The post-crisis dialogue

WITH THE annexation of Crimea a fait accompli, Ukraine can do little for now except to try diplomatic overtures, especially with Russia.

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Published: Thu 27 Mar 2014, 11:28 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:35 PM

The first meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries is a good omen. Kiev and Moscow were allies before the upheaval that toppled the pro-Russian dispensation in Ukraine and led to the velvet divorce over the peninsula in the Black Sea. This past cordiality adds to the bitterness of the changing geopolitical realities. Nonetheless, it is welcome news that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reiterated that it was not his country’s policy to encroach upon Ukrainian mainland. He also said Moscow wanted to “establish (a) good national dialogue taking into account all residents of Ukraine”.

Diplomacy is the only viable option as Kiev does not want to have a military confrontation with Russian troops, where it will be heavily outnumbered. Since it is also not part of Nato, the Ukrainian government can’t hope to receive immediate military assistance from Nato forces. As the West remains preoccupied with eastward expansion, Moscow’s takeover of Crimea is 21st century’s Westphalian annexation as Russian President Vladimir Putin pushes the agenda of a resurrected Soviet Union.

The West-backed movement to dislodge the pro-Russia and anti-EU government of Viktor Yanukovych has cost Ukraine dearly. It has been made to bite the dust in the case of Crimea. In addition, the crisis has created a rift between Russia and the rest of the West and shown up the latter’s efforts to make Putin give up Crimea as ineffective. The realpolitik at work on the Ukraine issue has created new benchmarks for cooperation and compromise in times of adversity. If Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia can sow the seeds of renewed socio-political interaction, putting aside the bitterness over the lost peninsula, at least for now, it will be a new beginning.

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