The end of the beginning



2014/09/15 • Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Thomas Theiner,

On September 5th,Ukrainian president Poroshenko capitulated to Putin. The rapid advance of regular Russian army forces in Eastern Ukraine, the Western betrayal by Obama and Merkel and a lack of valor, resolve and political ruthlessness on his part led Poroshenko to call Putin and ask for a ceasefire. Thus has ended the Battle of Donbas; but more battles are yet to come as the Minsk ceasefire is only the end of the beginning of this great war of our time.

The last two weeks have proven three facts:

  • 1) Putin will not back down and won’t accept anything but the complete submission of Ukraine under Russia’s rule once again.
  • 2) Putin desperately wants to keep up the pretense that no regular Russian army units are fighting in Ukraine.
  • 3) Poroshenko isn’t the man to lead Ukraine in this war.

In July 1991 the Serbian dominated Yugoslav People’s Army invaded newly independent Croatia with the aim to force it back under Serbia’s control. Within a month the vastly superior Serb forces had conquered a third of Croatia and had driven the lightly armed Croatian police and volunteer units back, while the West imposed an arms embargo on Croatia, preventing the young nation from arming itself against the brutal aggression. Yet Croatia’s president, Word War II veteran and former major general Franjo Tuđman didn’t call Slobodan Milošević to ask for a ceasefire, he didn’t try to find favor with Western leaders hoping they would come to Croatia’s aid, he did only one thing: he asked the Croatian people to fight. And FIGHT they did!

Soon Milošević had to abandon his original plan to conquer all of Croatia and focus on the defense of the areas his army had taken in the first few weeks of the conflict. Thousands of Croatians died, vast swaths of the nation were destroyed, but the Croatian people did not yield and the spirited resistance led to Serbia agreeing to a ceasefire by January 1992.

Over the next few years, while sanctions destroyed Serbia’s economy and its army bled out in Bosnia, Croatia re-organized and re-armed and in 1995 overran all the Serbian occupied areas save one – Eastern Slavonia – which Serbia ultimately agreed to surrender voluntarily.

Yes- ultimately the conflict was settled by diplomacy, but diplomacy didn’t end it. The Croatian War for Independence, as well as the Bosnian War, only ended when the costs in Serbian lives and economic pain, began to threaten the regime of Slobodan Milošević. Croatia’s and Bosnia’s resistance, Western economic sanctions and a looming NATO intervention forced Milošević to agree to an end to the wars he had begun, as the survival of his regime was – in the end – the only thing he truly cared about.

Putin doesn’t differ from Milošević: ultimately Putin too will agree to a diplomatic solution to the war against Ukraine he began; but only when the costs in Russian lives and economic pain will begin to threaten his regime. A fact that none of the Western leaders wants to accept, as economic pain aimed at Russia also means economic pain for their own nations, and with their sole focus being reelection, avoiding to inflict economic pain upon their voters comes before human rights, international law, morals, ethics, dignity.

Putin is aware of this. The retaliatory sanctions by Russia so far were aimed at voter groups in the EU, who have strong political lobbies: banning the import of food and fish from the EU hit farmers and fishers – both well known for their strong lobbies; aggressive protest styles and block voting. Next Russia plans to ban used car imports, thus hitting Europe’s industry with the most effective lobby.

At the same time Putin invests great effort into keeping up the pretense that no regular Russian forces are involved in the fighting in Ukraine, thus giving his lobby in the EU, as well as the lobbies affected by Russian sanctions, a chance to deny Russia’s involvement and argue against sanctions.

But Russia is deeply involved in the war in Ukraine. Russia engineered it, stoked it, fights it. But as long as Poroshenko pretends it isn’t so, the EU’s weak reelection seekers can wiggle out of their nation’s commitments to international law, human rights and Ukraine. Politicians with their self-centered view forget that it wasn’t them – Obama, Cameron, Hollande – who signed the Budapest Memorandum on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, that it wasn’t them, who signed the Helsinki accords; it was the United States of America, it was the United Kingdom, it was the French Republic, it was the Federal Republic of Germany, that signed these agreements, contracts and charters; and by ignoring them, Obama, Merkel, Hollande, Cameron, betray their nations – they commit treason!

