The Russian upper chamber has unanimously approved President’s Putin requests for troops to be used in Ukraine. The fist word that comes to mind is intervention. The images that are drawn in one’s imagination parallel those of the devastating pictures from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. But what will we see in Ukraine?
First of all, what has been going on in Ukraine over the past few weeks? We need to be honest and see things as they are.
In Ukraine, we bore witnesses to the overthrow of a democratically elected president, Victor Yanukovich, in a coup approved and supported by western countries. This coup d’état was organized and realized not by a peaceful crowd that was naively seeking a better life, but by so-called peaceful demonstrators equipped with Molotov cocktails, stones and firearms who were supported by western leaders. If we were to analyze the growing paranoia in the West about Russia; its demonization nourished by the media corporations, coupled with Russia’s ascension to a strong international power, the picture is clear.
A country divided
It’s evident, that Ukraine has a deep, historically, conditioned schism between its western and the eastern parts. During the 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine tried to build a united society, a solid nation, but failed.
Western Ukraine always admired the West, and the eastern part admired Russia. To ask Ukraine to pick a side is tantamount to detonating the country. This is precisely what has happened.
The pro-European protests which waved the flags of the EU in Kiev were given ample coverage by media in the West, despite the leading role of Ukrainian neo-Nazi extremists who were using the situation for their own interests (which are extremely far from notorious European values).
But the peaceful manifestations and the unwillingness of east Ukraine to accept the results of the coup, especially taking into account the fact that the opposition forces broke the agreement signed by the legitimate president and approved by the western representatives, have been painted black and stamped as separatism by media in the West. The explanation is very simple; the eastern Ukrainian people and those of Crimea sought justice from Russia. Having historically strong ties with Russia, and populated by mostly Russian-speaking people, it was evident from the beginning that this part of Ukraine would appeal to Russia if it feels that its stability and rights are under a threat. After numerous controversial, aggressive and completely antidemocratic declarations from Kiev, after numerous fierce provocations on behalf of neo-Nazi fighters and taking into account that the new government does not control the country and the situation, the patience of the law-abiding citizens was over. The Crimean people and those of eastern Ukraine have shown their will. Enormous manifestations took place in numerous cities in eastern Ukraine, under Russian flags, asking the Russian government to restore peace in Ukraine, to bring stability and justice, to restore the constitutional order and to protect the people. Obama warned Russia, that Russian intervention in Ukraine would incur costs. But sure enough, this statement illicited the opposite reaction to what it was expected by the United States.
The upper chamber has approved the use of the Russian forces in Ukrainian territory, but Putin has not yet ordered any movement to be made. Putin waits, as many depend on the adequacy of the European and U.S. governors, as well on the adequacy of Kiev. The decision to send Russian troops to Ukraine was welcomed with a great happiness and hope in eastern Ukraine, but with panic and hysteria in the western part of the country as well as in Europe and the U.S. But should Russia stand the dangerous instability on its boundaries without any response? The U.S. acts immediately whenever it sees the menace to its national interests, and reserves this right exclusively for itself. But is it fair? Russia plays on the international arena according to the rules imposed by some widely known actors. How can we criticize it?
The decision has not been taken yet, but even if the Russian president orders military forces to enter Ukraine, they will enter as peacekeepers, supported by the eastern Ukrainian people. They do, however, lack the approval of international institutions. The Russian military will enter to cut short all possible provocations, to stop the oppression and intimidation of those who do not agree with what is happening in the country under the influence of the western players. The Ukrainian military forces are not in control of Kiev anymore. The Ukrainian naval forces are refusing to act under the coup government of Kiev. The deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine remains as perhaps not the best, but the only possible way to prevent civil war in the country. These days, the European Union and the U.S. have shown that they are not ready to give financial help to Ukraine, that has enormous debt and a completely empty treasury. Let’s be honest, the EU and the U.S. have no interest in the fate of the Ukrainian people, but are interested in all the possible ways to harm the Russian Federation, as its growth of power is not desired. The only state that is capable of stopping the degradation of the country, to help it financially, to stop it from becoming a failed state, to stop the development of a civil war, is Russia. It is able to act quickly. Russia has no interest in dividing Ukraine into pieces, as any support of separatist aspirations are dangerous for its internal security – it has Caucasus and Tatarstan parts.
The only interest of the Russian Federation is stability on its borders. The interference in the affairs of the independent states is not a vice anymore, as it was so often demonstrated by the fighters for “democracy.” But the will to help a country steer clear of bloodshed is still a virtue. If it takes place, we’ll see new kind of humanitarian interventions. Maybe the first intervention that can honestly be called “humanitarian.”
Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of International Middle Eastern Studies Club and alumni of Moscow State Institute of International Relations. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme