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Crimea: Another cold war in the offing?

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Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision last November to pull out of an association trade deal with the European Union and his choice to seek closer co-operation with Russia was not only viewed with suspicion but irked America and the entire west. The decision was the last straws that broke the Camel’s back leading to the Western- induced street protests which consumed Yanukovych’s government. Other sins of the former president were the 2010 presidential election crisis in Ukraine and the eventual incarceration of the pro-west rival Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, in 2011. This, according to observers, has set the stage for another cold war between the West ably represented by America, and Russia, both trying to assert their influence and superiority in the decision making process of the world.  Ukraine got her independence from USSR in 1991 on a 90% nationwide referendum. However, Russia which formed her Soviet Federative Socialist Republic together with the Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Transcaucasion Soviet Socialist Republics on 30 December 1922 has not hidden her grouse on the role played by America and the West in the disintegration of the former Russian federation.  Since the fall of Russia in 1990, Kremlin has been silently leaking its wounds and has been waiting for an opportunity for a major backlash or challenge against America and the west. Whenever occasion calls for such manifestation, Russia’s stand is predictably anti-West. For instance, Russia has more often than not encouraged and romanced nations with policies averse to liberal tendencies of the West and has vetoed many UN resolutions that run contrary to her interests or that of nations bearing the mark of her interests.  The Ukrainian crisis has only provided a veritable platform to ventilate and exhibit these anti-western and liberal ideals. Behind the drama in Ukraine was an attempt to re-enact political, economic or rather military superiority of two world powers whose communist and liberal ideologies and roles had determined the fate of peoples in the former Russia federation.  Asserting her superior military might in the aftermath of an obvious economic victory by EU, America and by extension the west, the joy was short-lived as Russia clung to Crimea in defiance of international rules and procedures. She called the bluff of the international community and intentionally annexed Crimea. On March 6, 2014, the Crimean Parliament voted to “enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation” and announced that a referendum on the topic would be held on  March 16.  The referendum asked the people of these regions whether they wanted to join Russia as a federal subject, or if they wanted to restore the 1992 Crimean constitution and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine. Election officials in Crimea announced 97% of voters had voted in favor of joining the Republic of Russia.  Crimea and Sevastopol formally declared independence as the Republic of Crimea on  March 17, 2014, with both entities requesting they be admitted as constituents of the Russian Federation. Russia recognised its independence on the same day. On March 18, 2014, Russia and Crimea signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the Russian Federation.  As one reads and listens to the argument of referendum used as a tool for determining the wishes of the Crimeans, Kremlin has consistently maintained that the region of Crimea and its people are mostly Russian descendants who as a matter of fact should reintegrate with their ancestral lineage. One wonders why that same argument vanished into thin air when the people of Bakassi who are mainly the Efut, Efik, Ibibio and Annang people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom States of Nigeria were ceded to the Cameroon in the ICJ judgment of October 10 2002. Bakassi and Crimea has one thing in common. Both are peninsulas with vital mineral resources that make them conflict regions for countries laying claims to them.  Russia’s military might is a known foreign policy tool which Kremlin brandishes and boldly exhibit in international politics. It was evidently applied to her advantage in annexing Crimea and it is sufficient enough to send a warning signal to the west that war is imminent. In the case of Bakassi, Nigeria lacks such a military war chest. In line with that, government did not, however, openly reject the judgment but instead called for an agreement that would provide “peace with honour, with the interest and welfare of our people.”  If Crimea were Bakassi, the move for reconciliation from biased members of the international community which shouts when their backs are on the floor and look the other way whenever their interests are unscathed would have made no sense. However, the world is no longer ready for a reenactment of another 21st century cold war.

 

Eze writes from Samaru, Zaria via sunnyeze02@yahoo.com 

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