19 August 2008

Ukraine seeks to be shielded by the West

Following on from Russia's continued uninvited military presence in Georgia, the Ukrainian government has come forth seeking to be part of the US proposed missile defence system. There can be little doubt that Ukraine has been strongly motivated by Russia, which has a base on the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, and which has always regarded Ukraine as being "its own".

The Times reports "Ukraine is insisting the Russian military must leave Sebastopol when the lease on the base expires in 2017. The Russian navy has made it clear it may refuse to do so."

Ukraine must, of course, ensure that Russians in Ukraine enjoy the full free rights as citizens, so that claims of racism or bigotry can be avoided. To date there has been no hint that Ukraine treats Russian citizens as lesser than Ukrainians. However, Russia must also defend Ukraine's right to adopt whatever foreign policy it wishes, as long as it does not threaten Russia. Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko was nearly murdered by his Russian backed opponent - so there is little doubt that Ukraine's government fears the dead hand of the fascist bear next door.

In recent history only the mad Mao TseTung and Adolf Hitler sought to take on Russia for territorial aggrandisement. The notion that Russia's neighbours threaten it is more a fantasy dreamt up by Russian nationalists and the military than from reality. Westernised Europe would rather get on with its own affairs, as would China. It is only because the Russian military retains much Cold War era capability that it still commands strength in an economy that has until recently been incapable of sustaining it.

The Times reports Dmitri Medvedev warning it will crush anyone who moves against Russian citizens. A fair point of view in and of itself, but Russia's neighbours rightfully fear imperialism from Moscow, they have after all lived under it for between fifty and eighty years.

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