Between February 18th and 20th, the elected government of the Ukraine was overthrown by armed revolution. As Ukraine is the equal-third most corrupt country in the world, neither the outgoing or in-coming governments are anything but unsavoury. The only difference is that one was elected – which probably counts for little.
However… in terms of rhetoric, the whole thing rapidly became ridiculous. the incoming government was recognised by the West, but not by Russia. Then all manner of huffing and puffing followed, amid equally self-cancelling allegations about snipers funded by both sides to kill protesters for political advantage. (Which tells you a lot about the cynicism and deeply ingrained immorality of Ukraine politics.)
The USA didn’t bother with all this, but went immediately into knee-jerk Cold War mode; to which Putin made it clear that Russia wasn’t going to be pushed around. Alleging likely “fascist” violence against ethnic Russians in the Crimea, he quietly took it back, ignoring Western threats.
In the meantime, Ukraine’s revolutionary government has done all it can to crank up anti-Russian emotions and get NATO involved in defending its integrity from Russia.
This is a short-term policy of great irresponsibility. Russia was the only country supporting the Ukraine. Without good relations between the two, Ukraine cannot function. The USA and Europe are not going to provide Ukraine with money and resources it needs: Russian gas for example.
Countries that do not function cease to be countries, and Russia is not going to allow a failed state with all the terrorism, unrest and contagious instability that entails. Especially not along its southern border. (I’ve already blogged about how the USA would not tolerate anything similar in Mexico, or even in other Central and Southern American countries).
Russia will certainly take action to prevent harm to the other ethnic Russian communities in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is threatening to take military action to prevent this – and is already calling for NATO military action to support them. This would in fact mean a Third World War…
The dubious people now trying to run the Ukraine are grand-standing a massive gamble with a very thin hand that’s doomed to fail. They probably know this, but don’t care. “Maybe” they imagine, “the West might be as stupid as to get involved. Better to rule a divided country than not to rule at all…”
But this is not how international politics are played. Everyone in Washington, Brussels and London knows this.
If Russia steps in to protect other ethnic Russian areas of the Ukraine, it will be the direct fault of the cynical Ukrainian “revolutionaries” – but more so of the Europeans who didn’t tell them straight that the EU and NATO are not going to help them.
It will also be the fault of the disinterested American inability to see the world as it really operates. There is no simple Hollywood narrative at work here, with the good guys wearing cowboy hats.
There are complicated interests involved, and the only way to peace is to understand how the other side feels. Russia has been kicked around in its own backyard since Yeltsin began rapprochement with the West back in the late eighties. Even so, a civil war in Ukraine is not tolerable to Russia.
And especially judging from the mess that USA coalitions have made of sorting out civil wars in other countries, Russia is not going to tolerate NATO troops in the Ukraine. But why should she? What would Obama do if A Chinese-led coalition peace-keeping force flew into Mexico City to begin stabilisation operations there?