Western Imperialism was a term of abuse bandied about by the former Soviet Union. It has been inherited by the Russian Federation, led by ex-KGB operative Vladimir Putin. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that over 10,000 Russian soldiers are stationed permanently in the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhasia following the brief Russo-Georgian war of 2008. Mr Putin has now followed this up by taking over the Ukrainian province of Crimea after the overthrow of his mate, former president Viktor Yanukovych.
Crimea was ceded to Ukraine by Sergei Kruschev in 1959 and had been considered to be an integral part of that country ever since. The recent turmoil in Ukraine over whether it should remain firmly in the Russian orbit or move closer to Western Europe has resulted in a split between the Russian speakers and the rest. Russia has important military bases in Crimea and has allowed the troops posted in them to take over the whole peninsula. Local Russian leaning politicians there have declared their allegiance to Russia and are about to hold a referendum on the topic.
The Soviets forcibly removed the indigenous Crimean Tatars several decades ago. They have slowly trickled back and now face further uncertainty.
Imperialism, anyone? Pots and kettles come to mind. This affair has legs and will run on for a while yet.
Friday, March 7th 2014
This week’s piece: Homophobia and Gay marriage