If you don’t start reminiscing of the pre-World War II days after reading through the events happening in the Ukraine, then you’ve forgotten a history lesson or two.
I’m not saying you should be expecting a World War III anytime soon. I’m not one to speculate, or freak people out over similar historical events.
But what I want to do is A) get you thinking, B) recognize the similarities between both events and C) make you aware of what’s going on in the region.
This isn’t some minor regional cat fight, it’s a show of imperialism. It’s a show of strength. It’s an excuse for land grabs and control. It has the potential to explode into something far worse, if not handled properly.
You think you don’t need to know about what’s going down in the Ukraine, but you’d be wrong. It’s better to be informed, then left in the dark, wondering what the heck happened when it all hits the fan. Plus, this will eventually affect the US (if it hasn’t already).
What Exactly is Going on?
Ukraine has been embroiled in protests for the past few weeks. And I’m talking about the capital is burning protests.
It all started when the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, took a $15 billion bailout from Russia over a trade deal with the European Union (EU). Riots erupted in the capital, and elsewhere. The Ukrainian Parliament then deposed him on February 22nd.
It’s important to mention that Viktor Yanukovych was a pro-Russian president. Obviously, Russia didn’t like the fact that their “ally” was removed from office and sent back to Russia with his tail between his legs.
After that, things started to get messy.
Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine, took steps to break away from Ukraine. Its citizens dissolved the government and appointed a Russian chairman, Sergey Aksyonov, who asked Russia President Vladimir Putin for support.
Russian troops were then seen moving around several airports and military bases located in Crimea. These airports and military bases were originally controlled by Ukrainian forces, but as of now are all under Russian control.
Ukrainian naval bases in the Crimea are also under threat from Russian forces. Two Ukrainian naval ships have been blockaded by Russian ships and told to surrender themselves. However, the Ukrainian navy has refused to yield to Russian forces or join the Crimean republic.
Russia’s foreign ministry said the country has moved troops into Ukraine into the Crimean area in order to protect its fleet in the Black Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the upper house of parliament to approve of the use of Russian troops in Ukraine, which they approved of soon after.
Russian forces were said to be participating in “military drills” along the Ukrainian border, but have now been removed.
Due to Russia’s advance into Crimea, the Ukraine has called it’s military to mobilize. They not looking for a fight, but are getting ready for any advances across the Crimea into Ukraine. Russian forces have been reported to be digging trenches along the Crimea-Ukraine border.
Russia says its troops will stay in Ukraine until the political situation has been “normalized.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claims that “ultra-nationalists” threaten the interests of Russians and Russian speakers in the region.
Russia is now in de facto military control of the Crimea region, despite Western condemnation of a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”.
Despite Crimea being controlled by Russia forces, there’s been no move to force a surrender of the Ukrainian troops stationed in the Crimean.
Putin continues to state that Russia has an interest in protecting the citizens living in eastern Ukraine by whatever means necessary.
Military actions like Russia’s rarely go unnoticed by the international community. Even though the community’s history on respecting sovereign nations isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, they do recognize the gravity of the situation.
Russian has been threatened with everything from economic sanctions to being removed from the G8 conference.
All seven other members of that elite group have announced they are suspending preparation work for an upcoming summit in Russia. Kerry and Capitol Hill lawmakers say Russia also risks being kicked out of the group altogether.
The US has also canceled all trade talks and military-to-military engagements since Russia’s invasion of the Crimea. The US and the UK have also decided not to send delegates to the Paralympic Games in Sochi.
NATO has also expressed its concern on Russia’s military intervention in the Ukraine and that Russia was violating international law and the “principles” in the NATO-Russia Council and the Partnership for Peace.
Poland, one of Ukraine’s neighbors, has moved troops to its shared border with the Ukraine. They’ve also convened a session of NATO to discuss what’s happening in the Ukraine and Russia.
At the moment, the international community is threatening Russia with economic sanctions of varying degrees. Hopefully, their plan is to grab his attention, even if that means stomping down dilapidating sanctions on Russia.
Similarities to Pre-WWII
- Both Nazi Germany and modern day Russia have participated in land grabs of neighboring countries.
- Both nations used “ethnicity” as an excuse for annexing or invading lands held by sovereign nations.
- In both times, the international community did little to nothing to curtail the land grabbing. Even in the presence of treaties, there was little effort to denounce the aggressive actions of Nazi Germany or modern day Russia.
Nazi Germany was a big fan of taking what wasn’t theirs. Not only did Germany annex Austria in 1938, but they also demanded several territorial concessions from Czechoslovakia. One those territorial demands was Sudetenland, which had a predominantly ethnic German population.
Russia is claiming its invasion of the Crimea is to protect the ethnic Russians located there (or Russian citizens as they call them).
During Nazi Germany’s land grabs, the international community was largely silent. It wasn’t until Germany and the USSR invaded Poland that France and Britain acted by declaring war.
Russia has invaded the nation state of Georgia, and now it has occupied parts of the Ukraine. Despite these blatant acts of aggression and imperialism, the international community has looked away from it all.
There are talks of economic sanctions, removing Russia as Europe’s primary oil provider, and other non-military actions.
Military Action isn’t Necessary
Unlike World War II, the international community doesn’t need to use military force to correct the wrongs committed by Russia.
Military action will give Russia a legitimate reason to increase aggression. Plus, we have more effective means of punishing Russia (and Putin).
The Economy is the Way to Go
Russia supplies the majority of Europe’s oil. They’re reliant on that business. You ramp up American gas production and get Europe to switch to our supply then you’ve effectively cut off a major facet of the Russian economy.
There’s also restricting Russian businesses, and Russian officials and oligarchs travel to the US. However, there is an uneasiness about using sanctions to punish Russia…
Even if the administration went ahead with some kind of sanction, chances are it would be meaningless. Sanctions cut both ways, and Russia has many billion dollars of trade with Europe and more billions with the U.S. Stocks didn’t just fall in Russia on Monday. They plunged globally, with the farthest in Russia. Any meaningful sanctions would be so painful to everyone they would never be enacted. [emphasis added]
Regardless of what the International community will do, Russia has already suffered from its aggressive policies.
Russia’s stock market plunged 11%, and the ruble fell 1.8% against the dollar, and a similar amount against the euro. Investors fear that Russia’s energy exports will suffer, and that Ukraine’s corn and wheat exports will also suffer.
What’s taking place in the Ukraine is horrible. Not only are people living in danger, but their revolution has been hijacked by Russian imperialists to justify territorial gains.
Ukraine gave up their nuclear arsenal in exchange that they would be protected. That plan has failed. You could say the idea of nuclear disarmament has failed.
Pre-WWII land grabs gives reminds you that things like this have happened before, and that they’ve led to war.
Hopefully, we can recognize this and avoid any military action that would lead to violence. A war isn’t needed. We do not need to be fighting Russia.
What the US needs to be doing is advocating for the respect of a sovereign nation’s lands. The US needs to lead by example, something we’ve failed to do in the past.
If the US can’t be trusted to respect a sovereign nation’s borders, then why would the world follow?
Situations like the one in Ukraine could be helped if the US would only take a more non-interventionist foreign policy stance toward the world.
I think it’s time our foreign policy got a major makeover… what do you say?