Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

May 8, 2014

Keep an eye on Vladimir Putin's moves

If you’ve been listening to the news lately, the emerging crisis in Ukraine sounds very much like the contrived provocation and gradual buildup of troops that led to the previous two world wars of the last century – Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border under the guise of protecting ethnic Russians living inside Ukraine. We’ve sent a handful of American troops to Poland while the Russians wait for some trumped up provocation to justify sending troops across the border.

The Ukraine is, generally, at the northeastern end of the Black Sea which is connected to the Mediterranean by the Bosporus Strait, the Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles Strait, and the Aegean Sea, which separates Greece from Turkey. Throughout much of recorded history, the area known as the Ukraine has been the scene of countless takeovers, partitions, revolutions, and wars. It is also a polyglot of different ethnic groups and, at the same time, surrounded by Russia, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Romania. It’s predominate cultural influence, historically, has been Russian.

Russia has always coveted access to the Mediterranean for its navy through the Black Sea by having a naval base on the Crimean Peninsula. The Crimean War, fought between 1853 and 1856, was over, among other things, keeping Russia from gaining that access to the Black Sea and, ultimately, to the Mediterranean.

With all the foregoing as backdrop for the drama that is unfolding there today, what’s going on in the Ukraine right now sounds all too familiar. Even the casual student of history should be able to see that! Furthermore, Vladimir Putin is gambling on the fecklessness of the Europeans and, more particularly the United States, to carry out what seems to be his plan to force the return of the now-independent countries to that used to be the old Russian Empire. More disturbingly, Putin’s massing of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, along with the contrived incidents designed to give him an excuse to cross the border, sounds frighteningly like Hitler’s massing German troops near the Polish border in 1939. Putin, not unlike Hitler, is merely looking for an excuse to cross the border to “protect” the Russian population that predominates in the northern part of Ukraine.

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