Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Besides Its Checkbook, Russia May Not Have a Winning Plan forUkraine

A few weeks ago, Ukraine showed  signs of a thaw in tensions, as Orthodox priests kept apart protesters and armed riot police.  Concessions were made to some arrested protesters. Anger had seemingly been dissipated, but now the trends suddenly seem to have reversed themselves.

As deft as Russian President Putin seems to have been in derailing the European Union project, the current tactics will serve only to harden world opinion and to ultimately cripple the economy in Ukraine.  When the 'aid' bill comes due, Russia may find its client unable to pay.

As the Financial Times points out, popular sentiment in Russia sees Ukraine as having deep ties to Russia, and they don't regard it as a former Soviet republic that should be independent.  President Putin is reported to have made this remarkable public statement,
"Mr Putin invoked the “unity” of the Russian and Ukrainian people and said that, as joint spiritual heirs of the baptism, “in this sense we are, without doubt, one people”."
I suspect that for most citizens of Ukraine, the feeling may not be mutual.

At this point, there will be all kinds of manipulation and propaganda put out to western audiences who are viewing developments in Kiev with dismay.  These protesters suddenly seem to be a much more violent crowd than had occupied the square for weeks.  Might some of the more violent tactics be from paid agitators?  The inability of western leaders like German Chancellor Merkel to even get President Yanukovich on the phone seems like he has become a paid puppet.  Again, it was only a few weeks ago that he was said to have listened to suggestions about widening the representation in his government. No more.

If the citizens of Russia and Ukraine are, in the words of President Putin, "one people," then subjecting ordinary citizens of Ukraine to violence, public humiliation, with wanton disregard for its sovereignty is not a winning strategy that Europe and the rest of the world should sit idly by and accept.

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