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The parties in Ukraine have an obligation to give the fragile peace process a chance to work. When the Good Friday Accords were signed in Northern Ireland, it was not the end of the process, but only the beginning. Over a decade later, that process is still ongoing. In Ukraine, the sides are just as intractable. Many people want to merge with the West. Others want closer ties with Russia or even to become Russian. People on both sides are willing to give their lives for that. This is a perfect recipe for conflict, with both the West and Russia jumping in and exploiting them in their power games.

Moscow and Kyiv spent today blustering at each other over the perceived failure of the peace process when it has barely begun.

Lavrov said that the Ukrainian government has not taken steps to clear out Kyiv’s central square, which pro-Western demonstrators have occupied for months, and that it had not granted an amnesty to arrested protesters, as required by the Geneva deal. “Instead of freeing those already arrested, particularly the ‘people’s governor of Donetsk,’ Pavel Gubarev, the authorities in Kyiv are continuing to arrest political figures from the southeast,” Lavrov said.
We await specifics from the Russians. We do not see any such reports of arrests in the news today.

Ukraine's leaders took to Meet the Press and other media outlets to make their own allegations against Russia. Allegedly, the shootout Sunday was a false flag operation by the Russians in order to make it look like Right Sector was responsible. And allegedly, Russia's agenda is to revive the old Soviet Union. The latter allegation was undermined today by Putin's decree rehabilitating the Crimeans from Stalin's convictions. Putin (same link) also plans to make Tatar the third official language in the province along with Russian and Ukrainian. The last thing that Putin needs is another guerrilla conflict on his hands, and the Crimean Tatars were the group that was most opposed to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

For their part, the White House is playing wait and see. Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Julie, what I can tell you is that we continue to monitor events in eastern Ukraine closely.  We've seen differing reports about what happened in Slovyansk yesterday but cannot independently confirm responsibility for these actions.  Overall, we are concerned about the situation there, and we urge paramilitary groups throughout the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine to lay down their weapons and depart the buildings that they have occupied, as was called for in the accord signed in Geneva last week.  We continue to call on Russia to use its influence over these groups to press them to disarm and to turn occupied buildings over to the authorities.

We commend the government of Ukraine for continuing to demonstrate restraint, and are hopeful that all parties in the Rada will shortly be able to agree on an amnesty bill to help deescalate the situation in the east.  As we have said, if there is not progress within days we remain prepared, along with our European and G7 partners, to impose additional costs on Russia for its destabilizing actions.

So when it comes to that specific incident, we're still unable independently to confirm who’s responsible for what happened there, but there’s no question that there’s been a great deal of destabilizing activity and that Russia has influence over the groups that have engaged in that activity, who have seized buildings.  And we continue to call on Russia to use that influence to pressure those groups to disarm and to return the buildings to authorities.

The Ukrainian government and its allies have an obligation to be factual in its allegations. For instance, the US refused to implicate the Russians in the Slovyansk shootout, while the Right Sector claimed it was a false flag operation by the Russians. And the US did not make any kind of allegations regarding the ambitions of Putin; Ukraine's leader did in a shrill call for military aid. The problem with these sorts of allegations is that we have had our recent experience with such allegations in the leadup to war with Iraq. The aluminum tube allegations, the "slam dunk" that wasn't, and Judith Miller's "reporting" that was actually FOX News propaganda serve as a warning for us against rushing into any conflict prematurely even if Russia was not nuclear-armed.

Carney continues:

Well, first of all, they signed the agreement and they have committed themselves by signing to use their influence to stabilize the situation in Ukraine or to urge those over whom they have influence to disarm and to return buildings that they have occupied back to the authorities.  And we continue to press them to do that.  As we have made clear, should Russia continue to engage in destabilizing actions in Ukraine, there will be costs.  There has been already.  And should they escalate their destabilizing activity the costs will escalate.

So we're in a place now with the Vice President in Kyiv and meeting with Ukrainian government officials where we are demonstrating our support for that government, for the process that they have undertaken of both reform and near-term elections, and we are continuing to call on all parties to honor the agreements they made in Geneva.

Two things. First of all, the US, like Russia and Ukraine, needs to give the peace process a chance to work. Some of the people who seized the buildings don't necessarily have as strong ties to Putin as popularly believed and some openly said they were let down when Russia signed the Geneva deal. Others need time to reflect on the diplomacy that is going on. This sort of thing takes time, possibly years. The other thing is that there is no military solution to this conflict. Ambassador Pyatt said publicly that Ukraine was outgunned, which makes Vice President Biden's trip to Ukraine and show of support meaningless unless diplomacy is given a chance to work.

