The Ukraine Debacle

Watching events unfold in the Ukraine has been like watching a clown car crash in slow motion. Every step of the way, it has seemed that the nation and those countries interfering in it have just stumbled deeper and deeper into farce and foolishness. From the very beginning, things didn’t look good – removing a corrupt government seemed like a justifiable, indeed good idea, but there was no evidence of any better alternative. It was rather like a General Election in the UK, only with more violence and a higher turn out.

Russia was well placed in the early stages to come out of the situation as both heroes and geniuses thanks to the inept bungling of America and Europe in attempting to manipulate events. A wiser leader than Putin would have played the hand he had been so generously dealt and gained either the secession of the east and Crimea or even installed a pro-Russian government in Kiev merely by living up to its treaty obligations and calling for fresh elections and referenda on self-determination, running rings around the West in the process. Instead, he decided to illegally send troops into the Crimea and hold a referendum there in the most biased of conditions, before sending proxies to stir trouble in the east whilst building up his forces in a blatantly aggressive manner. He may have gained the Crimea and he may yet manage to slice some more land off the Ukraine, but he pretty much gave away the moral high ground and all the good will he started with just to play the hard man. Had he more sense, he could have stayed firmly in the right and flexed his military muscles, a win-win situation.

Not that the Western powers were doing any better. With the government in Kiev dithering over how to respond to Russian aggression and a generally lukewarm response from their backers in the West, Europe and America seemed impotent before the Russian might, merely bleating about how naughty Putin was and how they might slap his cronies with some sanctions at some point. No wonder the Baltic States, in particular, began to worry about just where Russian neo-imperialism would end and whether anyone would back them up. Having put a lot of effort into causing the crisis, they come out of events looking no better than the Russians and a great deal weaker.

Most pathetically, Britain, America and Russia all come away with their reputations in tatters, given that they were all signatories guaranteeing Ukrainean independence and territorial integrity. (Whilst the West made some play of respecting the latter point, they did so in a manner that failed to address the genuine concerns of Russian speakers, undermining their role.) With Britain and America blithely stirring up revolution in the Ukraine and then failing to back the new government and Russia strolling in to occupy the Crimea and blatantly threatening the Ukraine with a military build-up, it seemed that they had all forgotten their obligations. Given the number of people in the UK asking why Britain should even be involved with the Ukrainean crisis, it seems the government is not alone in their ignorance.

Ultimately, whether events in the Ukraine lead into a third world war or fizzle out as pathetically as they have played out so far, the simple fact is that everyone involved has managed to handle events in the most inept manner possible. That the future of world peace is in the hands of such fools is a worrying thought indeed…

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