Unlike most westerners, I do not blindly believe western media, I do not subscribe to the “America good – Russia bad” media hysteria being shamelessly stage-managed by our governments.
Perhaps having a Russian-born wife makes me take a more balanced view.
I am not anti-Russian, I am not anti-Putin. Nor am I anti-American. I might be anti-EU, if voting for Nigel Farrage labels me that.
However, I am very interested in the whole Ukraine and Russia situation.
We had a guest post here recently by the former Soviet Union resident commentator Andrew Wilson entitled Ukraine and American News Propaganda Fed to the Sheeple. That explained to us that much of what has happened in Ukraine was orchestrated by America and the EU, at the expense of Russia’s international reputation. And more importantly, at the expense of the Ukrainian people.
To get a balanced view, I urge all our readers to read Vladimir Putin’s Question and Answer Session (in English) from April the 17th 2014. I’ll warn you in advance, its long. But it will give you a good handle on where Putin is coming from.
Putin isn’t some swivel-eyed dictator as the western media will have you believe. What he is, is a clever operator who is a proper politician. One who staved off an American war in Syria. One who saw fit to address the American people directly going over Obama’s head.
What we saw with Crimea was misreported by most of the western media (apart from Peter Hitchens in the British Mail on Sunday). What really happened in Crimea is reported more accurately here: Crimea and Russia – the Aftermath.
I also urge all open-minded people to read the external forum topic here: The View from the Russian Side on the Subject of Ukraine. You will find mixed views there. But that is a forum inhabited by Russian and Ukrainian travellers, expats, many knowledgeable people including the aforementioned Andrew Wilson and the editor of the Mendeleyev Journal, and many resident Russian speaking people.
So in May 2014, where are we today? What is Putin thinking? What will become of Ukraine?
This site hasn’t been wrong up to now in predicting what will happen in Russia and Ukraine, so I’ll put out what I think is coming, and what I think Putin is thinking.
I recently discussed this with a guy from Alabama. Here is what he said.
I view the current situation more from a long-term viewpoint. Back in the 1840’s the struggle between England and Russia for Afghanistan was called (by the English) “The Great Game”. Russia has always been an expansionist power. England was, also, but is not now. Ukraine is a small (relative to its neighbor) power and stands a fair chance of being gobbled up. This is the same situation that Germany provoked in Austria prior to WW2.
That’s all very nice, but it isn’t 1840 any more.
Here was my reply to him:
Except Russia isn’t expansionist now*; NATO is. Hence the trouble Ukraine is in. Russia has no interest in gobbling up Ukraine or it would have happened by now.
A question to all:
What do we see as the likely outcome of what is currently happening in Ukraine?
I am sure Russia will happily accept a friendly neighbouring state – what we currently call eastern Ukraine – that is independent, but sympathetic to Russia’s opinions (like Belarus is, say). That way they avoid the need to pay its bills, and keep American missiles off their doorstep.
I envisage the east will vote itself away from Kiev one way or another over time. It would suit Russia to have a large strip of friendly land that allows land access from Russia to Crimea; and that would reduce the urgency of the planned Kerch-Taman bridge.
I envisage western Ukraine will vote in whoever Victoria Nuland chose already, and then start a decade long process of EU courtship, which will involve western big business unfettered access to its spoils, and it will eventually end up a lowly EU country, like say Slovakia, Romania or Bulgaria.
If I were Putin, I would be letting the east break away over time and bit by bit to avoid annexation/invasion claims, and avoid Russia becoming a pariah state, and then they will later join up and join the Russian customs union. An exclave like Crimea is of less use [see Kaliningrad] unless one has decent access by land to counter invasion from others in the future.
If I were Putin, I would also be cosying up to China – as he is. China is poised to exceed America’s economic output any time now, and Russia’s trade with China dwarves Russia’s trade with America into insignificance. I envisage more joint Russian-Chinese military exercises in the near future, too.
If we look at the long view, we are seeing a unipolar world, dominated for many years by America, gradually changing into a more balanced world where the axis has moved a little. Or to use Putin’s words, “Only when there is a balance of power does the desire to negotiate appear”.
* You cant count Crimea - that was always going to happen. And it had to happen while the American electorate were war weary, with a war-averse and weak president in office, and America was skint.
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