Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Time is on the side of the aggressor. It is no longer possible to reverse the situation in Crimea, but procrastination would make an upheaval inevitable.
Washington is promising Kiev all kinds of support. Brussels is sending positive signals and promising a swift Association Agreement. Neither the United States nor the European Union will recognise the referendum in Crimea, still less annexation of that peninsula or of any other part of Ukraine. There are rumblings of generous financial assistance from both the US and the EU.
Meanwhile, the Americans and Europeans are already drawing conclusions from the ongoing events. NATO is bolstering defences on its Eastern European borders and preparing for an arms race.
Ukraine, however, does not yet have a place in this scheme. At the moment, the question is really where the eastern boundary of the "free world" should run – on Ukraine’s the western border or along the Dnieper river.
Economic, political and financial sanctions will take time. Furthermore, all the regimes that have been subject to sanctions have found ways of getting round them one way or another, even if that proved hard and costly.
Nor is it a certainty that Russia really can be shut out of the global economy for a prolonged period, as that would obviously hurt its foreign partners. They in turn would look for loopholes in the sanctions rules, or else flout them openly, depending on the legal and political traditions of the state concerned.
Until West and East work out a common position, until a realisation dawns that the whole system of international law is at risk of collapse, and until global players assume their responsibilities and take tough action, the threat of destruction will hang over the largest country in Europe, and not it alone.
The possibility that there will be a Checkpoint Alpha, Bravo and Charlie on a border between Ukraine and Little Russia [term used for Ukraine in the Russian Empire] will remain on the agenda, even if it is postponed. And that border might well be located on Kiev’s Pivdenny Bridge.
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