Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Time for US to defuse Ukraine crisis

By Edward Lozansky and Martin Sieff (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-15 08:32

Time for US to defuse Ukraine crisis

The second wave of US sanctions against Russian officials and the heated rhetorical exchange between the leaders of both countries, with each side blaming the other, show that Washington-Moscow relations have bottomed out. Ukraine has moved closer to civil war after Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in the eastern part of the country voted for independence in a referendum on Monday.

So, it is time to abandon political posturing and introduce some rationality into the discussions on Ukraine. The stakes are too high to allow the confrontation between Washington and Moscow to continue, not least because the consequences are unpredictable.

The violence and chaos spreading across Ukraine have the potential to spark a much wider conflict in Europe on a scale not seen since 1945. The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's military hardware and personnel along Russia's borders and the threats of further devastating Western sanctions intended to cripple the Russian economy are pushing people toward a nightmarish situation that neither the United States nor its European allies are prepared to face.

A certain modicum of cynicism and hypocrisy is perhaps unavoidable in foreign policies, but choosing to overlook any of the interim Kiev government's wrongdoings, and blaming every instance of violence on Russian agent provocateurs exceeds these limits - or, to borrow from US President Barack Obama's parlance, crosses every red line.

The recent Geneva agreement on the Ukraine crisis was a step in the right direction. But it has not changed the untenable situation on the ground. For example, Kiev has not followed through on its promise to disarm illegally armed militant groups - such as the nationalist Right Sector paramilitary group - which is one of the vital points of the Geneva agreement. Nor does it show any inclination of doing so any time soon.

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