MH17 and EU/Ukraine/Russia Politics. The sovereign nation of Ukraine is not yet a European Union member, but will likely soon be. With the 2014 election of President Petro Poroshenko, Unkraine is ever more progressive and EU-leaning, as opposed to the neo-Stalinist leanings of former KGB master Putin (who is already obsolete, though ironically his harsh and often devious hand has actually helped reverse chaos and disintegration within the former USSR). Poroshenko's new administration has helped stir secessionist sentiment among some ethnic Russians, clustered in certain localities in Ukraine, who are being encouraged by Putin's proxies to break away and join Russia. In the grand scale, one sees one of Russia's classic tropes at work in regard to Crimeathe quest for a perennially ice-free, strategic ocean port. No surprise there.
The Ukraine government has been resisting this violent secessionist movement, whose armed irregulars have at times seized government police stations, arsenals, and other key points. In recent weeks, they were being driven back by Ukrainian government forces, which may have upped the ante. Putin's government has clearly been supplying tanks and other equipment, including now the sophisticated four-missile Buk high altitude anti-air missiles. This blows the lid off of Putin's two-handed game, exposing him as another Milosevic in the region. Publicly he plays peace maker while in reality he promotes war through his proxies inside Ukraine. Will his forces invade now, to conquer parts of Ukraine, under cover of a false peace keeping mission? These are some of the many questions suddenly put to the forefront by this ostensible miscalculation, assuming it was separatists?
The separatists last week shot down at least one other aircraft, a Ukainian air force plane, and probably struck again today but recklessly picked an innocent civilian target at 32,000 feet (Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17). If Putin invades Ukraine, will EU/NATO counter with military force? In that scenario, history will recall Europe's inaction when a still nascent Hitler invaded the Rhineland in 1936, unopposed, in testimony to the failed strategy of appeasement and inaction. NATO and EU clearly have an interest in keeping Russia at bay, as long as a Putinized Russia poses as a renegade with imperial ambitions, rather than a productive and cooperative member among fellow nations. If EU/NATO lack the will to protect Ukraine, then they show their collective weakness and open the door to a new round of Russian expansionism. Russia holds a trump card in that it supplies natural gas to Ukraine and parts of eastern Europe. Ukraine, at the same time, is vital breadbasket wheat producer to the region.
MH17 in Context of MH370 Just as the MH17 catastrophe is about Russian/Ukrainian/EU politics, so MH370 is about Western/Arab/Muslim politics in Western Asia (aka 'Middle East'). If Russia continues to behave recklessly in Ukraine, testing the limits of EU/NATO, there will be continued ripple effects among the Soviet Union's former client states in the Mesopotamian region. Instability anywhere causes ripple effects across a much larger region that bode only ill. My feeling is that a Realpolitik outcome, which Putin should accept and move on, is that one way or another, Crimea will serve as a major Russian naval port that is perennially ice free. This is their sphere of influence in the context of current history. A rapprochement with Ukraine and EU should be reachable. Ukraine is a strategic supplier of grains, and Russia of natural gas. The real key to the future is integrating a non-imperial, post-Putin Russia (minus its vast new nomenklatura of national and global mafiosi) into a larger European sphere of interests. Stability in the Eurasian steppe regions will contribute to stability in the Fertile Crescent. The other requirement sine qua non in the Fertile Crescent is for the West to accept the historical ethnic, tribal, and religious identities of groups in that region rather than continuing to impose upon them external regimesbe they Western oil conglomerates, Bush-Cheneyist comedy-crusaders, ex-Soviet client puppets like Assad/Saddam/Nasser/Ghadafi/etc, or anything other than proper, lawful home rule within the norms of modern human and humane standards.
Copyright © 2014 by John T. Cullen. All Rights Reserved.