WASHINGTON – The situation in Eastern Ukraine is getting worse. It is now clear that Putin’s Russia has intervened directly in the conflict. Gone is the masquerade of Russian soldiers who fight in Ukraine without Russian uniforms and insignia.
This is an old-fashioned “invasion”. A small invasion; but an invasion nonetheless. While we all know that this is “illegal”, that it is against international law, the UN Charter, and what not, sadly it has happened. And, except for verbal condemnations, no one is going to do anything about it.
From its perspective, Russia will say that this a “humanitarian intervention” in order to spare the poor ethnic Russian civilians brutally attacked by the Kiev army composed of Neo-Nazis, and other such nonsense.
The Russians have intervened directly most likely because their proxies in Eastern Ukraine were about to be defeated by the Ukrainian army.
Ukraine will never win
Sadly, with these developments I see the confirmation of what I had anticipated. Russia will not admit defeat, while the Kiev government will never be able to “win” in a conflict in which it faces Russia, and not just a rag-tag rebel army.
Let the East go
Months ago I argued that the best, if painful, way to end this conflict would have been for President Poroshenko to admit that Ukraine would never be able to prevail, fighting all alone against Russia. His government should have granted de facto independence to the pro-Moscow Eastern Provinces. This “self-amputation” would have removed the main cause of this costly rebellion.
I say the same thing now. With the invasion, today the situation has become more complicated. But it is not that different. There are a few millions ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine who have been incited by Putin’s propaganda and promises. So now they want independence.
Here is my simple advice: “Kiev government, please, let them go. Let these territories become independent and/or join Russia. Please, do it now”.
The alternative is a never-ending border war with Russia.
Considering that neither the European Union nor NATO will lift a finger to seriously help Ukraine fight this losing war against a much stronger enemy, it would be wise for President Poroshenko to let these territories go.
This move may look unpatriotic, maybe treasonous; but it is the only way to stop the bleeding. And do keep in mind that this constant and (super expensive) bleeding is rapidly turning an already poor country into a real basket case.
Ukraine needs economic development, not a war
Ukraine urgently –and I really mean urgently– needs foreign investments and a viable, solid economic development strategy. No way that any of this can even be contemplated while the Ukrainian leadership is totally focused on a war that this impoverished country, barely surviving on foreign lines of credit, cannot afford.
Fighting for a “just cause” may appear “noble”. But it is futile. Ukraine will never win, all alone, against Russia.
Admit defeat, let the East go its own way. Refocus all your (meagre) energies on the economy and on creating a better future for the rest of the country. Do it now!