Unless you've been scouring the planet in an attempt to find a place with no signal, you would certainly know about the recent Ukraine crisis. Unfortunately, this picture on the left describes much of the scene during the violent clashes in the February protests. Why, I hear you ask (somehow)? Why are the US now getting involved? How do we solve this? Well, I'll address the former two, but I'd be working for the White House or the Kremlin if I could answer the last one.
Well, let's start with a bit of background, shall we...
On 21st November 2013, the ex-President Yanukovych abruptly cancelled a deal with the EU, in the hope of getting closer to Putin. This led to mass protests which climaxed in February with mass violence from both the protesters and police, and eventually led to Yanukovych's ousting. There was also sniper fire which killed people on both sides - this was recently revealed,in a leaked phone call between the Estonian FM and an EU chief, to have been done by gunmen hired by the current coalition.
Now, obviously Russia’s actions can be considered illegal by the international community – some actions they have chosen to undertake are ones which interfere with national sovereignty and in some cases, have threatened the people. But you know what?
I don’t think Russia should be punished.
Settle down – I've given you a few lines to suppress your flabbergasted reaction. So, why exactly is Russia ‘innocent’ in my eyes?
The simple answer points to the 54+ nations invaded by the US since World War II alone. The hypocrisy that accompanies the recently imposed sanctions is shocking – John Kerry, Secretary of State for the US, the self-appointed world police, has said “”You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,”
Well, if we’re talking about false pretences, let’s ignore the invasion of Iraq just a decade ago....
The geopolitical aspect of the situation is also vital in this situation – as we should really know, Ukraine borders Russia. If the US were to, perhaps, intervene and, as they have done previously, instil a puppet government to keep tabs on Putin, would this not be an invasion of Russian sovereignty? It certainly draws parallels to the Cuba in the 1960s – as Loren Thompson writes, “If you don’t see why putting U.S. forces in Ukraine might lead to war, think of how Washington responded to the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba.” Those of you who remember GCSE History will know that Russia and the US will not tolerate one another in their 'sphere of influence'/
In addition to this, people are forgetting that Russia is allowed to station 25,000 troops in Crimea - after all, it contains vital gas fields which need protection. Ukraine aren't missing out on the gas either - Russia pays them an annual fee of 98 million Euros for the service.
What is also being ignored, is why the deal was cancelled in the first place - well firstly, the slow decline of the EU must have been a factor. Perhaps Yanukovych felt he would have more economic success with Russia?
So what of the current situation? Recently the Crimean people voted to join with Russia, 60 years after it was gifted to Ukraine.
Was the election fair, however? Well, we cannot rule out that Russia rigged the election, but it’s unlikely due to the staunch consequences should they be found out. One must remember that 58% of Crimeans are ethnic Russian speakers, so any referendum would naturally result in a decent majority voting for Russia. However, the figure of 97% intrigued me – surely Russia must have played some part in the referendum, just to make sure? There were reports that Putin blocked off all opposition media to the Crimeans, leaving only (pro) Russian media. Of course the use of media is vital in turning public opinion, but something about the magnitude of Crimeans in favour of Putin doesn't seem quite right.
Nonetheless, it seems that if a fair and proper referendum were carried out, the ethnic Russian speakers would outweigh the other groups, so it is rational to render the referendum valid.
Looking towards the future:
This could be a drag, much like the current Syrian situation.
Both parties are sending mixed signals of peace and war - a recent example being ex-PM Tymoshenko calling for all Russians to be "killed with Atomic weapons" until "there is not a scorched field in Russia" - this nice lady is now running for Ukraine's leadership! Of course, military intervention, as aforementioned, will most likely lead to the next world war...
My fear is that the Cold War never ended.
My overall view on this, as you can guess, is 'alternative'. It seems that while the issues of gas and geopolitics are important in the situation, this may just be 'mind games' from the two parties. I'm loving Putin's defiant stance to the US, as it's time somebody stood up to the self-appointed world "peace" enforcers, and outlined the hypocrisy in Obama's actions which is now clear for all to see. It's strange what the US views as legal and illegal - a violent ousting of a President is fine, yet a referendum where everyone can vote is immoral and wrong.
My hope is that the US stand down, let the Crimean people have their wish, and stop building up tensions in the region, while some American citizens on their OWN soil continue to live in unenviable conditions. In the words of Tupac, "They got money for wars but they can't feed the poor".