Ukraine Watch: Who Will Blink First?

The ending of a nominal cease-fire has escalated new tensions in southeast Ukraine that may make a foreign bride seeker reconsider his pursuit in this country.

Rebel controlled Lugansk and Donetsk provinces held elections for parliament members and ministers a couple of weeks ago.  Turn out was reportedly high and Russian president Vladimir Putin has recognized the results.  The rest of the world rejects the legitimacy of these elections, but the key factor is that from Putin’s perspective, perhaps he sees both Lugansk and Dontesk as independent, sovereign nations.  This will complicate the issue of ending the war in Ukraine.  Ukraine will not want to give up this territory but attempting to take it back may be the casus belli that Putin needs to commence and all-out invasion of Ukraine since he’ll see “Western-backed fascists” violating the sovereignty of nations full of Russian speakers.

russian trucks

Putin has recently sent additional troops and vehicles into rebel-held territory so this crisis isn’t going to end anytime soon.  First, it seems that anytime rebel progress stalls or experiences setbacks, Putin commits forces and equipment to turn the tide.  Putin is stated very directly that he won’t let the rebellion be defeated.  Second, the Russian economy has been taken a beating from the falling ruble and oil prices.  Russia has also been experiencing the largest capital outflow since 2008 and there’s an indication that Putin isn’t flinching.  He has currency reserves built up so the average Russian isn’t likely to feel the effects of sanctions for a while.  It all depends how long the reserves hold out and how well Russia can source various proscribed goods domestically.  The average Russian might feel the effects eventually, but it will be while.  Putin is obviously playing the long game.  He doesn’t have to worry about a reelection bid for a few years yet, and he has been very effective in the past of marginalizing his opposition if the opinion of the Russian public ends up souring.

Meanwhile, US president Obama has only a couple of years left in his final term.  Other European leaders may also not be around for long if their European economies don’t recover from recession soon.  Will the next group of leaders still have interest in maintaining sanctions this long or will they lose interest?  Perhaps Putin will eventually get his way.  That would seem to be a best case scenario.

A worst case scenario might see things escalating into a full-out regional war, if not, a full-scale global one. Putin and German Chancellor Merkel have ramped up the rhetoric.  Russia has expelled Polish diplomats.  And the Russian increase in air patrols has nearly led to some midair collisions because Russian planes aren’t using transponders and flying in aggressive and provocative flight paths that may trigger a shooting war according to some security experts.

All this means is that a bride-seeker still needs to exercise caution when flying to Ukraine because things are heating up once again.  There’s no guarantee that the war in Ukraine will remain local or end anytime soon, so follow the news updates when planning your trip.  An exit strategy may not be a bad idea either!


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