The crisis in Ukraine presents a great danger both to Ukraine and to the rest of the world:
- Ukraine is teetering on the brink of civil war.
- Russia has troops on the eastern border of Ukraine.
- NATO has bolstered its forces near the Russian border in eastern Europe and the US has deployed fighter jets and naval destroyers to central European countries.
M A K I N G W A R
WHAT STARTED THE CONFLICT?
According to most western leaders and media, the crisis in Ukraine was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea. From this perspective, Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for the continuing crisis.
It is not quite that simple. Largely unmentioned in the west are three fairly recent events that helped bring about the crisis.
1. NATO:After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO began to court former Soviet republics to join the western military alliance. In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were admitted to NATO. NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.
From Putin’s perspective, NATO wants to encircle Russia.
2. EUROPEAN UNION ULTIMATUM: In November 2013, the EU issued an ultimatum to then president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych: You can trade with us or you can trade with Russia, but you can’t trade with both. Because of its history, Ukraine looks to both Europe and Russia. It is a divided country.
From Putin’s perspective, Ukraine is welcome to trade with
both the EU and Russia.
3. FALL OF THE YANUKOVYCH REGIME: Yanukovych opted for a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia, rather than an EU association agreement and austerity measures, to address his country’s economic problems. Though he was democratically elected, this choice, along with high levels of corruption, led to mass protests in Kiev.
In February 2014, under pressure from the EU and US, the Ukrainian parliament voted to oust Yanukovych. The tactics used by the west here offer a preview of the methods Russia would use in Crimea a few months later.
There are few, if any, totally good guys or bad guys in the Ukraine situation, just many varying shades of grey.
Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada has been beating the drums of war.
According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russia is “aggressive, militaristic, and imperialistic.” It is the sole cause of the problem.
- Canadian government officials have also demonized Putin, with both Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird going so far as to compare him to Hitler.
- Canada has contributed 6 CF-18 fighter jets, a war ship, and 300 troops to NATO forces in eastern Europe. Parliament was not consulted about these contributions to NATO which were made without a parliamentary vote or debate.
M A K I N G P E A C E
5 SIMPLE STEPS TO MAKE CANADA A PEACE LEADER, from Ceasefire.ca
- Stop overspending on preparing for war. Instead of overspending on the Department of National Defence, use the savings to improve social programs and the environment.
- End the war economy. Shift military production to a sustainable and innovative economy that makes the things people need and provides good jobs.
- Support UN peacekeeping. Contribute more personnel and resources to end wars worldwide.
- Promote efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Join other countries to support a global ban on the “the bomb.”
- Help to prevent future conflicts. Support disarmament treaties, human rights, and efforts to curb the arms trade.
“We urge all parties involved in events in Ukraine to take a step away from violence and seek peaceful political resolution of differences. We call on the countries of NATO (including Canada) and the EU to reduce their stance of hostility to Russia. The continuation of the Cold War, with Russia substituted for the Soviet Union, is a dangerous policy which limits, rather than enhancing, global development.” ‒ National Executive Committee of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians