Violence in Ukraine: Can Russia or the West Make it Stop?

As a police operation deteriorates into a battle royale, there are few options to prevent a catastrophe

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, piped up on Thursday with a wake-up call for the Western world: Ukraine is now everybody’s problem. The turmoil in its capital, where pitched battles have raged all week between protestors and police, “threatens not only Ukraine and her neighbors, but Europe and the entire world,” he wrote in an open letter to the U.S. and Russian Presidents. He was certainly right about Europe, which now has a real dilemma on its hands. The only question is whether Ukraine’s neighbors can do much to resolve it.

For the West, there are few good options. Much of the influence the E.U. had over Ukraine was lost in November, when the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to sign a trade and association deal with the E.U. That is what sparked the protests against him, while also bringing a flood of recriminations down on him from the West. Since then, he has practically become an outcast in Europe, so any further Western pressure “would have little impact,” says Alex Brideau, a Ukraine expert at the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm based in New York City. “His preference is the hardline approach rather than compromise.”

Russia, by contrast, holds a much stronger hand. After Ukraine backed away from the E.U. deal, Moscow rushed to the rescue. President Vladimir Putin granted Ukraine an emergency loan of $15 billion in December, just enough to pull the government back from the edge of bankruptcy. So Moscow could, in theory, pressure Ukraine to stop the violence by withdrawing its next injection of cash. But the chances of that are close to zero. The Kremlin’s official position, expressed on Thursday by Putin’s spokesman, would not allow them to interfere in the crisis, at least not openly. “Interference in the internal affairs [of Ukraine] are absolutely impermissible for us,” Dmitri Peskov told a Russian daily.

Even more starry-eyed is the notion that Russia and the West might join forces to stop the violence in Ukraine, as Gorbachev suggested in his open letter. Without such cooperation, he wrote, “this could turn into a catastrophe.”

And he was right. Yanukovych’s grip on power already seems to be slipping. Mass protests have spread to cities across the country, and the discipline of his police force is clearly breaking down. In videos of the violence, officers can be seen chucking not only stun grenades but rocks and petrol bombs. The fighting now seems more like a battle royal than a police operation, and it has become increasingly personal in nature. Dozens of troops have been wounded in the clashes, which seems to have pushed their fellow officers to lash out in revenge.

The result was perhaps best summarized on Thursday by the Vedomosti newspaper, a leading Russian daily. “The battle for Ukraine,” it wrote in an editorial, “which Russia and the West have waged for two decades, has entered its most destructive phase.” But neither side seems willing or able to stop that destruction. For now, they are left to watch from the sidelines, hoping that the biggest country in Eastern Europe does not turn into a failed state.

22 comments
TAHKICT
TAHKICT

Putin is afraid because if Ukraine succeeds in overthrowing this monkey, Russia is next…

ИксИкс
ИксИкс

Пиндосы не суйте нос, куда собака свой член пихает...

ShelterSomerset1
ShelterSomerset1

Another article about world affairs of paramount importance, and Obama's name doesn't appear once!

Michael_Brytan
Michael_Brytan

Russia will never give up Ukraine.


Russia without Ukraine is Muscovy and longer an empire.


Russian special forces have been in Ukraine for several weeks and will act if the opposition gains any more ground.


Russian special force will create a situation - such as the shooting of civilians - to justify emergency measures.


Ukrainians are not as divided as many believe between the East and West.

Ukraine is not Russia.

Only 8% Ukrainians want Ukraine to be joined to Russia and given that Russians make up 17% of the country, not even half of the minority wants to join Russia.  How many would be willing to fight to join Russia ?  Less than 1% so that will not happen


The Western and Eastern Ukrainians are rising and pushing the dictator out.


There are no pro government demonstrations anywhere in the country. 


The majority of Ukrainians want massive civil reform and the only way this will happen is if a reform government is in place which will clean the country up and join Europe.


Russian dictator Putin is next to go.  


Putin fears that the Ukrainian revolution spreads to Russia.

Putin's biggest fear is that the Ukrainian revolution spreads to Russia during the Sochi Winter Olympic games.

 



directspeaker
directspeaker

This is a self-evident truth: The United States has caused most of the troubles around the world: the Syria turmoil, the violence in Iraq,  the tensions in East Asia, the protests in Thailand, the problems in Southern Sudan and Isreal...Why is Abe determined to abolish the mban on the right to exercise self-defence? Isn't this because of the USA's unspoken support? Fine, if the U.S. continues to train US followers inside other countries, the disaster and tragedy will sooner or later fall on the U.S. itself. If you don't believe, let's wait and see! History repeats if powerful countries like the U.S. is too self-fish and greedy! 

directspeaker
directspeaker

"Can the West make it stop?"---This is a question that everyone knows should be asked this way: Is the West planning to stop financing and supporting the protestors sol called opposition?

mos8541
mos8541

West has few options?  Are you blind?


The EU is the biggest trading partner for Russia...that is called an option for the EU to use

The Ukrainian Oligrahs live in the EU and their money is in the EU.  Frozen Bank accounts are an option.  EU enforcing its corruption and money laundering laws on the Ukrainian Oligarchs is an option.

Russian hasn't given all $15 B to Ukraine and I doubt it can considering Russia's own very serious financial position.

The EU needs to DO/ACT and stop blah, blah, blah.


