Suffice it to say, the Russia-Ukraine relationship historically has been an imperial one. Just like the Russian aggression on its so-called, near-aboard region of the Baltic and on Georgia, as recently as 2008 in the South Ossetia War. The great hope and optimism in the Obama Administration was the “Reset” with Russia, but that withered soon. First it was Putin’s more than neutral stand towards the Iranian Nuclear Program, tilting against any further UN sanctions on Iran and in the process joining hands with their pal China, the region’s other power. The Middle East has always been a region of high strategic importance to Russia, even during the Soviet Union days. Its Cold War with America was the fight for power in the Arab world along with the Israel-Palestine question. So during the recent Syrian conflict, Russia uni-vocally supported the tyrannical regime of President Assad in an effort to gain lost ground in the Middle East.
Now, Ukraine is in a turmoil due to its internal mess aggravated by imperialist Russia. Putin firmly claims, “Because we have the request of the legitimate president and also (it) corresponds to our duties and corresponds to our interest in protecting the people who are close to us historically and have connected culturally.” Many political pundits though are calling this Putin rant of saving Ukrainian Russians, as a fabrication and an expansion plan as well as a warning to the Western powers. President Obama too opposed Putin’s justifications saying, “We have condemned their intervention in Crimea and we are calling for a de-escalation of the situation and international monitors that can go into the country right away. Above all, we believe that the Ukrainian people should be able to decide their own future.”
One lurking question is: Why Ukraine? Well, it seems expansion is high on Putin’s agenda and the territorial gain of Crimea for its rich natural resources is key. That peninsula has a lot of Russian influence, as it was part of the Russian history till Soviet Union gave it to Ukrainian SSR in 1954. Importantly, Russia economically benefits from Ukraine that include 23.7 percent of Exports and 19.4 percent of Imports that include Agricultural products, Ferrous metals apart from the huge business interests for many Russian private firms. In the novel Money, Martin Amis brilliantly summarizes “Money does not mind if we say it is evil, it goes from strength to strength. It is a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy.”
In an attempt to help Ukraine’s new government after the fleeing of their Leader Viktor Yanukovych. Washington announced today that a loan of $ 1 billion is guaranteed for Ukraine to help them subsidize natural gas and other energy needs that they otherwise import from Russia. the stand off Ukraine-Russia standoff continues and as the Russian representatives schedule to meet the US-EU alliance, Kiev visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry has indicated that sanctions are on the table and can be imposed on Russia as early as this week. But nonetheless, those sanctions can be minimal unlike the world desired outright embargo as, European Union giants such as Germany, Holland and Italy have a considerable natural resource dependency on Russia. Only time will tell whether these moves will prevent a historically imperial minded Russia from taking over Crimea, Ukraine.
Opinion By Vikas Vemuri