The Ukraine is almost as big as Texas, and has over 40 million residents, of whom about 8 million are ethnic Russians. It has only rarely been an independent nation. It’s where the Russian nation originated, and is mainly an Orthodox Christian country. Nikita Khrushchev gifted it with Crimea 60 years ago, just to be nice. But Ukranians suffered as much or more than anyone under the Communists, and they don’t want to be dictated to by Moscow.
Putin wants the Ukraine to be within the Russian sphere of influence, and a buffer between Russia and the West. The Ukranians, if they could, would join NATO and the European Union. This is the most pressing, and critical, issue between us and them. Is there a way to a negotiated settlement, and avoid further bloodshed?
A guy who goes by the handle of “The Saker” has a solution: a federalist Ukranian state, with high levels of autonomy for all regions, including the heavily Russian ethnic Donbass. A new Convention of Forces Europe treaty between Russia and the West would be negotiated, and a neutral and non-aligned Ukraine would be the center piece of a final European post World War II, and post Cold War, settlement. The Ukranians might not like it, but they live in a tough neighborhood, and this may be the best deal they can get.
The Saker is a 52 year old Dutch/Russian, raised by his Russian mother, born in Geneva, who worked for the Swiss military and came to the U.S. in 2002 and is now a legal alien in Florida. He’s not an American, is not particularly pro-American, is a fervid anti-Zionist, and a friend to the Palestinians. His world view isn’t mine, to say the least. His web site currently features a rabidly pro-Cuban article by a French Moslem, who thinks Cuba is and always has been the best thing going. But that doesn’t mean a federalist Ukraine is a bad idea. Personally, I’m in favor of federalism just as a general principle — local laws, local control.
Apparently my suggestion of an Alaska Russian-American summit isn’t going anywhere. It looks as though Putin and Trump will meet in Iceland, just as Gorbachev and Reagan did in 1986. If it were not for Reagan’s refusal to give up the Strategic Defense Initiative, something like real nuclear disarmament was within reach back then. Nothing so ambitious is possible so early in Trump’s administration, but ground work can be laid. The Ukraine will certainly be a topic of conversation. If the two of them could agree, conceptually, to the federalist solution, it could be the start of a general outline of a peaceful Europe. NATO would eventually be unnecessary, as would massive nuclear capability.
The Saker believes the world is run by an Anglo-Zionist conspirators, neocons if you will, and that they will use their control of the “deep state” to thwart any move toward a Russian-American entente. I think he’s a conspiracy freak, and Trump as President will be free to negotiate as he sees fit. He wants a deal, Putin wants a deal, and if the two of them reach an understanding, the Russians and the Americans can dictate their terms to the rest of Europe. The neocons, or Anglo-Zionists, in the Saker’s phrase, have no power to stop him. If they could, they would have not allowed him to win the Presidency. The neocons have no constituency in this country, and no power. John McCain and Marco Rubio speak for themselves, and damn few other people.
The American people want peace, with the Russians and everybody else. Trump says he knows how to make deals. Let’s see what he’s got.