WASHINGTON – An indirect consequence of the sudden catastrophe in Iraq (major international crisis), and of the mounting humanitarian disaster caused by the massive influx into America of thousands of children from Honduras and Guatemala (international and domestic issue), is that Washington is no longer focused on the mess in Eastern Ukraine.
Iraq touches many sensitive spots; and so does the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America. Both issues call into questions past and present policies.
“It is all the consequence of Bush’ crazy idea to invade Iraq”.
“No, it is all about Obama’s inability to negotiate a deal with al-Maliki, so that some US troops would have remained in Iraq, after December 2011”.
“Let the Iraqis sort this out. This is no longer our problem”.
“Are you crazy? If we do not intervene, ISIL will establish a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and it will use this base to launch attacks against the US
As for the border crisis you hear almost everything:
“This is the predictable result of the quasi-amnesty granted by Obama to illegal aliens who came here as children. Now the word is out that all children from Central America will be granted legal status in the US”.
“No, it is all about gang warfare in Honduras. People are forced to flee the country. This is a real humanitarian crisis. We should welcome these children escaping violence, and provide for them”.
Ukraine has been forgotten
Well, be that as it may, in all this unpleasant cacophony that now passes for political debate In America, Ukraine has been essentially forgotten. And this is really bad news for Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, and great news for Vladimir Putin, Villain in Chief.
Trying to put an end to the crisis, Poroshenko just announced a unilateral cease fire. He wants all the pro-Russian rebels to also stop fighting, while he is allowing safe passage to all the foreign fighters who came from Russia. They can go back, unharmed. This rather generous unilateral good will gesture should put an end to the crisis. Right? Sure, dream on.
Putin wants more
The Russians, now fully aware that the West is not that interested in this crisis, have replied that a cease fire by itself means nothing. What we need is “negotiations” about the future status of Eastern Ukraine –they claim. Which means that, in order to end this crisis, Kiev has to agree to the surrender of these territories inhabited mostly by ethnic Russians.
Again, the Russians can afford to be tough customers, because they can see that President Obama is distracted by other, more urgent matters.
Washington and Europe are distracted
Iraq may indeed become a serious problem for America. But, aside from very few people, nobody cares in Washington about the fate of Eastern Ukraine. Iraqi based jihadists may one day threaten the US Homeland. Pro-Russian fighters in the Luhansk Oblast (Region) are a problem only for Kiev.
As for Europe, the Europeans would love to pretend that the crisis in Ukraine never happened; and that, whatever the issue might have been, it is now happily over.
Eastern Ukraine is lost
This being the broad picture, I fail to see how President Poroshenko’s goals of restoring law and order in an Eastern Ukraine suddenly loyal to Kiev have even the faintest hope of succeeding.
I said it before and I repeat it now: Eastern Ukraine is lost. Unless it could count on decisive American support –and it cannot– Ukraine will never prevail against Russia. Russia is bigger and stronger. And it has “a case”. There are millions of ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine. Easy enough for Moscow to argue that they are an oppressed minority, and that Russia has “a duty” to act on their behalf.
Kiev needs Russian gas
Besides, in case we forgot, Russia is still Ukraine’s indispensable gas supplier. Ukraine must get Russian gas. It has no alternative. This is an unenviable situation. Russia is a much stronger enemy, and Ukraine depends almost entirely on Moscow –its foe– for its energy.
And President Poroshenko, knowing all this, thinks he can “win” this contest with Putin? All by himself?
Cut your losses, focus on rebuilding the country’s economy
Time to get real. Kiev should admit that Eastern Ukraine is lost. Negotiate some kind of a deal that will guarantee Russian gas supplies, and move on to the serious business of repairing a basket case country that now barely survives thanks to Western credits.