Russia now has more troops along its border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014, and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has little hope that war can be avoided. Moscow’s demands are impossible to meet.
“A diplomatic solution…requires a radical change in the position of the Kyiv authorities,” said Konstantin Sivkov, a Moscow-based military analyst. “If the Kyiv authorities agree to the recognition of the federal structure of Ukraine, if the authorities agree to the equal status of the Russian language in Ukraine along with the Ukrainian language, then the whole problem in [Donbas] will be removed,” he said.
The Ukrainians fear that giving Russia further opportunity to undermine the government in Kyiv will only result in the slow erosion of their independence.
“The cease-fire is over…and President Zelensky’s strategy of negotiating something with Moscow is generally over,” said Mykola Kapitonenko, an associate professor at the Institute of International Relations in Kyiv and consultant to Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.
It is clear that Ukraine would prefer to find [a] diplomatic solution, but perhaps the Ukrainian president’s biggest mistake was that “he was too naive by thinking that he could reach a good deal with Putin and will do it on Ukrainian terms,” said Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the New Europe Center, a think tank in Kyiv.
The U.S. and European leaders have raised the alarm over the amassing of Moscow’s forces on the Ukrainian border. Washington expressed concern that “Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula that year and threw its support behind the separatists in the country’s east.
Ukraine is a corrupt, authoritarian kleptocracy and not worth spilling any American blood over. But an easy win for Putin in Ukraine would empower the Russian dictator in his efforts to reconstitute the territory of the old Soviet Union. An emboldened Putin would strike fear into the countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltic region.
The U.S. has dispatched two warships to the Black Sea to keep an eye on the situation.
The United States will send two warships to the Black Sea next week amid a Russian build up of military forces along its border with Ukraine, the Turkish government said Friday.
NATO ally Turkey said the two U.S. warships would reach the Black Sea from Wednesday to Thursday after Washington notified Ankara of the move a little over two weeks ago.
“A notice was sent to us 15 days ago via diplomatic channels that two U.S. warships would pass to the Black Sea, in line with the Montreux Convention,” a 1936 treaty which gave Ankara control of the Black Sea’s straits, according to Turkey’s foreign ministry, Reuters reported. “The ships will remain in the Black Sea until May 4.”
Putin would consider a war with Ukraine a win if he could detach a couple of eastern provinces from the government and win a few diplomatic concessions. The provinces have a majority of Russian-speaking populations and have been a source of friction with the national government for decades.
But Kyiv cannot stand by and watch Ukraine get dismembered. They will fight. Despite warnings from Germany, France, and the U.S., Putin will probably get his “splendid little war” and, to the surprise of no one, end up the victor.