Ukraine’s military has lost control of the Donetsk airport and the rebels have launched another offensive. Fortune could yet smile upon Kiev, but as long as Russia is determined not to let the separatists fail, Ukraine’s efforts likely will be for naught.
As I point out on Forbes online: “Only a negotiated settlement, no matter how unsatisfying, offers a possible resolution of the conflict. The alternative may be the collapse of the Ukrainian state and long-term confrontation between the West and Russia.”
Ukraine’s most fervent advocates assume anyone not ready to commit self-immolation on Kiev’s behalf must be a Russian agent. However, there are numerous good reasons for Washington to avoid the fight.
1) Russia isn’t Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya.
While the Obama administration has resisted proposals for military confrontation with Moscow, a gaggle of ivory tower warriors has pushed to arm Ukraine, bring Kiev into NATO, and station U.S. men and planes in Ukraine. These steps could lead to war.
Americans have come to expect easy victories. However, Russia would be no pushover. In particular, Moscow has a full range of nuclear weapons, which it could use to respond to allied conventional superiority.
2) Moscow has more at stake than the West in Ukraine.
Ukraine matters far more to Moscow than to Washington. Thus, the former will devote far greater resources and take far greater risks than will the allies. The Putin government already has accepted financial losses, economic isolation, human casualties, and political hostility.