Hostilities between describing the act as “not threatening,” Kyiv accused Moscow of moving thousands of soldiers to its northern and eastern borders and on the -annexed Crimean Peninsula to create an intimidating atmosphere in violation of the Minsk agreements and the ceasefire in the of eastern . The Foreign Ministry claimed it is Kyiv and NATO countries that are increasing their armed forces in and the Black Sea close to borders.and reached an alarming level last week when further troops were deployed on the Ukrainian border. Despite a statement from the
Nevertheless, the regarding President ; 2) the are seeking a pretext to install their “peacekeepers” in and in eastern ; or 3) the wants to use the water crisis in Crimea to intervene and build a corridor through the .Federation is following its usual scheme and is ready to seize any opportunity that arises. There may be three possible reasons behind these new developments: 1) Moscow wants to send a message to the US administration after recent statements
Assessing the Tensions Between Ukraine and Russia
There might be other drivers, such as the ongoing power struggle inside the 2036. A manufactured external threat to citizens — passports have been issued to many living in the two self-declared people’s republics of and — would help deflect attention from internal economic problems, which have only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.administration, despite the fact that signed a law that would allow him to stay in office until
In February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shut down three television channels linked to Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, which may have contributed to the latest tension. Not only does Medvedchuk have personal ties to, but the stations have also broadcast pro- propaganda to the Ukrainian people.
In the end, the cause can be left to Kremlinologists to decipher. Yet what is clear is thathas proved to be ready to act whenever there is a chance, and he has plenty of opportunities to create an event to trigger action. Ultimately, it does not matter why. What matters is that other regional actors are now using peaceful means to prevent a further escalation between and .
Is Dialogue Enough?
The US and statement in which it reiterates that Moscow must reduce tensions by ending its military buildup in and close to Ukrainian territory. This is certainly not enough, but what are the options?have declared their support for Kyiv. Josep Borrell, the foreign policy chief and vice-president of the European Commission, expressed concern over the latest developments. The European Parliament also released a
Engaging in dialogue is fine, but it seems the meaning of it has been forgotten — that is, to listen to each other and try to understand. When there is an argument between parties, there should be a general assumption that the other person could be right. It is not sufficient to only listen in order to respond and get one’s own points across. It should also not be disregarded that there is a civil society in. When there is a dispute with the , it does not entail the whole population.
What is important is that language matters, words become actions, and actions have consequences — and this could lead to a dangerous downward spiral. Nevertheless, there must also be some clear lines established. This tit-for-tat blame game that has dominated the discourse for decades has to stop. This is not a reasonable discussion. The demands by Zelensky to accelerate Ukraine’s membership in NATO are not helpful, but nor is a meeting between , Germany and France on the situation in without including representatives from Kyiv.
Diplomatic relations among regional actors have been strained for years but deteriorated further over recent months. In February, stated in an interview about relations between and that “if you want peace, be prepared for war.” In the current political climate, this sounds far more threatening than it might have a few months ago. At that time, the German Foreign Ministry rightly called the comments “disconcerting and incomprehensible,” though Lavrov is known for his controversial statements.Foreign Minister
Nevertheless, this has marked a new low in the diplomats of member states while Borrell, the top European diplomat, was in Moscow is just power play. Despite Lavrov being in office for 17 years, has never found a way to reach a consensus on how to respond to his actions. In 2004, Central and Eastern European countries had just joined the , which was and still is a big success, but the necessary reforms in the institutional setup to be able to handle Lavrov have still not been implemented.– relations, and it seems that things could get worse. Expelling
What is even worse, the lack of capabilities to anticipate consequences has forever been a weak point in Brussels. Negotiations for an association agreement between theand effectively led to the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Politics is much more complicated and one action does not necessarily lead to a specific outcome, but there is certainly a possibility of a butterfly effect.
In order to be better prepared, member states need to pool resources together and ultimately transfer sovereignty to the said, “As ever, it will be for member states to decide the next steps, and yes, these could include sanctions.” This is not a language that the understands.when it comes to foreign policy. Otherwise, the divide-and-conquer approach by will continue. After a rather humiliating meeting with Lavrov in February, Borrell
The German government, for instance, has been reluctant when it comes to imposing sanctions. On the one hand, this is due to Berlin’s history with theFederation, but to a lesser extent, it is because of the Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline linking and Germany via the Baltic Sea. Nevertheless, this would be an opportunity to act as the pipeline also threatens Ukraine’s energy supply and might open another opportunity to act for the . Yet there is a very good argument against sanctions: They would hurt the general population in , which would further alienate the people who, in turn, would rally around the flag.
Nevertheless, there are other ways to respond, ideally targeting the circles close to the backed international use of its alternative payment network.. Suspending from the SWIFT global financial network could also be an option; calls to do so first emerged in 2014 after actions in . Yet this might lead to a fragmentation of the international financial system; authorities have already
The biggest danger for theregime would be if the majority of understood that it is possible to live in a liberal democracy. This is why a closer relationship between and the is so dangerous for the . The current escalation is not about the expansion of borders or preserving traditional values, as often spun by media and Moscow. This is a facade that masks the fact that if people were given the possibility of improving their lives without the strongman in the , the system would become irrelevant.
Sanctions onwill most likely not lead to this outcome. There will not be a democratic revolution on the streets — this can only be through a gradual process. The question is: Will Western democracy survive long enough to see that change coming in order to still be a model?
Being concerned is not enough — neither by institutions in Brussels, nor bymember states. There is a need to be better prepared for certain scenarios. Repeating the same mistakes will be unforgivable for the region and the future of itself.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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