Nato and Russia agree to meet as Ukraine tension eases

Representatives of US-led Nato and Russia have agreed to meet to discuss the Ukraine issue in signs that the Cold War opponents are stepping back after drawing red lines on how far the other will tolerate intrusion into a rival’s sphere of influence. The Obama administration rolled out a raft of punitive measures, including suspending Pentagon’s military engagements and trade talks with Russia, but it stopped short of any provocative diplomatic or military response after Moscow signalled that it was only interested in protecting its people and equity, and reasserting its primacy in the region. Washington was appeared mollified if not relieved to a degree by Moscow indicating its forces, having taken control of the Crimean peninsula, will not advance further into the Ukraine, although President Putin asserted that Russia reserves the right to use all means to protect Russian in Ukraine.

There were also signs that Russia may withdraw from Crimea once its mission of restoring its proxies in Kiev is accomplished. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ukraine’s capital to show support to the troubled nation and announce a $ 1 billion aid to a country heavily dependent on Russia. But it was clear that Washington and Moscow will now have to engage on the “sphere of influence” issue once the heat over the Russian invasion cools off. Here;s how former U.S National Security Advisor Tom Donilon explained the crisis from the U.S perspective: “This is about Putin reacting to the loss of a sphere of influence, a loss of a proxy in Ukraine, the real blow to his plan to have some sort of counter organization to the European Union,” Donilon said. “… The loss of Ukraine in his view…is really a traumatic event.” But Moscow sees the US, some 7000 miles from Ukraine, increasingly pushing into its backyard.

Many analysts reckon that Moscow has recovered both it spunk and tis economy nearly two decades after it was worsted and weakened by the Cold War. The Russian leadership evidently saw an opportunity to reassert itself at a time when the U.S itself has been debilitated by two wars and a slowing economy. If the U.S and its allies back off from their growing clout — or growing their clout — in Kiev that resulted in the ouster of Russia-backed President Yanikovich, then Moscow has indicated that it will have no problem withdrawing from Crimea, which houses Russian military assets including a naval base.

The situation is complicated only by hardliners in both countries — those in Russia who want a not just a reassertive Russia protecting its interests in the region, but also regaining its lost pride and glory as a counterforce to the USA, and those in Washington thirsting for continued American dominance that has been unchallenged for the last two decades. There are many sober voices in Washington counseling the Obama administration not to push the envelope, but the the crisis is godsend for hardline conservatives and militarists intent on painting President Obama as a weak leader who is selling out U.S interests and presiding over the diminution of its power.


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