I usually do not have two diaries at once but this essay by Jeffrey Sommers pretty much explains the situation in the Ukraine. That this whole thing was a setup by NATO, the US and the EU when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact was disbanded. The whole point being to break up Russia into “manageable pieces”.
The US responded to this deal by immediately taking the former Warsaw Pact into NATO and then moving into the former USSR territory itself by taking in the Baltics. Nobody could blame the new entrants for wishing NATO entry, given their Soviet occupation past. But, neither could anyone blame the Russians for feeling utterly betrayed by the US and NATO for breaking their word.
Thereafter, Eurasionists in the US State Department wanted more. For them, the goal was the further break-up of Russia and its ‘near abroad’ and remaking it in the image of a neoliberal periphery. For Russia, the ‘game’ has had an existential character. Russia was imploding (whether by their own actions, pressure from the West, or a combination of the two are all points for debate). For Russia, NATO’s moves into Georgia cut too close to the bone and Russia responded, yet the threat of NATO taking Ukraine represented taking Russia’s ‘heart’: the very ancestral home where ‘Russia’ was founded.
Meanwhile, the EU has thought it could reprise its earlier eastward expansion into the former Warsaw Pact that delivered a consumer goods export windfall. This alleviated West European unemployment resulting from the Maastricht Treaty’s punishing fiscal and monetary requirements to create its currency union.
This isn’t the only place I have read this, thought I do not have the link handy, but others have said pretty much the same thing. The whole point being to spread neoliberal “austerity economics” everywhere. As Ismeal Hossein-Zadeh points out in this piece.
The official rationale (offered by the U.S. and its allies) that the goal of supporting anti-government opposition forces in places such as Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela is to spread democracy no longer holds any validity; it can easily be dismissed as a harebrained pretext to export neoliberalism and spread austerity economics. Abundant and irrefutable evidence shows that in places where the majority of citizens voted for and elected governments that were not to the liking of Western powers, these powers mobilized their local allies and hired all kinds of mercenary forces in order to overthrow the duly elected governments, thereby quashing the majority vote.
Such blatant interventions to overturn the elections that resulted from the majority vote include the promotion of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004 and 2014), Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005) and the Green Revolution in Iran (2009). They also include the relentless agitation against the duly elected governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, as well as the rejection (and effective annulment) of the duly elected Hamas government in Palestine.
Russia, on the other hand, really wants to keep the Ukraine under its influence. With a large portion of the Gazprom pipelines running through the Ukraine and a large military base on the Crimea, as well as seaports there. Not to mention a large number of Russian nationals in the Crimea and in the eastern region who support Russia over the EU.
Whichever side gets the upper hand it will be a hollow victory at best since the Crimea also has a population of Tatar Muslims who have no use for Russia in the least, Kiev having nothing but a succession of oligarchs who have fleeced the country and left the treasury dry. And the last thing I read to bring the Ukraine’s manufacturing and mining up to snuff would require an investment of around 2 trillion dollars since most of it has been just left to rot since the fall of the Soviet Union.
In short, there are no good guys in this and there will be no winners either. But plenty of victims.