I’m not sure what worries me more, today’s headline about the rebel push into Mariupol, which has already killed twenty civilians going about their daily business in a marketplace (which belies the question, how does one go about one’s daily business in a war-torn country), or the apathetic interest that people seem to have towards the civil war in Ukraine.
Recently, some friends visiting from Poland shared their fear that Putin may try to cut out a larger swathe of Easter Europe for himself, and slowly start to encroach (attack) on other former Eastern Bloc countries. They confessed a very real concern that Putin might invade Poland. I don’t know about that. I can’t see NATO permitting an action like that, and I don’t think Putin has historical grounds for invading Poland.
If you look at the region historically and, with the caveat that this is my amateur knowledge of the area, you can make an argument that Ukraine never really existed as its own country until after the Second World War, under Soviet rule. Come to think of it, Ukraine is not unlike so many of the haphazard, arbitrarily-drawn, Middle Eastern states created post WWII, by European leaders with a penchant for drawing fuzzy lines. Ukraine, for all intents and purposes, has historically always been the very bountiful province of some kingdom or another, but never its own autonomous country. It used to be a province, at one time or another of: Russia, Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
As such, you could argue that Russia is claiming its own region back, which in and of itself Russia ‘wisely’ colonized under Soviet rule with Russians: a modern version of the British colonizing Hong Kong. I do not endorse Russia clawing back Crimea, or any part of Ukraine for that matter, but that may be the ‘rationale’ (if one can call it that) for Russia’s attempt to bring Ukraine back into its fold. This move is not unlike China’s clawing back of Tibet, or its threat to do the same to Taiwan, although I do not think that China is obtuse enough to go for Taiwan at this point; China can’t risk the economic sanctions that Russia is currently experiencing, as China’s economy is so heavily reliant on international trade.
Either way, what’s interesting to me is the lack of interest in Ukraine. It almost feels as though Ukraine is somehow a lesser country, the equivalent of the poor country mouse (or on a crasser level, like Surrey….and no, I don’t mean Surrey, England, I mean Surrey, Vancouver, which has a terrible reputation in my province for being a white trash, classless, high crime rate, dilapidated trucks resting on bricks in the front yard, gang central, butt of Lower Mainland jokes kind of place…for example, what is the first thing a Surrey girl does when she wakes up? She goes home). No one is actually interested in what happens in a pseudo-European country that can’t seem to get its proverbial together. There is too much corruption on a good day, and civil war on a bad.
To be honest, the lack of interest in what is happening on Europe’s back step is almost an endorsement of Putin’s action. We were rather quick to support the anti-Gaddafi and the anti-Assad rebels in Libya and Syria, respectively. Throwing out a dictator is much easier to swallow in the public eye, than to support an ally (mullet-sporting, jumpsuit-wearing, used car salesman of a cousin from the wrong side of the family?) trying to push a bear off their front porch.
NATO is sitting and watching, but not taking any action whatsoever. Curious that. What would it take to goad NATO into action, I wonder?
I am glad that BBC keeps posting articles on what is occurring in Ukraine, because lord knows there isn’t much coverage of the issue in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter. We should be concerned for what is happening there, at the very least because of the displacement of citizens trying to live their lives, and because every civilian death in a civil war should count. And who knows what repercussions may come of our complacency in the region.