The date March 1, 2014 has already entered the annals of history, simply because that day marks the formal recognition of something that had already been going on for several years – the post-Soviet period has come to an end, the unipolar world is now a thing of the past, and Russia has regained its position as a global center of power, making decisions at its own sole discretion to protect its national interests.
On Saturday, for the first time in the seven days since the coup in Kiev, Vladimir Putin gave an assessment of the state of affairs in Ukraine. In an address to the Federation Council, he referred to it as an extraordinary situation and requested the right to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation within Ukraine’s borders “in order to normalize the social and political environment in that country.”No decision has yet been made regarding their numbers or position – the troops are currently remaining in Crimea where the Black Sea Fleet is based and where they are now the guarantors of calm on the peninsula itself. But it is clear that at any time the army could be deployed in other regions of Ukraine, primarily in the East. The government in Kiev has accused Russia of aggression, and the deposed, but still legally authorized President Yanukovych has voiced his support for Russia’s actions in Crimea. Strictly speaking, Vladimir Putin’s next steps and the movements of the Russian army will be determined by the evolution of the situation in Ukraine itself, where on Saturday mass demonstrations began in the eastern regions protesting the actions of the authorities in Kiev. During a telephone conversation with Barack Obama late Saturday evening, Putin emphasized that if violence continues to spread into Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine, Russia will reserve its right to protect its national interests as well as the Russian-speaking population there.
Obviously there is no question of dismembering Ukraine – Russia is only interested in making sure that the administration in Kiev is not anti-Russian, is not pursuing a de-Russification policy towards its own population, and is not splintering the country by the very fact of its existence. In other words, Moscow is looking for regime change in Kiev, where the government took power in a coup, and a return to the agreements reached between the government and opposition on Feb. 21 – with the formation of a transitional government that enjoys the confidence of the nation (representing all the main political forces and regions of the country), constitutional reform, and the election of a new president at the end of the year. Russia does not recognize the new authorities in Kiev and is indifferent to the fact that the West has already rushed to recognize it (although they themselves had made promises to Viktor Yanukovych). And thus we come to the main issue: the West is bewildered and furiously indignant about Moscow’s independent moves in relation to Ukraine. How, they ask, how do you dare to conduct your policy without consulting us or taking our interests into account?
Russia’s answer is simple – for long enough we have watched you conduct your policy in Ukraine, trying by hook or crook to cleave it from us, to wrest it away (in order that the country might gradually be transformed into an anti-Russian beachhead like Poland), and in recent months we have seen how you have supported and fanned the flames on Independence Square, because you were categorically opposed to the idea of Kiev putting its path to the West on hold while it seriously considered economic reintegration with Russia. Throughout these three months of events on Independence Square, the West has taken absolutely no notice of Russian interests in Ukraine, which are much more significant than those of the US or Germany. Only when we saw that as a result of your actions in Ukraine, openly anti-Russian forces were rising to power (it is sufficient to cite Dmitro Yarosh, who called on the terrorist Doku Umarov to take joint action) and the country was on the verge of bedlam, did we decide to intervene.
This is because Ukraine is a historical part of Russia and we cannot allow all those there who speak Russian or want to be in an alliance with Russia instead of Europe to be oppressed. And in defending our interests we will consider the interests of the United States or the European Union only to the extent to which we see fit. Because the Americans view this game in Ukraine as an attack on Moscow, and we understand this very well. Even a Ukraine that has been set ablaze is nothing more than another point scored in this geopolitical game being played by a Western elite that will use any means to attempt to hold on to its relentlessly weakening position. But for Russia, Ukraine represents the security of Russia itself and the Russian people.
Even after a fiasco like this, the US will not threaten Russia with military sanctions, because no one is prepared to fight for Ukraine, they have no intention of doing so and never will. And there is no point in using threats of war simply as a way to pressure Russia psychologically, because this will only prove that Washington has finally lost all touch with reality. American military superiority plays no role in the current situation – first, because Russia is a nuclear power and it is not possible to speak to us in the language of ultimatums, and second, no one in the US is capable of convincing its own people that the Americans must go to war for “Russian Mexico.” But what is even more important is that the US has completely undermined its own credibility virtually worldwide through its own conduct on the world stage and has discredited all the arguments by which it is trying to explain to us how we are in the wrong. Moreover, every country in the world, from Japan to Venezuela, understands the fundamental moral, historical, and geopolitical difference between the US attack on Iraq and the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine.
The final demise of American hegemony has become possible, not only because the US simply overreached in its attempts to impose its will on the world during the post-Soviet era, but also because of the fact that Russia has successfully regained its strength in the past decade. Her confidence has returned, both in herself and in her rights to defend her historic national interests. In the 90s Russia fell into a slump, in the 2000s – she knuckled down. March 1, 2014 saw the beginning of her comeback. A mannerly one, but nonetheless irreversible.
Source in Russian: VZ.RU
Translated by ORIENTAL REVIEW with abridgments.