Article by: Askold S. Lozinski
The summit in Milan involving Ukraine, Russia and the European Union emphasized once more why simple diplomacy cannot solve the current Ukraine-Russia crisis. It was especially obvious in the statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he expressed doubt regarding the sovereignty of Ukraine itself so audaciously, that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to express an ‘admonishment’ to the Russian President and remind him of the Budapest Accords on 1994. Speaking of which, she could have reminded him of many other agreements and treaties which Russia or its predecessor, the USSR, have signed. The signature on the legally binding document means nothing to Putin and his predecessors from Russia or the USSR.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was also present in Milan, bears no illusions. He knows that the only way to put an end to Russian aggression is to contain it, and not use diplomacy or calls towards Russia’s sense of justice. At the moment most Western leaders have grasped this. Chancellor Merkel herself came to understand this about her longtime Russian friend. The meetings, similar to the ones in Milan, will continue in order to give President Putin an opportunity to preserve his dignity and agree to peace treaties in one form or other. However, such an agreement will only be possible when sanctions and losses Russia suffers become intolerable. In order to have no other way out at the highest-level meetings, Russia will have to be put in a complex situation, pressured from all sides, economically subordinated and have a real possibility of armed defeat with a big number of casualties. For this, Ukraine has to be armed to the teeth, and the West should have the will and spirit to stop Russia.
Today, an interesting phenomenon lies in the fact that while Western leaders have learned the lesson on who Putin is and what Russia is like, many Western analysts continue to offer ghostly solutions and recommendations. Naturally, there are pro-Russian screenwriters with Russian orders and intentions. It is frequently difficult to distinguish lies from nonsense, as, unfortunately, these differences are frequently imperceptible.
Aggression feeds the Russian bear
Let us examine the following solution offered by some Western analysts: the U.S. and their NATO allies should abstain from supplying Ukraine with weapons and limit their perceptible participation in the military aspect of the conflict, meanwhile diplomatically demonstrating its support to Ukraine. This, on its part, will force Ukraine to abstain from a military solution to the problem, and also encourage Ukraine to create reliable defense, and not the will to fight for the lost territories. This will lead Russia to he talks table with a sustainable and acceptable offer.
This scenario couldn’t have been written better even in Moscow by Putin himself. This is exactly what Russia wants: the confirmation of the status quo and praise bad behavior. The result however is a death sentence not only for Ukraine but the entire civilized world and its ideals of democracy. After receiving a reward for aggression, Russia will not be idle for long: it will augment its power, wait until the economy livens and in several years will advance again. Ukraine will be the first victim, but, naturally, it won’t be the last.
This type of strategy is incorrect not only in the moral but the strategic sense. Besides, it plays directly to Russia’s expectations. Russia in the end result wins because the West will not want conflict, meanwhile Russia practically receives pleasure from its aggressive intentions. As such, even Russian people were taught throughout centuries to be the aggressors. Russia does not think that its current nine time zones are enough. Aggression feeds the Russian bear. Unfortunately many analysts in the West, even with the best intention in mind, cannot understand the Russian way of thinking, because it is alien to our normal and civilized one.
Putin’s Russia is almost no different from the Islamic State
There is only one solution to the current Ukraine-Russia crisis: containment, and not appeasement. The West attempted appeasement in the past with Hitler, Stalin. However, the fall of the Soviet Union only happened when the West started containment. Today Ukraine shoulders the burden of Russia’s contemporary aggression. Ukraine turned out to be prepared to be the West’s spokesperson and Europe’s defender in the fight against contemporary Russian aggression. Stronger sanctions against Russia and the increase of supplying Ukraine with both non-lethal and lethal weapons will stop Russia and make it sit down at a talks table, thought unwillingly, but with a different mentality, somewhere halfway between regular dishonesty and morality, which is necessary for the diplomatic process. At that moment diplomacy may stand a chance.
Putin’s Russia is almost no different from the Islamic State. Putin is also a mass-murderer, he started massacres in various shapes and frequently does it secretively, all the while denying his involvement. Nonetheless, his representatives and him, encouraged by the West’s naïveté, continue to do evil, meanwhile expressing their indignation. The MH17 Malaysian Airlines flight was only one example of this. The illusion of appeasing Russia may only end badly.