WASHINGTON – It is sad but true that the post-Yanukovych, democratic Ukrainian government had zero chances of winning the conflict against Moscow-backed ethnic Russian rebels fighting for independence in the East of the country.
Ukraine could not win
This was obvious to me months ago, after it became crystal clear that neither the US nor Europe were willing to give any military support to Ukraine, except for “meals ready to eat”, (MREs), blankets and uniforms.
Yes, you cannot win a war just with blankets. And yet, until early September Petro Poroshenko, the new Ukrainian President, was giving pep talks to the troops while dressed in military fatigues.
Again, the war was lost. Nonetheless Ukraine, a semi-bankrupt country now totally dependent on international financial and economic assistance, was stupidly spending huge resources on a Putin-funded conflict that it knew it could not win.
Give up the East
Months ago I suggested that Ukraine, whatever the pain involved, should have acknowledged “the facts” and should have granted de facto independence to the Eastern Provinces controlled by the Moscow-backed rebels. This would have put a stop to the conflict and to the financial bleeding.
De facto partition
Poroshenko did not do this until September, after months of fierce fighting during the Spring and Summer. And now the reality is that the ceasefire has in fact created a new border. As the WSJ put in a recent report, (In Divided Ukraine, a Border Takes Shape, October 29, 2014):
“The de facto division underlines a reality that has been clear since the two sides signed a peace deal in early September: Kiev has given up effective control of rebel-held territory, handing Russia a strong lever to influence its neighbor”.
Gone for good
Translation: Eastern Ukraine is gone –for good. The sad thing is that the proverbial “writing on the wall” was there, long ago. For understandable (but nonetheless foolish) reasons of patriotism and national pride Poroshenko engaged in a completely useless fight, knowing that he had no help and no support from the West, other than nice words.
As I said, Ukraine is totally broke. I imagine that someone at some point will calculate the cost of this unwinnable war. In doing so, they will also see how these precious funds could have been better used in efforts aimed at modernizing the country’s tottering economy.
The sad outcome of this doomed attempt to preserve territorial integrity is that the land is lost anyway, while Ukraine suffered huge losses, becoming even poorer than it was before all this started.