Politics in a Nutshell: Cold War revisited

Graphic by Kathryn Messinger

Graphic by Kathryn Messinger


The Ukraine conflict involves more than just Ukraine. In fact, it involves the U.S., Russia, the European Union and, potentially, several nations in the middle east, including Syria.

In a nutshell:

On Nov. 21, 2013, Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, abandoned an EU agreement that would have potentially allowed Ukraine to join the Union. Ukraine is an industrializing nation with vast amounts of space for farming. While its billions in debt make the nation a potential threat to European markets, allowing Ukraine into the Union would benefit both parties economically, in the long run.

On Dec. 17, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine an economic care package worth $15 billion and cheaper natural gas, which was seen by some as an attempt to “buy out” Ukraine from the EU agreement.

Between December 2013 and February 2014, several anti-protest laws were passed by the Ukrainian government, causing a massive uproar in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital. Several protesters were killed in the process of seizing government buildings, forcing Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, and the government, to resign.

On Feb. 20, 77 people were killed in the streets of Kiev after parliament refused to amend the constitution, and Yanukovych was forced to flee to Russia.

Since that time, Arseniy Yatsenyuk has been named interim prime minister of Ukraine, and Putin, having refused to recognize the new government of Ukraine as legitimate, has gained military control over the Crimean Peninsula, an independent republic since the end of the Cold War, but still part of Ukraine.

The conflict has a lot of the western world on the edge of its seats, as it brings up the frightening memories of the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and the U.S. virtually competed to be the biggest super power, while seemingly always minutes away from nuclear war.

It seems that history, eventually, does repeat itself, with CNN reporting on Tuesday that Russian lawmakers were drafting a bill, potentially making Crimea officially part of Russia.

The end of the Cold War [1991] opened doors to the future of foreign policy, in which the U.S. took advantage of the spotlight, being the world’s police force. Nations that no longer needed U.S. support due to the absolution of the threat of communism saw American forces intervene with their countries’ politics, often times creating more havoc than sustainability.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1 billion dollar loan to Ukraine, in what looks like an offering of camaraderie, even though the U.S. can’t seem to create a budget for its own fiscal year.

If the last eight years has shown America anything, it’s that we are in no position to be the world’s police force. Crimea is its own republic, only bound to Ukraine by a constitution that its own people want amended. What America should have learned from the Cold War is that the race to become a superhero nation also has its consequences.

Yet, what happens if Russia absorbs the republic of Crimea? Currently, Ukraine is an unofficial neutral zone between Russia and the EU. Will Russia make this zone hostile, after a possible Crimea take over? Will Putin stop aggression toward a government he deems illegitimate? Or, are we too far into our post-Cold War choices that it’s imperative that we remain in position to be a superpower?

Russia and the U.S. are in a state of broken talks, with accusations about foreign ministers not wanting to meet with each other. If the world wants to move out of a state of warring nations, it is imperative that these talks prove successful, even if it involves everyone swallowing their pride.

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