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Editorial: No easy solutions in Ukraine

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | NOVEMBER 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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The precarious situation in Ukraine seems to be escalating, with a blind eye being turned toward the blatant machinations of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Tensions and conflict in Ukraine have been high after political unrest led to increased Russian involvement in the country and included the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula into Russia earlier this year. Putin’s actions have garnered criticism from many world leaders in NATO and the European Union, but he has faced limited tangible repercussions for his invasive involvement in the Ukraine. The issue what actions need to be taken against Russia is developing quickly with the possibility of the EU being thrust into making a drastic response to Putin, who shows no sign of scaling back involvement in Ukraine, with what has been called a “porous” border between it and Russia and military units rolling through unchecked.

The EU’s efforts to stabilize the country have become split between addressing Ukrainian separationists and Russia’s active contributions to the further destabilization of the country. The primary method of implementing an incentive for Russia and the pro-Russian separationists to curb their behavior has been economic sanctions. Travel bans and asset freezes have been applied to individual persons, and Russia has been on the receiving end of other punitive sanctions. However, the members of the EU have not come to a unanimous conclusion to intensify these measures in response to Putin’s refusal to cooperate with the EU and NATO.

Not enough is being done to discourage Russia from continuing its involvement in Ukraine, and division among members of the EU in terms of coming up with an appropriate response will only exacerbate the situation. Putin’s involvement in the Ukraine extends beyond military support; it now borders on a full-on propaganda war, with top Russian officials outright lying about the nation’s involvement. This method of aggression not only makes the situation more dangerous in Ukraine by confounding the general public, it also serves to undermine Putin’s credibility in international negotiations. To put it mildly, Russian involvement in Ukraine has been understated or outright contradictory of the truth.

This kind of behavior will not go unchecked forever. Delays in action from other world leaders will only serve to encourage Putin, who has demonstrated a higher regard for the people aligned with his goals than in gaining the respect of the rest of the world.  In the 21st century, this kind of imperialistic behavior is unacceptable and unbecoming of a civilized nation. If agreements are not made and carried out earnestly, international tensions have the potential to rise to Cold War levels.

At this point, it is hard to say if that is not Putin’s intention. But what it is becoming increasingly clear is that Putin intends to force the hand of NATO and EU into implementing stricter, harsher sanctions and other punitive measures. The endgame of this escalating situation, however, remains disturbingly opaque.


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