On Wednesday there will, once again, be a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss the
re-establishment of a peace treaty between the Ukraine and the pro-Russia Military Separatists. The attendees will include: German Chancellor Angela Merkel; French President Francois Hollande; Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Oddly enough, one of the two parties to the actual War in Eastern Ukraine, the Separatist Militia, will not be represented. I wonder why?
It sure looks to me like everyone who will be in attendance is no longer concerned with maintaining the charade that Russia is not the driving force behind the conflict. There is no way that the separatists could survive the past seven months without financial support, weapons and supplies. Sure, some are retired Russian military who settled in Eastern Ukraine; but, I cannot believe that active duty Russian soldiers are also volunteering to fight while they are on leave from Russia. That just doesn’t make sense.
Chancellor Merkel met with President Barack Obama, at the White House on Monday, to discuss their respective plans for ultimately negotiating and dealing with Putin. Since Russia is a major trading partner with Europe, they do not want to push him too far. Eastern Europe, however, favors arming the Ukrainians since they are concerned with Putin potentially widening his area of aggression. All sides also realize that Putin could very well escalate the conflict if Ukraine receives upgraded weaponry.
President Obama has stated on several occasions that he is seriously considering providing Ukraine with state of the art defensive weapons, and the necessary training to use them. I wonder if Merkel and Obama had discussed the point that upgrading Ukraine might weigh on Putin, and certainly Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko will remind President Putin of Obama’s willingness to do so.
It is believed by some analysts that Chancellor Merkel and President Obama are really close in their personal outlook on the situation. But the Good Cop/Bad Cop option–playing the fear and comfort emotions off each other–might have a potential use. Of course, there is still the fact that several cease fires have not really lasted long between the two combatants, thus leading to some 5,300 casualties. And, how many are civilians?
I believe that there is the potential to offer to allow Russia to maintain Crimea, which is where the Russian Navy’s only warm water port at Sebastopol is located, might be an option–perhaps along with a paved land bridge to get there from Russia. I still cannot imagine Putin allowing that base to fall under Western control. Will anything actually be settled today in Minsk? I wonder. Stay tuned!