That said, it is not in Russia's interest to invade directly. Putin is not the kind of leader who will invade unless the battle is already won. To seize East Ukraine will overextend Russia, who is still fighting battles in the North Causcus, and will simply create more capital flight from Russia. In the end, the biggest deterrent to Russian aggression is the markets, which tank every time Putin shows aggression or belligerence. Yesterday, however, I said that Ukraine could be partitioned. What I mean is not that Russia will invade, but that the intractable nature of the ideologies of Ukraine's people means that the country could break up of its own accord similar to how the Soviet Union broke up. It could happen tomorrow, it could happen next year when austerity cuts hit home, or it could happen 10 years down the road.

OSCE reports that while many areas in Eastern Ukraine remain calm, two places remain hot spots.

The overall situation in Donetsk remained very tense. Occupation of state institutions was ongoing. The Deputy Chief Monitor of Special Monitoring Mission visited Donetsk and met with various local interlocutors. Activists manning the barricades expressed a friendly interest in the Geneva Statement.

In Sloviansk the entire town is under the control of armed groups. The security situation is assessed as deteriorating, and operating conditions for OSCE teams are marginal. The reported shooting incident of 20 April early morning is a worrying deterioration of the situation. Due to unpredictable security risks, it was not possible for the Special Monitoring Mission to reach the scene of the incident in the immediate aftermath of the incident on April 20. However, SMM aims to access the town on Monday April 21.

On 19 April in the morning the monitors from the Kharkiv and Donetsk teams visited Sloviansk. Before reaching the town, they observed multiple checkpoints, each manned by dozens of individuals, most unarmed and unmasked. According to the head of the local branch of the Communist Party, a wish to live in a federal Ukraine was shared by many Sloviansk people. The interlocutor also indicated a significant rise in crime after the take-over of the town by the separatists. Before entering the occupied Town Administration, the monitors observed the heavily barricaded and fortified entrance hall, and the numerous armed and masked individuals present.

Max Fisher of Vox says that the President's strategy is to contain Russia similar to what the West did before.
President Obama, fed up with Putin, has rightly recognized that it's time for the United States to adopt a radically different strategy for dealing with Russia, in Ukraine and around the world. That strategy, articulated on Sunday by New York Times reporter Peter Baker and his sources, is what we might call "new containment": isolate Russia and actively curb its global influence, as we did with the far more powerful Soviet Union.
The tradeoff of new containment is significant: cede the former Soviet sphere to Russian influence and meddling, but cut Putin off everywhere else. The upside is that Russia does not get to be a global power and does not get to meddle in the Middle East, in East Asia, or elsewhere as it once did. The downside is that Moscow is allowed greater freedom to do as it wishes in the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The Times reports that Obama "will not extend the punitive measures to whole sectors of the Russian economy, as some administration officials prefer, absent a dramatic escalation." In other words, Russia will continue to get away with its forcible annexation of Crimea and its ongoing efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine. It's not clear what would constitute a "dramatic escalation," but if Putin can already get away with invading and annexing part of a foreign country, then he's got pretty close to free reign within the sphere of former Soviet republics. Much as the original Cold War strategy of containment entailed allowing Soviet tanks to stream into Budapest in 1956, new containment means accepting the Russian occupation of Crimea and perhaps other neighboring territories today.
The question is whether or not Russia will take the bait. My prediction is that Putin won't -- he'll let Eastern Ukraine collapse under its own weight and leave West Ukraine to the tender mercies of the IMF. One thing that the Kremlin has been harping on is their perception that the US is now responsible for the new government in Kyiv.

One possible solution to this crisis would be for Ukrainian parliament to pass its amnesty provision, have the pro-Russian protestors leave, and emigrate to Russia if they so desire. Putin today signed into law a bill making it easier for Russian speakers in the former Soviet Union to become citizens. This could avoid future troubles such as what is happening in Ukraine as ethnic Russians could just leave and move to Russia.

But the most disturbing development in this crisis is the treatment of journalists by certain anti-Maidan protestors.

A Ukrainian journalist and EuroMaidan activist was reportedly taken captive by pro-Russian militants in the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk late on April 20 and is being held in the local security service building seized earlier by the group.

Irma Krat, 29, the editor-in-chief of Hidden Truth TV and the leader of an all-female self-defense unit during the EuroMaidan Revolution that ousted the former government and President Viktor Yanukovych, was captured around 8 p.m. on Easter Sunday, Krat’s lawyer, Oleg Veremiyenko, told the Kyiv Post on April 21.

