Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 

Ghosts of the Cold War

I just wrote an extremely long post about the revival of Cold War tensions and their potential to spill over into other conflicts, only to find in research an already published article about everything I had so carefully outlined. Except, the other article was more thorough. Damn it.

Here then, is an article I came across about the overlooked importance of the election fiasco in Ukraine. While I have some misgivings about some of the other content espoused by the site this is hosted at, the article itself seems spot on.

What the article doesn't really go into is the possibility of a Yuschenko victory significantly impacting international relations. Russia is currently gripped by a sort of xenophobia which fears NATO encroachment and still views the West as an evil menace that must be countered (some even think the US funds Chechen terrorists). The loss of Ukraine to Western influence, and therefore to NATO and the EU, would leave Russia all by itself. A Yuschenko win would probably fuel the ever-increasing alliance of Russia and China, and create something akin to a Cold War Redux. Cool, huh?

Not only that, but Ukraine is a geological dreamland in terms of oil and gas, and we all know those little buddies are getting scarce. Consequently, the Black and Caspian Sea regions are becoming the focus of Eastern and Western rivalries.

From SFGate.com:

"'Russia cannot really afford to suffer a defeat over Ukraine,' Liliya Shevtsova, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Wednesday. 'Russia cannot be a power without Ukraine. It is historically conditioned, but it is also plain fact.'"
If Yushchenko became Ukraine's president, though, the country could decide to join NATO and end its substantial military cooperation with Russia. Such a move, some analysts believe, could cost Russia as much as $10 billion a year in contracts and other revenue."
In contrast, a Yanukovych presidency would guarantee Russian companies access to vital energy pipelines—Ukraine exports 90 percent of Russian gas to Europe—and crucially, Russia's own Black Sea fleet, currently headquartered on leased property in the Ukranian port of Sevastopol."
...And energy is what it's all about now. If you're not familiar with the concept of peak oil, it would be a good idea to start researching now; It's going to be one of the defining features of conflicts to come. Both sides want--and need--to control the region, and that's why the Ukraine situation is beginning to resemble one of those old proxy battles the US and Russia used to engage in. Let's all hope we can let sleeping ghosts lie.


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