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U.W.: How much does the future of the Donbas and Crimea depend on Russia now?

Itís mostly about Russia, unfortunately, because I donít see the will of the international community to use coercive power to change the situation in either place. There would be a change option theoretically, in terms of capacity, but I donít see one in terms of intentions. There are very few people who want to go to war with Russia over Crimea of the Donbas in my country. My guess is that the same is true in most of Europe. I do believe, however, that there are many people in the United States who want to help Ukraine to defend itself. I am one of them. That debate is still ongoing.

In the long run, however, Ukraineís economic and democratic success is crucial for reunification. Ukraine is not the first divided society. Other countries have endured this kind of occupation and division. Success stories after the division are those where it was clear that one side lived better than other. In Germany, for instance, the attractiveness of West Germanyís model helped bring about reunification.

U.W.: You mentioned earlier that big decisions in politics are often made based on emotions rather than logic. Do think that Putin is acting based on emotions? How would you describe his psychological portrait as a politician?So in the long run thatís a very important thing for the Ukrainians to remember that they need to make their country a much more attractive place to be part of, compared to the alternative of living in Russia or some ambiguous zone of sovereignty like the Donbas right now. People in the Donbas should clearly understand that Russia is not helping them. Putin is just using them to weaken Ukraine, not actually thinking much about their wellbeing or future; he is deliberately keeping it ambiguous. If I were living there and were thinking about how I am going to raise my kids in a place that is ambiguous in terms of sovereignty, I would want to leave. Are people in the Donbas better off today than they were two years ago? The answer is no? Why are they worse off? Because Putinís proxies showed up and seized power. Someday, I hope they will understand the source of current economic despair and seek a return to normal life.

I see Putin more as a tactical leader, not a strategic one, and making emotional decisions. There is no question on my mind that thatís what happened with Crimea. When it was cheap to take Crimea, he became tempted to go further. That was unfortunate. Annexation should have been more costly to him. That could have helped to prevent the future aggression.

The other thing I would say is that he believes that time is on his side. He believes that the West will become disinterested. He believes that Ukraine will fail with its economic reforms, that it will not be able to recover economically and that would lead to political unrest and division again. They are waiting for the day when there will be massive protests against the government in Ukraine because of the new prices for energy or something like that. So Putin can be patient. He does not need a settlement; he can let things go for a very-very long time.

Date: 2015-12-24; view: 1344

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