It is not “Peace for our time” they seek; they only seek reelection, only seek to satisfy their egos. Putin is not mistaken in his belief that these are the weakest leaders yet in the history of mankind- for they truly are; and morally the worst.

Ukraine is fighting for its independence; Ukraine is fighting for human rights, Ukraine is fighting for democracy; while Russia fights to end freedom, democracy and human rights in Ukraine and to plunder Ukraine as a colony once again. European politicians ignore this reality as they fear acknowledging it will upset their reelection chances. Therefore it falls upon Ukraine’s leaders to force this reality upon European leaders and thus force their hands.

Yet Poroshenko has agreed to not upset the reelection chances of European leaders by not publicly calling Putin’s aggression the war it is. As long as Putin keeps a thin veil over the use of Russian Army units in Ukraine, as long as Poroshenko plays along and doesn’t declare that Ukraine is at war with Russia, so long European politicians can pretend that there isn’t a real war going on; a war that would force them to enact truly harsh sanctions on Russia, arm Ukraine and increase defense spending – three actions with real costs for their nation’s economies and thus three actions that would reduce the politicians leeway to come up with election gifts for their electorate.

If Poroshenko wants to save Ukraine he has to upset both the EU’s leaders and Putin’s calculation: when Russia breaks the ceasefire Poroshenko must declare Ukraine to be at war with Russia and act accordingly. This means full mobilization, information of all international bodies that Ukraine has been invaded by Russia and a request in accordance with the UNO charter for help against the aggressor. Ukraine declaring war and notifying all nations about Russia’s aggression would force Putin to either back down instantly or send most of the Russian army into Ukraine and thus force the world to enact massive sanctions on Russia, something Putin can’t afford as the economic costs and the number of killed Russian troops would rapidly spiral out of control.

At the same time declaring to be at war with Russia would put all European leaders in the position to either side with Ukraine against the Russian aggression or come under pressure nationally for kowtowing to Putin. Almost no politician in Europe will dare side with Russia after Ukraine’s declaration of Russia waging war against it and those who do dare will be marginalized quickly. For Ukraine there is nothing to lose: if Russia re-starts the war then Ukraine can either keep pretending that there isn’t really a war and thus play into the hands of Putin, or Ukraine can finally decide to name things as they are, act accordingly and force the global community to ostracize Russia, while Russia’s youth dies in scores on Ukraine’s battlefields.

The big question is if Poroshenko is the man to lead Ukraine in this war. So far he hasn’t shown any competence in the diplomatic arena, no political ruthlessness when dealing with the likes of Putin and Merkel, no resolve when rallying the nation and no vigor when fighting the war. Instead of joining battle with all of Ukraine’s might and not yielding to aggression, Poroshenko has shied away from anything that could upset European leaders and raise the costs for Putin. If he continues on this path Ukraine will be dismembered and broken with no hope to regain its freedom and territory.

To hear that Poroshenko agreed to postpone the Ukraine–EU Association Agreement for 15 months is just the latest in fumbles and stumbles by him as this rewards Putin for his aggression and gives Russia a veto over Ukraine–EU relations. To postpone the agreement only benefits Russia and EU politicians, who do not wish to upset their reelection chances.

To win this war Poroshenko must focus on Ukraine’s interests and only Ukraine’s interests:

