Monday, September 01, 2014

Arm Ukraine or Surrender

By BEN JUDAH, NYT, AUG. 31, 2014

MOSCOW — Russia and Ukraine are now at war. At least 2,200 people have died in the conflict; thousands more may die yet. The Western powers — America, Europe, NATO — now have no good options, but they cannot do nothing. President Vladimir V. Putin has left us with two dire choices, both fraught with risk: Either we arm Ukraine, or we force Kiev to surrender and let Mr. Putin carve whatever territories he wants into a Russian-occupied zone of “frozen conflict.”

It is a stark choice, and Mr. Putin is not rational. Any rational leader would have reeled from the cost of Western sanctions. Russia’s economy is being hit hard by a credit crunch, capital flight, spiraling inflation and incipient recession. This will hurt Mr. Putin’s surging popularity at home. But none of this has deterred the smirking enigma.

Ukraine cannot win this war. Mr. Putin has made it clear that the Russian Army will annihilate Ukrainian forces if they attempt to liberate Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine’s ramshackle army cannot rout the crack troops and conscript forces of an oil-fueled giant.

The West needs to be honest with Ukraine. We talk as though this country were one of us — as if, one day, it will become a member of the European Union and the NATO alliance. That is Kiev’s wish, but the West is not giving Ukraine the means to fight this war.

(More here.)

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