Wednesday 26 March 2014

The crisis in Ukraine shows Russia has its mojo back

Watching events unfold in Ukraine over the last few weeks, it's reminded me that Russia has started to reclaim its international 'bad guy' reputation.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, The West found new enemies to turn its attention to. Iraq, Iran, Muslim extremists but now Russia is back on the scene.

Following the revolution in Ukraine, Russia is beginning to flex its muscles again. But the question I'd ask is this: Did anyone really think they would sit back and allow Ukraine to start developing closer ties with Europe?

Although I support those Ukrainians who want to see less corruption and a more democratic form of government in their country.

I sometimes feel those countries from the former Soviet Union have to accept their geographical fate in life. They're always going to be in Russia's back yard.

As much as they want to be free of Russia's influence, there's always going to be a limit to how close they can be to the West.

In Ukraine's case, the idea that one day they could join the European Union is a non starter. There's no way Russia would allow that and those European politicians that have encouraged such an idea are at best naive and worst irresponsible.

Russia has been and remains a major world power. Here in the West we can shout from the sidelines about how terrible it is of Putin to essentially annex the Crimea from the Ukraine, but what are we really going to do about it?

Any form of military intervention is a non starter. You can tell that the West doesn't have the stomach for it and besides many Western governments have spent the last 2 decades decreasing their defence spending budgets.

Secondly, countries like Germany know they can only push Russia so far, as they rely so heavily on Russia gas. The West can impose sanctions but Russia would hit back by turning off the energy taps.

You can see that Eastern Europe is a part of the world where more problems could start occurring in the next few months and years.

I've been reading recently that countries like Latvia that used to be part of Soviet Union are getting worried as like Ukraine they have a large ethnic Russian minority. The situation in Ukraine could easily start playing out in other countries bordering Russia.

For all their fears and protests from the West, it's hard to see what we can do, we're trying to tell Russia what to do in its own backyard.

It's difficult as this is their sphere of influence, always has been and probably will be for the forseeable future.

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