  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to agree with Russia (for now) that Russia isn’t a part of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. If Russia isn’t a party to the conflict then it has no right to demand concessions from Kyiv. If Russia insists on its demands for Kyiv to federalize the nation, then Russia must first publicly explain in what ways it is part of the conflict.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to treat Donbas like Gaza – to completely strangle it. Build a fence around the territory occupied by Russia and let Russia rebuild what it destroyed. Ignore the fake republics Putin created and let the criminals he armed and put in charge rule there with their terror regime. Starve the territory economically and let Moscow subsidize its moribund economy. Most of the educated and middle class population fled the fighting- provide housing and work for them in Western and Central Ukraine. It is in Ukraine’s interest to keep the remaining population in Russia’s occupation area as destitute and desperate as possible.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to reform the country rapidly and improve the economy at maximum speed. Radical reforms are key to overcome the current economic crisis. Only with a thriving economy Ukraine can finance the military forces it will need. Furthermore only a thriving, democratic Ukraine will be attractive to the oppressed and impoverished population imprisoned in Putin’s Donbas republics.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to combat corruption with a war-like ruthlessness and resolve.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to sell the national gas pipeline network as soon as possible and use the proceeds to improve the nation’s infrastructure, education system and military.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to ally itself with the nations that fully support it and publicly shame the ones that put pressure on it to surrender in the face of brutal Russian aggression.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to put as much economic distance between itself and the occupied Donbas and Crimea regions, even if that means to engage in economic subterfuge against the two regions. If Ukraine succeeds in improving its economy, while keeping the occupied areas economies blighted, both, in due course, will want to rejoin a prosperous, democratic Ukraine – just as East Germany rejoined West Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • It is in Ukraine’s interest to draw Russia into open war with Ukraine. Putin can engage in open war with Ukraine but his regime won’t survive it, therefore Ukraine’s must ensure that when Russia breaks the current ceasefire Russia is forced into open war against Ukraine.

Ukraine cannot afford further halfhearted actions and measures. Reforms, the fight against corruption, the total strangulation of occupied areas, the improvement of the military, the improvement of economic conditions, focusing on its true allies and ignoring Russian demands are key for strengthening Ukrainians resolve to fight for and defend their nation. If Poroshenko is not capable of putting Ukraine’s interests before anything else, then he isn’t the man to lead the nation in these difficult times, as he will not be able to inspire the nation to fight.

Ukraine is in a much better position to fight and repel the invader than Croatia was in 1991. Ukraine has more people, more troops, more weapons, more strategic depth, more time to prepare and more friends than Croatia ever had, yet Ukraine’s leaders haven’t shown the same vigor and bravery as Croatia’s leaders yet.

This must change! Either Poroshenko changes or Poroshenko must be changed.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Euromaidan Press as an organization.

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  • Толік Тошу Триниті

    Very well thought out and written! Kudos!

  • Stian Bjøntegaard

    I still have hopes for Petro Poroshenko, but he needs to address those tasks, those issues with greater energy and determination.
    Even if there are things looking bad, I believe time will be working for you, given that you use it right.
    Among many important points above, I believe that these two:

    “Ukraine’s interest to rUkraine’s interest to reform the country rapidly and improve the economy at maximum speed. Radical reforms are key to overcome the current economic crisis. eform the country rapidly and improve the economy at maximum speed. Radical reforms are key to overcome the current economic crisis.”


    “It is in Ukraine’s interest to combat corruption with a war-like ruthlessness and resolve.”
    are the most important, in order to gain more international support.

    The longer time the cease-fire holds, the more difficult will it be for Russia to continue the denial of involvement. More and more questions will rise in Russia.. Young men never coming home, they will be missed. And it will cost Russia more and more financially, in terms of expenses of running the war, and because of sanctions.

    Maybe I sound like I believe I am an expert, I am not, I am just someone who sympathizes with your struggles.

  • Jim

    You’ve made lots of good points. I disagree somewhat on your criticisms of Poroshenko. It seems a bit too early to judge his efforts. He was quite aggressive following the previous cease-fire and would have exterminated the roaches had it not been for Putin’s injection of additional critters.

    Putin’s action was long-expected and the white trucks provided a side-spectacle for his sleight-of-hand. Can’t blame Poroshenko for that dirty deal. I think the cease-fire was well-timed to halt the momentum of the Chechen/Russian active vacationers. Now there is a chance to protect Mariupol.

    Your points about the weakness of the Western response are super. It is a shame to see such weakness in the US, Great Britain, Europe. Merkel is the best of them all but Putin seems to hold some special place in her heart. Obama seems to have gotten significantly grayer since Sochi,.

    I think that Putin has been making nuclear references in private as well as in public.

