The worsening in the Ukraine — not only because of Putin

A frozen conflict in Eastern Ukraine broke out with renewed force, because both the Kremlin and the government in Kiev to some extent interested in an escalation, as they attempt to achieve their political goals in today’s challenging world, reeling from a approaches of Donald trump to U.S. foreign policy.

Last week resumed fierce fighting in the area controlled by government forces of the Town and the neighbouring town of Yasynuvata, which is held by Pro-Russian separatists. Shelling of residential neighborhoods, Avdeevka remained without electricity and heating, which in cold winter weather there was a real humanitarian catastrophe. Killed civilians. The parties accused of escalating each other. According to the Russian version, which pushed the authorities of the Kremlin propaganda, the Ukrainian army tried to seize part of the neutral zone along the line of separation of the parties. Ukraine claims Pro-Russian separatists attacked the commanding heights held by government troops.

The organization for security and cooperation in Europe which monitors the implementation of the Minsk agreements on a ceasefire, reports that their terms violate government forces and the separatists. It seems that from a political point of view it is beneficial to both.

Taking a game of Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to see the reaction of the US and Europe on the resumption of hostilities. If the reaction is weak, he will try to provoke Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko rashly attack. Like Russia with great success made in 2008, when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gave in to temptation and tried to regain the territory of South Ossetia. Russia provoked it, and then the lightning went to the counter, taking almost the whole of Georgia. Poroshenko also is its own game, trying to attract the attention of the West to Ukraine.

After a conversation of Putin with trump last Friday to reports of parties about this conversation arose inconsistencies. In the Russian version says that the presidents discussed the main aspects of the Ukrainian crisis, and the us Ukraine is not mentioned at all. Perhaps Putin liked what he heard, and not heard, because the escalation was immediate.

“Putin will choose places that here and there, testing the resolve of the West — wrote in the weekly “New time” former Minister of foreign Affairs of Ukraine Volodymyr Ogryzko. — Moscow checks that it does not cause her actions increased tension”.

It can not be called a major Russian offensive. In reports from the field there is no information about the presence of large Russian forces that intervened in the conflict in decisive moments. Russia limited the threat about retaliatory action of this kind, which has been mentioned in the statement of the Ministry of foreign Affairs. It reminded Kiev than “came to an end for him similar kind of adventure” in the past.

The statement allegations against Poroshenko, and said that he provoked the escalation, trying to keep “the crisis in the international agenda”. Apparently, this refers to how he ended his widely publicized visit to Berlin, citing the fighting. Ukraine has also fanned the incident with Ukrainian military plane, which was allegedly fired from oil platform in the Black sea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea.

Poroshenko in the framework of its strategy has long been portrays Ukraine as a bulwark of resistance to Putin’s Russia. It helps him to get financial aid from the West, despite the slow progress of reforms and the widespread persistence of corruption. Obviously, he also believes that it helped to restrain Russian ambitions in the East of Ukraine. Giving published on Thursday an interview with a Berlin newspaper, the Ukrainian President announced his intention to hold the country’s referendum on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — although NATO has not shown any desire to make Ukraine as a member, and recently suspended negotiations on its inclusion in its missile defense system.

Bad news from Avdeevka help Poroshenko to gain support from the West, which is especially important in conditions, when the American President has shown total indifference to the fate of Ukraine. They also inhibit the settlement of trump on lifting sanctions against Russia as long as fighting continues, making it extremely difficult. “Poroshenko is willing to do anything to prevent the lifting of sanctions against Russia,” — wrote during a visit Poroshenko in Berlin another German newspaper, citing government sources.

However, gambit Poroshenko is fraught with dangers.

Putin has much more important goal than the lifting of sanctions: the establishment in Kiev of a Pro-Russian government. To achieve this massive first strike impossible, so Putin has refrained from such a plan, although his inaction has allowed Ukraine to strengthen its army. Without popular support (and the majority of Ukrainians today are set up explicitly anti-Russian) military victory would be costly and short-lived. But the retaliation with subsequent withdrawal of troops in Georgia in 2008, is quite another matter.

If Putin is able to provoke the Ukrainian President on the first step, making sure that America is indifferent and tired of the Ukraine, Europe will not interfere, he can deal a fatal blow to the government of Poroshenko. The 2008 war has destroyed the political future of Saakashvili in Georgia, and soon replaced his power came less anti-Russian and more accommodating government. Poroshenko already unpopular, and the Russian blitzkrieg without a lengthy occupation can change the political balance in Ukraine.

Putin is waiting for the moment when the desperate Ukrainian President will go too far in their attempts to enlist Western support. He can afford to wait patiently, and additional clarity in the positions of Washington and European capitals will not hurt him. And Poroshenko has become a hostage to them and created public attitudes that reject any possibility of compromise with Putin. In these circumstances, he is forced to walk this fine line in an attempt to prevent a catastrophe. But it is unclear whether there are any advantages for him and for his country that he will indefinitely to balance over the abyss.

The content of the article may not reflect the views of the editorial Board, Bloomberg LP and its owners.