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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

EDITORIAL: La Cosa Nashi

EDITORIAL

La Cosa Nashi

Last week, Russian "president" Vladimir Putin threatened to target Ukraine with nuclear missiles if it dared to join NATO or accept the deployment of a NATO defensive missile system on its territory. Putin stated: "It's frightening not just to talk about this, but even to think about, that in response to such deployment, the possibility of such deployments - and one can't theoretically exclude these deployments - that Russia will have to point its warheads at Ukrainian territory."

Putin's statement borders on the insane. To credit it, one would first have to believe him, his word alone, when he says Russia isn't currently targeting Ukraine. Yet, Putin isn't willing to accept NATO's word that accepting Ukraine as a member or placing defensive missile systems on its territory has no impact, in fact or intention, upon Russian security. Yet, Putin is a proud veteran of the KGB, who has spent his entire life lying brazenly to anyone who would listen.

Beyond that, Putin doesn't seem to realize that if Russia escalates cold war tensions, then NATO -- far more powerful than Russia -- will do the same. Places in Russia will be targeted that never were before, and an arms race Russia can't even compete in, much less win, will begin so that even more places will be targeted. More money will be spent developing defensive systems that will negate Russian missiles, and in short the arms race that destroyed the USSR will begin all over again.

Then, Putin seems to ignore the basic reality that, quite obviously, Russian policy towards Ukraine -- his policy -- has failed totally. He has convinced Ukraine that Russia is dangerous and that it needs protection. Even now, as he issues bellicose and provocative rhetoric, Putin does nothing to mollify Ukraine's concerns or to alter Russian policy in any way. In other words, he's acting towards Ukraine exactly the way he complains NATO is acting towards him. Only Russians can offer the world a level of hypocrisy this spectacular.

Putin also seems to believe that Ukraine is a nation of cowards. He apparently thinks he can just glower menacingly at Ukraine and it will back down, submitting to Russia's will just as if it were still the good old days of the USSR. History shows that, in fact, Ukraine is a mighty nation of brave patriots who will stand up to Russia no matter what, as many other former Soviet slave states have also shown, especially Georgia. Putin's actions, he is too blind and stupid to see, actually lead Ukraine to still closer alliance with NATO, exactly the opposite of the result he claims to want.

Putin is governing his nation in the manner of the mafia. When Russia deals with the United States, it demands verbal negotiation and respect. But when Russia deals with Ukraine, it immediately resorts to blunt trauma, threats and actual violence. Though the thinks he is showing strength, in fact Putin is showing epidemic weakness and hypocrisy. As we reported on Publius Pundit, Russia has suffered a stinging and emphatic defeat in the first major battle of Cold War II with Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia, flouting Russian power in the region, and the major European nations joining the U.S. in standing solidly behind Kosovo. A feeble Putin could do nothing except issue pathetic bursts of venom as he watched Russia's wishes ignored despite its so-called "energy superpower"status.

Only days remain before the last election that will matter in Russia for decades to come takes place. We urge the people of Russia to rouse themselves from their horrific slumber before it is too late.

1 comment:

Timothy said...

Dare I suggest that perhaps the Russian government is best served by frightening its neighbors into NATO, the better to play on public fears of "encirclement" by hostile western forces bent on conquering Soviet territory?

He may truly desire Ukraine to remain in the Russian sphere, but by scaring them into NATO, Putin wins all the same - in the short run, at least. In the long run, Russia may just continue to isolate itself.