The Ukranian Conflict
Recent developments in the Ukraine need an attention. A few fact files have marked the calendar year full of blood-shed through unlawful militia in some parts of Ukraine. This has been a great concern for both the Western and Russian Allies. Here are a few dates to remember.
April 10, 2016 – Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk announces he will resign.
September 28, 2016 – The Joint Investigation Team, a Dutch-led group of prosecutors gathering evidence for a potential criminal trial, says that it has concluded that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile brought in from Russia to a pro-Russian area of eastern Ukraine.
October 16, 2016 – Pro-Russian separatist commander Arsen Pavlov, known by the nickname “Motorola,” is killed in the city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.
February 20, 2017 – A ceasefire aimed at ending the bloody fight between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists begins. The ceasefire is a renewed attempt to enforce the Minsk peace protocol — an agreement that has repeatedly failed since it was first partially implemented in 2015.
March 23, 2017 – Denis Voronenkov, a onetime Communist member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, dies after being shot outside a hotel in Kiev. President Poroshenko calls the shooting a “Russian state terrorist act.” Voronenkov, who fled to Ukraine in 2016, is the latest in a string of Putin and Russia’s critics who were killed or injured under mysterious circumstances.
Over the past few years, Vladimir Putin seemed to be the man with everything. He broke off a chunk of the Republic of Georgia without so much as a peep from the US Administration, then took Crimea from Ukraine. Putin backed Ukraine separatists who were on the verge of seizing the country, put forces on the borders of other states, and seemed poised to make the Black Sea and Baltic Sea a pair of Russian lakes. He even won admiration from several prominent Republicans for his leadership style.
But the war in Ukraine isn’t going so well. The separatists he supports downed a Malaysian jet. Sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration and the West are hurting the Russian economy. As Adrian Karatnycky and Alexander J. Motyl wrote:
The Kremlin’s war in Ukraine is turning into a quagmire. Militarily, it is a stalemate — which, given the vast imbalance between Russian and Ukrainian capabilities, amounts to a Ukrainian victory. Ideologically, the war is a bust, as the Kremlin’s hopes of converting southeastern Ukraine into “New Russia” have been effectively, and perhaps permanently, shattered. Economically, the war and occupation of both Crimea and the Donbas have imposed ruinous costs on Russia, whose economy has already been battered by declining global commodity prices and Western sanctions. Socially, both regions are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe for which Russia would be blamed. In sum, Putin’s plans of weakening Ukraine might have backfired. This needs a tougher outlook.
In South Ossetia, near Georgia, the Kremlin is backing away from a Crimea-style vote for the region, claiming they don’t want to disrupt ties with Georgia, the same country they attacked in a war in 2008. What they really don’t want to do is lose a vote. South Ossetia voted to join Russia in 1992, but the resident chose independence in 2006. A lost vote would be humiliating for Putin, so it’s not worth having.
Nobody in East Europe is falling for Putin’s combination of charm and intimidation. Estonia just beefed up its base in Amari for bigger NATO planes. And Belarus, one of the only countries still friends with Russia in the region, did have their Kremlin-supported candidate start his third decade of autocratic rule. But Belarus is the worst performer of any Ex-USSR country in economic terms, according to the IMF. They are also responding more to a Western public relations offensive, sure to anger the sanction-riddled Russians who can’t help nearly as much. This needs a catastrophic change.
So Putin is trying to burnish his credentials as an international tough guy in Syria, fighting ISIS, or at least appearing to do so. In reality, he seems to be directing bombs against dictator Bashar al-Assad’s beleaguered opposition these days. The Russian leader is doing it, because that’s just about all he can do these days.
And with the possible bombing of a Russian jet, even that might raise an eyebrow among Putin’s most loyal supporters at home.
The conflict in Ukraine risks further deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations and greater escalation if Russia expands its presence in Ukraine or into NATO countries. While the United States and Europe have not committed military support to Ukraine beyond defensive weaponry, Russia’s actions have raised wider concerns about its intentions elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and a Russian incursion into a NATO country would solicit a response from the United States as a NATO ally. The conflict has heightened tensions in Russia’s relations with both the United States and Europe, complicating the prospects for cooperation elsewhere including on issues of terrorism, arms control, and a political solution in Syria. This has been an apparent concern from both the sides.
Holistically speaking, both NATO and Russia need to re-think that the power centre lies close to Russia, and it is impediment to take control of the armed men all around the world. Terrorists have no religion. No one can rule out who is a ‘terrorist’ in the world. The Ukranian Conflict has raised many eyebrows in the world. It is time that every one fighting ISIS should chart put a plan to work in a tough manner.