An unprovoked onslaught is currently being waged by a totalitarian regime against a democratically elected government in Europe for the first time in nearly a hundred years. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – a smaller, militarily inferior, neighbor – eerily parralels Germany’s March 1939 intrusion into Czechoslovakia. The goal is always the same: regional hegemony on the way to global domination. A gross injustice is forever accompanied by the lies, vitriol, and state-spewed propaganda necessary to justify it to the gullible citizenry of the world.
The Kremlin despot was convinced he could get away with it. After all, his previous bold moves on the global chessboard had gone largely unanswered.
The former GDR resident and rumored Stasi officer started off small in order to whet his appetite. In the breakaway Moldovan territory of Transnistria he learned that creating territories uniquely dependent upon Russia for their existence led to the kind of exploiter-exploited relationship he coveted. It was easier, and far less bloody, than waging a full scale multi-year war in Chechnya.
So, in 2008, he set his sights on small, tiny, forward-looking and western-leaning Georgia; making minced meat out of that mountain country’s armed forces in an August fortnight. The spoils: Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or 20% of Georgia’s internationally recognized territory.
Next, employing his sophisticated KGB worldview he shored up crucial international support among a ‘gang’ of such unreliable and ineffective allies that they remind one of people left off the guest list to a party since they inevitably show up empty handed. This infamous group includes such gems as Venezuela, Syria, Eritrea, and North Korea. Many people in these countries are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to escape the deprivation, isolation, and starvation of their surroundings. This ‘gang’ could only be described as ‘pathetic,’ except for the fact that in the name of desperately clinging to state power, the rulers’ of these countries have committed, and in most cases continue to commit, tragically devastating atrocities against their own people.
But why stop when you’re ahead? So, the number one resident of Red Square (No, I’m not talking about the embalmed corpse of V. I. Ulyanov Lenin) decided to look West where he saw a beautiful tree containing several pieces of low hanging fruit. Like the USSR’s Red Army did before him in April-May 1944, he daringly marched his armed forces into Ukraine’s Crimea and seized the capital of Sevastopol for his Black Sea fleet in February-March 2014. Lest the government in Kiev get any ‘dangerous’ ideas such as asking for outside assistance from NATO, or even *gasp* EU membership, he formented a brutally destabilizing eight-year old uprising in the Eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Judo black belt had those vareniki eating Cossacks in his pocket, or so he thought.
To all of these daring advances, the world’s response was the typical mix of muted condemnation and unremarkable lip service. “It’s not our problem,” said people in Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin. “Someone should do something,” may have been muttered in Ottawa, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, and Tel Aviv. “We’ve got to remain neutral,” said the cynics in New Dehli, Beijing, Tehran, and Baghdad. Despite being kicked out of the G8 (which promptly became the G7 once again), FIFA decided to let Russia host the 2018 Soccer World Cup. Good times!
Finally, just last week, and following a massive troop buildup along three of Ukraine’s borders, the self-perceived successor to the Romanov Tsars’ made his move. But unlike Peter the Great, he’s not engineering the construction of the world’s northernmost canal-ringed city on the Neva, he’s employing the combined might of one of the world’s strongest militaries, reinforced by the latest nuclear weaponry, to the conquest of Kiev, Kharkhiv, and Odessa. It’s clear that his mission’s primary aim is to remove a popular, charismatic, democratically elected former comedian, turned nationally-unifying, wartime leader from power, and replace him with a pliant Quisling who will bend over backwards to do Moscow’s bidding circa Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko.
Any child knows that the neighbourhood bully never stops abusing the local children until someone stands up to him. For the sake of the future of national self-determination let’s hope that the time has come to draw a line in the sand and demand an end to Russia’s imperialist expansion.