A Geopolitical Misunderstanding

…if The Wall Street Journal‘s interpretation is accurate, and a lack of political courage [emphasis added].

A solution to the Ukraine crisis is still far off, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Saturday, as his Russian counterpart accused the West of seeking to create chaos in the Kremlin’s geographic sphere.


Steinmeier said that a few weeks ago “we were on the brink of direct confrontation” between Russian and Ukrainian armed forces but that diplomacy had “prevented the worst.” However, he said, “I am under no illusion. A political solution is still a long way off.”

Last things first. Diplomacy has “prevented the worst?” Only if the worst is taken as the conquering and occupation of Ukraine as a whole, which is not an implausible view. However, diplomacy has failed to prevent the near-worst: Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, together with a drive along Ukraine’s Sea of Azov coast with a view toward opening a land route to occupied Crimea, solidifying militarily the occupation.

Diplomacy alone—talking alone—can achieve very little beyond abject acceptance of these military facts. Diplomacy, to have any material effect, must be backed by, must be animated by, force—economic, military, and/or their combination. To date, there has been no force backing the West’s…diplomacy. The West has been too timid even to apply economic force against the Russians, only pin pricks that give western leaders a means of comforting themselves through the night.

Now to this:

[Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] reiterated the conditions Moscow requires for the crisis to be resolved, including acceptance of Ukraine as a “neutral and non-bloc country,” meaning one that would remain outside of the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

This brings us back to the first thing. Neither Ukraine, nor any other of the nations bordering on Russia, belong in any way to Russia or to “the Kremlin’s geographic sphere.” These are sovereign nations, and they’re free to chart their own course—including aligning themselves with the West, joining the prosperity of Western free market economics, even taking in the essential sovereignty of a people over their government. No matter how uncomfortable this might make Russia.

And no, Mr Lavrov, not all cultures are equal, and neither are all polities morally equivalent.

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