Not much hope was attached to the meeting of the US, EU, Ukraine, and Russia over the crisis between the latter two countries. Again, the usual suspects were saying that the West had no leverage over Russia, Ukraine was in chaos, and Vladimir Putin held all the cards.
Then a deal was struck.
The particulars are these:
* Illegal military formations must be dissolved
* Occupied buildings must be vacated and their occupiers disarmed
* Ukraine would grant an amnesty to pro-Russian protesters
* The Ukrainian political discussion would touch on “inclusivity”, another word for decentralization
* All steps are to be overseen by the OSCE, to which both the US and Russia belong
From the Right, President Obama has been castigated for “appeasement” and a “lack of resolve”. From the louder segments of the Left, he’s been upbraided for daring to intervene when after Iraq the US had no moral authority.
Pres. Obama didn’t give in to the hawks who wanted US warships moved into the Black Sea en masse and a buildup of NATO troops on the western borders of Ukraine. And he dismissed the idea that because of the Iraqi misadventure the US had lost all right to speak on the violation of another country’s territorial sovereignty.
He made it clear from the outset that military force against Russia was not an option. And he made it clear that the US would stand up for Ukraine’s rights, in spite of recent history.
Russia, for all its bluster, is a failed Potemkin state. Its economy is vulnerable to outside pressure, as an exporter of energy and raw materials. And the world’s banking system dances to the tune set by the US.