US lets EU take center stage on Ukraine peace accord

Remember that the EU is led by Germany, therefore America is encouraging Germany to take center stage — and it has.

In allowing the EU to mediate Ukraine’s peace accord, the US achieved its objectives and lightened its own burden. Whether it can stay in the shadows depends on the likelihood of a Ukrainian financial crisis.

The US had two priorities in Kyiv, says Charles A. Kupchan, who under the first Clinton administration directed the National Security Council’s (NSC) European affairs.

“Number one, to stop the killing and the loss of life. And number two, to bring to an end a political stalemate and find a way forward for Ukraine,” he told DW.

“From the perspective of Washington, it’s important that the Atlantic community move to a new division of responsibility in which Europe shoulders a greater burden,” Kupchan said. “And in the first instance, those burdens should be in Europe.”

In the months leading up to new Ukrainian elections, the US’ task will be making the compromise come to life, Kupchan says. “This is not just about getting Yanukovych and his governing apparatus to implement the agreement, it’s also about the ability of Klitschko and other opposition leaders to shepherd an unwieldy, fragmented opposition that includes radical elements to abide by the agreement.” One of those, Pravy Sektor, has called the agreement “eye-wash.”

Generally, the US has remained relatively “hands-off” throughout the Ukrainian crisis, says Jeff Mankoff, who formerly advised the US State Department on US-Russia relations and is now the deputy director of Russia and Eurasia at the Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Beyond limited leverage and relatively toothless sanctions, however, there’s another issue adding to US reluctance to behave boldly in Ukraine: the state of US-Russian relations.

Still, the US managed to influence events in Ukraine in other ways. US Vice President Joe Biden has been in regular contact with Ukrainian authorities. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, in spite of her gaffe, has been a regular presence in Kyiv. Prior to the accord, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had tried and failed to establish contact with his Ukrainian counterpart to avoid the potential domestic use of Ukraine’s military. And US President Barack Obama has been making regular references to events in Ukraine during speeches.

Full article: US lets EU take center stage on Ukraine peace accord (Deutsche Welle)

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