Sunday, August 31, 2014


Seventy five years ago, on September 1, 1939, World War II began with the invasion of Poland. Seventeen days later, the Soviets invaded from the east. Appeasement had not worked to contain Hitler in his quest to dominate Europe. It only encouraged him to become bolder in his land grabs. And in the abuse and murder of people in the occupied lands.

Once again, there have been years of appeasement, which seem to be emboldening another leader. Thirteen years ago was the second Chechyn war was underway ( The, in 2008, Russia tried to take over Georgia and succeeded in controlling a part of the country ( Similarly there has been a separatist part in Moldova which has been supported by Russia. And then, annexation of Crimea. And now, a war in Ukraine.

Like the expansions of Germany in the 1930s, where Hitler argued that he needed to protect ethnic Germans in the annexed parts of neighboring countries, Putin argues that these expansions have been to protect Russian speaking populations in those countries. All of the countries which were part of the former Soviet Union have significant Russian speaking populations. And similar to the Anschluss, when Austria was annexed to Germany, Putin has said that Ukraine is not a separate nation ( Putin has also said that the fall of the Soviet Union was one of the major tragedies of the twentieth century. 

It appears that the former KGB agent wishes to restore the Soviet Union. And, so far, the world has allowed him to work toward this aim, imposing only economic sanctions for the support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine. Nevertheless, until recently, Russia denied that it was supporting the separatists. Until it became apparent that Ukraine was regaining territory that had been controlled by the separatists.

Then, nearly seventy five years to the day after the start of WWII, while many in the US were enjoying the start of their Labor Day weekend (which was placed in September to separate it from the May Day celebrations of labor in much of the rest of the world, including, especially communist countries), Russia invaded Ukraine. This was south of where most of separatist activity has been. Yet, he calls these troops "volunteers." "Volunteers" with tanks--two columns of tanks. 15,000 Russian troops are now reported to be in Ukraine (

The Russians have routed Ukrainian forces in several areas and have begun arresting Ukrainians in areas they took over and deporting them to unknown locations (,114881,16542864,Jaceniuk__Putin_rozpoczal_wojne_w_Europie__chcemy.html?entry=1231554#MT). In addition, they fired on Ukrainians leaving an area in which they were previously encircled via a "safe" corridor.

And, to discourage other nations from supporting Ukraine, Putin reminded the world over the weekend that Russia is a "nuclear superpower." ( He has also begun referring to the area in eastern and southern Ukraine as "Novorossiya," a term which was used in the time of Catherine the Great.

Similarly, as Kazakhstan has expressed more nationalistic sentiments, especially regarding the space launch facility which Russia rents from them, Putin has warned them that they may be next in his efforts to reconstitute the Soviet Union ( But, these countries are not falling into line as Putin might have expected ( Rather they are starting to form alliances against Russia. 

While the West is not obliged to come to the defense of any of these countries, the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as most of the countries of what once was communist controlled Eastern Europe, are members of NATO. NATO has been shoring up its support of its easternmost members since it realized that it was in a poor position to defend them should they be attacked from the east ( Here, too, appeasement was in play in 2009, when the US backed down on a missile shield defence for Poland.

In addition, the restrictions on food imports, imposed by Russia in reaction to economic sanctions imposed by the West for the Russian support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, are punishing average Russians with increasing food prices ( These could drive Russians to lose support for their government, especially its territorial claims, or could increase solidarity against the world, as shortages did for the Russians under previous rulers.

So, now, we have a Russia, emboldened by appeasement which is threatening NATO members with nuclear attack should they dare oppose Putin's plan for reconstituting the Soviet Union. And, already, it is apparent that Russia will continue on its expansionist path, regardless of the desire for peace by the leaders of the West ( 

So now, we are faced with the decision, as put succinctly by Ben Judah, to Arm Ukraine or Surrender ( The world must decide whether Russia will become the dominant power on the Eurasian landmass or the West will draw a "line in the sand" or, in this case, the fields of Ukraine. Neither path will be easy for the world. 

1 comment:

  1. Another article about the threat of nuclear war hanging over the war in Ukraine: