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 5 THINGS ABOUT THE WAR IN UKRAINE

The war in Ukraine is a complicated political issue. However, it can be put into five separate and simpler matters.

The Wall Street Journal published a post by blogger Philip Shishkin, in which those five vectors are briefly described.

1. The Kremlin's Goals

Russian leaders want to prevent Ukraine from joining Western alliances, particularly the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Russia has always viewed as a national-security threat. The Kremlin also is concerned that the kind of revolution that overthrew the previous regime in Kiev could take place in Moscow. In destabilizing east Ukraine, the Kremlin is showing its domestic constituents that revolutions beget chaos and war.

2. Kyiv's Response

Ukraine's fledgling central government has been caught unprepared by Kremlin actions that began with the annexation of Crimea last year and spread to east Ukraine. Moscow has shown Kiev it won't allow the separatists to be defeated on the battlefield. Kiev accepted a series of unpalatable compromises with Moscow-backed rebels: de facto loss of territory in two eastern provinces in exchange for tenuous cease-fires. Kiev has promised autonomy to the breakaway regions should they return to Ukraine's rule, but the separatists have shown no interest.

3. The Western Reaction

The West hasn't found an effective strategy to deter Moscow from fueling the conflict by supplying weapons, commanders and fighters. Moscow denies doing any of this, despite evidence to the contrary. The U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions, which have damaged the Russian economy. The White House has so far resisted Kiev's appeals for lethal military aid, fearing it would escalate the conflict.

4. What's Next?

The current cease-fire, reached last month after the separatists grabbed more land, already is showing signs of strain. If it crumbles, the separatists are likely to press an offensive against the port city of Mariupol. More Western sanctions against Russia likely would follow. If the truce holds, Ukraine's east would remain under Russian influence as a breakaway entity akin to parts of Georgia and Moldova.

5. The Wider Implications

Nations from Estonia to Georgia are worried about the Kremlin's possible designs on other former Soviet republics. The U.S. wants to reassure NATO members that the collective-security clause of the alliance's founding treaty is ironclad. Moscow appears eager to undermine the alliance, and to drive a wedge between the EU and the U.S.

Philip Shishkin, The Wall Street Journal

 
 
 
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