The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
AS YOU read this, 46m people are being held hostage in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin has pulled Russian troops back from the country’s eastern border. But he has also demanded that the West keep out and that the new government in Kiev should once again look towards Russia. Don’t be alarmed, he says with unambiguous menace, invasion is a last resort.
Some in the West will argue that the starting point for policy is to recognise reality, however unpalatable. Let Mr Putin keep the Crimean peninsula, which he occupied just over a week ago. It has a Russian-speaking majority and was anyway part of Russia until 1954. As for Ukraine as a whole, Russia is bound to dominate it, because it cares more about the country than the West does. America and the European Union must of course protest, but they would do well to avoid a useless confrontation that would harm their own economies, threaten their energy supplies and might plunge Ukraine into war. Mr Putin has offered a way out and the West should grasp it.
That thinking is mistaken. In the past week Mr Putin has trampled over norms that buttress the international order and he has established dangerous precedents that go far beyond Ukraine (see article). Giving in to kidnappers is always dangerous: those who fail to take a stand to start with often face graver trials later on.
Russia is outraged about the lawlesness that now prevails in the eastern regions of Ukraine as a result of militant's of so-called "right sector " actions with the connivance of the new authorities.
It came down to the fact that on March 8 in Kharkiv well-equipped masked men with guns opened fire on peaceful demonstrators, injuring several people. In addition, the police of Dnepropetrovsk detained seven Russian journalists, saying that they were only interested in some provocative stories.
In violation of all existing bilateral agreements the Ukrainian authorities do not let Russian citizens to the territory of Ukraine, actually putting a barrier to border cooperation.
We are surprised by shamefaced silence of our Western partners, human rights organizations and foreign media. It raises a question - where is the often mentioned objectivity and commitment to democracy?
The President spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the evening of March 9 regarding the situation in Ukraine. The two leaders agreed on the fundamental importance of focusing on common interests and deepening practical cooperation to address regional and global challenges for the development of bilateral relations. In that context, they affirmed their shared interest in reducing tensions and identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The two leaders agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, both in the context of Ukraine and also for the broader functioning of the international system. The President noted his overriding objective of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ensuring the Ukrainian people are able to determine their own future without foreign interference. The two leaders committed to stay in touch as events unfold.
When President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Ukraine in two lengthy phone calls this past week, neither expected the other to say: “You know what (Barack/Vladimir)? You’re right.”
Instead, each leader laid out his own set of facts with no common ground between them, according to public and private accounts of the calls. Putin told Obama that ethnic Russians in Crimea needed protection from attacks by Ukrainian nationalists. The government in Kiev, he said, was illegal, and Russia’s actions to defend them were completely legitimate.
Not so, Obama responded. There were no attacks against ethnic Russians, and Putin’s deployment of troops to Crimea was illegal. Obama said Russia could withdraw and allow international monitors to assess the situation, or risk serious international consequences, according to a senior administration official listening in.
But despite the near-total lack of common ground, the U.S. side, at least, considered the calls useful. It’s always worth talking to Putin, the senior official said, because he says what he thinks and may even reflect later on a conversation that seemed to go nowhere at the time.
“If there’s a chance for an outcome” in Ukraine, said Michael McFaul, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Moscow until last week, “it’s only going to happen in that channel. It’s very important to understand about the nature of Russian decision-making right now. . . . The only person who can resolve that crisis in Russia is Vladimir Putin.”