Ukraine: Give Peace a Chance!

Posted in Europe , Ukraine | 16-May-14 | Author: Hubertus Hoffmann

Our World Security Network Foundation has analyzed the situation in Ukraine over recent months, with insider input from Ukraine, Moscow and Berlin, and presented concrete proposals to de-escalate the situation(see Benedikt Poettering and Hubertus HoffmannA EU Action Plan from Ukraine, from February 17, 2014 - Hubertus HoffmanWhat to do about the Ukrainian Crisis, from March 7, 2014 - Hubertus HoffmannRussia, NATO and the EU: A Plea for a True Partnership, from March 26, 2014 - Hubertus Hoffmann, Ukraine needs Codes of Tolerance, from April 15, 2014) – including the establishment of a round table. Today we would like to focus on strategies, actions and priorities for stability in Ukraine, where the situation seems to spiral out of control

A Dual Strategy of Power and Diplomacy with Reconciliation for NATO, the U.S. and the EU 

Until now, the the NATO, the U.S. and the EU have had no real Ukraine strategy. Day-to-day crisis management prevails. Pure words, calls for moderation and more sanctions against Mr. Putin are more a sign of a lack of a coherent strategic plan, creativity and actions on the ground – only this way can the West win the end-game. Washington and the European capitals need a well-reasoned, long-term Ukraine strategy. This homework has to be done first. 

It must always be a fresh dual strategy of power and diplomacy including reconciliation. That was the winning strategy of the Cold War, as manifested in NATO’s Harmel Report from 1967, which established credible defense and détente as the fundamental strategy of the alliance, or NATO’s Two Track Decisions from 1979 regarding the Russian SS-20-threat to Western Europe with the combination of Pershing II and cruise missiles deployment combined with a zero solution implemented in the INF Treaty later.

Most probably, NATO needs to deploy troops in the Baltic states and Poland as part of its double-strategy to contain threats there. Make no mistake: an infiltration of the Russians in the Baltic states will not be tolerated and may even lead to war in Europe. The guarantee for the three Baltic NATO members is solid.

In addition, a new strategy for Ukraine must contain fresh elements of an active, World 3.0 foreign policy. (read all details at This includes: a detailed action plan (500-plus pages) with monthly control report, much more creativity, pro-activeness instead of mere reaction, the implementation of the Codes of Tolerance ( towards all minorities and a focus on the elites.

Russia must be included – and not excluded – in this Ukraine strategy.

Only with the inclusion of the legitimate- not imperialistic- interests of Russia can Ukraine be stable. These include: proposals for a new and balanced Ukraine-Russia trade agreement and an EU-Russia trade agreement. The survival of the Ukrainian economy depends heavily on the continuation of trade with Russia. Even if Putin resigns tomorrow, a new Russian leader will have an eye on the Russians in Ukraine. This is the reason why 80 percent of Russians supported the annexation of the Crimea. Do not forget 100 years later, that the Czar’s support for the orthodox Serbs triggered World War I, while the German Kaiser did not believe the Russians would protect its cultural ally in the Balkans. Misperceptions on all sides and no true dialogue allowed Europe to slip into this disaster – mainly out of fear of the adversary. Let’s learn and not repeat.

The federalization of Ukraine and a fixed protection of the long-established Russian identity and culture in the east is needed.

The maximum protection of all minorities (the Russians int the East and South and the Cossacks in the Crimea) must be ensured according to international law, the European Council or OSCE through the implementation Codes of Tolerance, the establishment of a Tolerance Minister in Kiev, dialogues at regional round tables in the East and South with all parties involved, an Annual Tolerance Report of the Kiev Government and the OSCE. Include all and exclude no one. Stop talking about ‘terrorists’- learn from the Northern Ireland conflict and other best practices and the reconciliation of the Germans with ‘archenemies’ France and Poland.

Such an approach underpins the success story of all culturally-mixed states in Europe since 1945.

Naïve bureaucrats, above all in Washington, propagate myths about a ‘weakness of Kiev by autonomy and de-centralization’, contradicting historical experience in Europe and continuing the poor planning exhibited by the White House in Iraq and Afghanistan. This fixation of U.S. planners on centralized rule has ultimately destroyed the progress needed in these countries. After many years, billions wasted and many people killed, nothing functions there mainly because the corrupt centers in Bagdad and Kabul hinder the flourishing of the regions. This core error must be avoided in Kiev. The ignorance of regional and cultural diversity in Washington’s inner circles must end now. Europe needs diversity and regional responsibility to be peaceful. Switzerland or Germany are best practices.

