Note: article originally written and published in March 2014
Ukraine, borderland, butchered breadbasket of the world, having just gone through bloody protests on a scale not seen since the Arab Spring, is now facing unknown horrors. No rest for the wicked they say, and what Ukraine must have done in a previous world is apparently evil unknown by this one. Independent for just two short times in history, it now looks like the second brief flame of separation may soon be snuffed out by a leader who has revealed more and more in the previous years, that he has not forgotten what he learnt from the Lubyanka. Both Chechnya and Georgia know the sound of the bear’s roar, and it seems that next it may be Ukraine who knows the terrible wounds such a beast can leave.
It was with horror and dismay I watched the government decide that their people were not their employers, or even subjects, but in fact merely an annoyance standing in front of a dickless wonder of a dictator who wanted his place in a regional and temporary sun, creating an eclipse of questioning visible the world over. It was also with dismay I learnt of the fascists who made up a not-inconsiderable amount of his opposition. However, in all honesty, it was not with surprise that I learnt that the darling of the oligarchs, Putin, had decided that Crimea was in fact going to be part of his own personal dominions, and not allowed it’s freedom after all, and, using the same excuse that Czechoslovakia found itself lumped with in 1938, and a piece of paper bearing a request, written with blood and signed with a bullet, from one dictator to another, the bear made it’s first confident step into old stomping ground. The more surprising thing itself, was the support for his imperialism that Putin surprisingly found amongst some communists. Quite why these people feel that an invasion by a right-wing bigot is a good thing is beyond the minds of people such as myself, what this would save the long-suffering denizens of Ukraine from is unknown, and how it would help anyone, even less so.
In worrying times, people show their true selves, and the amount of westerners who would call themselves “liberal” (although god knows I have problems with these people anyway, see my previous piece) who show their apparent eagerness to jump in and spill Russkie blood is worrying (not themselves, of course, but someone), this is a group of people who grew up during, or in the shadow of, the Cold War, a group, who should know the fear of international conflict more than anyone. Has the knowledge and fear faded so quickly? Also worrying are the amount of people who are happy to see Ukraine’s fragile independence broken already. What solution do I have? None whatsoever. Any solution that is not simply Russia withdrawing is tainted in some way or another, and that shall be the route not taken, whatever the outcome. Both the soft power and the hard will hurt some people, and deprive some people of their essentials, that is happiness, comfort and life. Either economic sanctions are pressed, which will hurt the ordinary people of Russia and the West, or war will once again know the plains of Eastern Europe, and atomic scars potentially seared onto the world.
What options await Putin? Capitulation to the West’s demands that he leave? Not unless he wants to potentially lose his support base, and also not achieve his aim. Unthinkable. Accepting economic sanctions is an acceptable price to pay for such, and both Britain and Germany have already said they would not do such a thing. So a war with Ukraine, which Russia would win without much trouble? Also acceptable. A war with NATO? Extremely unlikely, and it is doubtful whether he would back down at all until it was too late, regardless.
What options await EU leaders and the US? Pissing into the wind with condemnations, as has happened will do nothing. So economic sanctions, or other soft power options? Very unlikely to occur, and pointless if they do. So war? Unthinkable. There is only one option common to both parties, the most fearful of all.
Dawn draws close on my own corner of this bloodied piece of land called Europe, and it draws across a world full of fear not known since the Cold War. What will happen next is anyone’s guess, what must not is obvious. The fate of the world and it’s people is in the hands of paper tigers, idiotic hawks who screech at the promise of more blood, and murderous madmen. The world is right to be fearful.