An emergency session of the UN security council was convened in New York after Russia recognised parts of eastern Ukraine as independent Image Credit: Reuters

The Ukrainian crisis is escalating rapidly, at least politically, as Western countries scramble to coordinate a response to Russia’s surprise move to recognise two separatist Ukrainian regions as independent states.

Following President Vladimir Putin’s decree to recognise the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent, the Parliament endorsed the decision and the Ministry of Defence said it was moving Russian troops there as a peacekeeping force, further complicating an already complicated situation that threatens to plunge Europe into another wide-scale war.

The United States and its allies condemned the move and announced new and more harsh sanctions will be imposed on Russia. The Western reaction will certainly pour more fuel on the escalating crisis.

However, Moscow knows that its move to endorse the separation of those two regions is unlikely to be followed by any other country, and already opposed by the United Nations. Thus, it is mostly a political manoeuvre aimed at forcing the US-led Nato alliance to sit and discuss Russia’s security demands, the core reason for this whole conundrum.

Prospect of a stable political order

Russia realises that the separation of two large Ukrainian territories will deny any prospect of a stable political order in Eastern Europe, which Russia insists on in the first place by opposing the expansion of Nato closer to its border.

As bad as it may look like, the Russian move might very well lead to a political solution to the standoff. French Presidency sources were quoted by the local media on Tuesday as saying that the US and its allies may finally agree to consider Moscow’s security demands. This would be a good move by the West and if it happens, will open the door to ending this crisis peacefully.

With oil prices quickly climbing to the $100 per barrel milestone due to the rising fears of a potential military conflict, the energy-importing Western countries are surely hurting. Therefore, it is in their interest too to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible. But that depends on the willingness of all the parties to agree to talk. Putin’s move to recognise the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk, while initially seems to be an escalation, could very well drag everybody to the negotiations table.

The war of words thus must end immediately and give way to diplomacy. Germany and France have shown eagerness to mediate. They have been trying to bridge the gap in this crisis. They should continue their efforts. It is not too late to resolve this peacefully. The alternative is unthinkable.