Friday, February 20, 2015

Ukraine Policy in Transition

Although the Minsk agreement has frozen EU and U.S. policy toward Ukraine, while the fragile cease fire agreement is implemented, it is clear from the last week of hurried meetings in Munich, Minsk and Washington, President Obama’s and Prime Minister Merkel’s diplomacy and sanction policy is in trouble, at least among Washington policymakers.

Of course, a division among the Western alliance is a goal of President Putin, but the likely outcome may be less to his liking. More severe banking and finance sanctions, some aimed at additional members of his wealthy inner circle, are in the offering. More important, a serious examination has begun of a military defense strategy for Kiev and the western parts of Ukraine that’s not under separatists and Russian control.

The importance of the Merkel-Obama press conference (2-9-15) was reinforced by the presence of the entire U.S. foreign policy team: Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry, Security Council Rice and Counselor Podesta (Carter, the new defense secretary, had only been confirmed not sworn in). Biden and Kerry both reflect the new harder line toward Russia. And Rice has been ordered to begin examining military options.

Evidence of the policy shift is overwhelming, and even the President, who is still resisting the change in Ukraine, has stepped up with a consideration of a military equipment option if this latest cease fire agreement collapses.

Evidence of the shift in policy includes:

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