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I think what is stopping a Russian invasion of Ukraine is mainly that it has no good outcomes for Putin. Best case he acquire the east of Ukraine without bloodshed and gains a angry western neighbour in the rump-Ukraine that would be screaming bloody murder and begging to join NATO. Worst case, he gets bogged down in a war of occupation, which can't be won because he can't treat it like Chechnya. Add loosing gas exports because pipelines are blown up. Such a war is something that would seriously undermine Putins rule in Russia.

I think best case for Russia right now is a negotiated solution where much of Kiev's power is devolved to the regions. Then Russias influence can not simply be couped away in Kiev, and we go back to the old power-plays where Russia holds most of the cards in Ukraine. This is what Russia is officially pushing for, and I think they are honestly trying for that as best solution.

I am worried that the west will refuse negotiations and that facts on the ground will evolve towards civil war, in particular in light of recent stormings of government buildings and declarations of local republics in the east. I think Russia will try to stay out officially (while unofficially supporting their side, just as the west will be supporting the other side), but might get dragged in if there are massacres in the east.

A test if I am right or wrong about Putins plans will be the next couple of days. Will Russia send troops to local republics that has requested them? Will they accept provinces that vote to join Russia? I think they won't and that Crimea with its bases was a special case.

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by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 04:04:33 PM EST

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