  • Dave Ralph

    The comparison to Milosevic and Serbia/Croatia is totally irrelevant, for the glaringly obvious reason that Milosevic had no nuclear arsenal and therefore no leverage over the West.
    Poroshenko is the Ukrainian leader who Putin fears above all others, because of Poroshenko’s broad centrist appeal to the voters, his implacable pro-EU positions, his excellent judgement, courage, and strong relations with Western leaders. Putin wants to see Poroshenko overthrown by radicals (Tymoshenko has always been Putin’s favored candidate), and the “pro-Ukrainian” hard-liners who attack Poroshenko’s moderate positions are in some perverse way actually doing the dirty work of the Kremlin.

    • nysq1

      Agree very much. Tympshenko really a cancer on society-nothing but an infighter and populist.

  • Brent

    i think Poroshenko has done an incredible job considering how Western leaders like Obama, Merkl and Hollande have been willing to sell out Ukraine and it’s sovereign territory and interests for fear of Putin not being able to ‘save face’. The West has shown that any agreement they sign is worthless with their failure to back up the Budapest memorandum. Any countries neighboring Russia and under threat of Putin’s ‘protection of Russian speakers’ need to be worried what excuses the U.S., EU and NATO will use to not defend them even though the NATO charter mandates they must.. Poroshenko, pretty much ON HIS OWN, has stood up to Putin as best as his country is capable. Don’t forget their are many of Putin’s “useful idiots” like Viktor Medvedchuk waiting in the wings to replace the last Kremlin stooge Ukrainian President Yanukovych as nothing more than a Kremlin stooge.

    The real issue for Ukraine is all the West has been willing to provide so far is moral support, and even that has been more encouragement for Poroshenko to strike a deal with Ukraine. Milosevic faced a unified West that did not turn a blind eye to his atrocities, and also face a united NATO that was willing to commit troops and equipment. Poroshenko has none of that support and Ukraine is left to fight Russia on its own. Feckless leaders like Obama are even scared to use the word ‘war’, or to supply Ukraine with military hardware to defend itself.

    If Russia is unwilling to negotiate a reasonable deal with Ukraine to supply natural gas, then Ukraine should shut down its pipelines to the transfer natural gas to the EU. Let Putin lose the revenue and let the EU have to finally stand up and take Ukraine’s interests seriously and demand Putin quit lying and remove all of his troops and equipment from all of Ukraine.

    • caap02

      Actually, technically, the NATO charter does not compel a military response. While it says that an attack on one is an attack on all, it does not specify what measures member states are supposed to take. So yeah, the Baltics and Poland (and all the other new members) should be very worried.

      • bismarckfish

        Yes all what is located west of Ukraine should be very concerned now. USA is about to step back – it so or so has a benefit of escalation in europe…export chances as well as a russia in war is not a bad option. USA jumps in if it needs and also can stay focused on China. The middle east is a hotspot, it decides now who can get enough oil to let his “machines” running. Parts of EU more and more isolated and not unite in the question how to solve the conflict…a good meal for a preventive strike from east…I’m for peace but if EU not will massive invest in military and fortify borders it can be overrunned by and an already preparing/training russia…

  • James Anthony Bretney

    “It is in Ukraine’s interest to keep the remaining population in Russia’s occupation area as destitute and desperate as possible.”

    Innocent people still live there – mostly old people, young people and poor people. One Euromaidan activist’s father lives there with his father who won’t leave. I get that this war. But if you write off the lives of the innocent lambs among the goats, you are no better than the Soviets.

  • James Anthony Bretney

    How will you win the hearts and minds of these people if you don’t help them?

  • Arctic_Slicer

    I actually don’t put any blame on Poroshenko; he’s in a hard position and I think he’s actually doing quite well all things considered.

  • misusan

    I agree with some points but this is nonsense,

    It is in Ukraine’s interest to draw Russia into open war with Ukraine. Putin can engage in open war with Ukraine but his regime won’t survive it, therefore Ukraine’s must ensure that when Russia breaks the current ceasefire Russia is forced into open war against Ukraine.

    The Ukranian army has no chance against the Russians. I think Putin s regime will survive because they control Russia with no opposition at all

    I also don’t think the solution is more conflict as you suggest. For what? more people will die.

    “Ukraine is in a much better position to fight and repel the invader than Croatia.” It’s obvious what position that is after Ilovaisk.

