The Russian bear must be left with meat after its early spring hunt. The hard part is: how much?
The veteran strategist Edward Luttwak argues for a “re-engineering” of Ukraine that would hand Crimea and the Eastern regions to Russia, saving the Western rump for Europe. This would, writes Luttwak, “offer the promise of stability at last, with the major disadvantage of legitimizing Putin’s use of force.”
Unprincipled as it is, a capitulation to Russia may be what the hesitant European Union, rife with part-submerged splits, will settle for.
Crimea should remain Ukrainian, but with greater autonomy, argues Henry Kissinger in the Washington Post. Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol would be “unambiguously” Russian territory (the city last week voted for this). Further, Kissinger writes, “Ukraine should not join NATO.” All this is in pursuit of what Kissinger sees as Ukraine’s unavoidable geopolitical fate: to be a “bridge” between Russia and Europe, but belonging to neither.
The EU, unable to be decisive, is waiting on events. The largest of these will come on March 16, when the Russian-organized referendum on Crimea’s status will be held. If the vote is for “reuniting Crimea with Russia,” as the ballot paper will put it, the EU will have to do something, likely on the economic front; a prospect that is already worrying Russian oligarchs.