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Friday, November 13, 2015

Russia attempts to block IMF lending to Ukraine as Russian separatists violate ceasefire.

Link: Russia attempts to disrupt Ukrainian IMF loan.

It took two months for Russian-backed separatists to violate the latest ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.  The only surprise was that the ceasefire lasted as long as it did, but we can probably blame the delay on Russia's current pre-occupation in Syria.  The government of Ukraine and the various Russian-backed separatist groups in the east have agreed to two previous ceasefires, at least by my count.  In every instance, the apparently inevitable violation was committed by the separatists, which begs the obvious question: why does Kiev keep making agreements with these jerks?  Simply put, Ukraine has no choice.  President Petro Poroshenko has yet to implement any personal strategy for resolving this conflict.  Every decision from Ukraine's corner has been made by Kiev's European allies.  Ukraine is in no position to ignore the "advice" put forward by the U.S., French and German diplomats, and we all know that these three would just as soon see Ukraine completely overrun with Russians before agreeing to any type of aggressive military action.  Not that the Ukrainian Army is in a position to conduct a serious offensive in the southeast.  Repeated requests for military aid, to the U.S. in particular, have been denied, as the U.S. strives to encourage a more "peaceful" approach the to crisis.  Russia has taken full advantage of the prostrate policy currently put forth by the Europeans and the Obama Administration to occupy strategic villages and all-but off the vital port city of Mariupol from the rest of Ukraine.  During the last three years, Russia and her surrogates in eastern Ukraine have been able to dictate the time and pace of negotiations and military action to suit Russia's international strategy.  Expect the Ukrainian separatists to step-up military action in an attempt to occupy as much territory as possible before the election of a new, less-accommodating administration following the November 2016 presidential elections in the United States.

It appears that Russia's very recent diplomatic effort to interfere with Ukraine's relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has failed.  Russia has been known for this type of occasional diplomatic overreach, and who  can blame Moscow for trying?  Internationally, Russia continues to court various U.S. allies.  Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to enhanced military ties with the Emir of Kuwait, and Putin's envoy to Afghanistan has announced preparations to sell Hind Attack Helicopters and small arms to Kabul.  Russia has also reached out to Tunisia and Algeria, expressing the desire for increased cooperation in the fight against international terror.  The U.S. Department of State will respond to these overtures with some belated offer of aid or a concession on a trade treaty,  but the real problem for the United States has nothing to do with a Russian agreement with Kuwait or Helicopter sales to Afghanistan.  The fact is, Russia is running diplomatic circles around the U.S., and is showing no hesitation to flirt with long-time U.S. partners.  In the past, the United States would have reacted swiftly to Russian diplomatic advances to an ally by taking the same action.  The Bush or Reagan presidencies might have responded by agreeing to sell weapons to Ukraine, or by increasing the presence of U.S. troops in eastern Europe.  At present, the U.S. has no response to these Russian overtures.  Russia continues to express an interest in forming a security alliance of sorts vis-à-vis Syria, to include the U.S. and its allies.  Washington DC has responded in a positive way to this potential agreement, but many suspect it is nothing more than a Russian distraction.   

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