What next after more sanctions against Russia, will the Ukrainian civil war end?

Special meeting of the European Council. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council 1st from the right, David Cameron, British Prime Minister, in the centre, and Joseph Muscat, Maltese Prime Minister, 2nd from the left (in the foreground). (EC Audiovisual Services).

Special meeting of the European Council. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council 1st from the right, David Cameron, British Prime Minister, in the centre, and Joseph Muscat, Maltese Prime Minister, 2nd from the left (in the foreground). (EC Audiovisual Services).

Even if the Kiev government accomplishes the conquest of eastern Ukraine by the force of arms, the West in general, cannot be sure of a viable solution in the long-term. It is impossible to pacify this region, without some form of autonomy. The obvious reason is the great numbers of the Russian speakers, the majority of whom will perceive the end of the civil war in their home and the Kiev clout as a quasi-foreign occupation. The causes of that go deep in the history of this country, which suffers of a profound east-west division.

The flag of the extreme right-wing party ‘Right Sector’ seen by a BBC reporter outside the captured police bulging in Sloviansk is an infallible witness, that this was a conquest of enemy territory. Ukrainian right-wing parties, Svoboda and Right Sector born and faring well in the western part of the country, are considered as fascists by the eastern Russian speaking provinces, for having cooperated with the German army during WWII. The atrocities in the east are not forgotten.

East Ukraine, like Chechnya?

Nobody in the east most regions of Ukraine is to forget that the major cities are being captured by military units of extreme right-wingers, recruited in the Maidan and hastily embedded in the Ukrainian army. Such an army didn’t hesitate to bomb residential areas in Luhansk and Donetsk from the air and the ground. As a result, the two provinces may end up being permanent dark spots in the country’s map. The situation will be similar to today’s Chechenskaya Republic of Russia. Grozny was subjugated by the Russian army restoring there Moscow’s control, but always producing problems to Kremlin.

Strategy test

This remark leads to the conclusion that Ukraine has become the ill-fated ground of friction between the West (US and the EU) and Russia. To a large extend the US strategy in Ukraine aims directly at Moscow. The European Union follows suit but not as decisively. In reality, the EU has conveyed the initiative to the US, despite the fact that Brussels has a lot more to lose in this affair, than what Washington has to win.

For one thing, the Association Agreement that Kiev and Brussels were about to sign In December 2013 was a purely European business. Shocking everybody, the then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the last minute before appearing in the signing ceremony changed his mind and followed Putin’s ‘offer’ and joined the Moscow led Eurasian Union. This was the beginning of the still unfolding devastating Ukrainian civil war. It’s an ongoing tragedy for this 40 million people country.

The deceitfulness and the unacceptable means used by Moscow in changing the mind of Yanukovych, outraged the entire West. The US administration finally decided to make the Ukrainian question its own business. It seems, that after the failure of Washington to have it its own way all the way in Syria, due to the strong presence and the reaction of Russia, the US seems to have grabbed the Ukrainian ‘opportunity’ to teach Moscow a lesson. As things evolved the Americans raised the stakes and now Washington together with the EU, are trying to cut Russia off from the West dominated international political and economic stage, and turn her into a pariah state.

More sanctions

At the end of last week, the European Union seemed getting ahead of its doubts in adopting the strong US stance against Russia. Late last Friday, the European Council issued a, Press release containing the following paragraph: “The Council today adopted reinforced EU sanctions in view of the situation in Ukraine, following up on the request by the European Council of 16 July and the Foreign Affairs Council of 22 July. This decision gives legal value to an agreement reached at the Committee of Permanent Representatives yesterday. The Council added 15 further persons and 18 entities responsible for action against Ukraine‘s territorial integrity to the list of those subject to an asset freeze and a visa ban. This brings the number of persons currently under EU sanctions in connection with the situation in Ukraine to 87 while the number of entities will rise to 20. The Council also widened the designation criteria in the legal basis for the restrictive measures”.

As if those sanctions were not enough the Press release added that, “This paves the way for imposing asset freezes and visa bans on persons and entities that actively support or are benefiting from Russian decision makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine”.

Can Russia become a pariah state?

However, sources in Brussels openly insist that some EU member states are hesitant in adopting the era changing financial measures against Russia. The Americans insist that the EU should ban from its capital markets the Russian business entities, denying them access to this wealthy investor platform. The European Commission says that Russian businesses placed bonds worth 7.5 billion euros on European markets last year. According to the same source, Russian banks floated in Europe after 2013 an estimated wealth of securities reaching € 15.8 billion. Understandably, most of this Russian financial activity takes place in London. On top of that, many Russian billionaire oligarchs live in Britain, provoking the entire world with their wealth.

Obviously, the British authorities have not been very meticulous in checking the legality of those riches, which generously support London’s economy. Even English football clubs are generously subsidised by Russian magnates. Yet the UK, at least in words, appears as the hottest advocate of more measures against Russia. This steers this analysis to the additional financial measures against Russia that the European Union is to finalise this week. Most likely, the EU will restrict, up to a certain degree, Russia’s access to European capital markets.

It is most likely that the West, the US and the EU alike, are determined to push things to their limits and cut Russia out from the western economic volume. It becomes obvious by now that the West has decided to treat Russia like an enemy, bringing back the world to the days of the ‘cold war’. Undoubtedly, this strategy will work to the detriment of the EU and the benefit of the US.

 

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