Many, initially including myself, thought that Putin was attempting to reestablish Russian influence over the former nations within the Soviet Iron Curtain. I have come to adjust this assessment to believing he is simply attempting to restore the Russian influence and extend its borders to include the areas which came under Czarist control at the peak of the Russian Empire. This is supported by the limited attempts to expand the Russian grab to the northernmost regions of Georgia and now eastern Ukraine as well as Crimean Peninsula. Should this prove to be real then most of the nations of Eastern Europe and Central Asia can feel less threatened as Putin may have a more limited scope than many initially feared. Either scenario places Eastern Ukraine as on the immediate short list for Russian adventurism and the rest of the Ukraine for eventual consumption should Putin’s aims be for the furthest extremes of Czarist expansionism. There is the possibility that the Russian appetite will be satiated by taking the Eastern Ukrainian provinces as those would also give Russia the necessary land access to the Crimean Peninsula. The other interest in the Eastern Ukraine is the factories which includes a number of arms factories as well as other industries vital for the Ukrainian economic wealth. Could the Ukraine remain as a viable nation if they were forced to cede the eastern provinces to the Russians? That is something which has been debated with inconclusive results but the majority view is in favor of survival though lacking much of their arms trade, currently one of the Ukrainian’s most profitable industries.
The claims that there are no Russian troops taking part in the fighting in the Ukraine are no longer debatable, let alone believable. There are the Russian troops which the Ukrainian paratrooper forces captured last week, forces that Russian spokespeople claimed had simply become disorientated and had inadvertently crossed over the border and were not taking any part in the ongoing fighting. The doubts about Russian intervention and joining the separatists have completely evaporated with the presence of Russian main battle tanks joining the insurrection. This is no longer a civil war but an invasion of an independent nation by Russia. This invasion by Russia of another independent member nation of the United Nations places Putin’s Russia in contravention of numerous United Nation rules and declarations which protect the individual member states from aggressions by other member states. The United Nations presumably offers methods for mediating any differences between member nations thereby providing peaceable means for resolving differences. Somehow, knowing some of the history of what duties and responsibilities Putin was required to perform, and which he appeared to relish, for the KGB; it is not surprising that he would play fast and loose with any rules and ignore any restriction supposedly enforced by the United Nations and simply rely on brute force of arms to accomplish his goals concerning Russian absorption of Ukrainian lands. The announced annexation which was the initial move against Ukrainian national lands was an early indicator of the extent to which Putin was prepared to go to realize his goals. The only problem has been the undetermined extent to which Putin aims to carry the Russian expansion over Ukrainian sovereign lands. Many have initially hoped that Russian appetite would be satiated with the Crimean Peninsula which included the main Ukrainian naval base and port, facilities which were shared by the Ukrainians with the Russians by treaty, the same treaty which also required that Ukrainian sovereignty to be defended from any and all incursions by foreign powers in exchange for the Ukraine releasing the entirety of their nuclear arsenal, a significant number of soviet ICBMs which had been placed within the Ukrainian borders by the Soviet Union while they occupied all of the Ukraine as a Soviet province. These ICBMs and their nuclear warheads at that time had made the Ukraine the nation with the third largest nuclear weaponry even ahead of Mainland China. Presumably, in exchange for surrendering these nuclear weapons systems the Ukrainians received assurances against any incursions on their borders which the United States, United Kingdom and Russia who were obligated to aid the Ukraine in such circumstance. The treaty made the obligation to be less binding than requiring an actual defense or intervention by the guaranteeing nations and apparently this opt out option appears to have become the selection most favored. At least Putin has not elected to try and excuse his troops intervening in the violence ongoing over the past several months as their intervention under the nuclear treaty with the Ukraine.
One might then ask what about the United States and United Kingdom and their treaty obligations to assist the Ukraine. Well, we are talking about an incursion by Russia which, even if it has a declining economic picture, a negative population growth and a slowly but inexorably crumbling infrastructure, it is still the nation with one of the largest nuclear weapons inventories in the world and a formidable military force available with a KGB trained officer at its head. Unfortunately for the Ukraine, the world has reached the twenty-first century where bad actors, even Russian leaders, are threatened with being on the wrong side of history which presumably guarantees that their unsocial behaviors will fail, eventually, as history will right all wrongs. This similar to the threat from ISIS being determined to be an irresponsible set of actors who are guaranteed to also fail as the twenty-first century will belong to the builders and not those who are the purveyors of destruction. These have been the forces which apparently the forces of western principles and virtues which will reign in the twenty-first century and there will no longer be any need for such primitive reliance on violence and the clash of arms deciding the outcomes of good versus evil, the twenty-first century itself will defeat those evil forces which are reliant on destruction and thus fall on the wrong side of history. What a relief, I thought for a moment that there might be a problem with Russian expansionism threatening the independence and sovereignty of the Ukraine but apparently this is simply the machinations of an evil leader who once he realizes that history will place him on its wrong side will repent and immediately cease from his errant ways. What a relief knowing that the twenty-first century is out there guarding the world from the depravations of those who practice destructive influences or other evil inclinations which land them on the wrong side of history. Hopefully I can now sleep assured that the twenty-first century is out there guarding the world from any violence or other malicious and malevolent forces which might have designs of crossing history and pulling it to the wrong side, that dark side which resides on the wrong side of history with the destroyers and against those who promise to build despite any destructive entities.
Beyond the Cusp