WASHINGTON – The Moscow-inspired and Moscow supported Ukrainian crisis is slowly morphing into something resembling a civil war. Whether this is the actual direction or not, it is obvious that the Kiev government will be unable to achieve its goal of recreating law and order within Eastern Ukraine.
Illegitimate government in Kiev
The Kiev provisional government is described by Moscow, and now by many if not most ethnic Russians in Ukraine, as illegitimate, (it came into power via the violent overthrow of the properly elected government), and bent on destroying the large Russian minority living in the East. As we all know, it is a government led by neo-Nazis and Russophobes, and so on.
This being the case, the Russians in the East have every right to resist the police and military forces sent by Kiev to kill them. And Moscow has every right to intervene in order to protect its brethren on the other side of the border.
This being the official Russian interpretation of events, add to the mix overwhelming Russian military force now deployed close to the border with Ukraine and compare these well armed Russians with a small and ill-equipped Ukrainian army.
Once you have done this, you can only come up with one conclusion: the situation is hopeless. Kiev cannot and will not prevail in this crisis. Further escalation will simply give Putin a pretext for intervening directly.
It would make sense for Kiev to resist this well-orchestrated, indirect Russian aggression only if the provisional government could have the comfort of a solid, US-led, Western commitment to its security and territorial integrity.
In another era, America would have helped
Yes, there was a time in which the US pledged its unconditional support to all those who were seeking freedom against tyranny.
Yes, there was a time in which America was the defender of freedom:
“….Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. [bold added]
This much we pledge–and more.
To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder….”
America, the defender of freedom
No, this is not fiction. This was the most memorable part of John Kennedy’s Inaugural Address delivered on January 20, 1961. Yes, a long time ago, but not so long ago. Kennedy delivered it when America was engaged in the Cold War, a global ideological and geo-political struggle against Soviet communism and Soviet-inspired mischief.
Mercifully, today there is no longer a Soviet Union. But we have a Russian Federation led by Vladimir Putin, a tyrant who wants to make his own rules and impose them on weak neighbors, counting on Western timidity. And Putin’s calculation about Washington’s inaction is most probably correct.
Obama’s America may grumble; but it will not do much. JFK’s pledge to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty” sadly, does not apply any more.
Moscow knows this, and this is why it is not backing off, whatever Obama says it will do in response to Russia’s open support for the separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
Kiev should realize it cannot win
It is high time that the Kiev provisional government realizes this as well. As America will not intervene, its fight against the Russian separatists in the East is hopeless. Kiev cannot win without the active support of powerful and credible allies –and this means Washington. In fact, prolonging a fight against this manufactured insurrection may make matters far worse.
It is time for Kiev to recognize that Eastern Ukraine is lost. No, America is not ready to “pay any price” for the “success of liberty“.
And if America will not protect and support Ukraine, forget about Europe, whose real concerns are about unhindered deliveries of precious Russian gas and business deals with Moscow.