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With the days that continue to pass, it becomes ever more confusing on what the hell is going on in Ukraine.
A referendum in Crimea is set to determine whether the region should annex itself to Russia or remain a part of Ukraine.
The overall assumption is that the Russian majority will vote for immediate annexation,
The Ukrainian government finds the move absurd and refuses to acknowledge it. The world, including the USA and the EU, agree that this infringes upon global treaties set up and backed by international laws. Russia defies such a declaration and demands that the world respect its right to protect “Russian-speaking” peoples. They claim no provocation, yet Russian warships can currently be seen off the coast of the Crimean port of Sebastopol.
Friends of mine who are experts in Russian affairs aren’t able to make neither heads nor tails on what the possible outcomes of this conflict could be. “Each day presents new possibilities,” was one response I received.
Russia is not likely to let Ukraine get away from its shadow of influence so easily. With Kiev considered the mother city of Russian culture and Ukraine only having been independent from Russia (then the Soviet Union) since 1991, the Kremlin views their Slavic neighbor as an integral part of Russian culture and vital in maintaining an influence.
Ukraine’s earlier desires for assumption into the EU (reflected mainly by pro-EU western Ukrainians) didn’t ring will with Mother Russia and she’s not afraid to strike back to show who’s boss, as she's done so in the past. In the dead of winter in 2006, for example, Russia cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine as punishment after a bout concerning the price of gas.
Russians love proverbs and there is a well-known proverb that goes, Бог дал, Бог и взял (God gives, God takes). And Russia was glad to take from those who should have been more or less grateful.
Which leads me to wonder how will Russia act after Ukraine, inevitably rejects Crimea’s (inevitable) referendum vote on going to Russia? There are already Russian soldiers on the ground in Crimea and Russian boats circling Sebastopol – it won’t take long before Russia responds and attacks if the Ukrainian government actively protests the results.
And they have a right to – it’s infringement on their sovereignty and are expected to defend that, despite the might of Russia herself.
The likelihood of
the USA or EU getting involved in this conflict is unlikely, yet at the same
time uncertain. Though both regions have expressed heavy sanctions on Russia if
they do not comply with International law, both those regions and Russia know
all too well that such threats are futile to the might of Russia. Once a larger
conflict immerges, the EU and the US are quite unlikely to get involved themselves
by sending troops. The US currently finds itself already in a muddle with a few
ongoing conflicts and the EU has no desire to promote aggression in such a
conflict. And it’s safe to say that both sides do not want to permanently
damage their relations with Russia as well, as there is too much to benefit
(oil and gas for the EU while the US gets intelligence on radicals in
But as my friends the Russian experts highlighted to me clearly, we simply do not know where this conflict is heading or how it will turn out.
There is no doubt that a conflict is brewing before our eyes and it’s on the verge of becoming a truly intense conflict indeed. But like a spark which causes a flame in the forest fire, only the wind can determine whether the flame burns the entire forest or just a portion.
For now, let us lick our fingers and feel for where the wind is taking this Russian flame and for how long it will burn.
After publication of this article, the Crimean referendum was finalized and confirmed that 97% of the population favored annexation to Russia. Moscow is currently considering their options while the international community “protests” by implementing sanctions against Putin. You can discover more about what has come to pass by clicking here.
The BBC exceptionally provides detailed timelines on events and crises. Follow what led up to this crisis in Ukraine by reading about it here.