    • caap02

      Why did Putin agree to this current cease-fire (such as it is) at this time? Was it to ward off impending EU sanctions? Or was it because of the kufuffle being caused by the returning “Hruz 200”; the dissatisfaction in the Russia officer corps about how this war was being fought; the secret funerals; the families being threatened because their son/relative returned dead or maimed? Enough body bags returning to Russia could well be enough to make the brittle structure that is Putin’s power crack.

  • Guest

    Extremely well-written with some good points.

  • hammermann

    Some interesting points, but some idiotic ones. Force Putin into open war by declaring war on Russia? How log would Ukraine last in open war- 1 week? And Putin doesn’t need open war- 2000-3000 regular soldiers was all it took to trun the tide against the exhausted demoralized Nat. Guard + Army. Air support was the key deciding factor, without HARMS and jamming planes, Ukraine could barely do air ops, their one huge advantage cause Russia hasn’t been sending glaring obvious videogenic jets across the border. In general it ‘s why central govs usually crush rebels – they rule the skies.

    Greater ruthlessness and speed was essential, 500 dedicated commandos could have squelched this insurgency in March or April, but without a real President, they ignored all exhortations to do that (Turchenov was inadequate). All this horrible destruction and bloodletting could have been prevented-may be 8000 dead (nc Russians). Poro is smart but a businessman- he will cut his losses early (usually the best indicator of a winner, but in war, fortitude is sometimes paramount). Don’t agree he is that weak- you have anyone better? Hrytsenko may have been, but Poros got dpeth of resources, connections, power.. that are all invaluable. Ukrainians can be transitory and irresolute, or relentless, as they were in Maidan. Not sure how they would come down a protracted war- maybe in a year, after sanctions have wreaked their havoc on Russian, if the weak-willed West keeps them, Ukraine can roll back over the now-hated DNR bosses and bullies. Yugoslavia had no member a nuclear armed superpower, so is a poor example, but thinking in the long term is good- something Ukraine has never been adept at. The battle against corruption and 5th columnists, is key.

  • C_Low

    Ukrainian military after the gutting Porchenko instigated on it was/is ill prepared to fight a war with Russia, fighting well armed russian trained “insurgents” was all it could handle.

    The Ukrainian military needs time to retrain rearm and get back up to the level it should be at with an aggressive neighbor on its border.

    Ukraine should use this cease fire to concentrate on three main things.
    1. Corruption must be attacked full on. This is a major lever the Russians have used and will continue to use if it is allowed to go business as usual. It saps the strength and potential of the nation on all fronts.
    2. Economic deregulation to help draw in western investment and help business. Same time and part of this initiative Ukraine should exploit all known or possible gas deposits and setup in Odessa the intake facilities for natural gas ships.
    3. Military Military Military, the military budget should be shifted to achieving the NATO standards both training and equipment. Military budget should be increased to minimum 4%GDP more desirable would be 6-8%GDP. All the volunteer groups need to be disbanded and dispersed integrated into the regular forces.

    • Mat

      Poroshenko did not “gut” the military, quite the opposite

    • hammermann

      Presumably you mean Yanukovich’s gutting of the military.

      • C_Low

        Yes thank you hammerman for the clarification. Sorry not Ukrainian American. President Viktor Yanukovych is what I meant.

        • Mat

          makes sense then!

  • Jur Ko

    Croatia had much better military balance towards Serbia, comparison is eligible but not completely valid. Loads of good points though..

    • stefan

      and NATO was able to crush Milošević in any time, without real damage or consequences, with military or with sanction. both of this was use and both was astonishing for Serbia, and painless for the coalition.

  • Jur Ko

    and I hope you’re prediction of continued war won’t materialize this time

  • Fred Hernandez

    I agree with most of your points as well. But I would still give Poroshenko more time to rebuild and strengthen his military. Having friends from the war zone I cannot be against this ceasefire. What you are advocating Poroshenko to do will cause thousands and thousands of innocent people to die. I also see the conflict reaching Zaporizhia (which Russia really wants), Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and perhaps even Odesa. And we will be able to compare these cities and the destruction to what happened in Chechnya. It is the way Putin makes war… total destruction. At this point I would opt for fencing the terrorist’s heaven and letting Putin feed them. But if the ceasefire does not hold then Ukraine should declare it a war and target the 20,000 Russian troops along its border. The Chamberlains’ current rulers of the free world are a shame, pathetic cowards.

