Washington, DC. As Kiev flounders like a man who knows he will drown, the old Putin quote on Ukraine comes to mind, ” You can not save a drowning man, who does not want to be saved.” As it gets down to the end of the free money and corruption with no consequences, a desperation sets in that most Ukrainians are not in agreement with or emotionally tied to the US bought junta. Meanwhile the clock ticks.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko dramatically expanded his country’s sanctions against Russia this last month, by imposing multiyear sanctions on a number of IT companies. Once they are fully implemented these sanctions will impact some twenty-five million Ukrainians, or nearly every Ukrainian internet user. A number of Russian IT firms have already closed and others set to follow.

All part of a litany of sanctions that began in 2014, after Russia integrated Crimea following a referendum. First, restrictions were imposed on Russian television news programs, then artists, films and, most recently, books published in Russia. Most recently, Ukraine passed a law requiring 75 per cent of television content to be in the Ukrainian language, leading one Western journalist to accuse Poroshenko of appearing to “equate being Ukrainian with speaking Ukrainian.”

Western critics say the government is trying to create a virtual wall around Ukraine, in a futile attempt to keep out all Russian influence. They know that once this is accomplished, Kiev will seeks to impose a nationalist agenda on the country by attacking as disloyal the cultural affinity that most eastern Ukrainians feel for Russia.

There are comments such as those by Ukraine’s minister of culture, Yevhen Nyshchuk, who called eastern Ukrainians the products of “defective genetics” and a “failure of consciousness,” or the insistence of the civilian-military governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Zhebrivsky, that once it is back under Kiev’s control the government will impose “a Ukrainian democratic agenda on those people,” by plans for a garrison of Ukrainian troops stationed in each of eastern Ukraine’s major cities, only reinforce those fears that locals will fight to the death, rather than ever return to a united Ukraine.

Ultimately much more troubling, however, is that President Poroshenko and his advisors seem incapable of understanding that millions of Ukrainians view such efforts as attacks on their heritage and way of life. Many citizens continue to see Russian cultural and religious identity not as antithetical to their Ukrainian identity, but as complementary to it.

Surveys by the Razumkov Center in Kiev, revealed that more than half of Ukrainians considered Russians and Ukrainians “brother nations,” while a quarter described then as “one people.” It is not Russian propaganda, but the government’s continuing assaults on their cultural, religious and ethnic identity that sustain the belief, still held by the majority of people in eastern and southern Ukraine, that the 2014 Maidan revolt was an illegal coup, backed by the USA and quarterbacked by Victoria Nuland.

Why does the Poroshenko government, which is in the midst of a profound economic and political crisis, aggravate domestic tensions in this way? Because stirring up hatred of Russia has short-term political benefits.

First, it creates a reservoir of international support and funding for Ukraine from the Americans and Europeans. Second, it shifts domestic attention away from unpopular economic reforms. It also allows Poroshenko to run as a wartime president. Finally, questioning the loyalty of those who live in the East, South, Donbass and Crimea preserves the dominance of the nationalist agenda, which is supported mostly in western Ukraine. But for how much longer, nobody can say, but all agree the clock is ticking as the hate only cooks.

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