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RUSSIA VS. UKRAINE: EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS CAN PREVENT WAR AND SAVE PEACE

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The last days’ escalation of violence in Eastern Ukraine illustrates, once more: The – especially, in Germany, popular – allegation that calling for sanctions against Russia equals war-mongering has been deeply misleading, if not purposefully manipulative. Much earlier, more concrete, immediately felt, and far clearer signals to the Russian elite may have moderated the Kremlin’s behavior, in the Donbass. By March 2014, Russia had de facto or de jure occupied, with only little punitive reaction from the West, four territories – Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Crimea – from exactly those three countries with which the EU is about to sign the by far largest external agreements, in the Union’s entire history. With their softness, Brussels, Berlin, Paris etc. have encouraged Moscow to now go also va banque, in Eastern Ukraine. As more and more Russian weapons and irregular troops are involved in the skirmishes, it will be increasingly difficult to deescalate the situation. At least, after the Crimea annexation, we should have known that diplomacy alone will not help much. Refusing to draw adequate lessons from the Moldovan, Georgian and Crimean examples, the countries of the EU are now bringing the world to the brink of a proxy war between Russia and the West, in Eastern Ukraine. Oddly, this may eventually hurt the EU members states’ economies even harder than timely full-scale sanctions would have – not to mention the great amount of death, grief, destruction and trauma it has already brought and presumably will bring to Ukraine, after its spectacular and successful pro-EU insurrection. It may be time to state that the EU governments’ reactions to Moscow’s behavior with regard to the Union’s three soon-to-be closely associated states (MD, GE, UA) has been the most shameful and embarrassing episode in the post-war history of European integration.


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