LaskaOlya
LaskaOlya

Russian soldiers are in Ukraine currently beating and killing the activists. Russia is creating this chaos. You guys need to do better research, because this is a well known fact in Ukraine and the riot police has admitted to it many times.

slyvia
slyvia

Ukraine wants to be a democratic country free from corruption, KGB , comunist influences -http://yanukovich.info/Gov't is stealin g billions from the people where many live on 20 dollars a month. see kyivpost for more 

NirbijanNirvichara
NirbijanNirvichara

EU could not  and will not do anything. First of all it was  EUS/US who provoked violence in Ukraine and is continuing its support for nationalist hooligans,  Second , EU cannot and should not affect Ukraine Rada (Parliament , president or Government)  All they can is continue anti-Russian lying propaganda and finicially support violent nationalists  and that is exactly what they are doing.

Walt395
Walt395

Russia should be kept as far as possible from any negotiations about the political solution in Ukraine. Only an absolutely ignorant person can suggest the Russian participation in such negotiations. Remember Georgia, Abkhasia, South Osetia, Transnistria? The major problem that the Russian leadership suffers from a maniacal belief that whatever is going on in the world is the conspiracy against Moscow and its dear leader Mr. Putin, who as you know, was a KGB officer.

LevHavryliv
LevHavryliv

Russia cannot be part of the solution to the crisis in Ukraine as Russia is a large part of the problem by supporting the dictator Yanukovich. Putin would no doubt like to help Ukraine just like Russia"helped" Hungary in 1956.

KielSwiesel
KielSwiesel

@Michael_BrytanPutin is not enough. All Russians must go, all of them. US should help to the world to get rid of this evil beasts.

directspeaker
directspeaker

@LaskaOlya  The U.S. has caused this chaos. Look at the Syria, the Thailand, the UKraine, the Iraq, the Lsreal, the East Asia, the Southern Sudan etc. In all such countries and regions, the protesters demand that the presidents or prime ministers of those countries resign or that activists are released. Why are they  so similar or the same? Can't you see the shadows of the U.S.government  in those countries and regions?  

Len
Len

@slyvia Great aspiration. But why achieve everything through violence? Unless legitimate elections are banned by current government, why not just vote like in case with Yushenko (please forgive any spelling errors)?  

Michael_Brytan
Michael_Brytan

According to ALL polls in November the following was known about Ukrainians:


48% to 51% wanted to join the European Union.

13% wanted to join the Russian lead Customs Union.

The rest of the population was undecided or had no opinion.


Ukrainians want to be part of Europe NOT Russia.

directspeaker
directspeaker

@Walt395 It is only because Putin once was KGB that he knows well how the U.S. is playing the game of disruping the running of a country. Around the world, only the U.S. solders are fighting day by day and year by year, and for politics, not peace of the human beings.

Len
Len

@Walt395 Walt, with all due respect, I don't think you are correct. I am not feeling for either side to be perfectly honest, but just to stick to the facts - didn't Ukraine just have another (pro-EU) president few years ago? Both were legally elected by majority voice, observed by EU representatives. Even if current president is not too popular, I think Ukraine needs to learn how to elect presidents better and not set fires on the streets whenever they don't like someone (exactly as street hooligans do in many European countries: France, UK specifically, which is why we in America now think twice about traveling to Europe). Correct way would be to form strong opposition and have disputes and then vote for their own candidates. I live in the US, and if you come to our country and try to set fires every time you don't like our president and if you try to harm police in any American city, we will hunt you down with helicopters and fighter jets, and we will put you and all your sympathizers in jail for 150 years, and at the VERY end of your term you will still have only 20% chance of probation, and you will probably still end up applying for it multiple times. LAW is LAW. And Ukraine is not a dictatorship, as I know from US mass media, subject to revolutionary upheaval.  Any normal American citizen probably scratches his head now, trying to figure out what these strange European rules of engagement are - we see teenagers not even born in France setting cars on fire in Paris and similar teenagers setting cars on fire in Kiev. If you call this European approach, I think American approach of constructive dialogue and legitimate election is better way. Europe has a lot to learn from the US, especially tolerance and respect for law. And by the way, who told you this B.S. about Georgia? We had nanny from Georgia who had relatives telling her first hand what happened - and it ain't what you saw on TV. I have high respect for Georgians telling us about their own country invading another country, and being honest about it. All of us need to be honest with ourselves, not fall for any one-sided source of information and have stamina to express our opinion. God bless America for creating unbiased source of global information - the Internet. If only everyone spoke fluent English to speak to each other we would be much better off.   


Michael_Brytan
Michael_Brytan

The USA did not cause the problems - Russia did.

Michael_Brytan
Michael_Brytan

The current president has usurped all branches of government and even the judicial system and has become a de facto dictator.  There can't be fair election.   He will rig them one way or another.

megcape
megcape

@Len @slyvia There will be no free elections under the rule of Yanukovich. He's controlling the courts, the election committee, and the last re-elections of 5 PM proves that - they were totally fraudlent.  

directspeaker
directspeaker

@Len @Walt395 Len, I agree with you. But I want you to see this: for the U.S citizens., you have your laws and rules, BUT, please do watch how the U.S. government hides behind the protesters of other countries. I still remember a U.S. senator (I believe  was the one defeated by Obama in presidential campaign) stood on the platform in Ukraine to make speeches to the protesters calling on them to stick on.. I think, the U.S. government is more intereted in seeing the growing of violent opposition party than in peaceful solution to problems, even they provoke violence when there were no problems or the problems were not serious.