Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union appear close to striking a deal that will deescalate rising tensions. Apparently, the agreement was reached ahead of the European Union and United States installing major economic sanctions.
By the sounds of it, Crimea won’t be returned to Ukraine. Russia, however, appears ready to back off on pressure it was exerting in Eastern Ukraine. All illegal military “formations” in Ukraine will be dissolved, including Ukrainian militia groups allegedly backed by Russia. Occupied government buildings will be surrendered.
Russia getting what it wants?
If anything, the deal appears to be breaking in Russia’s favor. Nothing was mentioned of Russia returning Crimea. At this point, it looks like American and European leaders are ready to call it quits and admit what the rest of the world already knows: Russia owns Crimea.
Ukraine will also work to build up inclusivity for the Russian-speaking populations in the country. By-and-large this is being taken to mean that Ukraine will consider granting more autonomy to Russian-speaking regions.
Putin walking diplomatic fine line
Putin has claimed repeatedly that Russia has no interests in Ukraine outside of Crimea. A massive military buildup on Eastern Ukraine’s borders, however, suggested otherwise. Many of the eastern regions of Russia are heavily populated by Russian speaking populations.
In recent weeks this Russian population has grown restive, and many believed that Russia could be pulling the strings and encouraging instability. Putin has flatly denied these charges, but then again it was only a few months ago that he was denying that Russia had seized Crimea.
Once again, Putin is renouncing any interests in Eastern Ukraine. The Russian government has stated that the ongoing instability is a Ukrainian born problem and must be handled by Ukrainians. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov even seems to be warming to Ukraine, stating that he hopes the country will become a link between the East and the West.
The West backing down from Ukraine?
America offered some strong words to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The country then followed up with tepid sanctions targeting a few of Russia’s leading officials. Beyond disrupting travel plans, however, the sanctions didn’t amount to much.
The European Union did much the same. Strong words, no action. Given that it was Ukraine’s move to gravitate towards the EU that set this whole problem off, Russia’s actions were a serious affront to the Union.
Now it appears that Russia will be getting what it wanted all along and that the West is in face-saving mode.