As of today, more and more people grow to realize that the current confrontation between Russia and the U.S. accounts for one of the most pressing issues of modern times. After all, one does not have to be a genius to understand that, if allowed to continue gaining a momentum; this confrontation may lead to the outbreak of the WW3. The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated; regarding the fact that, as time goes on, the concerned conflict appears to acquire ever more of the clearly disturbing subtleties. The recent military exercises, conducted by the NATO in close proximity to Russia’s borders, as well as the sub-sequential testing of the Russian new intercontinental ballistic missiles, did add rather substantially to the escalation of tensions between Russia and the ‘free world’. Therefore, it indeed does make much sense, on the part of many political observers; to suggest that today’s situation in the world closely reminds the one followed by the outbreak of the WW1 in 1914 (Allison 1275). This alone raises a strong concern about whether the current tendency of the world to become increasingly volatile (in the geopolitical sense of this word) is fully appropriate. After all, there can be only a few doubts that if the war between the U.S. and Russia does take place, it will result in putting an end to human civilization, as we know it.
What makes the situation even more troubling is that the reasons for the West to choose in favor of adopting a strongly defined anti-Russian stance cannot be deemed fully legitimate. Nowadays, it is assumed that the rapid worsening of the relations between Russia and the West, which took place over the course of the last two years, was triggered by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and by America’s claim that Russia is continuing to wage war on Ukraine. According to the American top-officials, both of the mentioned developments account for the blatant violation of the international law, on the part of Russia – hence, the rationale behind the American-led imposition of economic sanctions against this country. As Nelson noted: “Economic sanctions on Russian individuals, entities, and sectors have been a key part of the U.S. response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine and Russia’s efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine” (188). Nevertheless, there is a plenty of evidence that, contrary to what many Westerners believe to be the case, Russia’s positioning in the arena of international politics continues to remain thoroughly defensive and that while proclaiming the Crimean Peninsula an integral part of Russia, the country’s government was driven by the essentially humanitarian considerations.
This, of course, poses a highly debatable and yet perfectly legitimate question – should the U.S. government proceed with its current policy of enacting more economic sanctions against Russia and supporting the government of Ukraine, or should our governmental officials reassess the acceptability of the sanctioning policy’s deployment, as such that harms the international reputation of America and threatens the world peace? In this paper, I will argue that it is specifically the second scenario that should be considered the most circumstantially appropriate one while explaining why it happened to be the case.
Throughout the last two years, the American politicians /governmental officials have made a deliberate point in ostracizing Russia – just as it used to be the case during the Cold War. Senator McCain, who could definitely use being checked at the psychiatric clinic (because of his clearly irrational hatred of Russia and his constant warmongering), stands out as a particularly striking example, in this respect. After all, this person appears to be thoroughly sincere in his belief that the U.S. must do whatever it takes for its relationship with Russia to continue deteriorating rapidly. According to the Senator, America should stay committed to the cause of “sanctioning Russian officials, isolating Russia internationally, and increasing NATO’s military presence and exercises on its eastern frontier… making every effort to support and resupply Ukrainian patriots, both soldiers and civilians” (McCain par. 10). However, it does not seem to be of any concern to the American warmongers (such as McCain) that those they refer to as ‘Ukrainian patriots’ take pride in considering themselves the descendants of the Ukrainian Nazi-collaborators while flying swastika-flags and claiming that Ukraine’s Eastern part, populated by Russian-speaking citizens, should be ethnically cleansed.
The anti-Russian hysteria in the West is formally legitimized by what it is commonly referred to as the ‘illegal annexation’ of Crimea by Russia, which took place in the spring of 2014. As Lindberg pointed out: “Russia has acted (in the Crimea) on its own and has garnered no international support… the condemnation of its actions has been widespread and consistent with international law” (13). However, those who are quick to condemn Russia because of it, act altogether forgetful of the fact that, legally speaking, there was no difference between the 2008 proclamation of independence by Kosovo (which was supported by the U.S.) and the proclamation of independence by the lawfully elected Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in the spring of 2014. In fact, the latter has been much more consistent with the provisions of the international law. The reason for this is apparent – unlike what it used to be the case with the partition of Kosovo from Yugoslavia, Crimea’s independence reflected the outcome of the people’s referendum, held on March 14, 2014, during the course of which 96.5% of the Peninsula’s residents expressed their support for the Parliament’s decision. Moreover, they also indicated their willingness to see Crimea joining Russia (Bebler 43).
