Why Hopes of Putin’s Surrender are Futile
Published: July 30, 2014 (Issue # 1822)
With over a week past the tragic crashing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine, it is becoming clear that whatever initial hopes Western leaders might have had — that Russia’s Vladimir Putin can be shamed or coerced into unconditionally throwing the pro-Russian rebels under the bus — are futile. There is hope, however, that both the conflicting sides and their supporters will sit down to negotiate a sustainable resolution to the conflict, which threatens the foundations of Europe’s already fragile system of collective security.
Putin Won’t Be Either Shamed
Even before the July 17th tragedy, some of the more eloquent of Western-based Russia watchers claimed that Putin had ditched the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. “As I wrote back in May, now that he’s sown chaos in Ukraine — but uneager to participate in someone else’s civil war — President Vladimir Putin has thrown the rebels under the bus,” Julia Ioffe assured readers of The New Republic on July 9th.
The crash of MH17, which Ukrainian and several Western governments claimed was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by rebels in eastern Ukraine, increased the number of Western pundits who hold this view exponentially.
For instance, respected and experienced Russia hand Mark Galeotti prophesized in the immediate aftermath of the crash: “When the histories are written, this will be deemed the day the insurgency lost” because “the Kremlin will, for all its immediate and instinctive bluster and spin, have to definitively and overtly withdraw from arming and protecting the rebels.”
Another pundit has even gone as far as to imply that the Russian leadership will somehow acquiesce to Western and Ukrainian air forces jointly bombing the rebels into oblivion. “Without Russian support, the separatists will be quickly be defeated. The tragic shooting-down of MH17 provides Ukraine and the west with an opportunity to rid Donbass of its separatists by using superior air power, no longer fearing Russian surface-to-air missiles,” according to Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta.
I’d say anyone who seriously contemplates a scenario in which NATO planes will bomb rebels out of Donetsk must be as divorced from reality as conspiracy theorists who believe some of the MH17 passengers could have been dead days before the ill-fated flight.
I too think that the long-term damage Putin’s Ukraine policy has done to Russia’s standing on the international scene in general, and its relations with the West in particular, will be significant, even though it might not be felt in the Kremlin immediately. And I strongly hope those guilty of such a horrendous crime as the downing of a passenger plane (if it was, indeed, brought down by a missile), must be identified and prosecuted regardless of whether they have mistaken it for a warplane or not.
Pages:  [2 ] [3 ] [4 ] [5 ]