Once again, one has to comprehend the history of the region to understand the background for what has happened. No one believes that Vladimir Putin is a “Boy Scout.”
There is little doubt that he is an authoritarian leader who commands total loyalty from those about him. The essence of what was once democracy in Russia has virtually disappeared with only a few window dressings remaining. It is an authoritarian state.
Putin also seems determined to regain the territories that were once part of the Russian Empire for centuries, but were surrendered when the Soviet Union collapsed. He is aggressive about advancing his nationalistic agenda to renew Mother Russia…inclusive of Ukraine.
The West is likewise assertive in getting Ukraine and Crimea under its influence. Going back to the 2004 Orange Revolution the West, in particular the United States, heavily influenced domestic politics there. We sought pro-Western political leaders and interfered in campaigns to achieve that goal. It continues.
Let us not forget the embarrassing taped recording of the American Ambassador for European Affairs openly discussing throwing support for certain candidates during the demonstrations in Kiev in early 2014. Soon thereafter the open rebellion against the elected government erupted with the resulting overthrow and expulsion of President Yanokovych. President Obama supported the rebels.
Both Russia and the West are equally guilty of interfering in Ukrainian internal affairs. There are no clean skirts here. When the U.S. and Europe recognized the protestors that overthrew Yanukovyck…that created a problem. Eastern Ukraine has always been closer to Russia while Western Ukraine, once part of Poland, leans to the west. The present crisis has very deep roots.
Following the pro-Western overthrow of Yanukovych, a rebellion broke out in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea as each sought independence and unity with Russia. Ukraine fractured along traditional fissures. Russia welcomed Crimea because that is the only warm water base for its navy. National Security interests demanded that they control it as they have since 1783. Simultaneously, war broke out in the East.
When a new election took place, it occurred under a cloud. The West immediately recognized the new president Petro Poroshenko. Russia did not, but remained quiet. Was there hope of reconciliation? Then Poroshenko, rather than moving toward negotiations, announced that he would aggressively attack the “terrorists” operating in the east with Russian support.
His action removed any hope for a settlement and peaceful resolution if any ever existed. The war raged on and Poroshenko began to employ aircraft to attack the “Separatists.” The Separatists overran some Ukrainian military bases and seized the equipment there…possibly including Buk anti-aircraft missiles. The weapon used to shoot down MH-17 may well have come from Russia, but there is also the possibility that it was stolen from Ukraine’s own arsenal.
The shoot-down of a commercial airliner is terribly tragic. But this was not the first and only aircraft taken down in that area that week. Three Ukrainian planes were similarly taken out days before. Which does raise the question…Why was a commercial aircraft vectored over a hot war zone?
Likely, the Separatists did shoot it down believing it was a Ukrainian military aircraft. The released recordings provide ample evidence of their horror over what had happened. It was a terrible accident… not a premeditated act of terrorism as promoted by Fox News and the administration.
Perhaps Russian technicians were present as some have accused. But were not two Americans killed in Gaza this week? You cannot stop trained mercenaries from crossing borders. Even if there were Russian advisors, no proof that they were there under orders of Putin… none either that they weren’t. We don’t know so we can’t accuse.
Making matters even more complicated, the Ukraine’s newly appointed Defense Minister, Valeriy Heletey, announced his intention of taking back the Crimea. One can only imagine what would happen should that be attempted. This would create a major confrontation in Central Europe. That threat may have driven Russia to continue to support the Separatists as a distraction in order to prevent a major war in the region.
The point of all of this is that everyone’s hands are bloody. Russia, the United States, and Europe have all been interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs for their own advantage for years. Americans have been in the country as well as Russians. Everyone’s fingerprints are on this crisis.
Furthermore, Obama’s hatred for Putin is so strong it blinds him. Imagine for a moment that his attempts to punish Putin succeed. Imagine if Putin falls from power? Would the result of that automatically be positive? How has Obama’s removal of Gadhafi in Libya worked out??!!!
Everyone has to take a step back and take a deep breath. We cannot allow either side of the Ukrainian civil war set the agenda. With the world in such a dangerous situation, the humanity cannot afford to have a great divide between America and Europe vs Russia.
It almost seems that the leadership of Russia, the United States, and China are ramping up crises in foreign affairs to divert attention from problems at home. Nationalism helps their poll numbers.
Obama blames Russia for the deaths in the MH-17 tragedy. It is indeed a human tragedy. But what of the thousands of civilians killed by Obama’s drone attacks? Is there really any difference? Is not the same happening around the world today? Civilians are always victims of war. Let us all be honest here and drop the hypocrisy. Cooler heads must come to the fore and find a solution because a unified west, inclusive of Russia, may prove essential in the near future.
We share the same enemies
Ron Chapman is an award winning columnist, author, businessman and College instructor. He resides in St. Bernard Parish