20 Years of Leading Analysis

Ukraine Will Not Die, But It Can Multiply

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Ten days ago, it was the murderous fire in Odessa. Last Friday, the shooting in Mariupol. Both the actions and the inactions of the interim authorities in Kiev helped to split Ukraine, in the name of saving it. The notion that the prime source of Ukraine’s current troubles lies in the Kremlin and that the Ukrainian military and security forces are facing terrorists in the east is self-delusion. Developments in Ukraine follow their own dynamic, and its pace is quickening. The presidential elections set for May 25 will not bring a magic solution. A point may soon be reached when an internally federalized and internationally neutralized Ukraine—Moscow’s mantra—will not be possible.

President Vladimir Putin, so far, has avoided the temptation of a military invasion. Had he decided to go for it, the Russian army would have stepped into a quagmire which would have made the Soviet experience in Afghanistan look a brief and relatively inexpensive excursion by comparison. After his meeting with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Didier Burkhalter, Putin has even given a qualified endorsement to the presidential elections in Ukraine and “recommended” that the May 11 referenda in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on their self-determination be postponed. The recommendation was not heeded and Putin was accused of duplicity, but large numbers of people apparently did come and vote.

One can dismiss the regional referenda as illegal, although it is a weak argument in Ukraine’s post-revolutionary context. One can dismiss the real internal divisions in Ukraine only at one’s own peril. Russia certainly pursues its interests in Ukraine, as does the United States, but the actual forces engaged there are the locals. The victorious Maidan has nudged Ukraine off its post-Soviet immobility, but it has proven both unwilling and powerless to bridge or stitch together the fault lines which have emerged. Ukraine will not die, but it can multiply.


Comments (5)

  • Peter Jacob
    The victotrious Maidan deserves a moment of respite while ' Vlad the Prevaricator' flails about in Eastern Ukraine .
    The Maidan set the Ukrainian people on a path to freedom while Putin was spending fifty billion on his Olympic party to benefit his image and the pocket books of his oligarch cronies.
    Greed and expansionism will not win out for Putin and for the Ukrainian people the words of Martin Luther King: " Let freedom reign.." capture the hopes and aspirations of a beleagured but indominatable Ukraine.
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    • LG replies...
      Stop reading CNN and whatever other Western sources you'd like to name and take a look at the big picture. What has EU or NATO membership brought to the former communist states other than making them the newest vassels of Washington? I may add that they are now part of the post modern 'anything goes' world, which is the outcome of bending over for the Anglo-American powers. Trading one master for another, slightly wealthier one.
  • Thomas W. O'Donnell
    Your assessment of the possible future conflict in Ukraine if Russian forces were to enter its territory appear to me much more realistic than the words I hear publicly coming from Berlin, Paris and London. I personally envision, if Putin were to enter, something very much like you indicate, comparable to Afghanistan, or, rather Iraq around 2006. The point is, the Ukrainians will fight, as well they should to defend their nation.

    Listening to a panel at the CSIS Institute in Washington DC earlier this month, chaired by Z. Brezinski, the CSIS Russian expert made the comparison to "the Spanish Civil War." (Andrew Kuchina at csis.org/multimedia/video-geopolitical-and-national-security-impacts) Indeed.

    So, does the EU do 'regime change'? Of course they do ... in their own bureaucratic legalistic and negotiated manner. I, for one, do not think the 'Finlandization' of Georgia, Ukraine and other states was possible in the milieu existing as they broke in a raucous divorce from the former USSR. But, once one works to incorporate these FRU states into the EU zone, one should be aware they are playing with fire and not exclaim amazement and, worse, incapacity when the other side (Mr. Putin) responds with a conflagration.

    The EU -- and Merkel et al in particular - have a responsibility now to do something more than merely sending in the OSCE observers. If that doesn't work, then what is their plan? Where is their sense of responsibility? Steinmeier tells the Bundestag anything beyond the OSCE is 'unthinkable'.

    I understand why the EU had to support the movement of Ukraine, Georgia et al towards the EU, and that this might very well provoke Mr Putin and various minority groupings within these states--and whether the EU had handled matters well or not so well. But, not to be ready with some plan for the next stage ... something beyond the OSCE is disturbing.
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  • Moonraker
    Well put, Mr. Trenin. Nobody is contributing more to the dissolution of Ukraine than the current government in Kiev.
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  • ATDM
    This is one of the most objective articles I have read since the beginning of this "revolution." Our human nature wants a hero in this story to root for, but unfortunately, this story has no heroes... Only villains. The "revolutionaries" are fascist thugs, and the "separatists" simply don't want the fringe element to be their government. Russia isn't looking to help them out, it is simply looking for its own interest, regardless of these interests being harmful to the harmony in Ukraine. Still, the villain that now rules in Kiev is a much bigger evil than the Russia backed "separatist" rebellion. No heroes here...
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