Sanctions haven’t worked

WHILE THE upheaval in Ukraine kept two international summits on tenterhooks, it is far from clear as to what is the way out to address a crisis that is blowing out into a new Cold War.

It is now official that Russia and the West are at odds, and do not see from the same prism as far as addressing the separatist issue in eastern Ukraine. The differences are so wide that they have created a wedge between the members of the European Union, many of whom believe that sanctions are not going to work in stalling the ethnic Russians from going against the state of Ukraine. It is a coincidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin also shares that opinion, and believes that the conundrum can only be addressed through negotiations. But, at least, two multilateral attempts to broker a negotiated solution in Brussels and Minsk failed to bear desired results, and the region has been drifting into an abyss of lawlessness and uncertainty.

The European Union foreign ministers now believe that there is no point in slapping new sanctions on Russia, as that is proving detrimental to global economy. This is the same argument that Putin made in Beijing and Brisbane, warning the West against fomenting a new war of nerves with Russia. Nonetheless, few mighty members in the EU interpret it as a policy of appeasement towards Kremlin. Thus the new synopsis is that the EU will go on to sanction individual elements in the self-proclaimed independent enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk in order to deter them from furthering their reach in eastern Ukraine. Around 120 Ukrainian and Russian officials are already under EU asset freezes and travel bans. And a similar package of sanctions against top-notch military men in Russia and the wheeler-dealers hasn’t worked. Rather, it has bred discontent with powerful men who have their contacts in defence ministry selling arms at impunity without any regard to rule of business.

It is a million-dollar question, however, as to how Moscow will retaliate to such a policy, as it believes that ethnic Russians in that part of the world are in a struggle for their right of self-determination. Though a ceasefire has been in place since a deal was signed in Minsk, it has hardly worked. Putin had already said that “anyone waging a fight that they believe fair will find weapons”. That seals the debate on extra-territorial involvement of Russia under the guise of enjoying a common denominator on lingual and ethnic grounds with people beyond its de jure jurisdiction. Moscow marched into Crimea under the same pretext, and is active in eastern Ukraine to this day, despite international condemnations.

All that the EU and the United States should do is to reinitiate a dialogue with Russia and that too without any preconditions and a timeline. It’s time for Moscow, Brussels and Washington to see from the same prism for the sake of global congeniality.

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