire, due to expire at the end of the year, and over the past 10 days tensions have mounted. Violence is on the rise, with both military and civilian casualties. Both sides have been building up troop numbers and ramping up the rhetoric, leading to the threat of further escalation.

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