That Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will visit Kiev, Ukraine, today, in an attempt to encourage a national dialogue between Ukraine's national government and the two breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk; is a good gesture. But what could be expected of any dialogue? Donetsk and Luhansk voted 90 percent for self rule last Sunday. Some of the Pro Russian leaders in these two regions who have fueled anti-Kiev sentiments throughout eastern Ukraine, have gone on record declaring that they have been Russian all along and not Ukrainian. So what are the odds of reconciliation in Ukraine?
There is but a slight glimmer of hope. For unlike Crimea, where Putin immediately embraced the annexation request, he has paused in fully embracing these two Ukraine regions, even though he has given them his acceptance. Why the pause? Western sanctions could be finally effecting the wealth of Putin's friends and he is hearing an ear full of it. Or, Putin has decided to make the regions sweat for a little while, since they chided his suggestion to postpone the vote; thus, Putin's pause is punishment to the regions for challenging his lone-alpha status as head of a developing empire comprised of tid-bits from multiple sovereign lands. Or, has Putin recognized that he has bitten off more than he is able to chew because of the financial and social responsibilities these two regions and Crimea represent to an economically stretched Russia? Or, do these two Ukraine regions stretched too deeply into Ukraine for Putin's liking, when in fact his preference would have been to maintain the two regions as antagonists middle- earth buffers to Kiev so that he could release his hounds toward Moldova?
Despite the reason for Putin's pause, the German foreign minister's gesture comes at perhaps the most opportune time, even though, any real change to the current affairs of Ukraine appear unlikely.