Monday, September 15, 2014

'Putin is winning' (Maclean's)

So here is Ukraine's defeat in a nutshell [emphasis mine]:

Putin’s willingness to continually escalate Russia’s intervention in Ukraine presented Poroshenko with a dilemma of his own. [Poroshenko] knew Ukraine’s armed forces could not defeat those of Russia, and NATO wasn’t coming. So he agreed to the ceasefire. The agreement, while providing for prisoner exchanges and amnesty for some fighters, does not outline what an eventual political settlement might look like. It is difficult to imagine one that both sides would accept. Poroshenko has already promised to protect Russian language rights and to decentralize political power. None of this has satisfied the separatist leadership or their patrons in Moscow.

If Poroshenko can take any comfort from the predicament in which he finds himself, it might be that he never really had any good options. The much-ballyhooed rapid reaction force that NATO announced is meant to protect existing members of the alliance. And not only has the West not provided meaningful military aid to Ukraine, it has also failed to mobilize sufficient financial resources to support Kyiv....

Let me underline that: Now that Ukraine's government appears willing to address the grievances given by the rebels and terrorists for starting their "civil war" in eastern Ukraine -- protection of Russian language; and special self-government status -- it's no longer enough for the pro-Russian separatists. This tells me that my instincts, (and the instincts of most Ukrainians), were correct: These issues were a red herring to begin with. Putin is pulling their puppet strings.

Alas, Western support for Ukraine against Russia has been too little, too timid. As former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer warned, the real danger of "escalation" may be in Western appeasement that emboldens Putin to go even further. And who will stop Putin if he decides to do so?  

By Michael Petrou
September 15, 2014 | Maclean's

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