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Avoiding the Worst in Ukraine and Taiwan

No global structure of peace can be stable and secure unless all parties recognize others' legitimate security interests. If the brewing crises over Ukraine and Taiwan are to be resolved peacefully, the major powers will need to pause and consider the strategic perspectives of the other side.

NEW YORK – Two dangerous flashpoints, in Europe and Asia, could bring the United States, Russia, and China into open conflict. The crises over Ukraine and Taiwan can be resolved, but all parties must respect the others’ legitimate security interests. Acknowledging those interests objectively will provide the basis for a lasting de-escalation of tensions.

Consider Ukraine. Although it undoubtedly has the right to sovereignty and safety from a Russian invasion, it does not have the right to undermine Russia’s security in the process.

The current Ukraine crisis is the result of overreach by both Russia and the US. Russia’s overreach lies in its 2014 annexation of Crimea and occupation of Ukraine’s industrial heartland in Donetsk and Luhansk; and in its ongoing efforts to keep Ukraine dependent on it for energy, industrial inputs, and markets. Ukraine has a legitimate interest in integrating more closely with the European Union economy, and it has signed an association agreement with the EU for that purpose. The Kremlin, however, fears that EU membership could be a stepping stone for Ukraine to join NATO.

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