Since early March , there has been a debate in Europe as to what Russia’s actions in Ukraine represent. Does its forceful annexation of Crimea and the declaration by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, that Moscow has a duty to protect Russian-speaking people everywhere represent a fundamental challenge to the European security order? Or is this a complicated crisis that needs to be resolved through negotiations?
Much of the official rhetoric, with its emphasis on de-escalation, negotiated ceasefires and peaceful resolutions, suggests that most leaders believe this is a crisis that needs to be resolved. While few think it will be easy to come up with a solution, most seem to hope that once one is found, relations with Russia can return to business as usual.
The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 should put an end to any thought that the situation in Ukraine is a routine crisis that can be resolved through peaceful negotiations. There can be no doubt that the 298 people on board this civilian airliner were killed as a direct result of Russia’s deliberate effort to upend the European security order – an order that rests firmly on the general acceptance of the territorial integrity of states and the rejection of changing the frontiers of European states by force. Continue reading »