  • stefan

    “It is in Ukraine’s interest to keep the remaining population in Russia’s occupation area as destitute and desperate as possible.” if this came on the president’s menu list, as real solution, this will give Russia full right to overwhelmed and crash Ukrainian army in Donbas. at this moment, Ukraine doesn’t have a firepower which will stand upon a full-scale Russia’s invasion. no one can’t punishing people just because they wanted to be a part of another country. and if he think he can, he breaking some fundamental UN charters about civil right and individual freedom, and this suggestion making most disgusting fashion in that way. someone who take arms in his hand, he, and only he is the target, either for the bullet, either for some other methods. and people of Catalonia, Veneto, Scotland, wanted to separate. for someone there is a legal exit, and for someone not, but no one will suffer because he wanted to see his region separate from the rest of the country. Ukraine has good prospect to become a great power, but for now paying the price for lack of reforms and wasting of time in past. Ukraine needs time and because of that ceasefire is wisely solution, if that solution is possible.

  • Canigou

    So the author believes the solution to the civil war in the Donbass is for the Ukraine to declare war against the neighboring country of Russia:

    “. . .when Russia breaks the ceasefire Poroshenko must declare Ukraine to be at war with Russia and act accordingly.”

    Then he says:

    “It is in Ukraine’s interest to draw Russia into open war with Ukraine.”

    The author confidently says Putin’s regime wouldn’t survive such a war. What facts support such a crazy belief? His regime is quite well established, and quite popular domestically.

    Russia is a massive military force compared to the Ukraine, whose corrupt and incompetent army is now depleted , demoralized, and undersupplied, and for months wasn’t able to defeat the greatly outnumbered separatists (who now have become a more experienced and potent fighting force).

    Russia does not want a war against the Ukraine. If the Ukraine declares unconditional war against it , Russia would be well within its rights to respond by invading with multiple divisions and with air strikes. No one, not even NATO, could reasonably criticize Russia for unleashing its military against a country which declares open war against it. And NATO wouldn’t and couldn’t do anything about it anyway. Russia could crush the Ukrainian army in a matter of days, causing chaos and in the country, the government to fall, and Yats and Poroshenko to flee like Yanukovich.

    The author seems to have no moral qualms about, and to expressly support, the idea of the Ukrainian government keeping the the Donbass “blighted” and its residents “as destitute and desperate as possible.”

    This article reads like a parody. The scary part is that there may actually be people in the Ukrainian government who really think this way.

    • Mat

      “Russia does not want a war against the Ukraine. ”

      Have you been living under a rock? They’re at war with Ukraine. Right now. Of course they want it.

  • DDJ

    “The battle against corruption and 5th columnists, is key.”
    If the current government will not replace those who are ‘engaged’ in these practices, which are against the best interests and survival of Ukraine, then the People need to remove them.
    Only when these two things are eradicated in Ukraine will Ukraine have a chance to breath the fresh air of FREEDOM they so justly deserve.

  • Gryzelda Wrr

    During war there is only one thing worse than a weak government. No government at all. I wonder if it is not Putin’s goal to undermine the position of Poroshenko. Divide and rule.

