WHO WILL LOSE FACE OVER UKRAINE – RUSSIA OR AMERICA?

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You would think it was 1914, instead of 2014.  

A previously unknown group of nationalists strikes a blow against a brutal dictatorship.   The  Russians decide to intervene to protect fellow Slavs.  The EU makes threatening noises; and faraway America decides not to get involved militarily.   Substitute Austria for EU and you could be in a time warp.   All we are waiting for is an assassination to trigger off a much bigger conflict.  More likely this time is an over-reaction by a trigger-happy soldier to turn a minor conflict into a major war.

The Russians are copying their 2008 strategy in Georgia, seizing territory inhabited mostly by Russians.  They have already invaded Ukraine.  As with Georgia, don’t expect a hasty withdrawal.   They are still there.

Russia is taking care of its own national interests.  Just like always.  They struggled for centuries to gain access to a warm water port on the Black Sea, finally achieving their goal under Catherine the Great.  They are not going to risk losing it now.

Russians remember, too, that during World War II, Ukraine was divided between communists and fascists.  To the Russians, the nationalists who have taken over in Kiev are fascists.   They have certainly succeeded in opening up old wounds, ethnic, linguistic and religious divisions that go back centuries.

President Obama called President Putin on Friday warning him that there would be consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine.  Within 24 hours, Russian troops were all over the Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine.   58% of the people in this area are Russian speaking.  For strategic reasons, Russia needs it.  Russia will keep it.  The US will do nothing, except for giving Russia a symbolic slap on the wrist, perhaps leading a western boycott of the G8 summit to be held in Sochi in June.

As with Syria last year, the US will lose face.   Americans may still think they are the world’s number one power, but the country is increasingly an irrelevant power.   As it makes serious reductions to the size of its armed forces, it will become even less important.  The United States is where Great Britain was after World War II – having fought two major wars, the country is broke and lacks the resolve for further conflict.   A deliberate choice has been made by Washington to concentrate on domestic issues, including a costly government controlled medical system, again following London’s course seven decades ago.

This does not mean Ukraine will be completely abandoned by the West.    The European Union is very much involved in the Ukrainian conflict.  Indeed, in some respects it caused the present conflict, offering Ukraine a closer relationship with the EU and substantial financial incentives.  It is this financial clout that will likely win out at the end, helping western Ukraine at least to break away from Moscow.

Interestingly, in a CBS report on the Ukrainian crisis, Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel was labeled “Europe’s de facto leader.”

Germany and Russia have fought over Ukraine before.

Russia has reverted to the use of force to resolve conflict.   Germany and its EU associates are using economic power.   The US has neither when it comes to Ukraine.

 

A likely outcome will see Crimea back in Russia, perhaps with eastern Ukraine.   Western Ukraine will more likely associate with the EU.   Armed conflict is possible between Russia and Ukraine, but not a prolonged war, as Ukraine is very weak compared to Russia.

Invading the Crimea may cause Russia to lose face for a while but President Putin doesn’t care and it will soon be forgotten.

The US, however, will suffer greater damage.  It’s been five decades since the Chinese leader, Chairman Mao, ridiculed the US as a “paper tiger.”   Now it’s true.

 

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7 thoughts on “WHO WILL LOSE FACE OVER UKRAINE – RUSSIA OR AMERICA?”

  1. This is very insightful. Thanks. My understanding is that Russia has become a major player in the energy business in which Russia supplies much of Europe a healthy portion of its energy needs. Without the Ukraine, Russia becomes a significant purchaser of energy, not a seller. For both Europe and the Russians, the Ukraine is most important for its location, particularly as a transit state for energy. Nearly 25% of the European Union’s natural gas comes from Russia, and 80% of that gas passes through the Ukraine. Wars have been fought for far less important economic reasons.
    The Ukrainians also possess a formidable military industrial complex. If the Ukraine were to join the European Union and perhaps even NATO, someday, this would constitute a major national security threat to the Russians. It appears that the principalities behind these developments are working from the same “Playbook” as in the past.
    Energy, economy, strong military, warm water sea port, and a human resource of over 45 million people …these are all strong reasons for Putin to retain Ukraine as part of his foundation for an Imperial Euro-Asian Empire.

  2. If Mr. Putin is successful in Ukraine (and I have little doubt he will be), who may be next? I think of the 3 Baltic states (especially Estonia and Latvia) with their still-sizable Russian minorities. The only saving grace may be that these countries (along with Lithuania) have been part of the EU for a decade, and already have stronger ties to Europe. Still, we need to think of Mr. Putin as Don Corleone with nukes.

    1. Because of the void of leadership in the world, this is Mr. Putin’s opportunity to step into the gap via force and overt aggression. There’s no one to stop him currently. Those Baltic states may still be in jeopardy of take over. There must be more at stake for the EU to be provoked to become counter-aggressive, in the same manner. Putin is emboldened by the current White House …starting with Georgia and underscored by USA’s great reduction in military and dismantling of our nuke program. Even our monitoring of our coastlines have been reduced. President Obama wants to backup his world campaign saying, “We are not a threat to you and we apologize for all of our aggressiveness.” This is Putin’s chance to assert and he’s got a window of about 1,000 days of Obama’s remaining presidency to accomplish it.

      1. Now we see why the Sochi Olympics were so successful. President Putin, while the world slept, and all the athletes felt relatively “safe” for those couple of weeks, surrounded the areas with his troops just waiting for the right moment. That moment has come. He now continues with his unchallenged plan to rebuild the Soviet Union . The end result? Daniel chapter 11: 44 provides the answer.

  3. President Putin of Russia is following in the footsteps of another well-known military agressor of the 20th century: Adolf Hitler. Hitler constantly used the pretext of local populations of Germans living in neighboring countries to justify his acts of aggression, such as in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Irredentism always serves as good cover for aggressive foreign policies.

    1. I’m not sure how people get to follow this blog, but they do. When I log in, I don’t see any links for that but other people do. Perhaps someone reading this can help?

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