by Jacob Cason
Most of us hear the phrase “Cold War” and think of the various proxy wars the U.S. and the Soviet Union fought during the late twentieth century. However, years later, we see this isn’t the case. Unknown to the majority of the American public, Russia’s President Vladmir Putin has been trying to re-extend Russia’s sphere of influence for a Eurasian Alliance.
This became all too real last month when The Wall Street Journal reported Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych walked away from a previous promise to begin the process of integrating into the European Union. This integration would have been a major victory for the EU and the United States; allowing the US and the EU to penetrate the Eastern Partnership of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. These countries closest to Russia and previous parts of the Soviet Union have formed the battle line between the United States and the EU against the now “reformed” Russia.
Much of Russia’s current action is reminiscent of the Soviet Union. The New York Times reported that President Yankovych walked away from the EU deal in favor of the immediate $15 billion bailout, as well as a general concern for his life—which is warranted, considering the last Ukrainian official to speak out against thuggish Russian political tactics was poisoned. Yet the Cold War-esque tactics do not stop there. Last week, a Russian state official leaked on Twitter a conversation between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The conversation criticized EU allies and Russia’s blatant attempts to sow discontent between the allies of the West.
The biggest concern for the West, according to The Guardian, is the rise of civil unrest since President Yankovych walked away from the EU deal. During this time, protests have been the main form of warfare between the U.S. and Russia. The protests, which began peacefully, are backed by the U.S. and EU, whereas the government is currently under the influence of Russia. Recently, these protests have turned violent with Ukrainian police beating and, in some cases, killing protesters.
Al Jazeera has reported unconfirmed stories of the protesters being kidnapped and tortured. In response, protestors have taken over the main square in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Protestors have also seized city hall and the Ministry of Justice. Similar to what happened in the Arab Spring Movement, protestors have erected barricades to protect themselves from the police. The government has made several proposals to the protestors, with no response. As the eyes of the world are directed at the Olympic Games, Russia has not been able to take more firm action. I worry that once the games are over, Russia will be free to drag the Ukraine back into line.