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Battle for Ukraine
Putin's Sitting Pretty as Ukrainian Ceasefire Ends

On Tuesday, Ukraine put an end to its ceasefire, during which 18 Ukrainian soldier were killed and 27 injured by the separatists. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is criticizing Russia for failing to support the ceasefire, while urging the EU to do more to rein Putin in. The FT reports:

Petro Poroshenko blamed defiance by separatists and Moscow’s failure to stop the inflow of arms and rebels to strongholds in places like Donetsk and Luhansk for his decision to end the ceasefire on Monday.

But in a statement from Mr Poroshenko’s office on Tuesday, the president said he was prepared to reinstate the ceasefire if the rebels stopped fighting, freed all hostages and started political negotiations, and if Russia helped introduce reliable controls over the Ukrainian-Russian border, monitored by the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe].

The statement was issued after four-way talks involving Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine failed to persuade Mr Poroshenko to extend a 10-day ceasefire, with him and some EU leaders claiming Moscow had not sufficiently used its influence over pro-Russian militants to calm the crisis.

As we’ve argued before, the EU isn’t likely to answer Poroshenko’s prayers; it remains deeply divided on the question of ratcheting up sanctions. A sign of the times: Western nations have urged France to halt its €1.2 billion deal to sell Russia two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships (with a possibility of more to follow), to which France replied, “You first.” If, for example, English banks stopped dealing with Russian oligarchs, said French Foreign Minster Laurent Fabius, France would nix the sale. Given the amount of Russian cash sitting in British coffers, that’s not likely to happen.

The FT ends with this interesting nugget:

The delay triggered frustration from some northern and eastern European nations that said Brussels was undermining its credibility in foreign policy. Italy, the new president of the EU, is the leading voice in urging a patient approach towards Mr Putin, diplomats say.

It looks like the Europeans are doing exactly what Putin wants: bickering amongst themselves as a low-key war continues to destabilize Ukraine.

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  • Andrew Allison

    At the risk of being repetitious, EU membership is, like that of NATO, above the Parkinson threshold for efficacy.

  • lukelea

    The EU wants Ukraine to join their customs union (free trade area), while Russia wants it to join its custom union. The problem is that the first option is in the interest of the western half of Ukraine and against the interest of the eastern half, and vice versa. This is owing to the relative absence of industrial development in the west, and the archaic (but intense) industrial development in the east.

    I think I have this right. If so, it would go a long way towards understanding what is happening and why.

  • BobSykes

    First, we created this crisis when we engineered the coup d’etat that removed the only democratically elected government the Ukraine has ever had and replaced it with a fascist junta. Poroshenkos’ fraudulent pseudo election did not the fascist junta legitimate. Under the Ukrainian constitution, Yanukovych is still the legitimate president.

    Second, a large fraction of the eastern Ukrainians, which is mostly ethnic Ukrainian, and even some people in the western Ukraine, especially in the former Galicia, reject the junta.

    Third, there are deep political and social divisions between eastern and western Ukraine. These divisions are highlighted by the electoral map for Yanukovych’s election. He got majorities of over 60% to over 90% of the vote in the east, but he lost by similar majorities in the west.

    The only reasonable solution to the crisis is partition. The only real question is the location of the border.

    The only way to keep Ukraine a single state is by a brutal fascist dictatorship that violently suppresses the east. And that is the policy of the pseudo democracies in the US and EU.

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