How Western powers contributed to Ukraine’s plight

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How Western powers contributed to Ukraine’s plight

  • Mishandling of Ukraine situation by US, UK, and EU, provides us with a textbook case of how not to negotiate.


  • We do not need to go as far back as the security guarantees that West gave Ukraine in return for surrendering its nuclear weapons, and which nonetheless failed to kick in when Russia annexed Crimea.
  • Seven deadly and recent blunders on Western powers part have brought both Ukraine and Russia to this point.

Major blunders

  • Withdrawal of USA from Afghanistan: Russian invasion must be taken in the context of withdrawal of US and its allies from Afghanistan last year.
  • Since Obama administration, US position was that no longer it was willing to act as world’s policeman.
  • But the process and outcome of handover back to Taliban after 20 years and trillions of dollars wasted were evidence of fundamental policy failures and weakened US commitment and ability.
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy of USA: Biden administration, in the weeks prior to invasion, was engaged in announcements that were war-mongering.
  • Not only did US and UK begin withdrawing families of diplomats from Kyiv but also US also made public announcements on expected date of Russian attack.
  • While this type of information was essential to share with intelligence agencies of allies and friends, to go public with such announcements may have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Only words of support

  • Before invasion, multiple leaders come out in favour of Ukraine.
  • At Munich Security Conference, Ukraine’s President received a standing ovation.
  • German Chancellor put approval process of Nord Stream 2 on hold, a courageous move that his predecessor had firmly resisted.
  • Various friendly countries have provided a variety of assistance to Ukraine, ranging from aid to arms. But let us not over-glorify this assistance.
  • Words of support and aid may perhaps have given Ukraine a false sense of security and optimism, but they would not have deterred Putin
  • These words come without military support on the ground or in the air likely only increasing Russian resolve.

Empty threats seldom work

  • For all frantic diplomacy and warning Russia of severe penalties should it violate Ukrainian sovereignty, empty threats seldom work, especially with strongmen.
  • Former German Defence Minister tweeted: “We have forgotten the lesson of Schmidt and Kohl that negotiation always comes first, but we have to be militarily strong enough to make non-negotiation not an option for the other side.

Economic and personal sanctions

  • Having issued failed warnings to Russia against invading Ukraine, West turned to economic and personal sanctions.
  • A debate immediately erupted among policy workers on whether excluding SWIFT transactions would diminish the effectiveness of the sanction.
  • No sanctions are ‘nuclear’ in their effect; they’re just not that powerful.
  • Most advocates of sanctions recognise that to see the effects of sanctions, one must exercise patience.
  • For all big talk of sanctions from Western leaders, it is difficult to buy even their limited bite if one looks at the level of dependence of Europe on Russia for energy, and enmeshment of Russian money in the British economy.


  • Entire Western strategy on dealing with Russia has been short-sighted , a classic instance of Europe and US not being able to see beyond their transatlantic region.
  • Their weak and ineffective goading of Russia and hapless refusal to protect Ukraine will likely drive Russia further into the arms of China.