Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who is resisting Russia's demand for a nearly five-fold increase in gas prices in 2006, has hinted Ukraine could hit back by reconsidering the terms of leasing the Sevastopol base in the Crimean peninsula.One wonders what the Kremlin means by all this. Does it mean that Russia will make a play for the Crimea? Are they going to invade? When we were there, close down by where the Russian fleet lies at acnhor we came upon a new monument celebrating the "Russian city" Sevastopol's 300th anniversary. And the Russian flag flies not only over the fleet but also over the train station there. (When we asked someone on the train we were with, who said he was Ukrainian through and through even though he lived in the Crimea and spoke Russian predominantly, why the flag flew over the train station, he was perplexed by it. I don't think he had taken note of it before.)
"The agreement on the Black Sea fleet base is one part of a bilateral treaty, the second part of which contains recognition of mutual borders," Sergei Ivanov said in televised comments. "Trying to revise the treaty would be fatal."
The 1997 pact gave new legal status to the historical home base of the Black Sea fleet, which Russia inherited from the Soviet Union, and ruled out Moscow's territorial claims to Ukraine.
Maybe they could take the Crimea back. Maybe the people in Crimea would welcome them back. (The Tartars might not feel all that comfortable doing it, one would think.) I guess that would solve the Tuzla problem once and for all.
But this is just irresponsible on the part of the Kremlin, if they want to take their place in the world. I guess though they want their place to be on their own terms. And those terms sound an awful lot like empire.
Tymoshenko pointed at the Russians as the culprits every time something went wrong. She was wrong on all counts and is one other reason why she is unfit to govern. Ukraine needs good relations with Russia and Russia shouldn't be blamed for everything to stir up the people.
But Russia does deserve blame here. One commenter here says that Russia shouldn't subsidize a country that kicks them at every turn. This is a breathtaking charge. For one thing, it suggests that Russia is not as big a power as it asserts itself to be that it cannot ignore a country that is smaller than it is, poorer than it is, with not much in terms of any military that could challenge it.
But the problem really is that it's got the morality skewed badly. A guy has someone pinned down, beating him, gets a face full of spit for his troubles. "Can I really give a guy like that a break who would spit in my face?" His friends shake their heads. You can hear this talk from inmates quite a bit. "Well, if he hadn't gotten in my way, he'd be alive today." Or, "It was the way he looked at me. If he hadn't looked at me like that he'd be alive today." Or, better, from the rapist: "She had it coming to her." They have their points don't they? In an amoral world, yes.
I can't see that Russia comes out of this better off. Maybe Europe will bury its head in the sand and ignore it as long as the gas keeps coming. But that can't be true for all of Europe. For the newer states, this just confirms what they feel already about Russia. And maybe they would be as bothersome as a couple of ticks on a steers hide for all they could do in Europe. And thsi would not be the case for all Europeans. Some are advocating moving away from Russian dependence right now. Would that be good for Russia?