Sunday, November 30, 2014

The West is letting Putin Get His Own Way

Ukraine’s new parliament was sworn in today. More than 400 members took their oaths, but 27 seats remain vacant – the annexation of Crimea, plus the war in eastern Ukraine, prevented deputies being elected there.
Putin signs the final decree completing the annexation of 
It is just one year since people seeking democracy and prosperity began protesting in Kiev’s Maidan Square, leading to the downfall of a kleptocratic regime and descent of a new cold war in Europe. How rapidly the news agenda moves on. Crimea was the first annexation on the continent since 1945 but is now largely forgotten, despite prices soaring and people disappearing or dying in suspicious circumstances if they cross their new rulers. Human Rights Watch has catalogued the import of Vladimir Putin’s trademark tactics of abusing activists and harassing journalists.
Pro-Russia militants at Donetsk airport: ‘A place that so 
recently demonstrated national pride is a depressing symbol 
of this destructive struggle.’ 
Photograph: Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty Images
Meanwhile, a crippling conflict drags on in Europe. More than 4,300 combatants and civilians have been killed since Russia and its stooges began stirring up trouble eight months ago. Almost a million people have fled the afflicted region, the numbers surging in recent weeks. A report by UN monitors disclosed an average of 13 people dying each day since a supposed ceasefire between Ukraine, Russia and the rebels in early September, while all the protagonists suffer painful economic fallout.
So what’s being done? The message from last week’s G20 summit seemed clear: Putin was being sent to diplomatic Siberia. Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, told the Russian president he would shake his hand but had only one thing to say: “You need to get out of Ukraine.” Then Putin was subjected to snubs, shunned at lunch and berated by other world leaders; little surprise he fled home early. Few will shed tears over such treatment of a despotic figure doing such damage to his nation’s interests both at home and abroad.
A Ukrainian woman cries as pro-Russia militants parade to 
mark Donetsk and Lugansk regions' independence from 
But this was gesture politics of the worst kind from western leaders, posturing in public while seeming to have little strategy for how to resolve a spiralling crisis in the midst of Europe. Instead, Ukraine seems to be slipping down the foreign policy agenda.
Read the rest of the op-ed HERE.

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