Besides being an inspiration for some really entertaining internet memes, Putin has, once again, become the source of headache for many in the international community.
Amid local conflict in Ukraine, on March 1st the Russian Parliament gave President Putin the green light to use military force in Ukraine in order to settle the current disputes in Ukraine. Ukraine, being one of the most important states in Eastern Europe and a very important economic factor in the region, remains of crucial interest to the European Union and the international community in general. It is important that the political turmoil gets resolved as it would affect the region, and potentially all Europe. For the past few days this is all we have heard about from every news media. Different political leaders, present and former, have all expressed their feelings and opinions on this very serious issue. Putin has been compared to anyone and everyone in attempt to predict what the implication of his actions could be in the near future. They went as far as to compare Putin’s actions to those of Hitler and his reasons and strategies prior to the start of WWII. A good comparison seems to be Putin’s and Milosevic’s, Serbian political leader and president in the 1990s, reasoning for intervention.
Putin in his press conference said that although military intervention remains the last resort, “If we make such a decision, it will only be for the protection of Ukrainian citizens.” Crimea, a peninsula which after the collapse of the Soviet Union became part of the Ukraine, always remained a cradle of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, considering that close to 60% of the population is of Russian ethnicity. Although Putin denies that Russian troops have taken over Crimea, there are Russian troops in the territory. Similar strategy and excuse was used by Milosevic in the 1990s when he engaged Serbian troops in military invasion of several countries in Balkans: Croatia, Serbia, and Kosovo. Milosevic used the pretext of protecting the Serbs. Those wars caused thousands of deaths accompanied with genocide. In the end, Serbia ended up facing the West and ultimately lost. Is Russia ready to take such a step considering the fact that European Union is strictly interested in a peaceful solution and the U.S. has already expressed its clear opposition towards Russia being engaged in military intervention?!
With Secretary Kerry being in Ukraine for talks with Ukrainian leaders, it will be interesting to see how Russia’s position will end up being. Considering how the West is already not very happy with how Russia has handled the Syrian situation, this could only add to the potential tensions, especially between the U.S. and Russia. This is almost a step back from the progress that the two countries have tried to make in the past five years with their diplomatic efforts. Not to mention that this situation is causing even more problems in the international scale considering the fact that the situation in Syria is not really getting any better, and with Russia being involved in Ukraine is becoming even a greater distractor.