What would it take for Russia to walk a way from violence and seek peaceful coexistence with its neighbors? It’s certainly hard to see a way out right now.
The dogs of war in the east have been let slip again. On Monday, Petro Poroshenko, the recently elected Ukrainian president, said a 10-day unilateral truce with the separatist, pro-Russian forces in the eastern part of his country had ended: Force would now be required to “free our lands.”
Ukrainian units were moved in to try to bring the cities and areas controlled by the heavily armed separatists under control. By Tuesday morning, the Ukrainian military was reporting air and artillery strikes.
“Jaw jaw,” said Winston Churchill, “is always better than war war.” “Jaw” – including a phone call in which Poroshenko took part with the leaders of France, Germany and Russia over the weekend, aimed at prolonging the truce — has again given way to war. Poroshenko justifies it on existential grounds: Armed men are seeking to take control of parts of a sovereign state, fundamentally challenging the monopoly of force any state must strive to maintain. His position, if difficult, is clear.
But what will President Vladimir Putin of Russia choose? Peace or war?
Presently, he’s committed to the latter path. After the easy taking of Crimea in March, Putin first encouraged and then discouraged the pro-Russian forces rebelling against Kiev’s rule.