The Ukrainian crisis of 2014 is one of the most controversial issues today. It brings back memories of a Cold War and a USA-Russia face-off. But how did this materialise? Who is to blame? What is its geopolitical significance?
Up until the crisis, Ukraine had a pro-Russia government under Viktor Yanukovych. This government recently rejected a resolution to join the European Union due Yanukovych’s proximity to Vladimir Putin. This sparked off widespread peaceful revolts in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, for the ouster of Yanukovych. It was argued that a pro-EU Ukraine would benefit economically, however, it actually would have been in a danger of becoming a NATO front. When the protests turned violent, the President, Yanukovych was impeached and escaped overnight to Russia leading to the establishment of a pro-Western interim government. This prompted Russia to invade into Crimea, an autonomous region in Ukraine. Crimea has the most number of ethnic Russian speakers and Russia claimed that it entered Crimea to protect this populace. However, Russia is guilty of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. The European Union and the US now blame Russia for escalating the crisis and by holding a referendum in Crimea to secede to Russia.
Russia has alleged that the protests that sparked off in Kiev were largely funded by the West, especially US. To a great extent, this is true as the United States government has always believed in having a favourable regime. The US has supported Svoboda (a neo-nazi, ultra-nationalist political party in Ukraine) as the subsequent government. The ball was now in Russia’s court. Russia decided not to back down and invade Crimea citing safety for the Russian minority. The West has tried its best to convince the people that it is Russia who escalated this crisis. However, it cannot claim the moral high ground. Especially the US as it has other debacles like Vietnam, Afghanistan and the Middle East in its history. US is again guilty of its hypocrisy as it has tried a regime change, which has been countered by Russia. US has decided to impose sanctions and all its usual economic isolation.
However, Russia, in trying to protect the Russian minorities and in trying to prove a point has brought Russia and US the farthest they’ve ever been since Cold War. A war is highly unlikely. US will soon have to accept what has transpired after China backs Russia (although they didn’t vote in the Security Council). With the dependence of US economy on China, the crisis will soon be swept under the carpet and important lessons will have been learnt. The most important one, don’t mess with Russia!!