The current escalation between Russia and Ukraine is the latest chapter in a saga of deteriorating relations dating back almost two decades.
Confidence Building in the OSCE Region
Ukraine’s domestic resilience is as important a contribution to European and global security in the long term as the immediate imperative of deterring Russian aggression.
Engagement with China must not lead to a further weakening of the OSCE human dimension, which is already under a lot of pressure.
Since protests, separatism and foreign intervention began to break Ukraine apart in 2014, it has been struggling to stay in control of its future. And the struggle is far from over. No fewer than four peace agreements have been struck: the two Minsk agreements, the so-called Kyiv Agreement, and the Geneva Declaration.
Confidence-building measures can help to stabilize a conflict, but the stability they generate is often fragile and temporary. In an environment like that in Ukraine, there is a risk that such measures will sustain, not end, the conflict.
Every additional weapon that crosses from Russia into Ukraine; every rebel, soldier and civilian killed; and every new sanction imposed take us one step further away from establishing trust.
The debate and vote in the Security Council n the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over rebel-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine have the feel of yet another first step in the right direction. However, it is sadly not clear that any meaningful second steps will follow.
More constructive dialogue between Russia and the West would possibly enable a face-saving way out of the current deadlock. This would serve both sides in the new great game over influence in Eastern Europe, but Russia would be the clear winner, and Ukraine the first victim of this new geopolitics.
In the current crisis in Ukraine, focusing on confidence-building and an interim solution first and then giving considered thought to a long-term settlement is the only way to avoid the instability and volatility that is a hallmark of so many protracted conflicts.