It appears Russia may well be willing to accept peace in Ukraine on Putin’s terms; however, the West and Ukraine are wise not to trust any ceasefire given the crescendoing of events in Ukraine. Efforts to prepare for a prolonged power struggle, notably NATO’s Rapid-Reaction Force and far more damaging sanctions against Russia, act as both a disincentive and prudent precaution against further Russian intervention in Ukraine. On the other hand, Western action, when failing to consider Russia’s far more provocative, preemptive actions against Ukraine, does appear to support the views of those who believe Russia is the victim of a Western conspiracy to use Ukraine as a pretext to sabotage Russia’s economy and neuter the Russian military.
Whether sympathizing with Ukraine and the West and/or the rebels and Russia, a thorough resolution to the Ukraine Crisis serves the interests of everyone. That said, a ceasefire is simply not enough as any true resolution to the Ukraine Conflict must eventually address the potential for long-term threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty, national security, and Peoples. For Russia, a resolution of the Ukraine Conflict must eventually progress toward an international discussion on Russia’s legitimate, longstanding grievances it has with the West, which it clearly has not appropriately expressed over the last few months. For Ukraine and the West, there needs to be safeguards in place to ensure Russia will face immediate consequences should it so blatantly violate the sovereignty of its neighbors again.
In truth, no party will get what it wants when the Ukraine Crisis is finally resolved. The Ukraine government and Peoples will be forced to sacrifice a portion of their sovereignty to appease Putin’s demands for greater autonomy in the East. Pro-Russian separatists will, of course, be forced to accept Ukrainian rule in order to afford Putin a foothold into Ukraine’s political system, thereby creating an opportunity for him to eventually dominate Ukrainian politics once again. Russia, in turn, may win the propaganda war it started with Putin claiming the role of hero, yet the West will ultimately win on a strategic level.
Russia does not want Ukraine to have closer ties with the West; however, the Ukraine Crisis has already strengthened ties between the West and Kiev while the political leaders of the current and emerging generations will never forget the annexation of Crimea, thus Russia pays a hefty global price. Furthermore, the more the conflict persists, the more pro-Western Ukraine will become while Ukraine’s future as a full-fledged NATO member may already be a certainty to the chagrin of Russia. Beyond international security interests, the West has also been alerted to the threat of Russian dominance, which means close allies like China are seen as potential threats that must now be addressed.
Even though the Middle East and North Africa are experiencing reinvigorated interest from the West, this attention stems from the unfortunate reality that these regions are in a state of duress, thus they, and the West, cannot significantly benefit in terms of regional development until the destructive forces driving their crises can be brought in check. Then again, trades losses in Russia and China can be an opportunity for the rest of Africa, South America, and India, among other Asian countries. In other words, the US and Europe need to shift their economic focus to these regions in order to both address the long-term threats posed by relying too heavily and too narrowly on partners that undermine vital national interests of Western countries as well as current loses from taking action against Russia.
As the West closes old markets, which it must always do to some degree when national interests are misaligned with relationships, the West needs to open markets in other areas of the world. This is, of course, not to suggest the West should thoroughly isolate China or even Russia, but there is a misalignment in international relationships with these nations, as well as others, that demands less entanglement until these relationships warrant closer economic ties. Moreover, the Ukraine Crisis will be resolved sooner or later, but the far-reaching consequences, which will be quite significant, of the conflict must be addressed with prudent measures that recognize the realities of the situation as well as constructive, proactive policies of engagement, on the behalf of everyone, that can help repair the damage done.
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