Matthew Gordon-Banks

Will Eastern Ukraine look like Cyprus one day?

The communist invasion of the south of Korea in 1950 led to mountains of dead but, thanks to the stability offered by an internationally brokered armistice, South Korea became an economic powerhouse and is now a flourishing democracy. That does not mean it can relax, not with a menacing North Korea next door. Yet there has been no full-blown war; it had western security guarantees. The North, under its savage leader, is still a pariah state.

The comparisons are not perfect — for one thing, western soldiers were on the ground during the war — but the Korean peace path has some straightforward lessons. First, back-channel talks need to be held even while the fighting continues. Second, neutral arbiters should be brought in when things get sticky. And western security assistance to Kyiv needs to become conditional on negotiating concessions. As I have always insisted, “Dialogue” is vital even at thee most difficult times.

Is that a sell-out to Putin? No. If the talks work the West will say it has enforced a surrender. If they don’t, many more people will die unnecessarily.

I believe that what is currently east Ukraine may one day look like Cyprus; a country invaded by Turkey in 1974 to protect the Turkish minority, divided for years but now living with two parts each bustling in their own way. Whilst the West falls over itself to steal Russia’s money allegedly to pay to help re-build Ukraine one day, it should be noted that when the ‘new Republic’ of Crimea was formed the Russian State poured vast financial resources into the peninsula transforming the area into a modern, bustling, industrial, agricultural and tourist mecca. I believe that will happen again here.

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