US-caused Ukraine crisis threatens European peace

By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-4 0:38:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US-sponsored coup d'etat in Ukraine threatens European and world peace. Only a political and diplomatic solution can manage the crisis, but this may not be possible despite the best efforts of Germany and France and the Minsk process.

I wrote one year ago in the Global Times that there were three possibilities for Ukraine: civil war, a new federalist constitution, or partition. The civil war broke out as predicted. Now the question hinges on the Minsk process by which all parties must abide if there is to be a negotiated resolution to the crisis.

The Minsk process calls for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons behind certain lines. This is happening although the cease-fire is tenuous. However, the Minsk process also calls for a political settlement which would allow for a special status for the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. To reach a political settlement both sides, the government of Ukraine and the governments of the self-styled eastern republics must directly negotiate. This is not happening.

Special status for minority cultural areas is not something new in the world. For example, there is French-speaking Quebec in Canada and German-speaking Alto Adige in Italy. In fact, the Italian foreign minister himself recently made a constructive suggestion that Italy's example could be applied to Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis is complex. There are three key factors which could cause the situation to worsen and slide into a catastrophic situation not only for Ukraine but also for Europe.

The first factor is US policy. Both the president of the US and the Congress are misadvised on Ukraine. The reckless and dangerous US policy of confrontation against Russia using Ukraine as a proxy results from the pervasive and malevolent neoconservative influence in Washington. But old Cold War circles following the advice of Zbigniew Brzezinski and like-minded hard-line national security specialists are also influential and reinforce the dominant neoconservative line.

The second factor is EU policy. Germany and France took a lead on behalf of Europe to try to help manage the crisis.

It is no secret to anyone in Europe that the disintegrating situation of violence and economic collapse in Ukraine threatens European peace and stability.

Not a few Europeans are shocked by present US policy in Eastern Europe. So far, the US-sponsored sanctions against Russia have cost Europe an estimated $20 billion. And now the US threatens to supply Ukraine with still more weapons possibly triggering more war and a severe reaction by Moscow.

The situation is on a hair trigger and key European leaders do not want the US to create more problems for European security through unnecessary confrontation with Russia and through military support of the regime in Ukraine. Europe's challenge is to help effectively manage the situation in spite of Washington and its partner the UK.

The third factor is the situation in western and central Ukraine. Some analysts foresee the downfall of the present Poroshenko regime and a shift even further to the right. 

The internal economic, social, and political situation is disintegrating. The economy is in a free fall and the currency is highly unstable and collapsing.

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries including Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania. This includes many thousands of Ukrainians of draft age who do not want to fight for the regime in Kiev.

Another disturbing feature of the present internal situation is the independent battalions which are apparently not under the control of the Ukraine military command. Many battalions are financed by pro-Kiev oligarchs such as the Israeli-Ukrainian Ihor Kolomoyskyi.

These battalions include extremist Islamist fighters from Chechnya. Islamist jihadis can easily infiltrate Europe and add to the many terrorist networks already lurking in place.

The EU must distance itself from Washington's reckless and destabilizing foreign policy and work with Russia to achieve a just solution to the Ukraine crisis through diplomatic and political means.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

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