Although the first round of the Ukrainian Presidential elections occur Sunday March 31, many people outside of Eastern Europe are unaware of the issues surrounding the elections or who is running. This elections appears to be a referendum on the ‘ultra-nationalist’ policies and ideology Kiev has condoned—most often at the expense of ethnic Russians. The ultimate question, however, may not be the results of the election but whether the international community will be able to understand what is transpiring within Ukraine.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko announced… a new plan to seek European leadership in war-stricken areas of the nation still in government hands… “establishing a kind of patronage by certain countries over certain cities and towns of Donbass, let Germany take responsibility for Kramatorsk, let Greece for Mariupol, let Great Britain for Volnovaha, let other countries take Severodonetsk, Lisichansk, Avdeevka”
As if Russian airstrikes, ISIS suicide attacks, and chemical warfare were not enough, Turkish troops now join the Syrian civil war, a conflict entering its eighth year. On January 20, the media focused on the American government shutdown, providing no coverage on the day’s most significant development: Turkish president Recep Erdogan launched his long-promised assault on the Kurds in northern Syria, one of America’s closest allies in the campaign against ISIS.
The Trump-Russia narrative alleging collusion between the President and the Russian government or leverage that the Russians supposedly have on him has continued its long and dramatic plunge into lunacy.
The American public is outraged, as it should be, by the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Uncovering their efforts is direct proof of Russian meddling in American affairs, but this discovery should not be taken at face value. One should remember that there is a clear distinction between collusion with the Trump campaign and efforts to undermine faith in American democracy; collusion requires active cooperation, and there is no evidence thus far to support this conclusion.
With ISIS largely defeated, Iraq has retreated to the periphery of American attention; America and its allies abroad have left Iraq on its own after over a decade of intense involvement.This lack of engagement leaves a power vacuum open for exploitation by Iran, and yes, even a resurgent ISIS. A policy of complete disengagement is not only to the detriment of American interests, but those of its regional allies. The United States must decide whether it will stand idly by as the modest but appreciable gains made by trillions of dollars and the lives of thousands of US service members are swept away by Islamic extremism, or selectively engage in the region to counterbalance growing Iranian influence.