Current Events & Trends: Ukraine: Feeble U.S. Stand Allows Russian Imperialism

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Ukraine: Feeble U.S. Stand Allows Russian Imperialism

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One only needs to witness the events unfolding in Ukraine where Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula following the popular ouster by the Ukrainian people of Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych, seen by most as a puppet of Russia.

In the autumn of 2013, Ukraine was about to conclude a trade pact and other arrangements with the European Union that would draw Ukraine closer to the West. But Russian President Vladimir Putin offered cheaper natural gas (Russia supplies 70 percent of Ukraine's natural gas) and other incentives to keep Ukraine and its 46 million people tied to Russia.

Despite widespread opposition, Yanukovich took the Russian deal, spurning the desires of many Ukrainians for closer ties with Europe. A popular uprising forced him from office in February. Russia reacted quickly, moving troops into the Crimean Peninsula with its largely Russian-speaking population. In a March 16 referendum to decide if Crimea's citizens wanted to become part of Russia or remain part of Ukraine, a huge majority—almost 97 percent—voted to break away from Ukraine and merge with Russia.

Within hours, Russia recognized Crimea's "independence." In response, the United States and Europe threatened economic sanctions, which did not seem to faze Putin. Commenting on the situation, The Wall Street Journal referred to the tepid U.S. response: "Though he didn't intend it, the U.S. Secretary of State was summing up the difference between the current leaders of the West who inhabit a fantasy world of international rules and the hard men of the Kremlin who understand the language of power" ("Welcome to the 19th Century: Putin and the New Bonapartes See a Weak and Retreating West," March 17, 2014).

In addition to annexing Crimea, thousands of Russian troops were stationed at the Ukrainian border with Russia, adding to the tension of the situation.

Other Eastern European nations are also worried, but none more than Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, known as the Baltic States. Long a part of the Russian Empire, they broke away from the Soviet Union as it dissolved in 1990. These nations have been watching Russian moves with increasing worry. Estonia, in particular, has a large Russian-speaking population. Russia has signaled "concern" over supposed mistreatment of that Russian-speaking segment, as it did earlier with the ethnic Russian population of Crimea.

One is reminded of 1938, when Adolf Hitler annexed the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, with its large German-speaking population. As Putin has done with Crimea, Hitler defended his actions by claiming that German-speaking Czechs were being mistreated.

Again, these events show the diminished power and prestige of the United States. But they also seem likely to spur Europe on to protect itself militarily rather than rely on the United States. Bible prophecy has much to say about both of these things (read the free Bible study aids The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy and The Final Superpower to learn more). (Source: The Wall Street Journal.)