Friday, February 20, 2015

The Ukraine Humiliation

KIEV, Ukraine -- In the sorry annals of “cease-fires,” this week’s fiasco in southern Ukraine will have to rank among the most instantly humiliating.


Putin marches over Merkel, Hollande and Obama.

For Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was bludgeoned by his friends into accepting it.

And for Angela Merkel , François Hollande and President Obama, who did the bludgeoning and have since let Vladimir Putin violate it with impunity.

Ukraine is paying today in more lost territory, but the NATO alliance may also pay soon enough.

Even before negotiators left the room in Minsk last week, Russian troops and their rebel frontmen accelerated their assault on the rail town of Debaltseve.

Mr. Poroshenko protested but the rebels claimed the town wasn’t part of the agreement.

Ukrainian troops were forced to retreat willy-nilly through a bloody gantlet with an unknown number killed or captured.

“Obviously it’s bad to lose,” chirped Putin about the retreat, during a visit to his autocratic ally in Hungary.

“But life is life and it still goes on.”

Unless you were a Ukrainian killed during the non-cease-fire.

The result is that Putin has again expanded the Russian rump state of Novorossiya inside Ukraine.

He may now decide to consolidate those gains and sit tight—for a while.

But that’s what the West’s Russia-appeasement lobby predicted a year ago after Putin grabbed Crimea.

Then he moved on Luhansk and Donetsk.

After a previous cease-fire in September, his troops and proxies advanced along the Sea of Azov coast toward Mariupol.

Sooner rather than later the shelling of that key port city will begin again.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon says Russian troops and weapons continue to flow into Ukraine.

But Mr. Hollande is undaunted in his devotion to the illusory cease-fire.

“The four leaders agreed to rigorously implement the entirety of the package of measures” agreed to in Minsk, said the office of the French President on Thursday after a conference call with leaders from Ukraine, Russia and Germany.

“Violations of the cease-fire observed in recent days were condemned.”

Note the passive tense, which fits the passive policy.

As for the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday and pressed him “to stop Russian and separatist attacks on Ukrainian positions in Debaltseve and other violations of the cease-fire,” as spokesman Jen Psaki put it.

She added that “we don’t consider it [the cease-fire] is dead,” so the Ukrainians have that going for them. 

Here and there, amid this self-deception, a Western leader is willing to admit to a harsher reality.

The latest is British Defense Minister Michael Fallon, who said Thursday that the tactics of deceptive invasion that Russia has used to destabilize Ukraine pose a “very real and present danger” to the Baltic states, which are members of NATO.

“I’m worried about Putin,” Mr. Fallon said, according to the London Times.

“I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing NATO.”

He should be worried, all the more so after the latest Minsk humiliation.

The cutthroat in the Kremlin wants a Greater Russia that he can dominate.

He wants a cowed West that will leave him to it.

And after watching Western leaders beg for his mercy after Minsk, he can see a clearer path to getting both.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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