The office of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko has issued a brief announcement that he reached a ceasefire agreement with Russia during a phone call with President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reports. (See also this from the Wall Street Journal.)
The details of the agreement were not given. A Kremlin spokesman acknowledged that Putin and Poroshenko had “viewpoints on possible ways to overcome the grave and critical situation” in southeastern Ukraine “that coincide to a considerable degree.” Nevertheless, because Russia denies that it has invaded Ukraine and has supported the insurgency there with arms and soldiers, the spokesman claimed that Russia “cannot physically agree on a ceasefire as it is not a side in the conflict.”
Poroshenko is over a barrel. Russia has stepped up its campaign, and the Obama administration responded with a clear signal that the United States and the West would provide no meaningful support to Ukraine – a signal reaffirmed last week when President Obama refused to call Putin’s aggression an “invasion” and stressed that a U.S. military confrontation with Russia was unthinkable. Ukraine’s army is in retreat and it cannot compete with Russia’s invasion forces. Poroshenko faced the dilemma of fighting on and losing effective control over even more territory or seeking a settlement on what are sure to be unfavorable terms.
Putin, meantime, will get a resolution that gives him effective control over key territory –Novorossiya, as he calls it – thus frustrating Kiev’s capacity to increase integration with the West. He can resume the campaign of aggression at the time of his choosing, yet the ceasefire agreement will curb what little enthusiasm there may have been among NATO allies to ratchet up sanctions (which Russia has thus far laughed off).
In 1994, President Clinton, in conjunction with Russia’s then-President Boris Yeltsin and Britain’s then-Prime Minister John Major, signed the Budapest Memorandum, promising to protect Ukrainian territory and sovereignty in exchange for Ukraine’s giving up its huge nuclear arsenal. The agreement is not a formal treaty and was never ratified by the Senate, but it did prompt Ukraine’s disarmament. In 2005, against the backdrop of this security assurance, as I’ve previously recounted, then-Senator Barack Obama spearheaded a U.S. campaign, ultimately endorsed by President Bush, to provide $48 million to induce Ukraine to destroy much of its conventional military arsenal – including more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition. At the time, Obama delusionally asserted that Ukraine would make both itself and the world safer by disarming.
As president, Obama has refused to provide military aid to an ally under siege that the United States government – very much including Obama himself – convinced to render itself defenseless. By contrast, Obama in 2012 provided $1.5 billion in military aid to the Egyptian regime then controlled by the rabidly anti-American Muslim Brotherhood.
The incentives, as they have been for nearly six years under his administration, could not be clearer: There is more advantage in being America’s enemy than America’s friend, and countries – whether law-abiding or rogues – should pursue more numerous and powerful arms to make their way in a world where the United States has forfeited its leadership.