It’s the 21st century, and a country has been invaded by the army of a shirtless man on a horse.
As Russian troops march across Crimea and the Russian parliament considers the annexation of the territory from Ukraine, the international community is stumbling while watching a repeat of history. Six years ago the Russian bear reached its claw into Georgia and grabbed ahold of the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, tearing them away from that sovereign nation through military invasion and creating two Russian satellite states functioning under the guise of being newly independent republics.
The international community didn’t stop Russia then, and it likely won’t stop Russia now. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by years of US, European, and UN inaction to stop him, whether in Georgia, Syria, Ukraine or anywhere else. Putin will do what Putin wants to do, as he has always done, and the international community will watch, sweat, and offer little more to Ukrainians than speeches and press conferences condemning what has happened to their country.
When the dust settles, it will be Putin who decides what happens to Crimea, not the US, Europe, the UN, or anyone else. And when Putin decides that the Russian bear will claw a line through Ukraine establishing Crimea as an independent republic and de facto Russian satellite, nobody should be the slightest bit surprised.
Russian President Putin will not yield. German President Angela Merkel recently concluded after her phone call with Putin about the situation in Ukraine that Putin was “out of touch with reality.”
The question is, who’s reality is he out of touch with? Putin’s reality is shirtless horseback riding, shooting whales with crossbows, and hugging polar bears. Putin’s reality is supplying the Assad regime with weapons to massacre those struggling for freedom in Syria. Putin’s reality is invading neighboring countries to enforce his will on them at the tip of a bayonet.
The fact is, Putin’s reality is reality. Inaction on Georgia, Syria, and (so far) Ukraine has supplanted any reality of international law or standards with Putin’s reality, and for years now we have been living in Putin’s world.
Before another nation is invaded by Russia, before protestors in another country are silenced by Russian weapons, before Russia rewrites international norms of conduct and inspires other countries to begin enforcing their will through unprovoked military action, Putin must be stopped.
The reaction by the international community must be swift, punitive, and unequivocal in delivering the message that such aggression will not be tolerated in the 21st century. The fate of not only Ukraine, but the course of history in our time, depends on it.
(this article is available in French here)
Well put, Matthew. Your vision is very clear on this matter.
How do you see the fact that Russia controls most if not all of the natural gas supply to Europe? If the international community reacts to punitively there would be implications in global energy markets and economies.
We need to pull our socks up. We left russia for dead a long time ago and now its their turn to be heard and acknowledged. Lets not get our panties in a twist. It was a political favor. And btw its politics that need to be held accountable not putin and not russias or ukrains people. If you cant defend your country with 2200 troupes you dont deserve a country or an army. If ypu overspend on military and dont give back to your country you dont even deserve to live because now youve let us all down. Putin is collecting his partners not invading. Lets offer help and stop pretending were alone cause some asshole put up a fence
Id also like to give credit to #harper for expressing his supreme understanding of bilateral relationships. It bridges the divide of knowing when and why to say sorry when forced to make concious decisions that go against our own rules. Its a seed for our future. Leave it be. Its a star.
The only people Syria wants to be free from is the west.
Problem: Russia has wahed minimal violence while being surrounded by NATO that has waged massive violence in much more distant states than Russian is from Ukraine. We pushed the bear and did not come loaded for bear. Either you expand NATO to Russia’s border and be ready to meet any rebuff or you do not do it. Otherwise, you are doing to the Ukrainians what we did to the Kurds and Shiites in the Gulf War.
Thank`s for real look at the situation!
I am ukrainian and no one knows what Putin does to my country better then I do!
Let me note that I support every word written in this artikel, just like all english speaking ukrainians who read or will read it!
Also, I think that international community must do a lot more to stop Putin from starting III world war in his ambitions to be known as Hitler of 21st century.
Unfortunatelly I have to agree with you.IC has a poor reaction to all that events you have mentioned.
Could it be done more?
What about if considering the threats for Russian population in Republic of Moldova Mr.Putin will send also his nobadges guys to protect them.
Same reaction I am sure from IC side.
Economics are ordering the reaction and EU went for South Stream instead of Nabuco as we all know.
Congratulation for your comprehensive and detailed article.
This view must be set in the context of persistent interference by the USA and its allies in other sovereign states, encouraging opposition groups, providing them with military assistance or, in the worst case (Iraq) launching an invasion. I am surprised that anyone would be so critical of President Putin without recognising that context. Hopefully, his action will stabilise the situation in the Ukraine and prevent the disasters we have witnessed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria.
What sort of reaction did you have in mind?
That is the million dollar question! It’s Anschluss all over again.
Are we going to imagine the best without planning for the worst? Will the West ally itself to ex-soviet democracies, drawing meaningless lines in the sand and making promises we can’t fulfil?
Unless we are prepared for WW3, we should leave affairs in Russia’s backyard well alone. Are you prepared for you and your family to die to protect Crimea’s right to self-determination? What about Moldavia? What about (insert former CIS country name here)?
No-one in their right mind would wish for WW3 if there was any hope of a less expensive and genocidal alternative. So governments make their empty promises and indulge in face-saving rhetoric, posturing and finger-waving.
Putin knows the drill, and like Hitler before him, he knows how to outmanoeuvre the West.
I find it deeply disappointing when people say “We must do something!” without offering any realistic suggestions. If anything, that knee-jerk response, that prick in the soft skin of our consciences is the most dangerous response.
Tell us instead how to RESOLVE the situation of state actors bullying others.
First, Western media organizations need to clear Putin’s paid Rutards from these boards.
Propaganda is not perspective and it prevents any sensible discussion.
Second, all this underscores is: why are we in an alliance that includes France and Germany?
If Hollande and Frau Fathead will sell Ukraine down the river for some gas, or shrug at innocent Dutch plane passengers being murdered for a helicopter contract, what do we think they would do for us?
And why are we underwriting their security at a costs of hundreds of billions a year http://tinyurl.com/mwno26p
We need to consider the concept of sunk costs. Maybe France was really meant to be a province of Germany or Germany part of Greater Russia.
And why do we really care?