The mediation initiated by the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany will not solve the Ukrainian crisis. (The Greek Foreign Minister claimed in an interview with the newspaper “Ta Nea” that the Ukrainians also asked him to mediate!).
These meetings may help the parties better understand the differences that separate America and Russia over Ukraine and possibly even smooth out some differences. But those who actually benefit are the mediators themselves, especially Macron, who has elections ahead of him – so long as he appears as a credible mediator to both sides.
Logically, the issue of Ukraine should be an issue between, above all, Europe and Russia, with America in an indirect role. Europe’s role, however, is commensurate with its military might. And since its armed forces are small and operate in the context of NATO, where America is dominant, the role of the European Union as a whole is also very small – even with Macron trying to play the role of leader of Europe.
Today’s crisis has old roots. This is a story that goes back hundreds of years. From the time of the Tsars to Stalin and now Putin, Russia has always insisted on having friendly regimes close to it. During the Cold War, Moscow’s control over the “satellite states” as they were called, was total. Whenever a country tried to move out of the Warsaw Pact, it would be brought back to order using Russian tanks.
So it is rather unrealistic to expect that Putin will even accept a neutral regime in Ukraine, with which he shares huge borders, and to a much lesser degree will he allow it to join NATO.
It is clear that Putin, who has ruled Russia for more than 20 years, is prepared. He has upgraded his country’s armed forces in order to prevent NATO from reaching more of its borders.
It is, of course, both illegal and outrageous for a country to encroach on the sovereignty of an independent state and to impose its will by force. But not only is that what Moscow is trying to do – but no one seems ready to stop him.
Only sanctions, any type of sanctions, will not act as a deterrent.
Mediation, however, plays into the hands of Putin because it gives him the opportunity to claim that he was very patient. That he exhausted all opportunities for a resolution. That he did everything he could to prevent a war – but in the end, he had no choice but to invade Ukraine.