Thursday, August 21, 2014

On Ukraine, any bargain is a bad bargain

By Editorial Board August 21 at 8:09 PM, WashPost

EASTERN UKRAINE remains a violent caldron as Ukrainian soldiers shell pro-Russian separatists in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. It appears that Ukraine’s forces are making headway, while the separatists seem to have lost ground. There’s a sense that the crisis may be at a turning point. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Ukraine on Sunday and, on Aug. 26, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine will meet in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss the conflict.

With so many innocent civilians caught up in lethal combat, it is tempting to look for a cease-fire or some kind of time out that would lead to a period of diplomatic negotiation. But what would a pause and diplomacy accomplish? Any negotiations that leave this blight festering in Ukraine must be avoided. The only acceptable solution is for Mr. Putin’s aggression to be reversed.

Aggression is the right word. Although the separatists may not be wearing Russian military insignia, no one should be under any illusions: This was a rebellion with roots in Moscow. After seizing Crimea, Mr. Putin set a wildfire ablaze in eastern Ukraine in order to meddle and control. Mr. Putin’s approach has been terribly sly, from the “little green men” who took over Crimea without noticeable military insignia, to the “uprising” in eastern Ukraine of separatist fighters who just suddenly happened to possess anti-aircraft missiles. Mark Galeotti of New York University wrote recently in Foreign Policy that Mr. Putin has demonstrated in Ukraine a method of fighting with his military intelligence service that is “a mix of stealth, deniability, subversion, and surgical violence.” We would add: outrageous lies and propaganda.

(More here.)

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