A big political concession from Kyiv in the ongoing Ukrainian Mess:
Ukraine sought to draw a line under its confrontation with Moscow by ratifying a landmark trade-and-political deal with the European Union and approving limited autonomy for territories now controlled by Russia-backed separatists.
But with full implementation of the EU deal postponed under Russian pressure, and the rebels insisting on independence, the developments illustrated Kiev’s weakened position—almost a year after Moscow began flexing its muscle to keep the ex-Soviet republic in its orbit.
Rivals of Mr. Poroshenko’s party assailed the autonomy law as caving to Moscow by effectively ceding control to the rebels. Separatist leaders said they would stick to their demands for full independence but stopped short of denouncing the law outright, meaning the conflict could fester for years.
The Kremlin didn’t comment on the Ukrainian parliament’s actions Tuesday.
The Kremlin doesn’t have to say squat after a win like that one.
I should add that it wasn’t that many weeks ago that the Russian rebels looked practically beaten, but Putin had tested the waters sufficiently to know that the NATO barracuda had no bite.
Given Putin’s appetites and Kyiv’s mismanagement, the disintegration of Ukraine was probably inevitable. That it is leading to NATO’s discredit is our own doing.
Which leads us to our next
The Russian government has announced it will “protect” Russian speakers abroad, specifically mentioning the Russian-speaking population of the Baltics. This is not the first time Russia has hinted that it would involve itself in the affairs of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.
Konstantin Dolgov, Russia’s foreign ministry chief monitor of human rights overseas, warned of Russia’s potential involvement while in Latvia’s capital of Riga for the Regional Conference of Russian Compatriots, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
Lithuania is about 6% Russian speaking, while Latvia and Estonia are about 25% each. All three are NATO members contiguous to Russian territory.