Ukraine poses a problem far more complicated than mere big power rivalry. Put the latter aside and look at the history, both of Ukraine/Crimea, the relationship with this region to Russia and the former Soviet Union, plus the obvious ‘resettling that has been going on for many years re Russian citizens moving to the Crimea in order to legitimize later action on the part of Russia to reclaim this strategically important territory.
Why is the Crimea so important to Russia? Russia has always yearned for a ‘warm water’ naval base, to protect its southern flank and allow it closer access to the Middle East and the Suez Canna. This has been so for at least two centuries, so no one should be surprised at the continuance of this policy. Other ‘Great Powers’ have been driven by the same desire for ‘security of their interests overseas.’
Ukraine has also posed problems for Russia, simply because if where it lays geographically. Several times it has acted as a conduit for forces opposed to Russia, be it the old Empire of the Tsars or the Soviet rulers. One has to be Russian to truly understand that. Ukraine has a divide within itself, between the Western leaning Western regions to the more Russian ‘feeling’ East. That there is tension should not come as a surprise.
There is also a right-wing neo Nazi side to Ukraine and it is feared that this group, may be positioning itself for yet another takeover in Kiev. Naturally many Ukrainians will be uncomfortable with this and Russia doubly so. The more moderate sector of Ukrainian politics is weak and lacks the backing of any obvious power brokers.
Now add Putin’s plans and the mix gets even messier. He will not bow down to the West as he showed during the Georgian war of a few years ago. He is prepared to go to the brink and beyond, knowing that the EU and the USA will not go to war over this far flung ‘non Nato’ country.
We need level heads at this crucial post-Cold War time in our history. We do not need militaristic adventurism under any guise, nor do we need a Russian invasion of this former Soviet Republic. Pay that the level heads of moderation prevail and that the streets of Kiev and other cities do not run with blood.