Monday, September 8, 2008

If You Liked Georgia, You'll Love Ukraine

Russia, when it was the core of the Soviet Union, had a tidy little empire. After Russia was insulted by an unappreciated coup, and Ukraine's insistence on independence, the worker's paradise became just plain Russia again.

What's happening in Georgia may be a Russian effort to rebuild its empire. And, according to at least one professor, that's okay.

My guess is that there are people in Georgia who aren't quite so tolerant. Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states probably aren't experiencing groundswells of popular support for a return to the good old days of Soviet control, either.

After Georgia, What's Next?

The odds are that Russia will smooth over the fuss that its occupation of Georgia caused around the world. Leaders can be very forgiving when it isn't their turf that's threatened at the moment.

And, I wouldn't be surprised if there are still Russian peacekeepers, or observers, or monitors, or something of the sort, still in Georgia. With guns, and maybe even a tank or two.

After that, it's not at all unreasonable to think that Ukraine will do something bad, and that Russia will be 'forced' to invade Ukraine. To restore order, of course. According to Russia.

Or maybe Poland will 'misbehave.'

Those are fairly large countries, of course. People might raise a fuss.

Russia might choose to send troops into Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania. The Baltic states are small. Perhaps annexing them could be presented as a plausibly reasonable action.

News and Opinion:
  • "Russia Agrees to Limited Georgia Troop Pull-Out
    New York Times (September 8, 2008)
    • "MOSCOW — President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia said Monday that his country’s forces would withdraw from Georgia to within the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two ethnic enclaves that Russian troops seized and Russia quickly recognized as independent last month...."
  • "Analysis: Is Ukraine the next domino?
    CNN (August 26, 2008)
    • "LONDON, England (CNN) -- Western politicians are currently scrambling for air tickets to Kiev. Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband rushed to Ukraine soon after Russia announced its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will follow...."
  • "Ex-Soviet States, Poland Rally for Georgia After War (Update1)
    Bloomberg (August 14, 2008)
    • "Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states, all once held within the Soviet Union's embrace, are rallying behind Georgia against Russia's military incursion and any threat to their own independence...."


Anonymous said...

What makes you so sure that Russia is trying to rebuild its former empire? I seriously don't see this.

Brian H. Gill said...

Ms. Previously Anonymous,

I'm not sure that Russia is trying to rebuild its empire. I wrote: "What's happening in Georgia may be a Russian effort to rebuild its empire."

On the other hand, Boston University's Professor Andrew J. Bacevich does see Russia's activities as empire (re)building - and he thinks it's okay. I posted about that last month.

I thought I'd put enough 'maybes' and 'odds are' and 'it's not at all unreasonables' and 'mights' to make it clear that I am not so sure.

On the other hand, Russia's massively disproportionate response to Georgia's sending troops into Georgian territory suggests that the Russian leadership has more on its mind that 'peacekeeping.'

And, assuming (not knowing) that Russia is preparing to re-conquer eastern Europe, Ukraine and/or the Baltic states would be very reasonable places to start.

I would like to believe that Russia, despite its recent actions, does not intend to re-establish its Soviet-era holdings.

That would be nice.

But Russia's recent actions make it possible to speculate that the nation has imperialistic aspirations.

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