World press on Ukrainian crisis and Putin's visit to Egypt (February 11, 2015)
As the conflict in Ukraine goes on, debates in the American press over the need to arm Ukraine continue.
Anne Applebaum, the wife of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Donald Tusk's cabinet, argues in an article published in the Washington Post that "even the United States can’t deliver weapons fast enough to push the most sophisticated Russian weaponry out of Ukraine anytime soon." According to Applebaum, "What the West needs now is not merely a military policy but a comprehensive, long-term strategy designed to reinforce Ukrainian statehood and integrate Ukraine into Europe over many years." She proposes training the Ukrainian army as well as the security services, push economic reform and support financial commitment, as well as "build a Berlin Wall around Donetsk in the form of a demilitarized zone and treat the rest of Ukraine like West Germany." "We could recognize the real danger Russia poses to Europe, not only as a source of violence but also as a source of political and economic corruption. We could impose much harsher, much deeper sanctions. We could cut Russia out of the international payments system. We could enforce our own laws and stop turning a blind eye to Russian money laundering, most of which takes place in European capitals," Applebaum concludes.
"Don't Arm Ukraine", John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and contributor to the New York Times, wrote. The journalist believes it is "wrong" to arm Ukraine. "Going down that road would be a huge mistake for the United States, NATO and Ukraine itself. Sending weapons to Ukraine will not rescue its army and will instead lead to an escalation in the fighting. Such a step is especially dangerous because Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons and is seeking to defend a vital strategic interest," the writes. "Pushing a nuclear-armed Russia into a corner would be playing with fire," he adds. The journalist believes that the only way to save the Ukrainian crisis is through diplomatic means. He proposes making Ukraine into "a buffer state between Russia and NATO."
Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, responded to Mearsheimer's article with an op-ed published in another American newspaper, the Washington Post. In it he argues that Ukraine cannot be a buffer state. "The question isn’t whether arming Ukraine is worse than a Ukrainian buffer state, it’s whether arming Ukraine is worse than a festering, frozen conflict. It’s possible that the answer to that question is still “no”, but that’s the honest choice that Mearsheimer and his acolytes must confront. Given Russia’s obvious military superiority, the arming-Ukraine strategy could best be called 'bait-and-bleed,'" he writes.
"Obama And Merkel Are Clueless About Putin: Yet It's So Simple," writes a contributor to Forbes magazine, Melik Kaylan. Mr. Kaylan advocates for arming Ukraine arguing that "if we [the West] don’t stop Putin in Ukraine, he will become unstoppable." "The correct and unavoidable redoubt for us all in the West to rally around: arm Ukraine as best we can. Even if Putin triumphs eventually, it will cost him more and convey our resolve. Otherwise it will be the Baltics next, then eastern Europe, then the oil fields of Baku," the writes.
The National Interest, another American publication, published an article by Raymond Smith arguing that there is a diplomatic solution to the crisis which does not involve arming Ukraine. "Providing lethal military hardware to the Ukrainian government would be a qualitative escalation in the means we have been using to achieve our objectives in that country. It would move us a significant step closer to the possibility of a direct military confrontation with the world’s other nuclear superpower. It is not a step that we would have considered taking during the Cold War in that part of the world," Mr. Smith writes. He argues that Ukraine's interests are not fundamental to the national interests of America and that its foreign policy should only be based on its vital interests, provided that they take the interests and objectives of other states into consideration. "Neither the country, nor its foreign-policy orientation represents a threat to our homeland. Whether its international orientation is more toward the West or toward Russia would have no intrinsic impact on the stability of the international system. (Obviously, if the United States and Russia elect to get into a fight over Ukraine’s orientation, that is another matter.) Ukraine has no claim on our protection, and it is against our interests to give it one, as NATO membership would," he writes. Since Russia has much more at stake in Ukraine, the journalist offers to turn Ukraine into "a bridge between the West and Russia", and negotiate a relationship between Ukraine and Russia "that both countries can live with". "The clarity of our decision making on this issue would improve if we stopped demonizing Russia’s leader. He is not Hitler, and Ukraine is not Czechoslovakia," he concludes.
The New York Times reports on Putin's visit to Egypt, which resulted in an agreement to build a nuclear plant in the country and on the supply of Russian arms. "Both Putin and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi were eager to deepen a bilateral relationship unimpeded by foreign criticism, strengthening economic and military ties in part to show they have other options available than working with the West," the article reads.