It is a very bad idea for the U.S. and the EU to meet with Russia on April 17 to discuss the Ukraine’s fate, even with the Ukraine also participating.
Under international law, Russia has no right to make demands about the internal constitutional arrangements of another sovereign state. The U.S. and the EU likewise seem to have forgotten that since the Yalta conference decided the fate of European countries as World War II was still raging, the United Nations Charter was adopted in December of 1945, and for nearly 70 years international law and legal institutions have progressively developed to govern world affairs, from arms control agreements to the regulation of trade through the World Trade Organization.
To sit down with the aggressor which has invaded and annexed the Crimea, and which has 40,000 combat-ready troops on the border poised to invade eastern Ukraine, is the height of folly. It is like going to negotiate with a criminal over illegal demands when the criminal has a gun pointed at your head.
The incompetence of the Obama administration in foreign policy seems to have no limits, as does that of the Europeans and NATO.
The meeting should be called off, period.
Certainly it should be called off if the 40,000 troops on the Russian border with Ukraine are not withdrawn prior to the meeting.
In 1938, Great Britain and France sold Czechoslovakia down the river at Munich, after earlier urging Czechoslovakia to enter into mediation with Germany. That deal was consummated on September 30, 1938, at the Munich conference. The meeting in Geneva on April 17 risks becoming the opening stage of a Munich II settlement, bringing once again “peace in our time”–but war looming far into our future.
When this riff of incompetence, pacifism and appeasement is over, the world will be a much more dangerous place.
National budgets will divert monies from health and education to defense. Nuclear arms will proliferate among a number of countries, from Saudi Arabia to Japan, as well as Iran. Instead of international order and striving to maintain international peace and security in the world, as mandated by the U.N. Charter, nations will increasingly look to weapons and armies which will have a growing voice in determining national boundaries, and the outcome of territorial disputes (e.g., as between Japan, China, Korea and nations in the South China Sea).
Nations may no longer feel bound to abide by the international law provisions that establish order in the world in matters of trade, finance, and international security.
The tragedy is unfolding before our eyes. The mere fact that the West has agreed to this ill-conceived conference in Geneva to resolve “the Ukrainian crisis” suggests that that the likelihood of resisting appeasement and upholding international norms against military aggression and annexation of the territory of another sovereign nation is subject to the most serious doubt.
What should be done?
The West should adopt strong economic sanctions before any meeting with Russia, both to punish Russia for threatening further aggression, and to create very powerful pressures on Russia to return the Crimea, restoring matters in the Crimea to the status quo ante, prior to the Russian invasion and annexation.
And if the Russians don’t withdraw their combat-ready forces from the border region, the meeting should simply be called off.
The Trenchant Observer
Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
El Observador Incisivo