The crisis in Ukraine seems to be slipping ever closer to an all-out war, as Russian troops make continued incursions into the east of the country and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accuses the country of “direct and open aggression”.
All of which has been seen by many as the failure of the European Union’s “soft power” approach towards Russia’s actions towards its neighbor.
Soft power – using diplomacy, co-operation and the powers of attraction rather than coercion – has become a more potent force in international relations over recent decades. During the Ukrainian crisis, Germany, with its conciliatory, sanctions-focused approach, has been a leading exponent of the approach.
Yet faced with what looks increasingly like the use of “hard power” by Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil, its limits are being tested. President Vladimir Putin called for “statehood” for the eastern Ukraine region, suggesting to many analysts that he wants a new buffer zone between Russia and the West — comprising part of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told CNBC at the weekend: “We are very close to the point of no return… full scale war.”