He said she was being held with freelance journalist Serhiy Lefter, 22, who had been detained since April 16.

And three others were harassed.
Meanwhile, Donetsk journalist Denis Kazanskiy reported on Facebook that three foreign journalists had been captured on April 21. He told the Kyiv Post that he had spoken with Belarusian journalist Dmytro Galko on the phone as he was being taken captive.

After being detained for 30 minutes, Galko and the two other journalists he was with were released, he told Radio Svoboda by phone.

“We were detained in Slovyansk together with Italian and French journalists for alleged unauthorized recording,” he told the news outlet.

If the Donetsk separatists wish for their side of the story to be heard, they have an obligation to let journalists do their job. We note that the Euromaidan protestors did not stop RT's crews from filming the protests in Kyiv Square. And Russia has an obligation to use their influence to protect journalists covering Eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, they have an obligation to let OSCE monitors do their jobs; the OSCE reports that their operating conditions in Solvyansk were "marginal" and that they were unable to get in on the 20th.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mickT, native, truong son traveler

    "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

    by Eternal Hope on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:28:46 PM PDT

  •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, aimeehs, bear83, Lawrence
    Yesterday, however, I said that Ukraine could be partitioned. What I mean is not that Russia will invade, but that the intractable nature of the ideologies of Ukraine's people means that the country could break up of its own accord similar to how the Soviet Union broke up.
    How do you rationalize partition? There are 9 oblasts which constitute what people call "eastern Ukraine". Of those 9 oblasts the one with the highest percentage of ethnic Russians is Luthansk which is 39% ethnic Russian. The lowest of the 9 is Mykolaiv and Kherson, both of which have 14.1% ethnic Russian.

    Why should a minority dictate partition and separation? How do you justify that?

    Putin today signed into law a bill making it easier for Russian speakers in the former Soviet Union to become citizens. This could avoid future troubles such as what is happening in Ukraine as ethnic Russians could just leave and move to Russia.
    This is nothing new. Putin has done the same in the Baltic countries. And, granting citizenship does not equate to moving to Russia. They stay in place. The only point of this legislation, as it was in the Baltics, and Moldova and Georgia, is to undermine the sovereignty of those countries.

    With each passing day, its becoming clearer that Putin has lied time and again. He has admitted that those "militia" in Crimea, without any insignia, were Russian Special Forces. And now, there are more media reports that the "Green Men" in Ukraine are also Russian Special Forces. Check out this excellent article and photo evidence from the NYTIMES:

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    he'll let Eastern Ukraine collapse under its own weight and leave West Ukraine to the tender mercies of the IMF.
    Yes, it seems the angst with the IMF is so strong with some, that it drives all their thinking with respect to whats right and whats wrong in Ukraine, even to the point of pro-Putinism.

    Ukraine and Ukrainians should be able to decide what it wants to do. A minority in a few oblasts shouldn't get to decide on secession. If you were right about Putin's law, it would be simple ... they can become Russian citizens and have the choice to move to Russia. But, thats not what Putin wants them to do.

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:58:04 PM PDT

    •  I'm not rationalizing anything. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mickT, truong son traveler

      But if the parties to the conflict don't give the peace process a chance to work and stop making frivolous allegations, then that is what might happen.

      I didn't know about the NYT article, since I don't check them out a lot because of the paywall. The article about the Russian special forces looks convincing, but Judith Miller's shrill articles about Saddam and his alleged chemical weapons and WMD's seemed convincing as well.

      But assuming they are right, the US could end this conflict tomorrow if they wanted to. Simply renounce regime change as a tool, and renounce NATO membership for Ukraine.

      "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

      by Eternal Hope on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:12:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the "Green Men" claim isn't frivolous (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OIL GUY, aimeehs

        there's strong and credible evidence. And, he's done this in Moldova, Georgia, Crimea and now eastern Ukraine with the same Special Forces showing up in each place.

        I'd still like to understand how you can justify partition driven/dictated by a minority?.

        KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

        by fcvaguy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:28:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Once again, you didn't hear me supporting it. (0+ / 0-)

          Or justifying it. There is a big difference between saying that something is going to happen based on events on the ground and supporting it. Come back when you read what I actually write.

          "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

          by Eternal Hope on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:33:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  you didn't support it? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OIL GUY

            Oh, I completely misread:

            Yesterday, however, I said that Ukraine could be partitioned. What I mean is not that Russia will invade, but that the intractable nature of the ideologies of Ukraine's people means that the country could break up of its own accord similar to how the Soviet Union broke up.

            From your diary yesterday:

            The East could either become the Republic of Donetsk or become absorbed into Russia. The West could become a rump state totally dependent on the West for survival.
            First, Donetsk is a city, not an oblast. Its in Luthansk oblast, which is 39% Russian. How could it be easily absorbed into Russia when a majority of that oblast is ethnic Ukrainian? And, a bit of a tangent, but why would you assume a "western Ukraine" would be a rump state dependent on the West for survival? How would it be any different than an East dependent on Russia for survival? And why wouldn't the East be "rump" as well?

            KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

            by fcvaguy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:42:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, it would be a rump state. (0+ / 0-)

              The pro-Russian protestors frequently call themselves the "People's Republic of Donetsk," which is why I wrote that. And if the ethnic Russian population in Luthansk is only 39%, then that is a sure recipe for guerrilla warfare by the ethnic Ukrainians if Russia tries to occupy it or any other Ukrainian province. Russia would be making a mistake of historic proportions similar to what we did in Iraq or Russia itself did in Afghanistan.

              "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

              by Eternal Hope on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:53:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But, even you weren't talking about invasion (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                aimeehs, bear83, Mokurai

                You said it could be easily partitioned. It can't. And a minority shouldn't be driving that decision.

                There's a reason why they used the term "Republic of Donetsk". Its because they understand the demographics of the region. Donetsk is the capital city of Luthansk, one of the 9 oblasts which constitutes "eastern Ukraine". While the oblast is 39% ethnic Russian, the vast majority of that 39% live in the capital city. Rural Luthansk is almost exclusively Ukrainian. Not sure how that partition would work.

                I suppose it would be like if the Red States seceded and Austin decided to stay with the Blue States. Maybe they could build a wall around it like they did in Berlin?

                KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

                by fcvaguy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:58:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  oh and... (0+ / 0-)
                Yes, it would be a rump state.
                well that certainly explains why it would be a rump state !!

                So, the corollary would be:

                Eastern Ukraine would not be a rump state ?

                KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

                by fcvaguy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:00:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It would. (0+ / 0-)

                  If the Russians and their allies controlled the cities while the Ukrainians were in the countryside, then it would not only be a rump state, but the Russians and their allies would be isolated in the cities while the Ukrainian loyalist guerrilla fighters would make hit and run attacks with impunity since the rural people would protect them. Then, Russia's economy would bleed dry over the next 20 years or so as capital flight would result and boycotts would be organized.

                  "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

                  by Eternal Hope on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:14:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Or to simplify (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      The West should be able to run Ukraine without any outside influence.

      Putin sticking his nose our recently claimed country is not allowed.

      •  No (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OIL GUY, aimeehs, Lawrence

        thats not a simplification. Its a distortion of my comment. I say let Ukraine decide. They have an election coming up towards the end of next month. I'm a tad more confident that election will be far more legitimate than the one which was held in Crimea. We'll see.

        KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

        by fcvaguy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:51:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler

          I know how we do elections.

          Ever read Safire on the Afghanistan elections? He was so happy that there were more votes than people and that our puppet won...

          This of course after Hamas won an election. And all of a sudden elections don't mean what you think they mean.

          After the military coup in Egypt, Sisi is going to win the election. We support this.

          Don't lie to me.

          We don't even have decent elections here. You think we would let some third world nation have them? Not when the corporations that run our State Dept have a say.

          What are smoking?

          You do know that just about everything the average American wants is never even voted on. Otherwise, we would have single payer health care. Higher tax rates on the 1%, stricter gun control laws.

          Instead, we are getting groomed for Chelsea to replace Hillary as the next heir to our corporate leader.

          •  I don't respond to insults (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DAISHI

            Ukraine isn't Egypt or Afghanistan or even the US. And how we run elections has zero to do with how Ukraine does its own elections. Given the results of the past two Ukraine elections, it appears they know what they are doing. There's no reason to believe the next election will be any different.

            And Hillary and Chelsea. You know what? You're right. Ukraine should just surrender to Russia because Hillary and Chelsea and Single Payer.

            And you're asking me what I'm smoking?

            KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

            by fcvaguy on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:36:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for my morning chuckle. (0+ / 0-)

    There is no "peace process."  Russia signed something and then told its agents in the Ukraine to ignore it.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 03:49:10 AM PDT

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