Sunday, February 01, 2015

Putin must be stopped… and sometimes only guns can stop guns

‘Preoccupied by Greece and the eurozone, Europe is letting another Bosnia happen in its own front yard.' Photograph: Tass/Barcroft Media

The time for diplomacy will come again, but it is not now: Ukraine urgently needs military support, and a counter to Russian propaganda

Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian
Sunday 1 February 2015 12.58 EST

Vladimir Putin is the Slobodan Milošević of the former Soviet Union: as bad, but bigger. Behind a smokescreen of lies he has renewed his drive to carve out a puppet para-state in eastern Ukraine.

Innocent bystanders are killed in the Black Sea port of Mariupol. In besieged Debaltseve, a woman scoops water from a giant puddle in the road. The rubble that was once Donetsk airport recalls a scene from martyred Syria. About 5,000 people have already been killed in this armed conflict, and more than 500,000 uprooted. Preoccupied by Greece and the eurozone, Europe is letting another Bosnia happen in its own front yard. Wake up, Europe. If we have learned anything from our own history, Putin must be stopped. But how?

In the end, there will have to be a negotiated solution. German chancellor Angela Merkel and foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have been right to keep trying diplomacy, but even they concluded in mid-January that it wasn’t worth going to meet Putin in Kazakhstan. On Saturday another attempt to agree a ceasefire failed in Minsk. Diplomacy’s time will come again, but it is not now.

We should ratchet up the economic sanctions against Russia. Combined with the impact of the fallen oil price, these are already having a significant effect. Despite a small wobble from the new Greek government, the EU last week kept its unity on extending sanctions. Won’t that feed a siege mentality in Russia? Yes, but then the Putin regime is stoking that mentality with its nationalist, anti-western propaganda. If the threat did not exist, Russian television would invent it.

(More here.)


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