By Joe Carbonari
Putin and his boys don’t play by the rules. We do. Internationally, playing by the rules means consultation and coalition building. It tends to be both slow and cumbersome. We are forever playing catch up.
Compounding our difficulties are the differences in mindset. It’s the academics versus the street fighters. In the short run the street fighters, the bullies, tend to win. We need to look at the bigger picture, and we need to look realistically, not legalistically.
No legal opinion is going to return Crimea to Ukraine nor keep the majority of that portion of eastern and southern Ukraine that is predominately native Russian speaking from remaining within the Russian orbit. Regionally, it appears to be their will. Let’s let them vote, as fairly as possible, and see.
Tactically, the goal should be the establishment and maintenance of a viable westward oriented government in the balance of Ukraine, probably in a loosely federated format with the native Russian speaking region largely autonomous, but still Ukrainian.
Strategically, the Western world needs to decide on and then to draw a line where it will collectively, actually, fight. In the buffer zones, the will of those on the ground, and real politik, will decide. It has ever been so.
By Tim Baldwin
Like most federations, time usually causes a split in loyalties and direction, which ultimately leads to (desired) separation. The Russian-Ukraine federation is no different but is made much more complex given its history and recent upheaval. Ideally, it would be nice if a vote of the Crimea could be reliable to reveal their will, but experts doubt that is the case.
Angelo Codevilla, international relations professor at Boston University, opines that any votes in Crimea would be a fraud, saying, “with unchallenged power over the Eastern regions, [Putin] can claim to have gathered from those regions as many votes as may be needed to prevent Ukraine’s May 25 elections from bringing in a stable, pro-Western government.” If America acts as if a corrupted Crimea vote has resolved the matter, then deception has likely won the day, because no other nations will continue sanctioning Russia without America’s support.
What makes matters worse there is that America has, over time, “discouraged the countries of the former Soviet empire from arming themselves sufficiently,” as Codevilla highlights. Codevilla says, “Republican and Democratic administrations urged Ukraine … to entrust their security to a combination of good relations with Moscow and Western assurances backed by precisely nothing.”
So any supposed “desire” to remain loyal to Russia may be, in reality, an act deriving from being defenseless.
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