April 9, 2014 (San Diego) Secretary of State John Kerry called on the Russians to stop the destabilization of the Eastern Ukraine. This was after a speech by Vladimir Putin calling Kiev the Mother City of all Russia. Now this is a problem if you know anything of the ancient history of the region. Kiev is considered by Russians to be the mother of Russian culture and precedes Moscow in year of foundation. It was more than just a nice turn of phrase.
This is why you are now hearing NATO issue threats about escalating the crisis, and why everybody is looking for an offramp. None, I suspect at least in the West, wants a war in the heart of Europe. At this point I am not so sure about Russia though. It does look to me that Putin wants to recreate the Russian Empire. He once said that dissolving the USSR was a historic mistake. He called it a “tragedy.”
Now if you are in the arena, trying to deal with this, you are facing a serious problem. And that is how to stop what increasingly looks like an aggressive stance from a regional power? There is also the fact that NATO is truly not ready to face the Russians if it came down to that. Ten years of war have degraded those capabilities and our pivot to the Pacific looks like an opportunity for Russia to assert it’s place.
Now, I have read bloggers apply the same hammer to this situation that it is applied to all, and that is shock doctrine. I wish it was the case, and it fully applied. Per usual things are far more complex than just the evil west, or the evil Russians, trying to take over a region. There are echoes, long distant historic echoes, at play here. Suffice it to say, it is starting to look increasingly like a new cold war might develop and the US will have to rethink that pivot to the pacific.
Yes, there are some elements of Shock Doctrine, but it is far from the ONLY explanation. Only using that, ignores the shades of gray and historic echoes that in this particular case go all the way to about 500 C.E. It also ignores the very strong nationalist feelings that are developing in both East of the Oder and West of the Oder, and that are mutually exclusive. So we might still see a war in the heart of Europe.