Ukraine on the ledge  – Who is fooling whom?

Ukraine on the ledge – Who is fooling whom?

Ukraine on the ledge – Who is fooling whom?

Written by Staff Writer

06 Mar, 2014 | 7:14 pm


By Shameer Rasooldeen

Despite its call for a full military mobilization, the new Ukrainian government’s position is looking increasingly weak. Russia has control of Crimea after moving swiftly and decisively – without a shot being fired. Russian troops are patrolling outside one of Ukraine’s military bases. President Vladimir Putin said that he would not hesitate to act to protect fellow Russians from the government in Kiev. He is calling the government extremist and Illegal after the ouster of his ally Viktor Yanukovych in February.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister said that his country is on the verge of disaster. In Kiev, crowds filled Independence Square, no longer celebrating victory, but appealing for outside help. British foreign secretary William Hague flew to Kiev, for crisis talks on Tuesday. Earlier this week , US Assistant Secretary of State John Kerry who has been critical over the actions of Putin said “he is not going to gain by this. He may be able to send troops for some period of time in Crimea. Unless he resolves this. But the fact is, he is going to lose on the international stage, Russia is going to lose.”

Sanctions – military action 

“He may find himself with asset freezes of Russian business. There is a huge price to pay. The US is united: Russia is isolated,” said Kerry In Washington, commenting on Putin. 
According to analysts, imposing sanctionW on Russia, without the support of EU countries like Germany and Britain is unrealistic. The EU is Russia’s top trading partner, accounting for more than 40 percent of all trade. Much of that is energy: 84 percent of Russia’s oil exports and about 76 percent of gas exports go to Western Europe. European companies have invested heavily in the country, creating jobs and consumers. Also, Russia’s elites have tens of billions of dollars stashed overseas. Any multilateral sanctions regime will have an impact. Indeed, Russian stocks crashed Monday, wiping out $60 billion of their value, amid the latest tensions.

In Moscow earlier this week, President Putin who rarely does anything without a purpose behind it, was making a deliberate show of being calm and collective.  President Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defense of Russia’s actions in Crimea and said he would use force in Ukraine only as a last resort, easing market fears that East-West tension over the former Soviet republic could lead to war. Putin denied the Russian armed forces were directly engaged in the bloodless seizure of Crimea, saying the uniformed troops without national insignia were “local self-defense forces”.

However, no military action has been taken by Russia nor has the US taken any concrete measures to impose sanction against the Kremlin yet.


Russian President Vladmir Putin on Septmeber 11, 2013, on the day of the 12th year anniversary of 9/11 attacks wrote in The New York Times

“…We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression…”

The above statement came five and half years after the Russian Invasion in Georgia, which claimed the lives of hundreds, a Unilateral decision taken by Putin claiming that his intention was to safeguard the interests of Russia at that time. Just months after The New York Times publication last year, the Russian President takes yet another stride forward to invade Ukraine giving the same reason, However this time following the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of the present Russian regime.

Was international law adhered to? Was the UN Security council consulted? Was sovereignty of the another country taken into account – these will undoubtedly be among the few questions that would be posed to Putin, during an open forum.

US warning

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry described his Paris meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov over Ukraine as “tough”, but promised to continue talking. Kerry said he was committed to working with Moscow to ease the crisis. However, he stressed afterwards that that Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty “would not go unanswered”. The talks were also attended by foreign ministers from the UK, Germany and France, but Mr Lavrov refused to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia, whose government, Moscow does not recognise. Deshchytsia is part of the new regime in Kiev, which came to power after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia. Moscow regards the new government as illegitimate, and says that Mr Yanukovych is still the rightful leader.

Strategic importance 

Ukraine is important to the Europeans, but it is crucial to Russia, for reasons transcending economic and trade ties. In the battle for influence over Ukraine, the Russians have an advantage, but Kyiv will continue entertaining both sides to extract as many concessions as it can.
Ukraine is an important country in terms of economy and size. It has the second largest population (45 million people) and economy ($136 billion) of all former Soviet states, trailing only Russia in both categories. These factors, along with its relatively high per-capita gross domestic product, make Ukraine an attractive market — and asset — to outside powers.
The importance of Ukraine to Russia is not lost on the Europeans and the Americans, who have been trying to lure Ukraine into the Western camp since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine did turn pro-Western under the Orangist government of Viktor Yushchenko from 2005-2010, but Russia’s resurgence reversed this trend when the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych became president in February 2010.
However, Ukraine remains politically and socially divided between pro-Russian and pro-Western elements, and also remains an important tool of influence for both sides.
Future : US – Russia – Ukraine
The Ukranian Black sea fleet is still under siege, with Russian military vessels blocking access in and out of the military harbour and pro-Russian protests keeping the Ukranian troops hold up in their headquarters. What decision will transpire in Paris, still remains a mystery. As Small Russian ships sail into harbours in seversta-poll, it is clear by this stage that Kiev has lost complete control over Crimea.. The question now, is will eastern Ukraine think the same way and at what cost.

With mutual trust all but gone, the United States and Russia will have to face each other full of challenges that will test whether the world’s nuclear giants can salvage their relationship in the next 10 months.

The United States and Russia, in any case, are heading in separate directions — or wish they could. The coming few months brings a slew of challenges that will force the two nations to engage, even if at arm’s length and with a palpable lack of enthusiasm.

Despite, President Putin’s claim that there are no Russian forces on the ground, according to experts that is not the way it looks on the ground.

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