Kiev - Last Stop on the Road to Russia
Contradictory reports describing the dramatic events in Kiev make conclusions uncertain. Usual suspects have usual agendas, rumors are not easily separated from facts and media selection of persons, places and events lack credibility.
However, that does not mean that what is unknown cannot be made known and that the struggle cannot be clarified; finding what is above reveals what is below. This crisis clearly displays its relations and, by doing that, sheds new light on the origins of the Cold War and the post-Cold War arrangements.
Sifting through all the vagaries, definite facts emerge:
(1) Unlike similar events in other parts of the world, the crisis in Kiev engaged the western world.
(2) Russia has definite interests in Ukraine - shared borders, history, language and economies. The western world has few shared interests with Ukraine.
(3) The Ukraine crisis follows a pattern of East European crises, such as Yugoslavia and Georgia, where Russia is demonized, Russian opponents are praised and western nations interfere in the crisis.
(4) With each crisis, NATO approaches the Russian border.
Similar crises to that in Ukraine are occurring in Thailand, Egypt, Bahrain, parts of Africa, and parts of India where corruption, political and social conflicts and economic problems have created violent protests. Of these crises, only the Ukraine has directly engaged the western world, with leaders visiting the nation, proffering charges against Russia, offering promises to protestors and generally being active in the conflict. The notable differences between Ukraine and the other crisis ridden nations are that Ukraine borders on and has allied interests with Russia.
Killings of civilians by police forces have occurred in all the protests around the world, with some being daily affairs, and many far exceeding the numbers from the few days of shooting in Kiev. Only in Kiev did use of deadly force immediately result in the overthrow of the government. The obvious hypocrisy and singular pursuit by western nations imparts sinister motives to them -- the Ukraine protest serves western interests.
Just as the United States has definite interests in its neighbors and will never permit any nation to violate those interests, Russia has close interests with its neighbors and does not want them violated. How could it be otherwise? Mexico may have its upheavals, but imagine if China promised aid and comfort to the rebels. Assuredly, the U.S. president would not order military readiness on the frontier; he would order drones to discharge missiles against the miscreants and instill order and respect.
Russia's legitimate interests in keeping powerful forces away from its borders does not mean that Russia intends to subordinate its neighbors; just the opposite, it is in Russia's interest for the neighboring states to be politically stable and economically viable. The only requirement is that the border nation not be allied with countries antagonistic to Russia. If the western nations want a stable and economically viable Ukraine they might be wise to stay away and permit the relationship between Russia and Ukraine to follow its own course of history. Antagonizing Russia only brings about what the antagonism intends to prevent -- a defiant and aggressive Russia. Could that be the intention?
Isn't interference in Ukraine part of a pattern of post Cold War western encroachment on Russia? The breakup of the Soviet Union, dismemberment of Yugoslavia by a NATO that modified its original charter of being created to defend Europe against Soviet aggression, U.S. assistance to Georgia, who defied Russia, incorporation of former Warsaw Pact members into NATO, stationing of anti-missile systems close to Russia and moving NATO forces to almost the entire western periphery of Russia has an added construct -- Ukraine in the western orbit -- and serves as another example of the battles for independence in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Republics that have led to dependence of the reconstructed nations on the wealthier western nations, the weakening of Russia and new challenges to Russia's survival.
Why are the U.S. and its allies concerned with Russia? President Putin has not sent the Russian military into operations away from its borders, has not interfered with other nations, has not gathered a fleet to protect world resources for itself, and has not manipulated the international order. The "Bear's" non-aggressive behavior is obviously its shortcomings --- Russia does not totally support the U.S. sending military into operations away from its borders (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan), subverting other nations (Iran, Syria), gathering a fleet to protect world resources (Bahrain, Persian Gulf) and manipulating the international order (IMF). Russia is an impediment to U.S. dominance and hegemony. It is guilty of standing up to U.S. expansion.
Put it all together --- bashing of Putin, NATO expansion, missile bases close to Russia, and constant support for antagonists to Russia and it is plausible to conclude that below the protests in Ukraine lies instigation from western nations.
All of which provokes questions and sheds a new light on the Cold War and its aftermath.
Did the leaders of the Soviet Union sense that unless they created a buffer between their nation and Western Europe that western military forces would be at the frontiers of Russia and war would become inevitable?
Did the Cold War exist for western powers to contain expansion of the Soviet Union or because the Soviet Union would not permit expansion from the United States? After the incorporation of the Eastern European states into the Soviet orbit (defense chain), which occurred before official recognition of a Cold War, Soviet expansion never occurred. Except for Czechoslovakia and the later excursion into Afghanistan, Russian troops did not move outside of the immediate post World War II arrangements and the Soviet Union did not use force to incorporate any newly established nations into its orbit. Just the opposite, Stalin did not provide assistance to the Greek communist in the 1946 Greek Civil War, withdrew Soviet forces from northern Iran and never actually assisted powerful western Communist Parties, some of whom had the most constituents, to gain electoral power. The United States aided the Greek government to defeat the insurgency, intervened in Iran to oust the elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and sent funds, personalities and material to influence elections throughout Europe. U.S. forces fought all over the globe, inflicted massive casualties on civilian populations and forcibly attempted to prevent new nations from moving into the Soviet orbit.
The Post Cold War era continues with similar activities; change Soviet to Russia and we find that the names have changed but the policies are the same. Boris Yeltsin who could not govern, destroyed the Soviet Union, sold his nation to oligarchs and brought Russia to economic ruin was accepted, supported and praised by Bill Clinton's presidency. Vladimir Putin, who revived Russia and steered his nation on an independent course is reviled and condemned.
Joseph Stalin undoubtedly noted that, given the chance, the U.S. would overthrow his government and install one that did not interfere with U.S. objectives. Uncle Joe, not to the world's liking, pursued measures to guarantee his nation's survival. Vladimir Putin also recognizes that U.S. policy is steered to replace his government with one more acceptable to U.S. interests. He flexes his muscle but realizes he is more constrained than the Soviet dictator.
If Putin's Russia falls then only China will remain to challenge U.S. world hegemony, which will inform China that it is time for it to move into isolation and subdue interchanges with the rest of the world. Minus the production and markets of the soon to be number one economy, the rest of the world will probably collapse.
The Cold War, which destroyed much and bothered all, evidently has not ended and become warmer. One can argue there was no reason for it to have occurred. If Truman would have said to Stalin, "We'll leave you and others alone and you leave us and others alone," the world might not have had the suffering arms race and the ultimate battles. Treated as normal nations in an everyday world, the Eastern bloc might have achieved greater prosperity or collapsed sooner.
Ukraine is the last stop on the western road to Russia, a final marking point on the journey from the Elbe River to the border of the nation that Napoleon hoped to destroy. The French leader, similar to the Nazi German leader, succeeded in destroying much of Russia, his army and himself, intimating that Rudyard Kipling was correct. "East is east and West is west and never the twain shall meet." Letting Russia and the Ukraine to resolve their own problems by themselves, and doing the same with North Korea, who is begging for normal relations, and Iran, who wants to be allowed to express its sovereignty, might reveal a more stable and peaceful world. Not too stable and peaceful now.
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