I suppose you all thought that “Keeping An Eye On The Czar Of Russia” was a reference to the editor of the Skibbereen Eagle who delivered bombastic editorials far beyond his West Cork remit…and that Bloggers (including myself) are pompous men(its nearly always men) who think we are saying something important.
Its like this. Until 1917, Russia was an autocratic empire with “interests” beyond its borders…in the Far East and in Europe.
In the Soviet era, Russia was still an Empire. Not just ruling Ukraine, Georgia and Uzbekistan and Latvia but extending its “influence” into Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and the rest.
Since the break up of the Soviet Union and independence for fourteen republics and the fall of the Berlin Wall meaning that some of the old Warsaw Pact are now in the absurd European Union and even NATO….it was always likely that the Russians would look for a new Czar to re-assert Russian strength.
Russia is still an Empire. Putin is a Czar.
The thing about Imperialism and post-Imperialism is that nations like Russia…and USA, Britain, France, Germany have what they call “interests” in places beyond their borders.
Most people in USA see no problem in successive American governments (Democratic and Republican) operating the Monroe Doctrine which effectively gives them leadership of a continent and the right of veto on just about everything in Central and South America…including Venezuela and Cuba.
And most Russian people see no problem with successive Russian administrations “leading” their sub-continent.
Ukraine has the misfortune to lie on the fault line between three old Empires…Russian, Prussian and Habsburg.
There is alas no end to History.
While Russia was weak, its Baltic republics slipped further out of Russian influence and joined the European Union. And has blossomed economically.
Ukraine with its westward leaning Catholics and its eastward leaning Orthodox ppopulation is in economic chaos…and certainly expected that it would seek closer ties with “Europe” (the Holy Roman Empire of old) and certainly expected that Russia would resist.
“The West” (USA and especially the unelected elite in Brussels) have played this badly.
The Ukraine Spring looks as counter-productive as any other “Spring” of recent years. As the Egyptian Spring had Islamist extremists in its ranks…(the Muslim Brotherhood actually coming to power democratically before the Americans backed a military coup)…so too are fascist extremists in the Kiev crowds.
And frankly the old Soviet Union was good at keeping ethnic tensions in check. Simply put they suppressed minorities.
When the West talks about the territorial integrity of Ukraine…it is shameless bullshitting.
The one word I have not heard recently is …Kosovo.
There can be little doubt that the Muslim province has been treated badly by successive Yugoslav and Serbian regimes. Deliberately marginalised, they have earned the right to secede from their oppressors…any Irish nationalist would empathise.
And quite properly, the West supports Kosovo…against Serbia …ally of Russia.
Yet the ethnic Russians in the Crimea might well feel abandoned by the unelected regime currently governing Ukraine.
The West does not support the Crimeans…which is inconsistent and hypocritical.
John Kerry talks about sanctions. This will send a cold shiver down the spines of Kerry’s incompetent European allies. The lights might well go out all over Europe…Russia supplies the energy after all.