Now the West is engaged in its great ‘war of values with Russia’ and defending ‘Ukrainian democracy.’ But in Ukraine governors are appointed by the president and there are no senators or an upper house – another common feature of federalism. This past week saw Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed a new governor for Ukraine’s southern region of Odessa.
The Ukrainian government does not appear to be interested in negotiating. Despite the fact that Minsk-2 specifically states that the required constitutional reforms should include ‘special status’ for Donetsk and Lugansk, the government is insisting that they will consist only of a general decentralization of powers to all Ukrainian regions and will not involve any such ‘special status’ for Donbass. Ukraine’s Western allies should press it to reconsider.
WASHINGTON— Late yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.R. 2685, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015.” During consideration of the legislation, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) offered bipartisan amendments to block the training of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia “Azov Battalion,” and to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles—otherwise known as Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS)—to Iraq or Ukraine.
At this critical moment for the future of Ukrainian, European and U.S. interests in the region, the U.S.-Ukraine strategic partnership lacks both strategy and partnership. This much is clear after meetings with Ukraine’s political leaders, journalists, academics, civil-society activists and volunteers active in the conflict zone during our recent trip across the beleaguered nation. Ukraine’s appeals for U.S. support have only grown louder and more desperate as renewed fighting flared around Donetsk in the past week.
Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on foreign-language propaganda, all that President Vladimir Putin has achieved outside Russia is the status of a Bond movie villain. He may enjoy it, especially since there’s no 007 in sight to tackle him, but his variety of pop stardom is growing into a problem for his country: He is seen as a bigger threat to the West than his actions warrant.
A top American diplomat has urged Pope Francis to take a hard line with Russian President Vladimir Putin in regards to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict when the two meet Wednesday, according to the Guardian. Francis, who has often said he opposes war, has not joined the West in condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine since the country annexed Crimea in March 2014, sparking continued unrest in the region.
Publics of key member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) blame Russia for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Many also see Russia as a military threat to other neighboring states. But few support sending arms to Ukraine. Moreover, at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if attacked by Russia.
WITH THE Cold War’s demise, the menacing Russia that long loomed over Europe seemed to vanish. The Russia of 1992 was just a fragment of its historic self in military punch and economic weight. Not even Russia’s still-formidable nuclear arsenal deflected perceptions of decline. It was inevitable, then, that Western policy makers would feel that this shrunken Russia was more to be ignored than feared. They were wrong.
Military machines on both sides are engaged in nearly non-stop war games aimed at displaying their readiness to their jittery publics, and scary near-misses between warplanes are multiplying as Russia‘s Air Force tries to return to its Soviet-era pattern of global patrolling. All this is happening at a time when dialogue, even at the highest levels, is almost nonexistent.
The situation in Ukraine and in insurgent areas of the Donbass is steadily deteriorating. This is proved by the clashes of the last few days, which, though limited, have certainly been the most violent since January 2015. The “Minsk 2” agreements are in a process of dissolution, and this largely due to the Kiev government. This was predictable. We must therefore review the situation in order to attempt to understand how we got here.