Home > Uncategorized > Crimea – a sign of Russia’s downfall?

Crimea – a sign of Russia’s downfall?

Russia over the last 20 years has attempted to exercise influence over the former USSR break away states. This has been met with many of the former USSR satellite states favouring the west in terms of trade and military strength and security. More have turned towards the EU and NATO than its former occupier. Tensions have been witnessed with Russian troops seen occupying Georgian territory in 2008 and now in Crimea, Ukraine.  The economy at home has seen the downward spiral increase and likely to experience a possible recession before their actions. This is certain after the annexation. Is Russia’s influence as a former world super power dwindling once more?

Lets be quite clear, Crimea as Russian President Putin notes has not been “Russian since forever”. Simple history would see Crimea as part of the Ottoman Empire, the whole saga is an attempt of a land grab. Putin had misjudged the mood of the world, after the somewhat no action in regards to the Georgian conflict in 2008, and by seeing as holding America off intervention in Syria, Putin has been seen as leading the way on the reaction to the Syrian crisis. The ball had been in his court, the story is that Russia is facing economic difficulties and needing a way to rally the Russians, Crimea is able to all those at home to forget the economic downturn.      

The crisis started after the former Ukrainian President Yanukovych had cut ties to the EU and wanted to look to furthering relations with Russia. This was met by mass protests and killing of protesters, eventually the police and army sided with the protesters and the revolution occurred. President Yanukovych had fled to Russia and Ukraine has seen unrest to levels nearing a civil war. One side pro West the other Pro Russia, actions of unrest had been witnessed in a number of eastern Ukrainian cities and areas, more specifically Crimea.    

The referendum is quite frankly a joke, it was held through a barrel of a gun by troops bearing no identity, Russia arguing that they are Crimean people, but with the weapons and abilities they have, and it is clear as day that the troops are nothing other than Russians.  The fact that the ballot held such a high weighting supporting to join Russia was due to a number of reasons, the main two being that the choices on the ballot were limited and biased along with the fact that many pro Ukrainian’s boycotted the vote. The ballot was deemed unconstitutional by the Ukrainian government and void by the West.  

 It is strongly believed that Russia had instigated chaos to give them a reason “To protect Russian speaking peoples” but does this not sound familiar? Of course it does, Germany and the Sudetenland and then the rest of Czechoslovakia.  It is my opinion that they had instigated the original unrest to provide an opportunity for a power vacuum to occur. Thus giving them the chance to jump in and claim Crimea. Many fear that the Russians will follow this by firstly taking control of Crimea and then go for the rest of the Ukraine. Only time will tell and its happening in a fast paced manner.

The west has reacted by imposing travel bans and freezing the assets to those key people behind the conflict or referendum. In my opinion not strong willed enough, heavier sanctions are needed.  The fact that Russia defied the requests of the west not to hold a referendum, they did knowing that as a consequence the west would act. The problem is that Russia still has some military might behind it still, thus is able to command a sufficiently modern power to further its will. It is hard to combat Russia militarily in the area, thus economic sanctions may be the best way to get Russia to fall in to line. That and many European countries who depend on Russian oil and gas have now already initiated plans to seek future energy imports from the likes of America and to become more energy efficient. There is discussion of permanently voiding Russia’s membership of the G8 and return to the G7. China is pulling away from Russia, after recent UN Security Council votes and discussions; China is now abstaining and working that bit closer to the west, thus isolating Russia.

Though President Putin brands the sanctions and actions as laughable, this in my opinion is to be political rhetoric to rally up the Russians against the west. At the end of the day, the sanctions and a decrease of imports will hurt Russia more than the countries implanting them.

I believe that the actions to date have not been strong enough, the west need to play their hand more now rather than later. Russia’s influence is dwindling and excluding it from the various international forums such as G8 among others, could see a possible change of Russian attitude. Russia will suffer in the long term both economically with the additional negative of seeing vital trading partners of oil and gas look elsewhere. Their influence politically will be minimal, even China had abstained in a recent UN Security Council vote, highly important as China normally votes the same as Russia. Thus an isolated Russia may not only show that the west is serious, but also a provide for potential change in the country from within. Get a new generation of leaders who do not have a USSR mind frame. A Russia who is weaker than it has been and plays a lesser role on the global political stage. This may see a further break up of areas like Chechnya for one.  

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  1. March 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    What would you say to the uneducated people who lack faith in the benevolence of Western efforts to “help” in local politics and “reform” sovereign governments, in various strategically important countries?

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