SUAT – Ukraine matters more than we might think

Ukraine matters more than we might thinkThe weather is very agreeable in one of my favorite cities in Europe.Traffic is orderly, visitors are flocking to the Brandenburg Gate and the restaurants seem to be doing fair business.

Beyond these observations, though, there are more serious concerns in the capital of Europeand#39s powerhouse. Berlin is host to an important guest from the east.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is making the rounds here.Although we are very much consumed with Syria and Iraq, the Germans are spending more time on Ukraine and what to do with Russia German authorities are hoping that the Minsk protocol will hold and that a gradual de-escalation will take place in eastern Ukraine.

The argument is that Ukraine cannot win this war militarily. The Ukrainian army is simply not fit for this task.

The request for more weapons is not looked upon favorably here.Once the situation cools in the Donbass region, Kiev will have to get its own house in order Ukraine was already a difficult place even before the war The country needs urgent structural reforms and it is obvious that it will be even more challenging to pass them through parliament and implement them at a time when key decision-makers are feeling the pressure of the war in the east.

Yet, it seems to be the only way out to preserve Ukraine.What happens to Ukraine and Crimea is of utmost importance to Turkey.

Unfortunately, Turkey is fully consumed by its own internal polarization and has little energy left for Ukraine, Crimea and our ethnic brethren, the Crimean Tatars. Had Crimea been annexed five years ago it would have played out very differently in Turkey.

These days, Turkey is fatigued by overextension in Syria and the Middle East in general. The public mood is not favorable for Turkey lending more support to its ethnic brethren abroad.

The Turkish government has pivoted Turkey so much toward the south that few are willing to entertain the important issue of the Crimean Tatars.The crisis in Ukraine has larger implications as well.

What happens if the Russians breach the security of the Baltics? NATOand#39s credibility is on the line, and many in Berlin understand that Poland and the Baltics are a red line they cannot allow to be crossed.Some Germans believe Putin does not aim to have a full confrontation with NATO.

They believe Putin is more interested in dividing European unity. He has already made aances in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania What he is really aiming at may be something else.

He is targeting the liberal Western order It is the values of a liberal Western order he has a problem with. Hence, he might be content to get what he wants in Ukraine and keep the conflict at a low-intensity level.

He is much better at mastering the game of escalation than his European counterparts.Russian aggression in Ukraine is not only about territory.

In many places we see the rise of authoritarian leaders who have genuine contempt for liberal democratic values. In Russia, Turkey, Hungary and other countries we see a distinct phenomenon in which the freedoms of the press and assembly are curtailed, pressure is exerted on the opposition and economic growth is promised by way of an iron fist.

They are all populist demagogues who see democracy as a means to hold on to powerEuropeans have a heavy task at hand. They need to support Ukraine, maintain internal unity and deter further Russian aggression in the European theater This is not only about Ukraine.

It is also about the future of NATO, collective security and what sort of political order we will live under in the coming decades. Ukraine matters more than we might think.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman