ACEWA Founding Board Member Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the broadening US-Russian cold war and confrontation over Ukraine. The main focus is on escalating challenges to the agreement reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Sochi in May to implement the Minsk plan for ending the Ukrainian civil war through negotiations.
On June 11, Ambassador Jack Matlock delivered the 2015 Fulbright Lecture at the University of Edinburgh. In it the Ambassador and ACEWA Founding Board Member observes that the Cold War ended by negotiation, not by the victory of one side. Nevertheless, the unfounded triumphalism by the “West,” and the exaggerated Russian reaction to it has produced a new, cold-war-type confrontation over the governance and orientation of Ukraine.
Days before his death on February 8, 1725, Tsar Peter the Great gave his last will and testament. He exhorted his successors to fulfill Russia’s destiny and conquer the world. The keys to this great endeavor were Constantinople and India, the former for its symbolism and the latter for its wealth.
Neither the actual records nor documentation of Peter’s instructions have ever been found. It is likely that he never issued those deathbed commands. Yet, the legend has endured.
The desire of many Ukrainian politicians to “seal off” rebel-held territories in the Donbas may be coming to pass. The head of Poroshenko’s bloc in parliament, Yury Lutsenko, has declared that the president desires to extend the present automotive blockade of the so-called Luhansk Peoples Republic to all separatist held territories. Passage into them will be possible only by foot or compact car.
Renewed fighting in Ukraine has in turn renewed calls to arm Ukraine, including in the United States Congress. Yet there is an enormous and largely unacknowledged flaw in the argument to provide the Kiev government with lethal weapons
It could have been President Obama issuing a firm warning — measured, devoid of bellicose threats — to President Vladimir V. Putin that the West would keep the pressure on as long as Russia interfered with Ukraine’s sovereignty. Instead, it was Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and a leading 2016 Republican presidential aspirant, speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday.
As the West pursues renewed negotiations with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, these negotiations should not be expected to produce simply a series of Russian concessions. To this suggestion hard-liners in the West will inevitably characterize such thinking as “appeasement.” But compromise is not the same thing as appeasement, especially considering that Putin appears more a tactical opportunist than a strategic warmonger. Providing Russia a sense of territorial security by promising not to expand NATO to Ukraine or Georgia will eliminate the major excuse for expansionist aggression that Putin offers to his people.
The break-up of the Soviet Union smashes the mold of conceptualization of empire. It is the only case I can think of where the nation supposedly running the show was among the first to abandon ship and opt for sovereignty….
The House of Representatives has unanimously approved an amendment to the U.S. military budget, proposed by Conyers and Florida Republican Ted Yoho, banning support and training for “the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia ‘Azov Battalion.'” Azov was set up in May 2014 to fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine
Though written in April 2014, this analysis by Pietro Shakarian remains relevant:
Several commentators and analysts have recently proposed the idea of a federal Ukrainian state as a means of balancing power between the more Ukrainophone West and Russophone Southeast. Such an idea could potentially work, but only if implemented on an oblast-by-oblast level, not on a broad regional level. The reason for this is that each individual oblast within Ukraine has its own unique nuances and circumstances which must be seriously considered.