What a Deal Between Ukraine and Russia Could Look Like
All eyes will focus this week on Minsk where Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko. After coming close to armed confrontation over the aid-laden convoy Russia sent into Ukraine’s eastern region last week, the encounter in the Belarus capital Tuesday suddenly and unexpectedly presents the two sides with the their best chance yet to reach a diplomatic and political agreement settling the nine-month crisis over Ukraine’s future status and direction.
Who would have guessed? When Moscow unilaterally dispatched its 270-truck caravan across Ukraine’s border to Luhansk last Friday, Kiev denounced the move as an invasion, the Pentagon demanded the vehicles’ immediate withdrawal, and NATO reported that Russian artillery had advanced into Ukrainian territory and fired on government troops. Nightmares of East and West once more at war seemed on the brink of coming true.
Then Putin pulled one of his periodic surprises. On Saturday the caravan finished unloading relief supplies and swiftly withdrew across the border, along with the Russian military units allegedly on Ukrainian soil. “Putin has not done the big thing that he seemed to be threatening, which was to make his troops, his men, his trucks a shield for the separatists in eastern Ukraine,” Steve Sestanovich, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow in Washington, said on PBS Weekend Newshour.