What You Need To Know:
✔ Crimea crisis is a long-term issue, but annexation sanctions against Russia will not go away;
✔ Russia changes tactics in Ukraine, but not the ultimate goal of destabilizing the country;
✔ ‘I’d separate the issues of Ukraine & Syria, I don’t see a connection, no tradeoff for Russia is possible;
✔ It’d be useful for Kyiv government to keep hammering home the message of reconciliation with East Ukraine.
Russia changes its tactics in Ukraine as shaky ceasefire has suddenly gained ground in the war-torn region. But it doesn’t mean the Kremlin’s ultimate goal in the country has changed too, Steven Pifer, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine warns.
‘Russians have decided now to ratchet down the violence in Eastern Ukraine, and I think it is a good thing. But I’m not sure it means that there has been a change in Russia’s overall approach, which I fear remains still to destabilize Ukraine and make it more difficult for the government in Kyiv to do reforms,’ Pifer says.
Pifer rejects a possibility of Russia getting a tradeoff on Ukraine for its recent military involvement in Syria: ‘I’d separate the issues of Ukraine and Syria, I don’t see a connection between the two. A lot of people tried to draw the connection by saying that there’s some kind of a tradeoff [for Russia]. Like two months ago, there was a popular conspiracy theory that the United States might sacrifice Ukraine for Iran. It didn’t happen, because in the end of the day Russia didn’t want to see Iran with nuclear weapon either.’
Pifer encourages the Ukrainian government to expand the dialogue with its citizens trapped in the rebel-held areas of Eastern Ukraine and try to re-integrate the region back after the war is over: 'I think it would be useful for the government in Kyiv to keep hammering this message home and home and home.'
Hromadske International's Maxim Eristavi spoke to Steven Pifer. a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine during the YES international conference in Kyiv on September 11th, 2015.