Russia-bashers also strive to convince people that the ‘annexation’ in question has been pre-planned, which in turn is meant to validate even further the idea that this country is, in fact, nothing short of an ‘evil empire’ obsessed with the thoughts of territorial conquest. This point of view, however, does not hold any water, whatsoever. After all, it does not represent any secret that the concerned event followed the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev by the armed Nationalists (and even the outright neo-Nazis), who overthrew the democratically elected President Yanukovich a month earlier – something to which Western media still refer to as ‘democratic revolution’. What is even more, there are a plenty of indications that this ‘revolution’ was orchestrated by the American-based ‘Non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs). The validity of this suggestion is supported by the fact that America’s high-ranking governmental officials never even tried concealing their involvement in sponsoring the ‘revolutionaries’: “In a speech to the National Press Club on December 13, 2013… Victoria Nuland boasted that the US has ‘invested’ $5 billion in ‘organizing a network’ to give Ukraine ‘the future it deserves’” (“Defeat Neocon” 1). However, because the ‘futures’ prepared by the U.S. for other countries have never proven particularly bright (the examples of Libya, Iraq and Syria leave only a few doubts about it), there is nothing surprising that in the aftermath of the mentioned coup in Ukraine, the Crimeans choose to leave this country.
Apparently, there was indeed a good reason for them to believe that, if Crimea remained in Ukraine, they would be risking a chance to be subjected to ethnic cleansing at the hands of the country’s self-appointed ‘revolutionary authorities’. While knowing perfectly well that the Ukrainian nationalists are thoroughly capable of perpetrating the acts of genocide against those who stand opposed to their quasi-fascist ideology (they proved it during the WW2), Russia was left with no option but to move its army units to the Peninsula. There was even more to the development in question – by acting in the way it did, Russia was able to restore historical justice. The reason for this is apparent to just about anyone, even slightly proficient in the history of Russia. Crimea has been incorporated as a part of this country as far back as in the middle of the 18th century, whereas it was only through the 20th century’s twenties that the Ukrainians (formally known as Malorussians) began to consider the possibility of accounting the separate nation of their own. When the Soviet leader Khrushchev ordered that Crimea joins the Soviet Republic of Ukraine (the move that itself violated the provisions of the Soviet Constitution) in 1954, it was specified that the concerned redraw of the administrative borders within the USSR was meant to symbolize the ‘eternal friendship’ between Russia and Ukraine (Hilpold 243). Because the unlawful seizure of political power by the Ukrainian nationalists, supported by the West, put an effective end to this friendship, it was only logical for Russia to claim the Peninsula back – no friendship, no Crimea.
As to the Western claim that Russia is waging war against Ukraine in the country’s Eastern part – it appears to be just as ridiculous as the assertion that the overwhelmingly Russian residents of Crimea are suffering from ‘Russian occupation’. Just as it happened to be the case with the Crimeans, the overwhelming majority of citizens in Eastern Ukraine consists of ethnic Russians. Therefore, it is fully explainable why these people remain strongly estranged from the dubious virtues of Ukrainian nationalism, which in the ‘revolution’s’ aftermath became the country’s official ideology – hence, their initial demand to be provided with autonomy within Ukraine. In return, the self-appointed ‘rulers’ in Kiev, declared the population of six million Russian-speaking citizens in the East ‘terrorists’ and began shelling the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk with heavy artillery – something that falls under the definition of a crime against humanity. In its turn, the American government turned a blind eye on the clearly genocidal policies of the Ukrainian authorities against their citizens in the East while preferring to cry crocodile tears over the violation of ‘gay-rights’ in the ‘occupied Crimea’ – hence, proving once again the sheer pharisaicalness of America’s commitment to the cause of defending ‘human rights’. This, of course, did not leave the residents of Donbass (the region’s name) with any other choice but to put up armed resistance against what they refer to as the ‘fascist junta’ in Kiev. It is understood that Russia did help them with weapons. It also represents an undeniable fact there were many Russian volunteers fighting on the side of the ‘people’s republic of Donbass’. However, there are no Russian troops in the area to speak of – the absence of any credible evidence (such as the satellite images of moving troops) that this is not quite the case, proves the soundness of this suggestion.
