To remedy the so-called catastrophe of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Putin is attempting to reconstruct the Soviet Union one land-grab at a time. In 2008, Putin seized the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of the Republic of Georgia. Despite the outrage of the West at the time, the issue has for practical purposes been forgotten by Western leaders and attempts to reunite these regions with Georgia have essentially been abandoned.
Now, following a popular overthrow of the corrupt Ukrainian government, Putin is proceeding to seize parts of, or all of, Ukraine. In the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, Putin has used the “completely trumped up pretext” of Russian speaking Ukrainians being endangered, to justify his seizure of Crimea and to prepare his armed forces to seize more territory. Putin’s tactics hark back to Hitler’s claims that he was annexing Austria and the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to protect ethnic Germans. The Western media foolishly parrots Russia’s assertion that Ukrainians in the east of the country would prefer to be under Russian domination without evidence to support this assertion. Putin hires and buses-in demonstrators and provocateurs to support his thinly veiled deceptions.
Of one thing we may be sure, if Putin succeeds in holding Crimea and pieces of Georgia, he will continue to pursue his ambition to re-establish the greater Russian empire. Attempting to appease a tyrant will only encourage him as we learned so well in World War II.
The West must be resolute in ensuring that these acts of naked aggression are not only stopped but reversed. The tactics can be discussed. Russia is vulnerable – its economy is weak and the government is corrupt resulting in a kleptocratic society. Moreover, Russia itself is a conglomerate of restive minorities who yearn to be free of tyrannical rule. The free world is facing its greatest challenge since what it thought was the end of the cold war. Let us hope that the free world does not fail in resolutely dealing with this challenge.