By now everyone has heard about a “resurgent Russia” trying to rebuild the Russian Empire. Putin has never tried to hide that fact, and often wraps himself in the glory of the former Empire and USSR. He goes out of his way to show how much more vital he is than the West, particularly the US and specifically Obama. Putin has shown he is not afraid of the West’s sanctions, or political clout, or economic pressure. He effectively showed what an Alliance with the US is worth in Georgia in 2008.
America has a long history of turning its back on its allies when convenient, and making problems for itself in the future by such actions. Or inaction, in this case.
We have all heard of the illegal removal of Yanukovich. I disagree. Yanukovich left an intact capital in “enemy” hands and fled to another country. Diplomatically, this is termed “save your own skin” and “abandon ship”. He left the office, voluntarily. The Duma gave Acting President of Ukraine Oleksander Turchinov temporary executive powers to hold elections and run the country in Yanukovich’s absence. I have many friends who claim this is illegal. It is not. If you leave the country, and don’t return, and don’t set up a government in absentia like the French did in WW2, then he has abdicated the Presidency of Ukraine. He doesn’t even have asylum in Russia.
We have all heard about the Russians invading Crimea. The Russians already had thousands of troops in Crimea before all this started. They are there to protect the naval base, army base, and Spetnatz training center. This is in a lease signed by every Ukrainian President since 1954. Crimea was “given” to Ukraine at that time to help Ukraine financially with the military base and lease agreement. Symbolically, it highlighted Russia’s take over of Crimea in the 1600’s. After the wall fell and the USSR broke up, Crimea voted to remain with Ukraine, and every so often have a referendum on whether to remain under Kiev’s control, or to become fully independent. The referendum was due again this year, in May, but with the ouster of the Crimean PM and a Putin puppet replacing him, the referendum was moved up to last week.
Keep in mind, Crimea is more like a Native American reservation, rather than a state. Crimea runs its own finances, makes its own rules, and makes its own contracts, submitting everything it does outside of Crimea to Kiev for approval, much like the Native Americans do on the reservations. It is also similar to Puerto Rico, that has a referendum every so often to join the US.
What no one is pointing out in the Mainstream media or Fox news is Russia needs Crimea. They need Crimea so badly, they are willing to go to war over it. Unlike the US, which has every military and domestic resource necessary to project our might world-wide, the Russians do not. We have several year round ports so our Navy can come and go as it pleases. We even have naval bases in Turkey, Yemen, Philippines, among other countries. We have strong allies in Europe that allow us to use their naval facilities. We have Japan and South Korea on the eastern side of Russia. We have bases in the Marshall islands, and Australia is an ally.
Russia has one port it can rely on year round. One. It is Sevastopol, and it is in Crimea. If the Russians don’t have that port, they are no longer a world power. If they are not a world power, they lose all the influence they have. If they lose the influence they have, there will be revolution. Even though Russia has the largest country in the world, they have only half of the population of the US. And their population is much more diverse that the US. Losing influence on the world stage means they cannot continue to keep up their economy and military, They can’t protect the few allies they have left, and they cannot trust the Chinese to allow them access to warm water ports. They see nothing but disaster if they lose access to Crimea.
Enter Putin, who learned that American allies such as Georgia won’t be defended in his sphere of influence. Therefore, he is going to move to secure Russia’s influence in the world, and if he can take Ukraine as a secondary gain, he will. The West has said, “Go ahead, take Crimea.” The truth is we have no stake in Crimea, and neither does Ukraine outside of a great cheap place to vacation. They have to make all the right noises, and up until a couple of days ago thought the Russians might negotiate with them. Putin does not have to negotiate. So the Russians get their warm water port.
The Europeans have no interests in Crimea, either. Militarily, Crimea means nothing to the West, at all. If Russia gets too rowdy, we close the Bosporus Straits in Turkey, and good luck getting your navy out. Sevastopol was built by the Russians mainly to intimidate the Black Sea Countries, and make them tow the party line.
In fact, the Europeans, and in particular Germany, have a great interest in not alienating the Russians too much. Russia provides energy to Europe. Europe, and in particular Germany, cannot tolerate a disruption to the energy supplied by the Russians. If that happens, goodbye EU. Goodbye to German dominance in Europe. And Russia can kiss what little economic stability they have goodbye. It’s like two people fighting one tiger. You could let the other one take the tiger on, but it won’t be long until the tiger is on you, either. So it’s a careful dance Europe and Russia are playing.
There are three problems with our non-response to Crimea. It sends further signal to vulnerable former Russian states that the West, and in particular the US, will not help them against Russian aggression. So what if Ukraine or Moldova get taken over. None of our business. As long as we’re safe, who cares? But what if Poland, our staunch ally in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Europe’s top economy rivaling Germany, decides to swing back toward Russia to protect its interests? What if the Baltic countries decide the same? What if our inaction emboldens Iran, or Syria, or even North Korea? We have seen what inaction produces, in the form of terrorists attacks on US soil. Osama Bin Laden himself has said in numerous videos that the US is weak and will do nothing. And until a strong Republican was in office, we did nothing in response to terrorism around the world.
The second problem is if Russia does manage to reincorporate Ukraine in to Russia, the Russians will have absolute control over Europe because of their energy dependence on Russia. Russia cut energy to Ukraine several times. Result? Blackouts in Europe, with Europe BEGGING the Russians to turn the spigot back on. Every pipeline to Europe from Russia runs through Ukraine. If Russia controlled Ukraine, Europe would simply become a Russian puppet. Keep in mind, the Europeans are the ones who came up with the phrase, “Better Red than Dead”.
Conspiracy theory alert: Remember we helped bomb Libya and oust Qaddafi? Even though Libya had abandoned their nuclear power ambitions, let in the UN, and championed women’s rights in an Arab country? Why in the world would we do that after two decades of relative peace and cooperation?
Here’s the answer: 9 months before Europe and the US started bombing Libya, Libya signed a deal with Ukraine to supply Ukraine oil and gas, in exchange for leasing Ukrainian farmland to send food back to Libya. Fantastic deal for both. Ukraine reduces its dependence on Russian energy, and Libya reduces its dependence on European food. Shortly after that, Yanukovich decried the deal, (the one he signed, incidentally) said no foreigners should plow under Ukrainian soil. Somehow, at just about that exact moment, he built the Presidential Palace. Yanukovich then passed a law making foreign ownership of Ukrainian land illegal. However, the land deal was a lease. Now what?
Easy. You get the Russians to turn off the spigot to Ukraine using the same old tired argument that Ukraine didn’t pay, and Europe goes dark. Europe begs for energy. Putin says, “I have this problem in Libya”. Let the bombs fly. After Qaddafi is out, the new government of Libya has to re-sign all the agreements, and Ukraine is dependent on Russia again. Not so crazy now when you look at Crimea. If I’m right, then the US cannot depend on its Old Europe allies, and must then depend much more on its New Europe allies Poland.
The third problem is and old and obvious problem. I don’t often agree with Hilary Clinton, but she’s right on the mark here. This is how Hitler started. The justifications are the same: Protection of nationals in a foreign land, with the same justifications. Do we stand by and let the next world war brew while we hope for the best? Do we watch as our fellow human beings are put to the boot of Communism again? Do we watch this cancer spread and wish it will go away?
As my Granny Martz used to say, “Wish in one hand, and poop in the other, and see which one gets full the quickest”.