  • bismarckfish

    a German point of view: Legal we are a “colony” of the USA
    since 1945. Only russia pull away it’s troops in 1994 and respects
    our rights to be fully independent again. As I hear whisper: Putin
    offers Merkel to give back Königsberg aka Kalinningrad. And germany
    economically as well as political try as much as possible build the
    bridge: Germany (EU) -> Russia -> China and has some
    historically grown partners in south america and middle east. Why
    this makes sense for Germany? To gain independence of the “sinking”
    ship USA-Britain that just keep alive due two world wars and the
    Dollar Domination. Merkels cabinett is getting much pressure from
    outside (US+City of London) and inside (german industry lobby) and
    try to fullfill all the demands as well has is own hegemonial
    strategy…you can see in building Klitschko via Konrad Adenauer
    Stiftung to represent Germans interests in ukraine despites the US
    interest. Putin said in a speech that he hopes that Germany will
    support the “reunion” of the soviet russia as well as
    russia support the reunion of Germany in 1989. Why USA is not acting?
    Mighty intrests in the U.S. that also inconsistent int their aim are
    about to plunder the country nearly since the end of the Kennedy era.
    You can see it if you look at their money system. Now their in a weak
    situation (that of course can be changed if to be wanted)…weak
    economy, rising poverty, deindustrialisation, army that is engaged
    around the globe…everywhere a little bit but nowhere really strong
    like Russia could build up a front line in Eurasia. So they rely now
    on their geo located continent and counterpunch any actions only if
    necessary. Since Syria they in defensive and let do the EU the work.
    An EU is a near collapsing project of Europes Elite again because of
    the Euro money system – a big instability from inside is growing
    day per day and will leading in major uprisings just as maidan ( I
    moitor this since years). So the initiative is now in Putins hand
    because he has to threat only China. But if they can keep up their
    both defense intrests against USA – Putin more or less can do what he
    want in eastern europe. And Germany try now to make an more
    hegemonial redefinition of itsself. Military and economical. But
    military its to weak and needs always senior partners. And for now
    it’s try to sail in the NATO shadow and hopes Putin wouldn’t be too
    thirsty. SCENARIO: But these unhearted behavior will drive us into
    WW3…USA step back…because if Europe on fire it remains
    strong…EU is highly on a brink of collapsing…and who is filling
    that vacuum? Putin is using this situation and push forward for now
    into an unforseen situation of escalation and germany is poorly
    prepared to defense itsef as well as EU will just have
    uncoordinated/half hearted reactions. What poroshenko try do for now?
    Balancing as much as possible..try sell every sanction as big
    success, arming ukraine as much as possible and try to handle the
    east that for now he can just loose from a military point of few. Any
    stronger national action will be counterpunched by russia twice and
    seen as an „aggression“. Putin so or so cant step back…he will
    loose face at the home front as well as determine russia as a
    regional power that nothing „get’s to be done in his own „garden“
    (talking in their terms)…he already play the „all or nothing card
    in crimea“…and it will comes to that point very soon because
    Ukraine is standing on a wall and has nothing too loose as
    well…survival and independence or slavery (blue or red). And then
    EU is forced to act that Putin can prevent if he start attack the
    flanks Baltikum, Skandinavien and in south Balkan. And then push into
    the central. He will do it during peace talks like always and as anti
    fascist of course… Now it’s understandable why we just speak
    [Germany]..we simply cant do anything with 400 Panzer and 60000
    ground troops and exporting our goods in exchange of nothing valid
    (loans)…We can build a wall of Sprinter and VW buses but not stop
    putin in it’s will to take what he want…We need understand that if
    we want resistance ANY agression then we normal ppl need take it in
    our own hands like it happends in Ukraine already and defense it
    ourself. We can’t wait on a corrupt elite that want play chess on the
    pawns back. I need to tribute my highest respect to the ukraine
    people – that mainly act independent and always try to remain to be
    true to itself, try resistant war, manipulation and slavery and it
    suffer death and torture for that standing. Peace are in your hands
    for now! (my geopolitical argumentations are free to criticiseand just barely described as well as lack of sources)

  • Murf

    Good points.
    I wouldn’t be to hard on Poro to quickly. at the time a ceasefire was necessary. While not perfect it has taken away the initiative from the Russians. So far their shelling and attacks have been ineffectual.

    What I would like to see is Ukraine to stop worrying about what the west is or is not doing.
    Instead I would like to see what Ukraine is doing to win this war.
    UA has a well developed high tech heavy industry.
    For crying out loud Ukraine can build ICBMs, launch satellites, build tanks, your IT industry identified the STUXNEX virus for Iran.
    When ever a lot of Oplat tanks is shipped from the plant make a big show of it. Have a Orthodox priest bless them.Heck have a Catholic priest and a Rabbi too and cover all the bases.
    When a fighter is refurbished have the press there.
    Show truck loads of body armor being issued.
    You need Electronic Counter Measures for the air forces start developing them and publicize the fact.(the Russians will know so no don’t worry about it.)
    Ukraine can over come this and be stronger.
    But it is going to have to be Ukraine’s victory.