In light of what was said earlier, the U.S. current stance on the situation in Ukraine and on what accounts for Russia’s involvement in it, undermines the remains of America’s reputation, as a country committed to the ideals of a lawful and democratic living. This simply could not be otherwise because, due to the continuous progress in the field of information technologies, the actual truth about the situation in Ukraine and about the unsightly aspects of America’s contribution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in this part of the world, finds its way into the minds of more and more people across the globe. By continuing to enact more sanctions against Russia, the U.S. exposes itself being rather powerless to do anything about the ‘annexation of Crimea’ or the imaginary presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. After all, despite President Obama’s boastful claim that, due to having been subjected to American economic sanctions, Russia’s economy is now ‘torn to shreds’, it is far from being the case. Quite to the contrary – because of these sanctions, the whole sectors of the previously neglected/unprofitable sectors of Russia’s economy have received a powerful boost in vitality. In its turn, this causes many Americans to wonder – why to proceed with sanctioning Russia if it will most definitely not cause the Russians to decide in favor of giving Crimea back to the failed state of Ukraine, which will soon collapse under the weight of its own economic unsustainability?
As Margolis pointed out: “What earthly interests the U.S. has in Ukraine? About as much as Russia has in Nebraska. Yet the bankrupt U.S. is to lend $1 billion to the anti-Russian Kiev leadership and risk war in a foolish challenge to Russia” (15). Therefore, it will only be logical to conclude this paper by suggesting that the best solution to the present tensions between the U.S. and Russia, which may lead to the outbreak of the WW3, would be America’s renewed willingness to play according to its own rules of the game. If our country recognized the right of the Kosovars to gain independence from Serbia, then it should also respect the right of Russian-speaking people in Crimea and Donbass to cease being the part of Ukraine – the country that since the time of its creation never ceased to be referred to as ‘Northern Uganda’ by most of its own citizens. In its turn, this would call for the economic sanctions to be lifted off Russia and for those who came up with the ‘bright’ idea of endorsing them, in the first place, to be held accountable. This particular scenario is not as unlikely as it may appear initially – the fact that Donald Trump continues to enjoy much support among the Americans, as now the only Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency who pledged his commitment to the cause of making the country’s foreign policy sane again, is itself speaks volumes, in this respect. Apparently, it is still not too late restoring the friendly relationship with Russia – much to the relief of the progressive part of humanity, the representatives of which are the least thrilled with the idea of being turned into the ‘cannon fodder’ in yet another World War.
Allison, Roy. “Russian ‘Deniable’ Intervention in Ukraine: How and Why Russia Broke the Rules.” International Affairs 90.6 (2014): 1255-1297. Print.
Bebler, Anton. “Crimea and the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict.” Romanian Journal of European Affairs 15.1 (2015): 35-54. Print.
“Defeat Neocon Conspiracy in Ukraine!” Daily News 27 Feb. 2014: 1. Print.
Hilpold, Peter. “Ukraine, Crimea and New International Law: Balancing International Law with Arguments Drawn from History.” Chinese Journal of International Law 14.2 (2015): 237-270. Print.
Margolis, Eric. “Another Anschluss in Crimea.” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 33.3 (2014): 11-15. Print.
McCain, John. “Obama Made America Look Weak: Commentary.” New York Times. Late Edition (East Coast). 2014: A21. Print.
Nelson, Rebecca. “U.S. Sanctions on Russia: Economic Implications.” Current Politics and Economics of Russia, Eastern and Central Europe 30.1 (2015): 187-205. Print.