Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The events in Kiev have overtaken the players, interested parties and diplomatic observers.
The street won the round but the battle is far from over.  There is no leader in sight and the outside world doesn't know where to turn for answers.  The dilemma remains, despite the general shared opinion that the country should not split. This is easier said than done when one considers the dire consequences of the two alternatives:
--A united Ukraine will be a composite of opposing camps with Russia "indoors", thanks to its Black Sea navy and an Eastern part of the country which is by culture, interest and tradition a Russian dominion. It will be very difficult to form a government that will be the sum of all contradictions and any authority will as usual be open to Moscow's "blackmail" in terms of energy, finance and foreign policy.
--A divided Ukraine leaves (to a point) Russia "outside" and does allow for a more independent  policy and EU or IMF support. One might also consider that Russia could consider East Ukraine and Crimea"s separatism as a better outcome, as long as its  neo-tsarist ambitions and geo-political are safeguarded.

I find the current developments strange. The Ukrainian president vanished after having left his Saddam-Hussein-tasteless abode for the people to see. Russia is hiding the moves it might consider. The EU worked out a deal/ultimatum which is better than any other alternative but remains a short term "band aid".  The US is lost in the usual soliloquy while the German chancellor pursues her Ostpolitik, unabated. She will impose her views on the Europeans, undisputed.

All this comes at a most unwelcome juncture when the United States act like being on the defensive. The reduction of expenditure for the US armed forces further confirms the doubters in their belief that America is in a rollback mode and that President Obama is reluctant to "confront".  In such a rather worrisome atmosphere any new faux pas from the US administration will be seen with consternation by allies and with glee by foes. The accumulative effect leaves American credibility weakened.  Russia (Gazprom and oligarchs), which remains a "Potemkin" giant, feels free to set the clock back, unhindered.  Putin is more Alexander than Nicholas II.

Obviously it will be hard to come up with a solution which would save the too many faces looking in opposite directions. Ukraine is in need of a tutor after having been deprived of normality for too long. The opposition has not come up with a politically sound alternative yet. The major powers do not share an even playing field.   Coming out in favor of a united Ukraine within existing borders might be sound, but also premature, given the fact that this proposition was made without conditions attached. The anti-Wilsonian Obama supported it, so did Angela Merkel for a German agenda, supported, for the time being, by Putin for his own devices. Indeed it might be easier to put pressure on a weak state than to confront a the reality of an independent West Ukraine. History is also made of foibles and obsessions. Folly should exit the stage.

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