Monday, September 15, 2014

Motyl: Ukraine must build a 'Mannerheim Line' in Donbas against Russia

Here's how Motyl concludes his op-ed about a future partitioned Ukraine:

[T]he Donbas enclave is finished, and, as deindustrialization continues, depopulation will proceed apace. Whoever inherits the mess caused by Putin and his proxies will have a ball and chain on his leg. Fortunately for Ukraine, it doesn’t—and in all likelihood will not anytime soon—control the enclave. Rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, legally or illegally, the burden of control, and the burden of governance, will fall on Putin. Bully for him. The day is not far off when the economic disaster that is the Crimea and the Donbas will burden Putin, and he will be hard-pressed to claim that his imperialism has served Russia well.

So, sure, let Kyiv proclaim that it will never ever give up its sovereign territories. But then let Kyiv build The Wall, beef up its defenses, and get down to the business of fixing the country. Kyiv has time on its side. As I’ve frequently suggested, Putin’s fascist regime is doomed. Let it choke on the Donbas and the Crimea. Let it degenerate into an exclusively repressive regime. Let its economy decay thanks to Western sanctions. And let it remain isolated from the rest of the world and Ukraine. And then, when Russians reestablish a democracy, as one day they surely will, The Wall can come down. 

By ceding any of Ukraine's sovereign territory, President Poroshenko will be vulnerable to opportunistic attacks from political rivals who will declare "no retreat" from Donbas and "no surrender" to militarily stronger Russia, even if the Ukrainian army doesn't stand a chance against Putin's mercenaries and armed forces.

By Alexander J. Motyl
September 15, 2014 | World Affairs Journal

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