Divide and Conquer? Ukraine as a battleground of interests
13 junio, 2014
The Ukrainian population is still much divided between the eastern and western influence. It all started with Crimean peninsula, but the conflict has spread to the whole east of Ukraine and has left the country in a complete chaos. Neither the west nor Russia have really helped the Ukrainian population actually they have just acted according to their interests.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has recently declared that Ukraine cannot escape from the influence of the eastern country. But, why is Ukraine so important for Russia? The main reasons are the features both countries share, such as the language, the culture, and also, the influence of Russian media in Ukraine A key fact that explains the desire of recovering Ukraine would be to turn upside down what happened when the USSR fell apart, a breaking point that started when Ukraine decided to get independent from Russia, and that encouraged other states to follow their example back in the 90’s.
As an example, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954 and given to Ukraine as a gift by Nikita Khrushchev. The fact of take over Crimea and Ukraine would mean kind of a “revenge” of the past. An important datum for this matter would be the migration between the countries, which is the second biggest in the world after the U.S. – Mexico border, provoking a big interchange of workers between Russia and Ukraine.
The Russian Government has also declared that they would not tolerate the influence of the west in Ukraine, and to avoid this they would not doubt to act with all the means they have. Also, they support the idea that “a federal structure will ensure that Ukraine will not be anti-Russian”. The influences from both, east and west, put Ukraine in a difficult situation, in the first place, because of the threaten of Russia in terms of the gas supply and in the second place because of the possible loss of support from the western block.
The Cold War-style balance of power model, they argue, is archaic and out-dated. The curious defect of this logic is the failure of many Western analysts to perceive that from the Russian perspective, the growth of NATO and the European Union is a clear expansion of this supposedly discarded American-dominated power bloc. That NATO and European expansion have been undertaken amid Western denunciation of Russian attempts to maintain its own supposedly obsolete sphere of influence in the region, for example in Georgia in 2008 and more recently this year in Crimea, is the source of much anger and frustration in Moscow.
Many pro-Russian activists in Eastern Europe have accused the West of hypocrisy and underhand meddling in the political crisis that unseated the perhaps corrupt but, nonetheless, democratically elected Ukrainian president Victor Yannukovych in February. Brian Becker of the anti-war ANSWER Coalition has gone so far as to accuse the US and EU of being ´neck deep´ in a plot ´to carry out regime change´, and bring the ex-Soviet state into the Western fold. While an advisor to President Putin has accused the US of supplying finance, arms and training to anti-Russian protestors in the early stages of the crisis. Regardless of the validity of such claims, this widely held belief, coupled with the escalating criticism of Russian intentions by Western leaders, is only fuelling the continuing deadlock between east and west, with no sign of a constructive attempt by either side to engage in meaningful dialogue, and escape from this lingering crisis.
At the end, Ukraine remains to be a battleground of various external interests. When will we see the normalization in the country, no one knows, but it surely depends on strong domestic determination within Ukraine. Hopefully, newly elected president Proshenko will find the way to find a common language with both sides.