Ukraine loses most in Russia-EU row

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/26 20:58:39

A severe maritime friction broke out between Russia and Ukraine on Sunday. Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships entering the Sea of Azov. Moscow said the ships passed into Russian territorial waters and Russia used weapons to seize them. Ukraine claimed that Russia opened fire on Ukrainian vessels, injuring six Ukrainian crew members.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko suggested his country on Sunday introduce martial law for 60 days. That does not mean the Ukraine will take offensive actions, but once Ukraine officially announces this decision, tensions in the Sea of Azov will inevitably escalate.

The two sides lived together for a long time. Ties between them are destined to be complicated and tangled. The Sea of Azov is one of the most sensitive areas for both sides. The two sides' understandings of their own territory and territorial waters are at opposite poles. If Russia and Ukraine cannot resolve their territorial disputes in a friendly way, the outside world can hardly form the ability to help them solve it.

NATO and the European Union reacted fastest to Sunday's conflict. They have sided with Ukraine for a long time. Such a tendency stems from their fundamental stance of suppressing Russia. Which side is right or wrong in a specific conflict between Russia and Ukraine is less important.

Since the Crimean crisis, countries have become used to the stalemate between the two countries. Russia and Ukraine will obviously suffer the biggest losses. Kiev has won sympathy from the West for confronting Moscow. Emotionally, Kiev is closer to the West. But such closeness has not transferred to Ukraine's actual interests. Ukraine is now under tremendous pressure from Russia, its domestic unity and stability facing unprecedented challenges.

The West's sanctions on Russia started with the Ukrainian issue. The deadlock between Moscow and Kiev jeopardized Russia's overall strategies. If the new crisis in the Sea of Azov flares up, all Russia's efforts to improve relations with the West will vanish.

In that process, Ukraine will lose the most. It will be in a non-normalized state for a long time as a strategic frontier of Europe's anti-Russia movement. It will always be at a disadvantageous position in the conflict with Russia. The support it will get from the West will be limited. Given Russia's opposition, Ukraine's own internal division and chaos, the nation will hardly join NATO or the EU for a long time to come. Neither will it embark on a path of Westernization like former Warsaw Pact countries and the Baltic states.

Ukraine is bound to be the middle ground between the West and Russia. Completely leaning toward the West is not necessarily a shared wish of the US and Europe. Having its bread buttered with both Russia and the West is probably the best way to maximize its interests.

The latest crisis will not lead to an all-out confrontation between Moscow and Kiev, but the crisis is hard to resolve. For whichever side, it is a swamp full of risks.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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