No way in a million years I would touch this with a barge pole as a president. The Ukrainian crisis is insolvable in its present form. Why?
- It serves Putin’s personal political interest. Including Crimea into Russia—instead of leaving it as another formerly independent breakaway region like Abkhazia, or Transdniestria—was intended as a “poisoned pill” that any successor of Putin must swallow. Handing back Crimea, in any form, means for many years ahead a political suicide for every would-be Russian ruler.
- It serves Russia’s interest, because the annexation of Crimea builds up the expansionist imperial strand of Russian nationalism. Hence the unique cohesion of the Russian political class we have seen ever since 2014.
- It serves Ukraines interest, because the external threat from Russia has done more for Ukrainian national self-awarenes in the last three years than in all preceding decades and centuries.
- It got off Ukraine’s back the most pro-Russian and least economically effective regions, and pulverized the political influence Russia was painstakingly building up during the last decades.
- It serves the NATO’s interest, because it takes off the agenda the Ukrainian NATO membership issue. While at the same time it vindicates a program of a massive rearmament of Ukraine as a standalone military power directed toward Russia and serving as a buffer against any Russian move westward.
- It serves the West’s strategic interest. Annexation by Russia of a another European country’s terrotory is a profound disruption of the post-WWII European security system. It fills the void that during the post-Soviet era weakened the military, political and ideological cohesion of the NATO countries, and created a new impetus for the American presence in Europe and NATO cooperation.