Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Big powers fight, small ones suffer

By He Wei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-22 10:20

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to defend the country's security at all costs, including using "unconventional weapons" if necessary, the possibility of a war between Russia and the West is still low because both sides know a war won't resolve any dispute. The politicians who look and sound aggressive are actually cautiously judging each other and avoiding an open conflict.

Delivering a speech earlier this month, Putin said Russia chooses diplomacy to defend its interests and respects those of other nations, and it does not want to break off ties with the EU or the US. That has raised hopes of a resolution.

But Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced in November that when Ukraine meets all the requirements, it would hold a referendum to decide whether or not to join NATO. This obvious plan of counter-balancing Russia with NATO will be opposed by Moscow, because if Ukraine joins the Western military bloc, Russia will lose the buffer zone that separates it from NATO states.

There is hardly any doubt that Russia will thwart Ukraine's efforts to join NATO, and one possible way it can do so is to increase support for the rebel forces in eastern Ukraine. Which means there is little hope of the Ukraine crisis being resolved in the near future.

Whatever the outcome, Ukraine is the biggest loser in this game of power politics, because political chaos, Russian sanctions and civil war have dealt a deadly blow to its economy. Ukraine needs to start rebuilding, while the world has the duty to reunite to help it do so - both are challenging tasks, and only if some great statesmen come to the fore and use their political wisdom to make the West and Russia see reason can the they be achieved.

The author is a researcher at the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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