From the Editor
Eight mistakes led to this war:
- May 1991. Gorbachev begs for $100 billion aid from West as his economy collapses. They refuse. It would have enabled the Soviet transition to democracy.
- June 1991. Russia elects Yeltsin as president of their republic over Gorbachev’s objections. Intelligentsia abandons Gorbachev, leaving him dependent on old Guard, who attempt coup. Had they stayed with him, USSR might be intact as a democracy.
- December 1991. Yeltsin and presidents of Belarus and Ukraine sign Belovezh Agreement to become independent states. Gorbachev, no longer with a country to democratize, resigns.
- March 1991. The Warsaw Treaty Organization disbands. NATO should have done likewise, turning security issues for 35 (including former Soviet) countries over to CSCE, now OSCE.
- December 1994. Bill Clinton decides to expand NATO into former Soviet republics, despite Baker’s previous assurances to Gorbachev. Yeltsin blows up angrily but cannot prevent it.
- May 2014. Poll shows most Russian-speakers in Donbas want to remain in Ukraine but with more local autonomy. Ukraine’s government refuses. Fighting begins, aided by Russia.
- September 2014, February 2015. Minsk Agreements I and II are signed by Ukraine, Russia, OSCE, separatist leaders of the two Donbas oblasts. Had either document been implemented, there would be no case for Russia to intervene militarily.
- March 2015. Kyiv asks the UN to deploy peacekeepers but Moscow refuses. Later Putin also proposes UN peacekeepers. Had they been sent, they might have prevented the war.
But those events are past and current bloodshed cannot be stopped by allocating blame. Instead, a few other options may exist or shortly emerge, depending on how the war goes: While Ukraine is winning, it may not be interested in a ceasefire, but Russian citizens can organize a civil resistance movement. This will be hard, since they cannot communicate freely.
If Russia starts winning, Ukraine can (a) evacuate as many as possible, including the government, (b) offer a ceasefire on Putin’s terms, while warning that © Ukrainians will resist nonviolently, as Danes did against Nazi occupiers and Czechs did against the Soviet occupiers, and (d) the rest of the world will maintain economic sanctions against Russia until it leaves. There are not enough Russian soldiers to occupy 44 million people, so Ukraine will win.