RT: After Russia’s steps to deescalate the crisis, they are still being criticized. Is there anything Moscow can do at this point to make Western leaders change their ongoing rhetoric?
Trifkovic: Oh yes, Moscow could escalate the crisis, and then they would dearly like to come back to the conciliatory gestures that we’ve seen both yesterday and over the past few weeks. But the lesson, what we’ve seen with the Yugoslav crisis of the 1990’s, and then with Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, is that conciliatory gestures are interpreted in Washington strictly as weakness, and only elicit an escalation of demands. We are not dealing with the normal diplomacy of give-and-take. That is why I am somewhat surprised that some of the Russian leaders still use the term “our Western partners.” In the classic European diplomacy of the XIXth century “partnership” implied this give-and-take. What we seem to be encountering, in both Washington and Brussels, is just “take” and no “give.” Unreciprocated gestures of easing the crisis, trying to calm the waters, are invariably interpreted as weakness that requires an escalation of ever-hardening demands.
RT: Today again we hear of the strong possibility of more Western sanctions being imposed on Moscow over Ukraine. None of that is surprising, then? All in the plan?
Trifkovic: Well, it’s really a game of chicken. The United States is putting a great deal of pressure on the so-called Old Europe to impose some serious sanctions, but none of those sanctions would hurt the United States. They will increase the hardship in Europe, because that would mean an increase in unemployment, that would mean going back into recession, and Europe still depends for about 30 percent of its energy on Russia. The American fracking gas cannot be transported to the de-liquefying stations in Europe for another two years. What we have is a game of chicken. I believe that President Putin has a rather strong hand if he plays it right, without coming up with strong rhetoric or dramatic gestures. We are in this for a long haul. The Ukrainian crisis will not be resolved next week or next month. There will be a complete collapse, financial collapse, in the Kiev regime-held Ukraine, and the West has no money and no willingness to come to the rescue…
RT: But how many people will have to die while this happens, while this plays out as you’re saying. Everybody is putting their hopes on this ceasefire that hopefully will be continued after this week. You’re saying it’s a dead duck already?
Trifkovic: Well, I am not sure, because it is pretty obvious that the Ukrainian military, the regular army, has no stomach for the fight, and that the fanatics from Galicia who are the backbone of the so-called National Guard – which is really the Right Sector dressed in regular uniforms – are not able to do the job. It is far better to drag out the crisis at a low level of intensity of violence, than to try and force the issue in a way that might result in a dramatic bloodshed right now.