  • Rods

    Personally, I don’t think Poroshenko could have played his, very difficult, poor hand much better than he has in his first 100 days in office.

    If Poroshenko launched an all out war against Russia, the following would happen:

    1. The western support and coalition he has built up to support the country economically, through sanctions and finally to provide limited military assistance would evaporate. The west would feel this was somebody that was a loose cannon that they couldn’t trust and do business with.

    2. Ukraine would lose very quickly in an all out war, yes it would be bloody and costly for both sides. But in terms of quantity and quality of equipment, better trained troops, air superiority and especially logistics, the result, sadly, would be a foregone conclusion.

    3. Putin would not be threatened at all, where his propaganda machine would portray it as far-right Nazis attacking Russia, just like in 1941, in fact his rating would probably be even higher! His current position is much more difficult where a combination of sanctions, a tanking economy, a prolonged war and cargo 200 fatigue by the population and falling ratings, making the current scenario one to settle rather than prolong.

    4. Could he hold the country in the light of a hostile population? Long term probably not, especially the western side, but do you really want by choice another Afghanistan or worse a Chechnya with all the casualties for both civilians and Ukrainian combatants for the next how many years, 10, 20…..? Any settlement if he decided to cede the western side would be on his terms, with his man in charge. These are all worse options than you have right now.

    Yes, there are still grave dangers for Ukraine, but with western countries on-board escalation of the conflict is being met with increasing sanctions, that will take 1 to 2 years to fully bite, but these on top of the costs of a hostile Ukraine will have to figure in Putin’s calculations, along with a long drawn out limited war with the Ukraine army’s effectiveness increasing all of the time. A winter war will also be much worse for Putin where his troops are in hostile territory.

    This does not mean that their aren’t risks to any settlement. Putin will want this to provide maximum exertion and influence in the Rada and on limiting Presidential actions. This is why he is going the special status route so he has as many pro-Russian deputies in the Rada, something that will not happen with a frozen conflict or separate Donbas. The parties in the 26th October elections need to make the electorate well aware of this as this will shape how Ukraine evolves in the next parliament.

    What you won’t get is your ideal political solution, but nor will Putin as it will have to be on the basis of acceptable compromise and common ground to both parties.

    Ideally, the bully next door would had left Ukrainians alone to their right to self determination and to sign any trade and security agreements that they so wish. But he hasn’t so it is the case trying to get a good settlement and then getting on with winning the peace. This means making the urgent reforms your country needs to get your economy growing. Done right there is nothing stopping Ukraine becoming a rich European country for the benefit of the many, rather than the corrupt few.

    • nysq1

      Great analysis. It’s reallly the optimist version and the only way out of this mess.

    • Dave Ralph

      Absolutely. Under the current compromise scenario, Putin is the long-term loser, not Ukraine. The only way Putin wins is if he can goad the Ukrainians into engaging in continued military conflict. Still, with the Kyiv parliament full of Donetsk pro-Russian stooges, it’s going to be difficult to get any reforms implemented.

  • Blush! Media

    Great work, Mr. Theiner

  • Viktor Amruš

    Oh, but our president Tuđman DID sign 13 cease-fire agreements. And we’ve been cursing him because of that.
    What he understood (ad we didn’t) is the importance of that “hybrid” arrangement.
    We often needed a brake to regroup smuggle some arms and THEN fignt.
    You will need to pick your battles (and timing) carefully.

    Also, don’t forget that Croatia was economically superior to Serbia and that’s not the case in this Ukraine-Russia situation. This is why you need to be even smater than we (our late president Tuđman, to be exact) were.

    So to cut the long story short:
    1.) Prepare for long fight
    2.) Work on your economy (very important: fight corruption as much as possible)
    3.) Have intiative in “International community” (which is 500 people with name and surname)
    4.) Teach your youth English language. You need that for propaganda war.
    5.) Create your “Internet brigade”, the same way Putin created his.
    6.) Work on your army. Introduce new systems, drones especially and invest heavily into training and simulations.
    7.) Keep battlefield active by having small, controlled actions of very limited scope from time to time in order to avoid making status quo permanent.