After the fall of the Berlin Wall, similar events of bitter war resulted in the collapse of communist governments in other East European entities including Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. This peacefully paved the way for the split of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia but, unfortunately, things were not always peaceful in East European countries. A series of events ultimately resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 — widely implied as the end of the Cold War and the demise of communism. Although things still seem the same, the political animosity of the Cold War between East and West Europe is viewed to have been bitter and protracted. Just recently, pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was dramatically ousted after a week of ruthless carnage in which more than 100 protestors died in Kiev.
The ongoing volatility of Ukraine, after Yanukovych, gives a complex insight into the threat of economic collapse and separatism. The long lasting economic troubles, culpable negligence and incompetence at all levels of government by Yanukovych threw the country into utter bankruptcy. There is dire need for bringing economic reforms;so far, the EU and IMF are at the forefront of the assessment of the economic situation in the country.
The historical ethnic integration between Russians and Ukrainians (Russian speaking East Ukraine) has a pivotal role in causing little headway in emancipation from pro-western influence in the country. In several parts of East Ukraine there is distinct apprehension of separatism. On April 7, 2014 a government building in Donetsk was seized and barricaded by pro-Russian protesters who were alleged to have been paid and deployed by Russia. The seizing of the building in Donetsk and rampant unrest are ominously aimed at seceding from Ukraine by the similar method of areferendum that led to the dramatic annexation of Crimeabythe Russian federation on March 16. While describing the contemporary situation in eastern Ukraine,OlexandrTurchynov, the interim president, made no bones about taking firm anti-terrorist measures (tougher penalties) against those who were responsible for separatist moves.
Moreover, interim President Turchynovand Prime MinisterArseniyYatsenyukhave been accusing Russia of fomenting violence and unrest in the affected regions of Ukraine for partition;the government seems very determined to subdue the growing hostilities hindering a presidential election on May 25. Russia spurned the accusations and retaliated by criticising the new government for waging an “armed mutiny”. Meanwhile, NATO has issued 20 satellite images showing Russian military equipment on Ukraine’s eastern frontier.
The people of Ukraine are divided into pro-eastern and pro-western. In the same way the growing ideological divide may create large obstacles for the new interim government in the unification of Ukrainians as a nation. Moscow initially had pledged to move towards reducing tensions in the country and sought a position in conformity with the principles of non-intervention in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.
Later the diplomacy of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovrevealed the rising perplexity when he said, “Ukraine should not be forced to choose between Russia and the West” and revealed Russian concern at Ukraine becoming a part of the European Union. On the other hand, Russia’s foreign ministry lambasted the makeshift government for applying oppressive and sometimes terrorist methods against those who stood against the government in various regions of Ukraine. Simultaneously, Russia is aiding and abetting secessionist elements on the sly having influence in ‘Russified’ southeastern Ukraine.
The great concern over the unification of the splintered Ukrainians illustrates the results of the period after World War II, particularly in East Europe. The frequent influx of western interference not only lend countenance to the new government getting out of economic and political crisis,they have also been serving to fan the flamesof proxy war in the region. Ukraine’s new leadership is seen to have been more inclined towards following the pro-western form of political system and the country’s move is very in sync with the west in a bid to confirm its membership of theEU. Russian-speaking Ukrainians, with strategic support from Russia, grasped control over parliament and other government buildings in all three cities in east Ukraine.
In order to discouragethe Russian military build-up in Ukraine, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia of “a very serious escalation” that could possibly bring economic sanctions. In response, Vladimir Putin threatened to cut off Ukraine’s gas to Europe.Despite the non-conciliatory policy of Putin towards Ukraine and the west, the US and EU sought the consensus of both Moscow and Kiev to settle all matters at the high level negotiating table. However, Lavrov denied to agree to the date and format of four-way talks.
Regardless of talksinitiatives, NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen was seen on media using strongly worded statements and warning Russia that it“must pull back its troops from the borders with Ukraine if it wants a dialogue over the crisis in the country”. On the other hand, deployment of Russian troops was deemed as the direct consequence of placing NATO troops on the territories adjacent to Russia and it was considered by Moscow as a breach of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and of the principles of the Vienna Convention. In analysingthe above, the dialogue process can be seen as fruitless.
Rising economic bankruptcy and ethnic vulnerability are the gravest problems the country is grappling with. However, the interim government has garnered support from the west and NATO alliance in terms of economic and military aid; this newly-bornalliance has not only kept a watchful eye on every movement by Russian troops but also threatens taking military action.
The people in southeast Ukraine and Crimea are apostles of Russian ideological agendas and, at the same time, look at makeshift governments, influenced by the west, with great loathing. Ethnic historical differences and the recent growing political resentment in the country have patently resulted in immense segregation among Ukrainians and thus the obvious splinter groups (pro-Russian and pro-west) are making the country suffer under the yoke ofa newcold war.
There are deadly brawls going on between pro-west and pro-Russian protesters in the eastern city of Kharkiv. Additionally, any escalation of tension will surely divide the state into East and West Ukraine like former Czechoslovakia was split into two entities in 1991.Nevertheless, neither party is presently willing to bury the hatchet altogether. It is eventually a matter of priorities that the new government has to cope with; it is high time the government softens its diplomatic tone towards the southeast and Crimea regions ensuring a sense of peaceful co-existence in Ukraine.
Likewise Russia’s stiff attitude to counter the presence of the west in East Europe ought to turn towardspeacefully developing its economy. The collapse of the USSR was due to the failure of economic reforms whereas the west had successfully paid keen heed to the development of the economy in West Europe,which later pursued other eastern entities to join the west.Similarly, the crux of the downfall of Yanukovych’s government was economic bankruptcy, so it would not be incorrect to say that there is a strong western alliance influencing the contemporary circumstances in Ukraine and calling, once again, for the decisive victory of the west in East Europe.
The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @pirahmangi