http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/world ... ml?hp&_r=0
Pro Russian forces bring a taste of Russian style political pressure into Ukraine. For example, a mayor in Eastern Ukraine who strayed from the message disappeared, with the militias stating “It’s just that yesterday she had a small crisis. She is recovering from an operation. She doesn’t feel well. She signed a letter of resignation.” Newspapers that were going to print articles critical of the militias and calling it an occupation were shut down. Internet connections have gone dead, and Ukrainian television channels replaced with Russian ones.
I know some of us here agree with the slow methodical diplomatic pressure route, but I think Europe's reluctance to bring about large sanctions is hurting the political pressure. Back in March, we got stuff like:
Zamfir wrote:I do think the EU should do more than it is doing. Certainly the current sanctions (postponing talks on trade agreements and visum requirements) are so laughable it would probably have been better to not do anything at all. But charging the EU with abandoning one of its own is not justified.
I' d say that Europe is acting fairly well, in this case. Very careful, but that's not a bad thing. I wouldn't equate 'more spine' with ' quick sanctions'. I'd call it buckling to US demands, not particularly spine-ful. For all the talk of a unified approach, we don't quite share the US interests in this case. Washington doesn't a mind some escalating Euro-Russian tensions once in while. Great for the Atlanticist relations, and nearly costless to them. I'd say the best outcome, for Europe, is a face-saving way for the Russians to retreat. Guarantees about rights for ethnic Russians in Ukraine, a different status for the Crimea, something to show at home. The Russian leadership has to fear the consequences of escalating sanctions, but they can't be seen to act on them. They have to be able to say, we got what we wanted, that's why we went home. Once you start with serious sanctions, you close that option. But it takes time to discover if the Russians are willing to make a deal.
If Russia was expecting the maidan government to fall, then why did they panic buy Crimea? Why are they continuing to push into Eastern Ukraine? It seems inefficient to spend all this time and effort on something that will swing your way in a couple years anyway.I find that a questionable theory... I can see how a divided Ukraine is better for Russia than a united Ukraine constantly looking west. Perhaps that's what the Kremlin was expecting, but ironically that would have put them amongst the confident believers in the Maidan government.
After all, Janukovich did actual win a somewhat fair election, just a few years ago. The new government does not have overwhelming support, and the EU and NATO were not jumping for closer ties. A few years of inevitable in-fighting and perhaps some corruption scandals to weaken the new government, and there could easily be another Janukovich-like leader in Kiev.