Spring 2014-Fighting Begins in Ukraine-Tension in the West

The month is March. The year is 2014. The place is Donets Basin, an industrial region located on the Russian border dividing the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. There are ethnic Russians and others who speak Russian and identify with the Russian culture living there and both groups are prepared to fight if their cultural rights are challenged and need to be protected. Putin’s regime confirmed the support of these groups by sending “volunteers” (military personnel) and weapons. Although the idea of a “Greater Russia” is appealing to some of the local citizens, the opinion polls in Donbas, where the majority of citizens are Ukrainian, showed the opposite was true. For them, the Crimea is a “Russian” region of the Ukraine. For the rebel separatists, the Crimea is a “Soviet” industrial region with roots in a time of Soviet built mines and factories.

Photo Permission / Unsplash

On 16th of March, the Republic of Crimea, declares its’ independence from Ukraine. Ukraine and most countries, consider this to be an illegal act. Two days later, March 18, Russia responds with formal annexation of the Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol. According to the world peacekeeper, the UN, as of March 2014 the Crimea is to remain as part of the Ukraine.

Reports begin to surface containing news of Russian army units shelling Ukrainian targets from across the border and within the Ukraine territory. It becomes known that the newcomers sent from Russia are in fact mercenaries. The anti-Maidan hysteria in the Russian media, influential still in eastern Ukraine, and promises of a raised standard of living, contribute to the nationalist fury. Covert operations by Russian political advisors become overt involvement in a violent war.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was considered by President Putin as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” (20th century). Though he stated he was not a communist, his negative view of Russia’s dissolution and his distaste for the democratic reforms of his predecessor, President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990’s, were held by his supporters. According to the Russian media news reports, The West, is announced as the “villain” who betrays Russia by accepting these former Soviet areas, (Eastern Europe) as members of NATO. They were accepted in NATO during the years 1999 and 2004. “Greater Russia” had beneath its’ rule at one time the countries of Poland, Hungary, Estonia,Lativia, Lithuania and Ukraine. The EuroMaidan Revolution in Ukraine and the Orange Revolution before that are both seen by Putin’s regime as the work of Western maneuvering behind Russia’s back.

Photo by / Kevin Schmid

The West became aware of Ukraine’s ability to thwart the dreams of Russia in the Eastern Block in the late 1990’s. During the two Revolutions mentioned in the last paragraph, the West did not much more than offer moral support and diplomatic pressure on Russia. Then, when needed, the West gave humanitarian and educational assistance. When the annexation occurred, the West placed economic sanctions on Russia. That was followed by tighter sanctions once the West was made aware that this conflict over the Ukraine was part of a bigger picture. Russia’s intent was to disrupt the post Cold War world order where the dominant democratic concepts and ideals of the West held sway in the minds of the majority and where human rights were respected and upheld. The tensions that began in the Ukraine have brought us to today and to the war that now is raging with no real end in sight.

There will be consequences. Already, the sanctions placed on Russia by the West, are severe. The magazine, The Economist, reported on the bravery of bus drivers and staff who maintained round the clock service to insure the transport of refugees and much needed supplies. Added to the trains were hospital cars. Wounded soldiers can be seen transferred to ambulances when the trains arrive at stations early in the morning. Fares are more like donations. The state is covering the cost with subsidies. CTV reports that the Canadian North needs to increase and secure its’ defenses. The North American airspace claims the Russians have increased their capabilities for missile attacks and could very easily strike the North American continent. Finally, the draft resolution sent from Canada to the UN seeking protection and aid access for civilians in Ukraine, remains to be voted on. The UN suspended voting on Friday due to “kindergarten-level” duel of words between Canada and Russia conducted on Twitter.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Albert Einstein


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