Editorial: expand the sanctions

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Photo: TASS / Scanpix

Till last week but one, with a measure of confidence one may have predicted that the year ahead would see lively discussions within European Union about easing the sanctions set to keep Russia in check. By its behaviour last week, the Kremlin has done away with any arguments for the latter. By now, even those wilfully blind should see that the peace agreement isn’t being honoured – neither by the Kremlin, not by the separatists it backs.

To use the word «peace» was more than questionable even before. For who would call it a «peace» while battles are being fought, rockets launched, and hundreds upon hundreds perish.

Over these past few months, several analysts have suggested that perhaps the Kremlin control over East-Ukrainian separatists was not as strong as it was assumed to be. That, perhaps, these truly just refused to submit to orders from Kremlin to keep the conditions of peace. Even if true in certain aspects, it’s crystal clear by now that Russia is again very much active in East-Ukraine supporting the separatists.

The sanctions must be expanded and it is highly substantiated for Ukraine to demand that the Donetsk and Lugansk «people’s republics» be treated as terrorist organisations. In its support of Ukraine, the free world will need to act with even sharper edge and forcefulness that up to now. It is extremely important that, due to military pressure by Kremlin, essential support towards Ukraine’s badly needed reforms and its economy would not weaken.

When it comes to possible explanations as to why the Kremlin decided to attack at this particular moment, columnist for Postimees in Moscow Jüri Vendik offers a few. One being that it was humiliating and unacceptable for the «military party» at Kremlin to see its «dream of a great Novorossiya» as good as buried. The peace, even the quote unquote peace we saw after the Minsk agreements, was not acceptable and the misery of Ukraine wasn’t miserable enough. 

The whole time, the strategic goal for Kremlin has been to hinder Ukraine’s steps towards the free world organisations and the Western space of values. In realty: to obstruct what the Ukrainians since the end of the last year but one demanded and finally won on Maidan. For the ideologists in Kremlin, it has always frightening to think of an East Slavic state at least attempting to turn from the Moscow diktat while also internally inclined towards rule of law and other Western values.

For the bulk of Western observers, Ukraine was overly slow to reform its order of life and too timid to topple corruption. By its fresh attacks, Kremlin has added an assessment of its own: Ukraine was too successful.