A lot of the jockeying, between the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United States, seems to be somewhat of a scrum between the Major Powers. A scrum is a rugby play among two teams pushing and shoving to put the ball back into play. And this is exactly what is going on in Ukraine and, more specifically, Crimea?
Just go back to 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, in support of the Marxist People’s Democratic Party, against the Islamist Mujahideen Resistance, led by a Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden. The U.S. supplied weapons and funding to the Mujahideen opposition in a War that lasted ten years, before the Soviet Army pulled-out. In response, a number of countries boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics, in Moscow. And then, in 1984, the Soviet Union led a number of its Eastern Europeans satellites in a boycott of the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Better games than War!
Barely more than a decade later, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, in 2001, to eradicate just one Man–the very same Osama bin Laden. And now, thirteen years after the longest War in American History, NATO forces, led by the U.S., will leave Afghanistan by Year-End. Perhaps History does repeat itself!
Once again, Russia, the E.U. and the U.S. are trying to put the ball into play: this times in Ukraine. Yes, Vladimir Putin’s recent press conference seemed to confirm German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s assessment of him, following a telephone conversation: that Putin is “delusional”. At the same time, neither the E.U. nor the U.S. has the Financial Stamina to provide the economic support that Ukraine urgently needs.
President Putin has pointed to his Country’s close association with Ukraine, especially the six Military Bases–to include the home port of its (warm water) Black Seas Fleet, in Sebastopol, Crimea. Russia claims that it is in its “Area of Interest”. Obviously, Russia cannot afford to lose its largest military installation outside of Russia–or to further see its former Empire crumble. The Western Allies, however, see it differently.
But, let’s think back to 1823, during President James Monroe’s second term, when the U.S. declared the “Monroe Doctrine” as its legal right to keep all European Powers out of the Americas. In fact, the Russian Empire (during the reign of Czar Alexandre I) was one of the first signers to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted that any meddling by European Nations, in either North or South America, would be considered an Act of Aggression against the United States.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed that the Western Powers would not interfere in Russia’s Sphere of Influence–the Eastern European countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. There is an interesting piece, in US-RUSSIA.ORG, by Professor Michael Slobodchikoff, which describes how Russia exerts influence in what it refers to as its “Near Abroad”, linked as follows: http://us-russia.org/1934-russias-monroe-doctrine-just-worked-in-ukraine.html. How does the Agreement, between Clinton and Yeltsin, differ from our Monroe Doctrine of 1823? HMMM-MM!
Now, the U.S. is barely 225 years old; so our understanding of History is, at least is this case, surely lacking. But, going back to the Major Powers, and their scrum, it sure looks like each side is trying to re-write the Rules. Unfortunately, the Citizens of Ukraine, and more specifically Crimea, seem to be serving as the ball that is being kicked around.