Still Russia, Everywhere

Anca Elena Ursu comments on the inefficiency of the international law with regard to the Crimean annexation

The Crimean annexation was a regional affair involving two protagonists- namely the owner, Ukraine, and the contender, Russia. Given the introduction of a small variable which disintegrated the fragile equilibrium in the zone, Russia took over the role of the owner. In this scenario, President Yanukovych featured as a neo-Soviet puppet, whose parliament got out of hand. The European Union remains a rival too weak for the Russian Federation to concern itself with. The link between Ukraine and mother-Russia allowed no scope for external infiltration.Ukraine’s role remains strategically important for both sides. an indisputable red line which acts to define the sphere of control of the ex-Soviet Union and the European Union. The association agreement eventually signed on March 21, the same day when the Crimean annexation took place, asked for a type of compliance with incumbent goals that Ukraine is still far from fulfilling.

It is now too late for an Association Agreement to become effective in the short-run. When coping with the stubbornness of Vladimir Putin, one has to consider that he is neither a businessman nor a career politician, but a senior intelligence bureaucrat. Russian leadership knows is aware of the weakness of democratic mechanisms of the West; freezing bank accounts and sanctions could only cause amusement to the Russian mindset.  The interests of this giant geopolitical entity remain unaltered and can be measured through interference within Eastern European national economies, especially in the energy sector. Let us contextualise this. Sberbank, the biggest Russian bank granted a 1.2 billion dollars credit to Slovenske Elektrarne, an electric utility company in Bratislava, then invested 820 million dollars in the purchase of Mercator, a Slovenian food retail chain by the Croatian Agrokor and additionally, financed the construction of a nuclear plan in Hungary and a South Stream pipeline in Bulgaria. The wretched destiny of these small countries is that foreign investment gives a final boost to their developing economies which leaves them vulnerable to the entrepreneurial interests of the Russian élites.

The tension saw an increase after the annexation of Crimea, escalating in the eastern parts of the country. The only leeway for Western powers is to strengthen Ukraine and to encourage civil resistance to federalization. NATO could provide military forces to checkmate the Russian army, which is consistent in numbers, but is deployed in the defense of a large territorial area. Democratization of institutions in Ukraine and military back-up represents the viable solution to save this nation from political disintegration. None of the sanctions proposed so far by international organizations and actors proved efficient in attaining this goal. More dramatically, institutions lost credibility and once again revealed how the democratic apparatus is incapable of coping with crisis and short-term solutions. The European Union and the United Nations remain trapped into a bureaucratic web consisting of resolutions and strategies which serve to boost Russia’s ego. In other words, divide et impera is not an exclusive feature of previous imperialist nations. It applies to the global scene of twenty-first century politics too.


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