mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Crisis in Ukraine
Ukraine Says Its Troops Closed Off Russian Border

Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov told Ukraine’s parliament this morning that Kiev’s troops have closed off the border with Russia, although that announcement may be premature. As part of a broader peace plan, President Petro Poroshenko has announced that he is going to declare a unilateral ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, in the hopes that militants and rebel groups in the region will stop fighting (or in some cases, go home to their native Russia). Those rebel groups, somewhat unsurprisingly, have vowed to keep fighting, even though they feel increasingly abandoned by Putin. It looks, however, as though they haven’t really been abandoned: Several thousand more Russian troops recently joined the horde already at the border.

Poroshenko spoke to Putin on Thursday, and the Russian leader claims to support Kiev’s efforts to halt the violence and unrest. As we have previously written, Putin is trying to keep Ukraine unstable, but not so unstable that he has to choose between two painful options: exercising so much force that he incurs broader international sanctions or exercising so little that the pro-Russia rebels are defeated.

An optimist would say that the line Putin has to walk has gotten narrower, as the U.S. urges him to respect the ceasefire, threatening further sanctions if he doesn’t. But there aren’t very many reasons to be optimistic about the West’s ability to exert pressure on Putin these days.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Curious Mayhem

    From people who’ve visited Russia recently, I’ve heard that Putin regards the Crimea annexation as a non-negotiable fait accompli. There’s no way to reverse it short of war.

    As for Ukraine, however, Putin apparently does not intend to invade or annex. What he does want is enough influence over the border (Donbas/Donets) region to ensure that the former Soviet military and military-industrial facilities there remain under de facto Russian control. That’s his minimum requirement of a larger desire to keep Ukraine from joining the EU and NATO.

    Overall, his goal seems to be a pseudo-democratic, neo-czarist “great Russia,” but not a restoration of the Soviet Union, much less the Warsaw Pact. But we shouldn’t let our guard down: it should be unambiguous that countries that were part of that pact, but not part of historic Russia, and now part of NATO are not and will not be part of Russia or a Russian sphere. No point in providing further temptation to this ambitious revanchist program.

    • f1b0nacc1

      He might have something like this in mind:

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Putin is an idiot, apparently he learned nothing from the fall of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. He could have purchased the Ukraine with kindness and investment, and gotten a trade partner that strengthens his own economy. Instead he has resorted to force like Stalin in his attempt to force a political union, and a new Russian empire. This won’t be stable and will require blood and treasure to hold together, and ultimately will collapse just like Stalin’s empire did.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service