The Ukraine – A War of Posturing?

Posted on March 4, 2014

The great thing about the stand-off currently taking place in the Ukraine is that unlike many of the other territorial squabbles of recent times; it is pretty easy to follow.

In places like Syria, Egypt and Iraq there are so many different tribes and religions, it is impossible to know exactly who is right and wrong as the rebel uprisings are often carried out by groups who are no better than the ones they are attempting to overthrow, hence the British Government’s reluctance to get tangled up in the chaos in Syria.

As a young man, I attempted to understand the war in the Balkans but when you have Croat-Serbs, Bosnian-Serbs, Slavs, Slovaks and God knows who else massacring each other, it gets to the point where you feel like giving up and watching Coronation Street instead.

When you look at Iraq on Wikipedia, it says that there no less than 150 different tribes but ONLY 30 of these are influential. Britain and the United States attempted to solve this quandary by fabricating a story about weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to blow the whole bloody lot up.

This resulted in the death of thousands of civilians as well as British scientist David Kelly, who allegedly committed suicide after knowing a bit too much of the Tony Blair regime misleading the British public about WMD’s.

In the Ukraine it is far simpler. In the central and western regions of this huge former member of the Soviet Union, there is, predominantly, a desire to shift to the west and join the EU, whilst in the East and in Crimea, the people are generally Russian speaking and still see themselves as Russian Nationalists.

Essentially, the west see the invasion of a sovereign state as illegal and a territorial threat whilst Russia, some would say understandably, see the spread of the EU as a genuine threat to themselves and see it within their rights to protect the pro-Russian nationalist in the East of the region.


This map is simple indicator of where Russia will and will not face resistance

The USA are shouting their mouths of as usual, conveniently forgetting their own dubious history of invading and/or destabilising elected governments in Cuba, Chile and Nicaragua when they saw a threat of communism on their own doorstep.

Our very own William Hague is also pontificating without much substance, because he knows, as does Vladimir Putin, that a conflict or economic sanctions would be very damaging for both countries as they both have strong economic links with each other.

It is pretty obvious that Putin, an alpha-male ex KGB officer with a chequered history with regards to human rights, is still nursing the bruises of the fall of the Soviet Empire and in his eyes  the Ukraine moving towards a westernised economy is a yet another punch on the nose that he simply will not take.

Despite western warnings of Russia invading Georgia after they elected a pro-western government in 2008, Putin did it anyway, quickly and decisively putting Georgia firmly in its place, so it should come as no surprise this is happening.

This is what Dick Cheney said before Russia invaded Georgia:  “Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community.”

It did go unanswered, no-one did anything and Putin is backing himself by assuming that despite all the tough words, there is not a lot the West can do about it if he invades the Ukraine.

The problem as I see it is that the West and the USA in particular, try to use some sort of comic book scenario when it comes to Russia. “We are the great leaders of the free world and they (Russia) are the evil empire”.

The USA always throws their support behind mew emerging democracies, but, if we are honest, only up until the election results don’t suit their ideology.

They (America) cry foul play at autocratic regimes, but will always make convenient exceptions and turn a blind eye for countries that have traditional and economic or historical ties; it’s just what they do and they always have done.

If you scour through independent history books, former enemies of America will always become friends if there is political or economic interest.

We have learnt to accept that’s the way America behave to feed capitalism but only a fool would expect Russia, the one consistent American enemy since WWII, to ever think the same way.

The general assumption it that Putin will be satisfied with the annexation of the Crimea, and it is a good argument judging by the swift war with Georgia. However, Putin may well see this as a unique opportunity for Russia to restore its other borders.

Russia has already taken Crimea secured the Black Sea Fleet, and will more than likely, pretty much unopposed restore Crimea to Russian sovereignty. It may then be his (Putin’s) intention to occupy a decent chunk of eastern and southern Ukraine, something that would be achieved with relative ease with the majority ethnic Russian populations offering little resistance and even welcome arms.

But what next? Does Putin dare move (this time against strong pro-western resistance) through central and western Ukraine and secure the whole country, securing the Russia-Ukraine border?

This is the worrying bit… the Russian gas pipelines that pass through central Ukraine and Kiev, through to Europe. Germany for example, get a third of their gas from Gazprom.

Interestingly, I have read that George Bush senior recognized that Russia had a right to  its own strategic interests within its region, and that even with the collapse of the Communism, it would still have the strength to assert itself when required to do so.

Bush to his credit, took a world view, and accepted that other nati0ns have interests and perspectives that are different than America’s and it was a pretty sound judgement on his part that the world would be a less dangerous place if Russia were not backed into a corner and surrounded by an increasing amount of former Soviet states turning west and joining NATO.

America didn’t take heed of Bush’s judgement and continued to emasculate Russia by pushing their influence further back, so we really shouldn’t be surprised that Putin is pushing back.

Putin’s intentions in Ukraine are still not certain, but there many political experts who know far more than me, who have known for years what his ultimate goal is.

I find it interesting rather than worrying, it’s like a real life game of Chess…The trouble is, Chess is game that Russian’s are bloody good at.

3 Replies to "The Ukraine - A War of Posturing?"

  • Arturo Mancilla
    March 7, 2014 (7:21 pm)

    Agree completely. I live in Chile and know perfectly well what living in somebody’s backyard means… This is almost US territory…

  • Arturo Mancilla
    March 7, 2014 (7:21 pm)

    Good luck with the journalism bet

  • jeff
    March 17, 2014 (4:13 am)

    well written….wsj should hire you

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