Slow-Motion Surrender

Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian industrialist and philanthropist, seems to want one.  Here’s his suggestion in a Wall Street Journal op-ed with the subheadline Crimea should not get in the way of a deal that ends the war. The lives that will be saved are worth it.  In particular, Pinchuk recommends the following for Ukraine to agree:

  • Ukraine should consider temporarily eliminating European Union membership from our stated goals for the near future. We can build a European country, be a privileged partner, and later discuss joining.
  • While we maintain our position that Crimea is part of Ukraine and must be returned, Crimea must not get in the way of a deal that ends the war in the east on an equitable basis. It will take Ukraine 15 to 20 years to generate enough economic growth and stabilize our infrastructure, social safety net and financial system. Everyone from Crimea will then want to live in this future Ukraine—just as East Germans wanted to become part of West Germany.
  • Conflict in the east was initiated from abroad and is not a genuine autonomy movement or civil war. There will not be conditions for fair elections until Ukraine has full control over its territory. But we may have to overlook this truth and accept local elections. Such compromises may mean letting down Ukrainians from the east who have suffered enormously. But if this is what it takes to demonstrate Ukraine’s commitment to peaceful reunification, then we may have to make this compromise to save thousands of lives.
    We must focus on helping those who had to leave their hometowns, and cannot return to live under repressive and unsafe conditions, by offering them all possible support to rebuild their lives in a new reality.
  • Finally, let’s accept that Ukraine will not join NATO in the near- or midterm. The offer is not on the table, and if it were, it could lead to an international crisis of unprecedented scope. For now, we should pursue an alternative security arrangement and accept neutrality as our near-term vision for the future.

No.  This is nothing but slow-motion surrender.

And give up Crimea, even for “only” those 15-20 years—a generation—as the price of peace?  Neville Chamberlain tried that, and got Anschluss.  That’s what Russia is doing today with its partition of Crimea and its occupation of two oblasts and parts of a third in eastern Ukraine.

Crimea should not get in the way of a deal that ends the war. The lives that will be saved are worth it.

No, surrendering seized territory, whether Crimea or those other oblasts, just rewards the invasion and occupation, and it encourages further such invasions and occupations—at the cost not just of sovereignty of the victim nations but of far more lives, as well.

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