By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
The state of Ukraine is fragmenting before our very eyes into part of Europe and Russia. The loss of Crimea to Russian annexation and parts of the east to pro-Russian separatists forming a self-proclaimed and installed independent republic is the result of Europe’s faulty political action plan. They sought to take it from Moscow, who had long been the hardline political colonizer of Kiev- a status of ownership that changed hands since Viktor Yanukovych’s government was ousted in a Western backed, pro-EU riot, and mostly bloodless capital coup.
What was for the briefest of times expected to be a new government that would reconcile with Russia while clasping onto Europe and the Euro direction through the aide of the nationally elected government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, is now turning into a stubborn, retroactive military crackdown of disputed territory.
Crimea is gone now but Poroshenko demands it be returned and he has a list of grievances that must be reconciled in spite of billions of dollars in revolving debt owed to Russia, Russian national property and military installations existing under the threat of previous and further seizure or uncertainty.
The eastern regions are in revolt indigenously, while being supported by Russia- the majority in those parts do not want to return to Kiev politically either and are ethnically unaligned toward a unified Ukraine apart from Russia. There is no political process outside of coercion that will put them back on a Euro track and even if the pro-Russian separatists could be severed from Russia and defeated (taken together as a fantasy) a new rebellious anti-nationalist group would soon arise again.
Fragmentation of Ukraine is the result of modern East-West political rivalry and conquest, with Russia operating at optimal efficiency in seizing what it can and Europe demanding that Russia accept its political and economic losses in Kiev and go home.
While the West is technically backing a more legitimate cause in the form of liberal democracy than Moscow’s united federalism and disregard for laws and human rights, Europe nevertheless runs into the persistent problem of backing nationalist Ukrainians that are equally as oppressive as the outgoing Russian-backed government. It therefore becomes an illigitmate effort for human rights and equality. In other words, the existing domestic politics has no fair and equal play and no respect for the opposition; just as the pro-Russian government lacked those same qualities. If it does, how can it, yet untested, be trusted by the enemy?
The Kiev and the West continues to perceive the situation incorrectly and unrealistically. In Russia’s mind, it has just this year lost political access to Kiev; access it once possessed without restrictions. Now it finds itself rationally securing all security, economic and ethno-nationalist interests after retreating from the capital.
Moscow is willing to accept a stay of direct military force and a loss of greater political access to Ukraine but unwilling to let go of the eastern security, economic and ethnic regions of Luhansk and Donetsk or even Crimea, which is now annexed Russian territory.
President Poroshenko’s cease-fire deadline ends Friday morning and may or may not be extended. The peace plan that Poroshenko offered might have worked if he was not so vocal against recent Russian abuses and strongly playing to his nationalist base. The combination has fueled a negative outcome. Silence on the matter would have isolated him in Ukrainian domestic politics but wedged him between Ukraine and Moscow as a more legitmate mediator of dispute. Now Moscow perceives him in the same light as the previous ‘illegitimate’ interim government. Throwing Russia a crumb or reestablishing closer ties was the only way of doing any peaceful business under the table. Condemnation, demands and threats have and will only result in more hostility; proven thus far.
Russia may lose a greater piece of legitimacy in the eyes of the international community with the Ukrainian crisis, but Europe is looking greedy. The West must accept that they have lost part of Ukraine as Russia has accepted that they have lost Kiev. Working with Russia must also be part of a legitmate action plan that detours them from further military or paramilitary activities.
Western states are readily preparing to impose more economic sanctions targeting the Russian oil industry in response to what they claim is the failure of Russian diplomatic cooperation in deactivating the separatist militancy and putting them on a track to a more “legitimate” political process. Use of further sanctions pursues a risky course of economic warfare and a further division in European solidarity which is largely united against Russia.
Thousands of refugees are leaving the troubled eastern regions and going into Russia. Tens of thousands have already crossed the border.