While Western nations fret and warn Russia over its meddling in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin backed pro-Russian forces have taken more Ukrainian territory under a ceasefire and have set their arms on larger swaths of Ukraine, as the international community appear impotent to solve yet another conflict through diplomacy.
Not that diplomacy is ineffective. But peaceful persuasion through negotiations appear to work only upon the rational and the fair, and thus far, Vladimir Putin's dealings in Ukraine have been far from any of these.
Despite the Minsk II ceasefire agreement brokered between Russia, Ukraine and rebel forces in Ukraine's east and mediated by Germany and France, pro-Russian separatists have continued their offensive taking the town of Debaltseve under a ceasefire. Ukraine's Army was forced to retreat from the town. Ukraine said yesterday that Russia had sent more troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine.
In Washington, DC, United States(US) State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki warned: "Russia's continued support of ongoing separatist attacks...is undermining international diplomacy and multilateral institutions - the foundations of our modern global order."
The US Diplomatic Spokeswoman further warned, as reported by Reuters: "If Russia and the separatists fail to implement the agreement(the ceasefire), end the violence...there will be additional costs."
Also in Washington, a group of US Senators sent Secretary of State John Kerry a letter urging the immediate tightening of sanctions on Russia. Those Senators including Richard Durbin and John McCain, held that: "We can only conclude that in the absence of greater Western support for Ukraine Forces, a Russian-imposed military outcome will continue to unfold in Ukraine."
Meanwhile in Moscow, a defiant Putin whose military budget has gone up by a-third this year, offered a direct challenge to the West in declaring, "no one should have any illusions that it's possible to achieve military superiority over Russia or apply any kind of pressure on it." He claimed that Russia would always have an "adequate response", the Associated Press(AP) reported. Putin has already claimed that Russia cannot be isolated.
Putin could afford to make his challenging assertions because for a number of years he has duped the International community into accepting that his overtures were genuine while he plotted a hidden agenda to empire building. Russia, like China, has amassed great wealth from associations with Western nations.
Hence, contrary to German advocacy, Ukraine should be armed to defend against aggression. Moreover, arming Ukraine sets up a laboratory where Putin's hopes to empire building could be finally checked, engaged and prove economically hard for Putin, thus redirecting his attention to Moscow to shorten bread lines.
Ukraine represents an opportunity to check Russian aggression. But the opportunity is fading fast because of an ill-equipped Ukraine Army.