Last week in Davos, thought leaders and interested parties gathered to discuss a total overhaul of Ukrainian society, with particular focus on increasing transparency, stamping out bureaucracy and corruption as well as promoting efficiency and Western practices.
For a country that has consistently been near the bottom of Transparency International’s list of most transparent nations, this is astonishing.
Unfortunately, while these progressive talks were taking place the Russian incursion into Eastern Ukraine continued.
An incident at a bus depot in Donetsk, where at least 10 civilians have died and 20 more were injured, possibly leading to more US sanctions against Russia, is just the latest in a long line of bloody incidents that suggest a long and protracted conflict in Ukraine.
To this end, the seizure of the airport in Donetsk and comments by separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko after an offensive against the city of Mariupol makes it clear that the rebels are not interested in peace. Their aggression has pushed Ukrainian President Poroshenko to commit even more Ukrainian forces to the conflict. He said in a statement, “We are for peace, but we accept the challenge of the enemy. We will protect our motherland.”
Poroshenko has no choice. The pro-Russian separatists have vowed to take back every bit of territory that the Ukrainian military took last summer and to extend their presence in Eastern Ukraine, thereby giving the Russians a land bridge from Crimea to Russia.
All of this suggests that the Minsk accords from September have effectively been abrogated as I predicted in other pieces and intimated in my new book, The Russia-China Axis: the New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership.
The US needs to step up. As Ilan Berman argues in a recent Forbes piece, President Obama’s comments on Ukraine and the progress they are making with the help of Western nations have been extremely misleading and, more to the point, downright wrong.