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Cut the Baloney on Ukraine

All countries must stop their lies and self-destructive posturing or pay costs they’re loath to admit

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
March 9, 2014
The Daily Beast

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Russians, Americans, Europeans, and Ukrainians plunge on toward the all-time foreign policy record for venality, lying, hypocrisy and self-destructive maneuvers. They show no shame and scant regard for consequences. At this moment, Russia is the most to blame for having transformed a very bad situation into a crisis. Top U.S. officials contribute with their daily evocation of saintly principles that the United States itself has often defied. Experts and politicians goad the White House on with demands for tough actions against Russia that they surely know will fail. Europeans continue their feckless ways. And most Ukrainian leaders of all stripes and ethnicities remain monumentally corrupt and rhetorically dishonest.

This pile of garbage and ineptitude is heading in one direction—toward a long-term crisis very costly to all. There will be little or no diplomatic cooperation anywhere in the world. The economies of all will suffer. No, there won't be a war between the West and Russia, but the resulting new peace will be ugly. Everyday this future looks more inevitable.

There's one chance to turn things around, but it's a long shot. All leaders involved have to tone down their "explanations" and self-justifications. They have to stop threats and sanctions for the time being. Everyone knows these actions won't go away and that diplomatic failure would soon call them forth again. And just for the moment, everyone's objective should be to help President Vladimir Putin climb down from his perilous perch. If there's to be an agreement, everyone knows what it must be: Russia proclaims and Ukraine accepts greater autonomy for Crimea within a still united Ukraine.

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