It is a good initiative by the German foreign minister to name experienced former State Secretary of the Foreign Office, Wolfgang Ischinger, as a representative to new Round Tables in the East. This proposal was first promoted by the World Security Network weeks ago. Unfortuantely, the last days mission of Foreign Minister proved to be a failure due the amateurish inflexibility of the Kiev government. Without reconciliation with the Russians minorities in the east, including talks with the separatists and autonomy,Ukraine will slip into disaster.

Ukraine will cost more than USD 100 billion over 10 Years

The costs of the rehabilitation of Ukraine have, like a state secret, been concealed from the populations of the U.S. and Europe until now. This contradicts the rules of open democratic societies.

The top leaders are more pushing towards confrontation - stimulated by Wahington Hawks than reconciiation and reforms.   

In reality, these are estimated to be around 8 to 12 billion USD per year. That’s approximately 100 billion in ten years. The U.S. has pledged just one billion, which is only one percent of this. The total support by the EU, IMF and the U.S. adds now to USD 30 billion (only on paper) – more than two thirds are still missing. The country must be restructured from the ground up and needs radical reforms such as those followed in Estonia from 1990 on. Where are the 500-page plans for radical reforms and their implementations and cost control? Will billions just end on Swiss bank accounts like over the last ten years and never reach the villages?
The obsessive fixation on polls and elections is naïve – just as it was in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are important, but solve almost nothing. The focus must be radical reform proposal and control by the West. The amateurish, highly emotionally-charged interim government has much too little know-how. Where are the concrete proposals to reform Ukraine, which can only come from the IMF and EU? Too many general and nice words, but few concrete plans. If this continues, Ukraine will fail and fail and fail…

Containment of Moscow’s Destabilization: Lost Victories for Mr. Putin

With the implementation of actions in accordance with the points mentioned, Moscow will – hopefully – loose its appetite for further destabilization of Ukraine. To send former FBS/GRU colonel Igor Strelkow (alias, Igor Girkin, Russian Passport No. 4506460961) to Eastern Ukraine undercover, as a leader of the armed separatists with other comrades in arms from Russia, including directly being involved in the murder and torture of unarmed civilians, echoes Russia’s style in Chechnya. This crosses the Red Line and cannot be tolerated.

This looks like the CIA sending undercover teams to Chechyna to start riots  and even to torture and kill some Russian officials with the local rebels. This is easy to do by few good men– but should Washington and Moscow start to play this double-game from the Cold War again in 2014?

Should Langley-after the Russians further escalate the situation by annexing Eastern Ukraine - even equip anti-Russian-rebels with Stinger Missile systems – as it did in 1987, in Afghanistan – instead of containing the radicals together, as in the years since 9/11 or support Ukraine with smart bombs to counter Russia, maybe in Moscow?

Indeed, Russia is much more vulnerable as it thinks now in its emotional wave of joy. It has dozens of weak spots the West has not pressed upon yet. The discussed sanctions are mild compared to real actions that could be taken if the conflict goes one.

The Russian President and his team are about to become victims of their own propaganda war as well. A former senior Russian diplomat related the saga of the Kremlin told me just days ago: the U.S. wants to subordinate Russia by getting hold of Ukraine. Russia has the alternative of allying with China. The 46 killed people in a fire in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa he called ‘a genocide.’ Berlin is more or less ‘the poodle of the White House.’ Sanctions could harm Europe more.

Russia is about the win the battle, but loose the war – and its last real friend in the West: the German people.

Wehrmacht Field Marshal Erich von Manstein titled his memoirs Lost Victories. As a general, he commanded the German invasion-troops in Crimea in WWII. Ukraine could easily become a Lost Victory for Russia.

This will be the fate of Mr. Putin if his aggressiveness continues.

He and the Russian elites will be branded as outlaws, as in the old Wild West movies.

Maybe 200 billion US Dollars have been lost in withdrawal of investments, decline of stocks and credibility until now- with much more to come.

Putin and his comrade underestimate the iron will in the West – like in Afghanistan. The West looks soft, emasculated and weak, but when it comes to defending its core values, it will be united in a rolling consensus. Europe is core, as well for the U.S. The hope for a new Munich treaty on Ukraine is in vain.

My advice for all: give peace a chance.

This is better for the West, Ukraine - and Mr. Putin and Russia as well - than all other options.

How could a compromise look like: Leave the East with Ukraine. Give it autonomy and the protection of Russian culture guaranteed by Germany, Poland and France and outside of NATO. Build bridges between both Ukraine and Russia and the EU.

Impeach the radicals on all sides and give common sense a chance. De-escalate and reset the button - again.