Given the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 and the high likelihood it was a casualty of Putin’s strategy of tacit support (and verbal denial of that support) for eastern Ukraine’s armed rebels, it would be good to remind us what we need to get things back on the right track in Ukraine.
While I hope that Russia’s support for the armed rebels will subside, I tend to side with those, like Anatol Lieven, Ivan Katchanovski, and Oxana Shevel, who argue that all sides must be prepared to give something up toward a larger negotiated settlement.
Shevel’s final paragraph, from her Washington Post piece “Will the Malaysia Airlines tragedy change the trajectory of events in Ukraine?,” is worth citing in full:
“Prospects for lasting peace and the end of conflict in Ukraine remain elusive, although it is possible to imagine a scenario whereby this incident reduced the level of fighting in Ukraine. Such a scenario would likely involve a truce to allow investigators access to the crash site, a gradual transformation of this truce into a lasting cease-fire; the decisive end of Russia’s support for the separatists in exchange of avoiding further sanctions; the return of Russian fighters to Russia and broad amnesty offered to Ukrainian citizens who participated in the insurgency; a more comprehensive decentralization initiative that would give more autonomy to Ukraine’s regions than the one unveiled by President Poroshenko recently; and snap local legislative elections to give the people of the Donbas (and other Ukrainian regions) legitimate representatives who can speak for their interests in the post-Yanukovych era. This is a scenario under which none of the parties in the conflict would get their ultimate preference, but in which violence would begin to recede. Whether any of this is possible as long as the key actors in the conflict continue to think they can win outright, though, remains to be seen.”