Ongoing Ukraine crisis threatens to be no less severe than Cold War

By Yang Jin Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-8 18:43:05

The Ukrainian crisis so far has lasted about 10 months, during which the chaos in Ukraine has challenged the nerves of international observers.

Despite Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels reached a cease-fire agreement on Friday, a series of repeated breaches have taken place afterward. The Ukrainian crisis is still going nowhere and seemingly escalating.

The current state of the Ukrainian crisis is the result of divergence among different stakeholders: How important is it to resolve the current crisis?

The crisis came with three core conflicts. The first is the one between the advocacy of siding with Europe by most people in Ukraine, especially those in the west, and the demands of Russians within Ukraine, especially those in the east who would like to keep close ties with Russia.

The second conflict is the one between the political demands by the Poroshenko government to join the EU, as a sovereign state, and Russia's requests to protect its interests in eastern Ukraine.

The third conflict came as the West supports the Poroshenko government while isolating Russia, making the rivalry between Russia and the West turn into a zero-sum game.

Each side has its own reasoning. For Russia, its ethnic affiliations determine that Russia will never allow Ukraine to completely detach itself from Russia.

More importantly, as a geopolitical power, Ukraine plays a key role in Russia's geopolitics, economy and security. Russia will not stand Ukraine falling into the embrace of the West, let alone that of NATO. This is the bottom line set by Russia itself.

The West has been the provocateur of this crisis. As US political scientist John Mearsheimer noted, that the West failed to consider Russia's interests is the main factor of Russian President Vladimir Putin's pushback. The West has only seen the demands of the Ukrainian people, but it didn't think that this crisis concerns the core interests of many sides. In particular, the West underestimated Russia's determination.

The resolve of the Ukrainian crisis must leap over those fixed gulfs. The urgent agenda is to end the conflict and bring it to the negotiation table. Judging from the stance of the parties concerned, no one has given signs of compromise. Even though each side has the will for peace, they are still battling to gain the initiative for future negotiations. The Ukrainian crisis can hardly be solved soon.

The crisis will change the international political pattern in the near future. No wonder some Russian experts contend that the Ukrainian crisis is a major event comparable to the Cold War.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European & Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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