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Ukraine Fight Flares Again: U.S. Should Keep Arms and Troops at Home

May 11, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is under strain as Kiev presses the West for more financial and military aid. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warns that full-scale war could explode “at any moment.” Yet many of his country’s young men are avoiding conscription into the no-win conflict. Americans’ sympathies should go to both Ukrainians and Russians suffering in Vladimir Putin’s deadly geopolitical games, but Washington should stay out of the battle.

A century ago Europe was enveloped in death and destruction. The “Great War” raged, killing millions, ravaging nations, impoverishing peoples, and wrecking empires. Out of that conflict came the loosening of Russia’s control over multitude subject peoples, including in Ukraine. The Bolsheviks soon reversed the process, but their Soviet-Russian empire disintegrated in 1991. Again Kiev escaped outside domination, this time hopefully permanently.

Independent Ukraine suffered mightily from internal divisions and poor governance. Politics was autocratic, abusive “oligarchs” dominated the largely unreformed economy. The country straddled the divide between Europe and Russia, with the Ukrainian people wanting greater Western integration without abandoning Russian ties. A strong majority rejected NATO membership, which Moscow would see as hostile.

Kiev now effectively is a Russian enemy, despite continuing cross-border ties. Putin obviously bears immediate responsibility, having seized Crimea and promoted separatist conflict in the Donbas. However, the West did much to antagonize someone who, though a one-time KGB officer, appeared to bear America no special animus when the U.S.S.R. collapsed. Moreover, Putin accepted Ukraine even when ruled by Russian antagonist Viktor Yushchenko, since Kiev did not join the Western bloc.

But Washington and Brussels consistently disregarded Russian security interests. The allies expanded NATO up to Russia’s borders; dismembered Serbia, historically linked to Russia; attempted to prevent Moscow’s participation in the post-war Kosovo settlement; pushed Ukraine to choose between East and West economically; and encouraged the ouster of an elected pro-Russian government in Kiev. Needless to say, Washington did not emphasize these factors when “countering Moscow’s deceptive propaganda with the unvarnished truth,” as explained the Obama administration’s 2015 National Security Strategy.

The U.S. may not have intended an anti-Russian campaign but that mattered far less than Moscow’s perception of events. As Henry Kissinger once observed, even paranoids have enemies. A coalition of Ukrainian nationalists and Western liberals taking power with the support of Europe and America in a country seen as extremely important if not vital to Russian security could not help but unsettle the Kremlin.

That still doesn’t justify …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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