A week after a ceasefire was supposed to have taken effect in crisis torn Ukraine tensions have risen higher still. The New York Times reports that an influential House Of Lords select committee report has slammed Britain and Europe for “sleepwalking” into the crisis.
The report by British lawmakers says that Britain and the European Union made a “catastrophic misreading” of Russia and President Vladimir Putin, treating it as a trade issue rather than as a delicate foreign-policy challenge. The report claims that European Union member nations are insensitive to the degree of Russian hostility toward European Union efforts to negotiate a closer political and economic relationship, known as an “association agreement,” with Ukraine.
European states “have been slow to reappraise the relationship and to adapt to the realities of the Russia we have today,” the report said that analytical failure and “glaring absence of political oversight” was compounded by “a decline in Russia expertise,” and lack a long-term strategic response.
Britain failed to live up to its obligations to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity and offering security “assurances” in return for Ukraine renouncing its extensive nuclear arsenal. The report claims that the UK has a responsibility to the Ukraine which it has failed to meet.
While U.S policy in Ukraine is beyond the scope of the report, the same criticism was implicit. Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia, said that the “misreading” of Ukraine applied to the United States as well as to Europe. In its conclusion the report makes recommendations that sanctions against Russia should be tightened, a move that could arguably make the crisis in Ukraine even more tense.
“The EU should renew and tighten them in the short term if there is no progress on the Minsk Protocol and the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to deteriorate. Under those circumstances, the EU should target President Putin’s inner circle and broaden sanctions to the financial sector”
The Washington Post claims that the Obama administration is considering further sanctions against Russia “in punishment” for the actions of Russian separatists, whom they blame for the ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Obama has not decided whether to send lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, as many members of Congress have urged. He suggested the decision may depend on what happens in eastern Ukraine over the next several days. Senator John McCain is among those who are urging Obama to step up support for Ukraine in a bid to end the crisis. Over the weekend McCain said, “I’m ashamed of my country, I’m ashamed of my President and I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more to help these people.”
Despite a fragile “ceasefire” in Ukraine, fighting continues and the Telegraph reports that Ukraine’s military said it could not start withdrawing heavy weapons from the frontline in the east of Ukraine as pro-Russian separatists had not stopped attacking government positions.
It seems that all sides are blaming each other for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and there seems to be little hope for a quick resolution of the crisis. The question that needs to be resolved is whether or not arming Ukraine and tightening sanctions against Russia will help to resolve the crisis or if it will fan the flames of war further still.
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