The end of the beginning? Probably notAugust 27, 2014
On 9th November 1942, at The Lord Mayor’s Day luncheon held at The Mansion House, London, Winston Churchill gave his famous speech regarding “the end of the beginning“, following the first allied victory in North Africa/Egypt.
Ukraine, it has to be said, appears far from “the end of the beginning” unless a rabbit is magically pulled from a hat today in Minsk.
Upon entering the meeting, only an hour ago, stated “the fate of our country and of Europe is being decided here in Minsk.”
By a strange quirk of history, 26th August 1968, saw the Czechoslovakian leadership forced to sign terms with Kremlin regarding the “normalisation” of ties to facilitate leaving Warsaw Pact. What emerges from 26th August 2014, at the time of writing remains unknown – the meeting occurs at the time of writing.
There does seem very little room to maneuver – although there is some – and thus an “end to the beginning” remains a bleak prospect – An even bleaker prospect is “a beginning of the end” as far as Kremlin designs upon, and obstructive and coercive actions against, Ukraine are concerned. They appear robustly set for a decade and more – far over the horizon – unless The Kremlin itself fall, and whether that be closer than we think or not at all, this issue of Kremlin succession seems unlikely to result in any change of policy toward Ukraine.
If the “end of the beginning” would be marked by an end to armed Kremlin shenanigans in eastern Ukraine, the next act in the play will concentrated much more on political obstruction and attempted intervention both domestically within Ukraine and regarding any of its international policies that can be disrupted too. Needless to say, economic pressures will continue to be exerted, as well as ad hoc subversive acts across the entire spectrum of political, economic and social life where either opportunity or need present itself.
A “beginning of the end” remains a very, very long way off for Ukraine when it comes to Kremlin interference – regardless of any very unlikely agreements that may magically – or perhaps mendaciously – be claimed in Minsk.