Hopefully, the shaky truce between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, brokered in Minsk by Angela Merkel, will hold.
For nothing good, but much evil, could come of broadening and lengthening this war that has cost the lives of 5,400 Ukrainians.
The longer it goes on, the greater the casualties, the more land Ukraine will lose, and the greater the likelihood Kiev will end up an amputated and bankrupt republic, a dependency the size of France on the doorstep of Europe.
Had no truce been achieved, 8,000 Ukrainian troops trapped in the Debaltseve pocket could have been forced to surrender or wiped out, causing a regime crisis in Kiev. U.S. weapons could have begun flowing in, setting the stage for a collision between Russia and the United States.
One understands Russia’s vital interest in retaining its Black Sea naval base in Crimea, and keeping Ukraine out of NATO. And one sees the vital interest of Ukraine in not losing the Donbas.
But what is America’s vital interest here?
Merkel says a great principle is at stake, that in post-Cold War Europe, borders are not to be changed by force.
That is idealistic, but is it realistic?
At the Cold War’s end, Yugoslavia split into seven nations, the USSR into 15. Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, even Slovenia briefly, had to fight to break free. So, too, did the statelets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in breaking from Georgia, and Transnistria from Moldova.
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