Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Spoiler alert--this involves politics and economics. My opinions, so watch out!
UKRAINE AND THE EU
The EU has offered partnership to the Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and we should examine why they would do something that stupid elsewhere, but let's just talk about Ukraine. Because that is where they are killing people.
One of the driving forces, and probably the main one, is old and typically ignored by the US and some of the other "nation builders" and world powers. Ethnicity. The eastern part of Ukraine is ethnically Russian and Russian is the first language of those citizens. These "historical minorities" exist all over Europe, and seem to create problems in a lot of places, like Greece, Slovakia and Romania where historical minorities are routinely abused by the majorities.
The rest of Ukraine, the majority, had Russian stuffed down their throats by the Soviets and have long-standing, serious resentments.
When protests forced the resignation of Ukranian president Yanukovic, the first move by the new powers was to revoke the law that gave historical minorities (the Russians in this case) some official rights to their language. This revocation came one day after Yanukovic's resignation.
So why is the EU involved? A couple of things--first, the EU has stood by without interference as historical minorities have rights removed. For example, use of the Hungarian language by minorities in Slovakia and Moldova MAY result in fines of €5,000, or about one year's salary. The EU says such laws are "within the EU rules." Do we now see why the Russian minority in Ukraine is worried? And then there is natural gas.
About 20% of EU natural gas is piped through Ukraine from Russia. Some EU countries are more affected than others, but long-term conflict could interrupt that flow and throw the fragile EU economy into a very, very bad tailspin. These are the things that create world-wide recessions.
From what I have read, the only solution would involve backing off from the barricades. And the only way that may happen is for the EU to withdraw its offer of partnership to Ukraine. That would allow, perhaps, the Russian minority to see a way out. Let's hope cooler heads prevail. Don't expect the US administration to understand much about this, so I don't know where the solution will come from.