Sunday, 2 March 2014

gordian knot or charge of the light brigade

The situation in the Crimea is escalating quickly, and I think outside intervention (or subvention) might prove unwise, if not unwelcome. The country is clearly divided among western and eastern region, including the strategically important peninsula on the Black Sea, separated by a narrow strait from Russia. The divide, however pronounced it may be, is not a think just the struggle over segments of the population seeking closer allegiance with the powers of Europe and the West and a nostalgic segment with closer ties to the old, united regime of the Soviet Union, convinced that Ukraine is and has always been a part of Russian proper, is not the only cogent factor, I'm afraid:
Ukraine as a whole is only second to the whole expanse of Russia in terms of industrial and agricultural output within the former Soviet footprint. Though economic independence could eventually be amended into a beneficial partnership, those traditional attitudes that reign in the Crimea (a cartographic flip-book of sovereignties since the Crimean War of 1853 that pit Russia against the Ottoman Empire, the UK and France over access to the Holy Lands—the most technologically advanced and reported—photographs included—conflict that the world had yet seen) are bundled, irretrievably with a logistical system that certainly makes Russian dominant influences loath to see the country become more Western orientated. Not only is the Black Sea fleet based there, the network of petroleum pipelines that deliver gas from Russia to Europe transit through all points of the nation—and not only at snarl-point that connect the Azov with the Black Seas. If this conduit were lost or supply interrupted, even for a short while, the knock-on effects would be devastating for the region and countries dependent on Russian oil. It is tragic to say, but I think conflicts are ignited over far less and diplomacy and freedom are the first casualties. The effectiveness of outside observers I fear might prove dismal at best—even though this is not an internal affair, and Ukraine may have to sacrifice its territorial integrity, ceding along political divides, lest the commemorations beginning this year take on an all too real charter.