Posted March 15, 2014, 1:41 p.m.
I have watched with interest as the Russian military, under orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin (United Russia), has invaded and occupied the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. This is reminiscent of when Putin’s forces entered South Ossetia in Georgia back in 2008. Around that time, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), then the Republican candidate for President, said that he considered Putin to be our greatest geopolitical foe. President Barack Obama (D) and a pliant media ridiculed him mercilessly for this . . . but who’s laughing now?
Anyway, back then it was not crystal clear who the ‘bad guy’ was in the South Ossetian war. Many South Ossetians have been clamoring for political autonomy for decades, which has been denied them by the Georgian government despite repeated independence referendums. There has been a long string of flare-ups in the region, which culminated when Georgian forces invaded South Ossetia in an attempt to reclaim political control. After an incredibly fast build-up of Russian forces, they too entered South Ossetia and effectively went to war with Georgia—including bombing Georgian targets elsewhere in the country.
The European Union brokered a cease fire between Russia and Georgia in a matter of weeks, and Russian forces had mostly withdrawn from the region by the early days of 2009. During the war, South Ossetian authorities and militias engaged in ethnic cleansing against their ethnic Georgian neighbors, expelling over 190,000, although all but 30,000 have since been allowed to return.
This time, in the Ukraine, violence began as simple civil unrest between Ukrainians who desire closer ties with the European Union, and those who desire instead closer ties with Russia. (Of course I am oversimplifying things for the sake of keeping this article at a readable length.) These protests continued to flare-up, becoming violent at times, with pro-European groups demanding the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (Party of Regions)—who fell solidly on the pro-Russian side. Read More…