The following is excerpted from a CNN interview with Norwegian defense minister Ine Eriksen Soreide:
“We are faced with a different Russia. I want to warn against the fact that some people see this as something that is going to pass. The situation has changed. And it has changed profoundly.”
There is “no going back to some sort of normality or some sort of back to normal business. Because that normality does not exist.”
Norway, a NATO member country, shares a northern border with Russia….
It is critical, she said, that Russia and Europe “avoid miscalculations” that could “easily happen in a situation like this.
“NATO countries are required to come to the defense of each other — an attack on one is an attack on all — but Eriksen Søreide said the organization is ill-prepared to respond quickly.
“The decision structure in NATO is working quite slowly if something was to happen.”
The mistake a year ago was thinking that Putin had any interest in whatsoever in the status quo ante bellum. The post-Cold War order is of no use to him, and he means to upend it.
Which brings us back to a modest proposal I made last April following Russia’s annexation of Crimea:
Maybe it’s not too late to cut a deal with Putin. He gets everything up to and including Kyiv and its environs, although he might not want to outright annex the more Ukrainian bits directly to Russia. Federation, Finlandization, or something similar might be the best bad fate for central Ukraine. The Donbas and the Russified east and south Moscow would gobble up whole, of course.
But the price of our acquiescence would be federating western Ukraine — old Galicia — with our Polish allies. The two have a long and pretty decent history together, and something slightly short of total reunification might be the best outcome for all involved, provided the locals were all happy with the new arrangement. A plebiscite — an honest plebiscite — would put the democratic seal of approval on the deal.
That was a lousy deal then, but the best we might have expected. Today, NATO and Ukraine would be lucky to get that much. At this late date, I’m not sure Putin will settle for anything less than all of Ukraine and the emasculation of NATO.