Crisis in Ukraine: 10 Things You Should Know

The big question for the Western world is: Will Vladimir Putin stop at Crimea?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Issue One: Under Vladimir Putin, Russia's foreign policy objective is the return of post Soviet territories to the Soviet Union using Russian ethnic minorities. The driving force behind this strategy is the issuance of thousands of Russian passports to the citizens of former Soviet lands.

Issue Two: Technically, Russia is not violating international laws, therefore, there is no Russian invasion of Crimea. Russia's 1997 agreement with Ukraine allows it to maintain the presence of up to 25,000 troops in Crimea. The political reason for mobilization of the uniformed men bearing no identifying insignia on their uniforms is to protect the results of upcoming elections in favor of Russia. Barring Ukrainian nationalists' major provocation, secession of Crimea will take place by peaceful means, without a shot fired, in a referendum set on March 16. Since Russians constitute the majority in Crimean peninsula, the results of the referendum are foreseeable.

Issue Three: The big question for the Western world is: Will Vladimir Putin stop at Crimea? Russia's president considers the Ukraine capital, Kiev, as "the heart of Russia"; Princess Olga of Kiev adopted Christianity for Rus in the 10th century. Vladimir the Great baptized Kievan Rus in the Dnieper River. Eastern Ukraine is also ethnically pro-Russian. History shows that once Russia takes initiative and achieves regional advantage, it tends to hold and extend that advantage for as long as it is possible. The political factor in favor of Russia's expansion is the presence of the Russian ethnic minority and Dual Power in Ukraine with exiled president Wiktor Janukowycz elected by the votes of 45 million citizens. This state of Dual Power is critical for Russia's threat of further territorial expansion and the future division of Ukraine along the Dnieper River into Western Ukraine, (pro-EU) and Eastern Ukraine (pro-Euroasian Union).

Issue Four: Neither U.S. or EU has political leverage to stop this. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. conducts a defensive foreign policy. Its pivotal error was the reset with Russia and scrapping plans for the implementation of components of the missile defense shield in Poland and a radar station in Czech Republic. By doing so, the U.S. has lost its major hard-power option of political influence on Moscow.

Issue Five: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has already accepted the loss of Crimea to Russia. Europe is undergoing crisis of the social state, is weak economically and in 30 percent depends on Russian gas. The Western world will not do anything to stop secession of Crimea. Any attack on Russian currency, through which Ronald Reagan used to collapse the Soviet Union, weakens also international markets. Russia, with over $500 billion in reserves, is capable of sustaining the attack on its currency for a long time. Putin is not Brezhnev. Russia is not the Soviet Union.

Issue Six: The Ukraine conflict endangered Poland which remembers pogroms of Poles and Jews during the second World War perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists. The Ukrainian nationalists (OUN) were very active during Kiev riots. Ukrainian nationalism is being reborn and threatens Poland's eastern borders (Przemysl County). Last week, OUN leader Andrij Tarasenko stated to a Polish daily Rzeczpospolita that Poland's eastern regions are ethnically and historically Ukrainian and should be returned. Europe should not allow for the Ukrainian revolt to spill over borders into eastern Poland, as this brings NATO into conflict and may result in a worldwide event.

Issue Seven: The U.S. should reactivate its missile defense system as soon as possible. Poland will cooperate, despite being snubbed by the U.S. administration in 2009, when it scrapped the system in gesture for Russia on Poland's Independence Day. Poland's borders are currently the most conflict-prone borders in Europe. The 1945 agreement in Yalta left historic Poland's territories in Ukraine. Ukraine's Lwow was the fifth city of prewar Poland. After World War II, Germany ceded Szczecin to Poland. Poland's Wroclaw was Germany's largest city east of Berlin in 1939. Both Silesia and Subcarpathian provinces in Poland have large ethnic German and Ukrainian minorities which under certain circumstances could ignite Ukrainian style riots.

Issue Eight: Europe's borders are not cast in stone. The revision of borders is happening in front of our very eyes. In our lifetime we saw breakup of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, birth of new states in the Balkans, and the unification of Germany.

Issue Nine: The U.S. should be the guarantor of Poland's eastern and western borders through other means than NATO's Article 5. Today, as Ukraine's example shows, the revision of borders is not done through military means but political means, through plebiscites. It's a new way of waging wars with the same results.

Issue Ten: The freedom of nations is a beautiful thing, but nation-building is not and often ends in a fiasco. Old governments are substituted with new regimes; presidents with new dictators. The people of Ukraine have to decide in democratic elections whose side they are on: European Union or Euroasian Union. They should elect the government and the president in democratic elections. The elections will legitimize Ukraine politically and allow the Western world to steer Ukraine on the path of democracy.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot