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Divide and conquer: West replays old partition game in Ukraine (II)

by Rakesh KRISHNAN SIMHA (India)

Divide and conquer: West replays old partition game in Ukraine (II)

Part I

Spinoffs for the West

Ukraine is an insanely industrious country, with a fertile bread basket in the west and a highly industrialised east. If the country’s 46 million people are added to the Western alliance it would be a huge untapped market for American armament companies and German consumer goods.

Ukraine has also been an eager accomplice in Western military misadventures in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Ukrainian missile gunners embedded with the Georgian military shot down a Russian aircraft. And in the backdrop of an ageing West, the well-populated Ukraine is expected to provide soldiers for tomorrow’s NATO.

This impending exploitation of Ukraine calls to mind another parallel with India’s partition. Back in 1947 Badshah Khan implored people in Muslim majority areas not to vote for the Muslim League because according to him the only gainers from the creation of Pakistan would be the League’s elite Punjabi backers who coveted the “electricity of Pathans, the land of Sindhis and the minerals of Baluchis”.

Empire strikes back

In Iowa during the Republican caucus in 2012, Congressman Rick Santorum, a Catholic fundamentalist, said the sun set on the British Empire because “they lost heart and faith in their heart in themselves and in their mission. Not just for the betterment of the world, but safety and security and the benefit of their country”. But now, Santorum assured his right wing nuts, the United States has “taken up that cause”.

Nuland-YouTubeD.C. detritus such as Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland have fanned the flames of separatism. The blood of over 100 Ukrainian citizens is on their grubby hands. Nuland has been caught on tape plotting the coup and playing kingmaker.

It is incredible that the Western media continues to portray the rioters and coup plotters as democrats when they have in fact destroyed democracy. It just points to the sad state of the global media.

Keeping Ukraine united

Hopefully the Ukrainians will not commit the same mistakes committed by the Indians 65 years ago. Ukraine’s advantage is that things are being played out in the glare of the 21st century where interested parties cannot obfuscate things as the British did in 1947.

How to deal with a jealous Russia is the least of Ukraine’s worries. The country is neck-deep in debt and a recession-hit Europe doesn’t have the money to bail it out. Ukraine also depends entirely on Russia for its energy needs.

Even if ultra-right Ukrainians believe their destiny is with the West, they can’t wish away the demographic reality of the pro-Russian east. The country’s industry is also based largely in the east. If the country splits, those holding the bread basket should be prepared to become citizens of a basket case economy.

The only leverage Ukraine has currently is that some Russian pipelines supplying gas to Europe run through it. However, with North Stream now fully operational, Russia’s biggest gas market, Germany, is free from Kievan blackmail. Newer pipelines will soon make the Ukrainian route an option rather than a necessity for Russian gas exporting corporations.

And as for American threats, President Barack Obama telling Russia not to meddle in Ukraine – a message Putin didn’t hear – is a little late to be taken seriously. In 2008 Russian President Vladimir Putin had waved aside George W. Bush’s protests and sent in tanks into Georgia to ensure safety for the South Ossetians from Georgian shelling.

Like any major power, Russia is entitled to keep its neighbourhood safe and friendly. Hasn’t the United States declared it will not allow a Russian military base in Cuba? Considering the high stakes involved, the Russian response has been remarkably restrained.

“During the months of standoffs in Kiev, Russia’s actual role was much more modest than advertised by the international media or the rumor mill in Kiev,” says Dmitry Trenin. “The Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, was conspicuously absent from public view. The Kremlin ordered all Duma members to stay out of Ukraine.”

Russia and Ukraine are like a husband and wife who may not get along with each other anymore but are too old to contemplate divorce. As Andrei Klimov, a Russian diplomat and lawmaker, says: “Russia and Ukraine have been a union — religious, political, economic, you name it — for a thousand years. And if you look at it from the perspective not of days but of decades, that tradition will live on. There’s no getting away from it.”

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