COMMENTS BY DR. BILL HESSELL ON BACKSTORY TO THE
CURRENT STORY ON RUSSIA'S INCURSION INTO THE CRIMEA
There is, indeed, a lengthy and significant backstory to the current crisis over the Russian incursion into the Crimea, which this article very clearly lays out. The self-proclaimed peace-loving diplomats of the world certainly deserve no credit for avoiding, and much credit for gradually instigating, the current developments. The Cold War has resumed openly and with dangerous potential, the reset of relations between the US and Russia, a valuable undertaking when initiated, is dead, and Russia's openness to cooperation in the so-called "war on terror" since 9/11, and in other tension areas, is a thing of the past.
Let's acknowledge right off that Putin is not to be trusted, rules like a thug, like the ex-KGB plotter that he is, and that his takeover of the Crimean peninsula is wrong and deserving of condemnation. But let's also acknowledge that NATO, the Western bloc, and the US in particular, has been wrong in expanding their military capabilities eastward, as this article explains, [POSTED BELOW] so they threaten again encircling Russia, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, similar to how our containment policy surrounded the Soviet Union with military outposts and alliances during the 40 years of Cold War hostility last century.
Ending the Cold War led to no real "peace dividend". Neocons in the US immediately began plans for a century of US world-wide dominance, the sole superpower was to reign. NATO acted as if a threat from the east still existed in full, expanding to the east to include 3 former Soviet bloc nations in 1999, and in 2004, added 3 nations that had previously been a part of the Soviet Union and 3 more ex-Soviet bloc countries. Attempts to include Georgia, Moldavia, and the Ukraine in NATO have been, and still are, under consideration. To expect, Russia, a nation with some historical paranoid tendencies (which have too often been verified by foreign attacks) to not be threatened, and to react strongly, is naïve. In the case of the Ukraine, and especially Crimea, to anticipate anything less than a major reaction is worse than naïve, it is ignorant.
Russia's only year-round naval access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is their naval base in Crimea, which has been in their possession for over 200 years. Crimea itself had been a part of Russia until Khrushchev ceded it to the Ukraine when it was firmly a part of the Soviet Union. No way any responsible leader, even a respectable one, would let a major naval base be lost, or a ring of rival nations surround them with missiles and troops geared for action. An outbreak of open warfare would be unthinkable, but with some in the US and allied nations beating the drumbeats for possible military action, cooler heads have to prevail.
Many European leaders, who know the reality of war all too painfully, are talking more sensibly and hopefully will prevail. There are interests which can be negotiated, if both sides back away from the brink of disaster, recognize legitimate concerns on both sides, and perhaps allow some buffer areas to exist between historical and potential opponent nations, rather than letting polarization and endless battle rule not only the day, but forthcoming decades.