Russian imperialism: is Ukraine next after Georgia?
Ukraine could not have ignored the war even if it had wanted to. Sebastopol, on the Crimean peninsula, is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, some of whose warships dropped anchor off the Georgian coast during and after the fighting. Evidence of Ukraine’s proximity to the conflict is also on show at Moscow’s military museum, where visitors can gawp at war booty: Georgian T-72 battle tanks that were modernised in Ukraine. This, say the Russians, shows Kiev’s support for what it sees as a “criminal regime”. Indeed, Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s president flew to Tbilisi to support his counterpart and friend, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Add to this the fact that Russian nationalists believe Crimea, which has a large ethnic Russian population, should be returned to Russia (there are rumours of new Russian passports being handed out, just as happened in South Ossetia and Abkhazia). Throw in, too, the fact that Ukraine, like Georgia, has for years been trying to secure a place in both the European Union and NATO. The inevitability of Ukraine catching a post-war cold becomes clear.
(…) At a European Union-Ukraine summit in Paris on September 9th, the EU too had little beside warm words of support to offer. The “maximum” it could do, said France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, was to offer to sign a vague “association agreement” next year. But unlike similar-sounding agreements for the Balkan countries, this one would not carry any implication of eventual membership. Countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are unwilling at this stage even to hint at candidate status for Ukraine.
The Russians have been publicly silent about Ukraine in recent weeks, knowing that they hold some strong cards, besides having just defeated Georgia. Ukraine is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its oil and gas, for uranium enrichment, and as a market in which it can sell its own goods. It may agonise about its east-west choice, but in reality it will have to maintain reasonable relations with Moscow as well as the rest of Europe.
By the way, two days ago Russia has signed two treaties with the two Georgian breakway regions, South Ossetia and Abjasia. For economic and military cooperation:
“Our key task today is to ensure security of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Medvedev said during an elaborate signing ceremony in the Kremlin. “The treaties envisage that our nations together will take all the necessary steps to fend off threats to peace. We won’t allow any new military adventurism, no one must have any illusions about that.”
Meanwhile another journalist is critisized by the Kremlin:
- about Venezuelan-Russia ties: Venezuela-Russia boost military ties. More here and here.
- also Russia envoy has warned NATO that it will not let it use Russian airspace if “member states did not stop hostile moves against Moscow“.
- US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has urged caution on NATO response to Russian policy towards Georgia.