So now Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a dilemma.   The US and the EU are demanding he stop the pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine.  If he does,  this would prove the West’s contention that he has orchstrated the uprising.   If he does not, the West will coninue to impose sanctions and rattle their collective sabre.

I am amazed by the US, EU and the UN refusal to suggest the normal international solution of holding negotiations between the competing parties.  This failure lies in the smug assurance of the West that no one in Ukraine really wants close ties with Russia.  Such is not reality.

As I stated at the onset of the conflict (”Drums Along the Dneiper”) Ukraine is a land with a divided identity, Russian to the east and Ukrainian to the West.  And remember, Ukraine has only existed as a country with that name since 1991.  Also remember that all Ukrainians over 25 speak Russian but not all of that age group speak Ukrainian.  The ousted president actually took Ukrainian lessons to improve his command of the language after taking office.  Also remember that Kiev is the “Mother City of Russia,” since it was the origin of the Russian Empire.

I would strongly urge the West to press for negotiations between the competing parties in the country for a “unity government” instead of laying all the blame for conflict on Putin and the Russians.  I would expect such negotiations to lead to a country with greater regional autonomy which in turn would allow each region to form eocnomic, not political, ties with either Russia or the EU.  This would not only defuse the current conflict but also allow for an area where the West and the East could start learning from one another and begin a real process for full European integration.