By all reports, the Russians are consolidating and reinforcing their military gains in the Crimea peninsula and parts of eastern Ukraine. At this point, it’s not clear what Russia/Putin’s end-game is.
Will Russia annex the Crimea peninsula outright? Or will Putin set up a semiautonomous Crimea republic on its border, taking control of the Crimea’s military and foreign affairs?
Probably the latter, because then the West will feel it can claim a limited victory for their side. You know, Putin did not annex the Ukraine because of our threats, they could say. The end result will be much the same, but never underestimate a politician’s ability to claim victory immediately after a defeat—it’s all about “spin.”
Ukraine does have a major card to play, the nuclear card.
After all, if Israel can use it’s nuclear capability to help guarantee its continued existence—being surrounded, as it is, by enemies who seem to want it wiped off the face of the earth—so too can the Ukraine which claims it could have nuclear weapons in three to six months.
Empty claim by Ukraine? Perhaps, but it may give the Russians some reason to pause and leave the Ukraine to lick its wounds after it cleaves off some pro-Russian areas of eastern Ukraine and, of course, Crimea.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine had the world’s third largest number of nuclear weapons. Over the period 1994-1996, however, it sent its nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantling.
In return, Ukraine received the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, a treaty signed by the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, pledging to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances now lies in shreds, of course. Russia’s recent actions clearly breach its obligations to Ukraine under the treaty which provides assurances to:
- Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders.
- Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.
- Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics.
Lesson one: Put not your faith in Western Democracies for they will surely leave you stranded in your greatest hour of need. Lesson two: Never trust Russia.
Ukraine is now left alone to face the might of one of the worlds most powerful war-making machines. Meanwhile, their Western “allies” stand on the sidelines issuing shrill threats and indignantly stamping their diplomatic feet.
Let’s face it, under the reluctant leadership of President Barak Obama—he of the lead-from-behind philosophy—the West is virtually powerless to stop Russia from doing anything it pleases. Georgia and Syria is proof enough of that.
What message does this send to the likes of China, I wonder, which has territorial aspirations of its own in the South China Sea and seems all too interested in the Artic? Do all the bullies of the world now see this as a golden opportunity to extend their borders?
And what of Russia’s renewed interest in Cuba? Does it not give you shivers to think of Obama and Putin toe-to-toe over a new missile crisis in Cuba? I’d bet on a different result this time.
Moreover, what of the smaller and mid-size democracies with concerns over territorial designs of the major military powers? Who protects them now? Should they seek nuclear weapons to guarantee their own territorial integrity?
What a mess! Appeasement, we know, can lead to all sorts of dire consequences—we’ve seen this real-life movie before, it’s called WWII.
I really don’t expect the West to provide military assistance to Ukraine. But wouldn’t it be nice to see tangible action being taken instead of these, virtually, empty threats such as we hear from Canada, the UK and the US.
Why not take quick action on isolating Russia economically and financially, then offering them a “carrot” to gain cooperation instead of a “stick” that is more like an wet noodle?
Immediately oust Russia from the G8, implement biting trade sanctions against them and freeze their foreign assets. That would be a good start. I mean actually do these things not merely threaten to do them.
The West could then loosen the noose if Russia actually reverses their actions rather than merely making promises to do so.
I know, I know. I’m being naïve. Appeasement is more our style—at least, until it’s too late and we’ve lost something of value—like world peace.