Crisis in Crimea
An island in the Black Sea that most Americans had never heard of prior to a month or two ago has pitched the world closer to the brink of catastrophic war than it’s been in decades. Crimea is an autonomous island within the Ukraine, meaning that it has its own parliament that is responsible for local issues, and the parliament and the people in a referendum have voted to secede from the Ukrainian government in Kiev and join the Russian Federation. The Russian government, also known as Vladimir Putin, is completely on board with this, and that’s the problem.
The United States government is claiming that Putin is essentially annexing Crimea away from Ukraine by sending Russian troops into Crimea and forcing the issue. While it’s true that Putin’s power politics have made this situation much worse than it otherwise would have been, it’s also not quite that simple.
The elected Ukrainian government under Viktor Yanukovych had been an ally to Putin until they were removed from power. When the U.S. and E.U. became interested in having Ukraine join the European Union and ultimately NATO, they took the opportunity to assist in removing the pro-Russian government in favor of the rebels that would be more amenable to western interests. This is why U.S. Senator John McCain was seen visiting the rebels and trying to legitimize them despite their goal of overthrowing a democratically elected government. The only trouble would be that Vladimir Putin would obviously and understandably see this as a provocation.
Putin's response is understandable in the sense that we can safely assume the U.S. government would react poorly if Putin began backing rebels trying to overthrow the governments in Mexico or Canada, or anywhere in the world where the U.S. operates a puppet-government.
Further confusing the situation is the history of Crimea, which had always been a part of Russia and which has an ethnic Russian majority that resides on the island. Now this may not be a good enough reason for Russia to “annex” Crimea in and of itself. If Crimea wanted nothing to do with Russia then I would say Russia is clearly in the wrong, but it’s not clear that Crimea wants nothing to do with Russia. As I said, a majority of Crimeans are ethnically Russian, and the new government in Kiev is made up of many Ukrainian nationalists from the Svoboda party.
Svoboda was originally known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine, which is an obvious reference to the fascist German National Socialist Party, otherwise known as the Nazi Party. This connection in and of itself should be troubling to anybody bleating about democracy in Ukraine, but when we look at their positions on the issues it becomes clear why Russian Crimeans may not want to remain a part of a government with Svoboda in power. According to Wikipedia, some of Svoboda’s positions are criminal prosecution for “Ukrainophobia,” indicating ethnic origin on passports and birth certificates (an old Soviet practice), and perhaps most importantly the abolition of Crimean autonomy.
This obsession with ethnicity and the promotion of ethnic Ukrainians over others would obviously concern many in the majority ethnic Russian Crimea, which is not to mention losing their political autonomy under a Svoboda government. Racial abuse by the Ukrainian government towards ethnic Russians would obviously be a huge concern. It’s not hard to see why Crimeans may prefer Vladimir Putin, who is in no way a “good guy,” to the Ukrainian nationalists.
This is not to downplay concerns that Muslim Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians who reside in Crimea might face persecution from ethnic Russians and the Russian government as they have in the past, but merely to point out why the majority of Crimeans, who are ethnically Russian, would prefer to join the Russian Federation than to remain a part of Ukraine.
So what we have is a situation where western powers, purposefully or not, provoked Putin by helping to overthrow his puppet government, who responded by sending Russian troops into Crimea where some groups could face racial persecution. Now both the western governments and Russia are blaming one another for the current state of affairs, and the talk from politicians in the United States is becoming increasingly aggressive towards Russia by the day.
Americans in general have no interest in what happens in the Ukraine and would much prefer that their government leave well enough alone. However, if you flood the media with the alleged crimes of Vladimir Putin while ignoring the role played by the United States government and the European Union then you can certainly convince enough of them that Putin is a bully who needs to be taught a lesson.
It doesn’t matter if Putin is completely at fault for the situation in the Ukraine, because the United States has no business interfering. No American lives are at stake, nor is any American territory. The United States has nothing at stake in this conflict, regardless of how it turns out, other than the perceived prestige of politicians and the money to be made from a conflict with Russia for those in the “defense” industry. That is not enough incentive to provoke the world into another cold war or worse.
While the John McCains of the world would be more than willing to tear the world down to enrich themselves and their crony friends with power and money, the rest of us should loudly proclaim that there is really no “good” option for Crimea, and that involvement by the United States government can only turn a relatively small matter into a global catastrophe. Let’s not relive the lesson we should have learned back in World War I.