We see a deteriorating geo-political situation in many parts of the world today, the latest being the Crimean / Ukarainian problem besieging the G8 leadership.
Recently we also witnessed the China-Japan conflict which deteriorated over 3 months into a dangerous escalation, to the extent that China has refused to host the Japanese Prime Minister or even meet with him. Korea has joined China and has worsened the conflict.
China and The Philippines are at loggerheads over disputes pertaining to the South China Sea territory – the President of The Philippines recently compared the China aggression to Nazi behaviour in Europe, leading to the Second World War.
But the worst problem that has hit the world today is the Ukraine coup – most people may not even be able to locate Ukraine or Crimea on a world map. But Ukraine has been a flashpoint for several months because of the Russian-leaning President of Ukraine who has now been deposed and replaced by an opposition government.
It is very difficult to compare the situation of Ukraine with Scotland for example. Though Ukraine is on the border of Russia, it was also a part of the USSR in the past – pre-1991. It has a large population of Russian-speaking citizens and has a long intertwined history with Russia. Not easy to walk out on a powerful world power and go into the welcoming arms of the European Union and then into the U.S. One has to consider geo-politics and its impact.
While Russian muscle-flexing in Crimea should not be condoned, imposing sanctions on Russia is not the easy way out for the Western powers. There is no military solutions to this problem, unlike in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are talking about Mother Russia who could activate its nuclear-tipped ICBMs and mobilize its navy in double-quick time, especially under President Putin.
So, the only way forward is a serious dialogue without sanctions and threats which could not be sustained for long as Russia will retaliate. Consider the fact that over 6,000 German companies operate in Russia today – and that is just Germans. The economies of the EU and Russia are now strongly intertwined unlike in the past. Further, Russia supplies two-thirds of the gas requirements of the European countries in the EU. It is a powerful economic valve.
Talk to Putin, not as an aggressor or threaten him – he does not simply care. There has to be a summit of the powers to sort out matters and settle amicably without loss of face for anyone. Crimea already looks dangerously on the edge, trying to secede from Ukraine. Urgent challenges requiring creative thinking called for – but in any case, do not throw empty threats. Statesmanship is required badly today.
8th March 2014