Ukraine crisis: Will the showdown begin soon? – Asks Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

Folks, even as Russian President Vladimir Putin met Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko over the weekend to discuss the Ukrainian crisis, glaring signs showed that Russia won’t just sit down unconcerned for the rebels to be routed by the Ukrainian government forces. It seems that Russia knows what it is about and is determined to prove that the muscle that it has been flexing all this while can be used.

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The more seasoned Putin might be dialoguing with Poroshenko as a mere formality, using his superior statesmanship to weigh the Ukrainian leader and unleashing the Russian uppercut when most needed. Is Putin transforming the often-ridiculed Communist Inferior Tactics into a Communist Superior Tactics?

Take Russia’s recent brushing aside of Ukraine’s authority, for instance, as it brazenly dared Ukraine by moving its numerous trucks into the Luhansk area on a “humanitarian mission” that it unilaterally initiated and carried out with impunity. Ukraine protested but won’t do anything harmful to the convoy for fear of being crushed. After all, the suspicion had been that Russia was only using that “humanitarian” campaign as a ruse to launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine in support of rebels. Russia intends to send another convoy soon; and we can only guess what Ukraine cannot do.

Beyond that “humanitarian” effort, Russia has been keenly policing its border with Ukraine, regardless of concerns expressed by NATO or the threat of more sanctions against it.

It was reported most recently that Russia had dispatched a huge column of armaments to the rebels to boost their efforts. No wonder they are said to be opening up a front in the south-east, which apparently is regarded by the West as a corridor that Russia was opening to link it to Crimea. The pro-Russian rebels have seized control of Novoazovsk in Ukraine’s south-east, and are now threatening the port of Mariupol, creating the impression that they are capable of regaining the momentum from the Ukrainian government forces.

As is to be expected, President Poroshenko says Russia has sent troops to fight alongside rebels in the east of the country; and he has held urgent talks with the National Security Council in Kiev. Russia has remained adamant in its denial of involvement or incitement of the Ukrainian crisis. But that is only a diplomatic nicety belying the reality on the ground. A pro-Russian rebel leader in eastern Ukraine has said that about 3,000 to 4,000 Russian citizens are fighting in their ranks. Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV many of the Russians were former service people or current personnel on leave, according to the BBC.

The developments have provoked vitriolic reaction. NATO has accused Russia of invading Ukraine and has released satellite images it says show Russian armed forces inside Ukrainian territory to help rebels fight government forces. It is expected to hold an emergency meeting today. Meantime, the UN Security Council held an emergency session on Ukraine this Thursday evening.

The US’ Obama has also waded into the issue, accusing Russia of being responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine.However, he again ruled out a military response from the US. And Germany has warned that the crisis in eastern Ukraine is “slipping out of control” and needs to be reined in to avoid a military clash with Russia. (Source: BBC News online).

Behind all the posturing is the hard fact that Russia will definitely not sit down unconcerned for its age-old “enemies” to have a foothold in its backyard (Ukraine). Although accused by the West of annexing Crimea, Russia remains unfazed and is more determined to pursue its agenda, as is clear in this report attributed to President Putin (See:

The US and its European allies are worried about Russia’s “expansionist” agenda, which surprises me a lot because any talk of expansionism shouldn’t evoke Russia at all. It should evoke the European powers and the US whose imperialistic manouevres constitute the dark history behind colonialism and the scourge that countries in Africa and other parts of the world have faced for centuries now!!

If the European powers could carve up Africa and use the Berlin Conference (1884-85) and the German Otto Von Bismarck’s blessing to legitimize their annexation, plundering, and marauding of Africa and the US would also make incursions into the legitimate domain of Mexico to annex large swathes of territory, including Texas—and even move on to divest Spain of its “ownership” of far-away Philippines and other territories (including Guam), what moral justification do they have to kick against anything that doesn’t even amount to the horrendous hegemonistic escapades that helped prop them up? And talk about not being wise, even after the fact!!

If these European powers and the US found it expedient to extend their influences to other parts of the world, why shouldn’t Russia do same? And what do they find wrong with Russia’s “expansionism” that they cannot identify in their own version?

Truth be told, Russia has more legitimacy to function in areas close to it than its “enemies” can even fathom. What it is doing in that region is no one’s business and shouldn’t become the bone of contention between it and “outsiders” who don’t even know the history of the people there.

I am tempted to say that even though Russia’s initial/original plan might not include taking back Ukraine, the raucous behaviour of its “enemies” rather seems to be emboldening it to go the extra mile, which is why it is more than adamant and daring. As Putin has already said, Russia is no pushover, and all the forces targeting it had better think twice. His warning cannot be shrugged off because of the dire implications for the world.

Interestingly, the United Nations seems to have taken sides already and doesn’t have the legitimacy to mediate in the conflict. So, where do we go next?

Folks, here we are now with Russia pressing on despite the slew of sanctions imposed on it by the US and its European allies, even as it has retaliated by banning agricultural products from those systems—a tit-for-tat situation that has wide-ranging implications.

Are we about to see something horrible happen in our time to push the world to the brink of a catastrophe, especially within the context of Russia’s earlier warning to its “enemies” that it has the capability to hit them hard if they cross the line? Indeed, Putin must be stepping on something potent to go this way. Is the world ready for a showdown over Ukraine?

I shall return…

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