The Slaughter of the Innocents

Written on July 20, 2015 by Susana Torres Prieto in International Relations

susanaBy Susana Torres Prieto, Professor of Humanities at IE University and IE Business School.

Last Friday, a very sad anniversary was commemorated without ceremonies. Last year, on July 17th, a lost missile ended abruptly the life of the passengers flying over the Ukraine in a plane of Malaysian Airlines. Although partial enquiries have been carried out, nobody has been made accountable or taken to court. The sad and painful truth is that nobody probably will, not now, not ever. The eastern part of Ukraine is in the hands of warlords, all of them with a dubious record who were quickly armed and are now impossible to dismantle. It is Yugoslavia, yet again.

About a year and a half ago, people were following the events in Kiev as they were quickly developing. The whole script of events, yet again. Protests, saviours from abroad, riots, murder, saviours from within, promises from the international community, assurances from the international community, and finally, a war, yet again.

After a few months, the conflict grew old, other news broke in other parts of the world, and the conflict in the Ukraine is on the way of becoming one of those forgotten conflicts that seem to linger in limbo until something else happens. In the case of Ukraine, this point of stagnation has arrived maybe sooner than expected, but it has arrived anyway. I was asked in a seminar back in December last year if I thought that the war in Ukraine was going to end up soon. I replied that, if the first winter passed without a solution, the end would take much longer to come. I hate being right.

It is not only that the weather might be a definitive element of war in that part of the world, as Napoleon and Hitler could see for themselves, it is also a question that there is no money or will to carry out the campaign further. The government of President Poroshenko is economically exhausted, President Putin obtained long ago what he wanted, the Crimea, and the warlords theoretically ruling eastern Ukraine hardly agree on anything apart from defending their own interests. In the meantime, the industry, concentrated precisely in that part of the country, does not bring any revenue to Kiev to invest in carrying the conflict to a definitive point of resolution. Will Russia bother to bring a proper army to the east of Ukraine to settle the conflict? Hardly. Will

NATO intervene in favour of Kiev? Hardly. In the meantime, Ukrainians struggle every day to get by, just to get by, in a country that is only poorer and more broken as time goes by. Did people foresee when they went to the Maidan in all good faith that this was going to be the final outcome of their legitimate protests? Hardly.

It is unlikely that those responsible for the attack to the plane of Malaysian airlines will ever be sentenced at court, but it is even more unlikely that those responsible of bringing a country to tatters following their own personal interests will ever be held accountable for doing so. If the final, and more likely, solution is to be a partition of the Ukraine into two separate states, we can only hope that it would come before another long winter unfolds.


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