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Main focus of Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bell rings for election campaign in Ukraine

Klitschko has stressed repeatedly in recent months that he wants to be president. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

After Yulia Tymoshenko, Vitali Klitschko on Tuesday also announced his candidacy in the presidential elections in Ukraine slated for the end of May. Politicians in Kiev are meanwhile looking for ways to avoid state bankruptcy. Commentators hope events in the country will create a bridge between East and West, and warn against portraying the conflict as a new Cold War.

The Independent - United Kingdom

Chance for new bridge between East and West

The West should avoid adopting an arrogant stance regarding the developments in Ukraine and instead view the conflict as a chance to improve relations with Russia, the left-liberal daily The Independent advises: "After Mr Yanukovych's overthrow, the West will be tempted to assume that it has 'won' the geopolitical tug-of-war for Ukraine's future. The feeling must be resisted, however. If the stability of Ukraine is to be assured, Russia, the European Union and the US must all work together, rather than treat the country as the prize in a zero-sum game. ... And first, every effort must be made to hold the country together. Even in so fraught a moment as this, Ukraine offers a rare opportunity to create a bridge between East and West." (25/02/2014)

Deutschlandfunk - Germany

Klitschko will have to fight

His presidential candidacy could prove to be the hardest fight for Vitali Klitschko, the public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk comments, and questions the ex-boxer's political talent: "Klitschko's reputation for honesty is intact, and beside him, the two other opposition leaders [Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnybok] appear small not just in terms of size. The other two disappeared when all three were fiercely criticised for shaking Yanukovych's hand after signing the agreement in the presence of the EU foreign ministers. Klitschko apologised to the masses, and said he'd wanted to stop the bloodshed. His next sentence, however, showed a lack of political talent. He said that Yanukovych would never resign, and that such an idea was unrealistic. Maidan itself was far more unrelenting, however, and presented an ultimatum. And you can't put this down to inexperience. Klitschko's been in politics for ten years, since the Orange Revolution. He ran for the office of mayor of Kiev in 2006 and 2008 - and lost." (26/02/2014)

Le Monde - France

Putin wants a new Cold War

Anyone who portrays the current conflict over Ukraine as a new version of the Cold War is doing Putin a favour, political scientist Bruno Tertrais warns in the left-liberal daily Le Monde with an eye to Putin's jockeying for supremacy: "The fact is that Vladimir Putin is seeking to revive the strategic competition between Russia and the West. The first step is to mobilise Russian society around a strong power in a country that is supposedly threatened from the outside. And the second thing is to use energy supplies to neutralise - or even subdue - border states. ... Like Beijing, Moscow seems to dream of a new sort of global Monroe Doctrine [American non-intervention doctrine from 1823] according to which each large power would dominate its own backyard - and limit themselves to that. This is how we must interpret the recent UN vetoes by Russia and China regarding Syria. The image of a new Cold War is dangerous: those who go along with the idea that we are reliving a past era are playing into Putin's hands." (25/02/2014)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

Curb oligarchs' power in Ukraine

Making a fresh start in Ukraine will only be successful if the power wielded by the country's oligarchs is curbed, the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas comments: "The new rulers must now reach a pact with society, which will not forget the war-like mood of recent weeks for some time to come. ... But a new crisis will be inevitable if the people - above all those who protested on Maidan or supported the demonstrators - get the feeling that the players were just exchanged for more of the same, and that like the Orange Revolution, this revolution too has been stolen from them. ... The main thing now is to prevent the oligarchs from exerting their influence on the administration of the state, because they are already preparing for the country to be divided up anew, and turning their attention to the upcoming politicians. ... And this is where the West - namely the EU and the US - can play a key role." (26/02/2014)

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