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Opinion
Mohamed A. El-Erian

How to Lose in Ukraine

If the West and Russia can't calm tensions in Ukraine soon, everyone will lose.
The barricades and the stakes are rising in eastern Ukraine. Photographer: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
The barricades and the stakes are rising in eastern Ukraine. Photographer: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Having failed on several occasions to calm tensions in Ukraine, Russia and the West are being pushed by a deteriorating situation into a rapidly narrowing set of options. In coming days, the outlook will seem particularly complex, and the outcome could be bad for all involved.

Viewed from Western capitals, no combination of carrot or stick seems capable -- at least so far -- of deterring Russia and President Vladimir Putin from interfering in Ukraine. The annexation of Crimea has been followed by spreading instability in eastern Ukraine that the West insists is driven, at least in part, by Russia.