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Russia's Ukraine Policy Part of Broader Shift

Russia's Ukraine Policy Part of Broader Shifti
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April 25, 2014 2:38 PM
Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has surprised many experts, but some say it should have been expected based partly on its interaction with Armenia last fall
Al Pessin
It was all smiles for the cameras when Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September and expressed his intention to join the Russian-led Customs Union.
In doing so, Sargsyan abandoned more than two years of negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union.

While Russian pressure seemingly worked in that situation, it backfired two months later when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych did the same thing, sparking months of protests, a violent crackdown and his ouster by the parliament, where members of his own party voted against him.

With Ukraine, Putin was faced with a choice -- accept the changes and potentially lose his special relationship with more former Soviet states, or take action and sacrifice his relationship with the West.

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has surprised many experts, but some say it should have been expected based partly on its interaction with Armenia last fall.

“Russian policy has significantly shifted, where limits and restraint no longer apply.  And more importantly, Russia is now firm and committed to pushing back and pushing out EU engagement in the so-called ‘near abroad’,” said Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center in Armenia.
The shift surprised European leaders, but it shouldn’t have, particularly regarding Ukraine, said Nina Schick of London’s Open Europe research center.

“Some would say that it was a mistake that [European leaders] made that they didn’t take the Russian position more into account.  The reality is that the Russian sphere of influence in Ukraine is far greater than perhaps they’d like to admit,” Schick said.

But Giragosian disagrees, saying it was reasonable, 25 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, to expect Russia to accept a turn to the West by its former satellites.  He says Russia’s current policy runs counter to its own interests.
“It’s a shortsighted and short-term pursuit of raw power.  In effect, they are recreating a new Iron Curtain through the former Soviet space,” Giragosian said.

Or trying to.

Giragosian said former Soviet states will resist such moves and the West will impose significant economic costs if Russia continues to use force to try to impose its will on Ukraine or other neighbors.

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Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
April 26, 2014 8:56 PM
The Armenian expert, and many other experts, are correct in indicating that the EU leaders were caught unaware of RUSSIA.. they really have no excuse, but their ineptness in my view, clouded their senses. It was because of their shear blindness, and outright ignorance of Russian history, they are all in trouble. At least they should know/had known that Russia is the biggest country in the world; having started around Moscow controlling a few hundred square miles of terrirtory, and then progressing to its current size; which was achieved through masive military expansionist actions, over centuries, mailnly the last 4+ centuries.
Over its expansionist periods, the Russian population was willing to pay a massive cost for their gains, thus on this issue the Armenian expert's prediction is not restrictive on Russian behaiviour, on the contrary, sacrifice for Mother Russia, is a common ideology and borders in fanaticism.
None of what has occured is a surprise. The new Czar has placed Russia back on its normal historical expansionist path/track, from which it was derailed by the Regan administration.
The EU demilitarized, completely reduced its forces and capabilities, this faulty situation came about after the Regan administration's success in overcoming the Soviet Union, with its massive force build up. Concurrently, the EU leadership took a free security ride on the back of US taxpayers, and used the peace dividend to rebuild its industry; this was especially the case for Germany. On the back of US taxpayers, Germany was able to completely run down its security forces, and re-invest the savings into becoming one of the largest modern industrial exporters in the world.
The faulty situation was a leadership failure for the US, well before the Obama Administration came into power, in that successive administrations did not demand from its NATO allies to carry on the fair share of the security load.
Given the size of the EU's population, and the size of its collective GDP, the EU should have security forces almost at par to the US. The US continued carrying the security load, without being able to modernize/re-industralize and re-engineer its economy; it left the US in its current situation of having a struggling economy, with never ending defence cuts; with EU allies not carrying their fair load, some of them not capable nor even willing to close ranks during crisis situations, as they face now, in a rapidly deteriorating global security environment.
The way ahead is clear = the need exists to restore a credible deterrence level, by each US ally; and each ally must not be allowed to continue to expect the US to carry them on its back. To acheive this objective, a strong US Administration will be a critical requirement, not just demagogery, but directive leadership; something that we have not seen in a US administration for quite some time 25+ yrs. If it is not achieved, the West will face greater global instability, involving more authoritharian regimes, pushing beyond the expected risk envelopes, causing/resulting in WARS. Ineptness/ blindness will not raise the deterrent value of the West, to avoid wars..

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