Saturday, January 25, 2014
The Most Important Story No One Is Paying Attention To
Last week it was the fact that West Virginia's capital was polluted beyond description by the unironically named Freedom Enterprises.
This week, we have the events in Ukraine.
Ukraine sits between Russia and the Eastern European countries of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Poland and Hungary have done a pretty good job at integrating with the EU (Slovakia is a work in progress). When the Wall came down in '89, the countries of the former Warsaw Pact turned their orientation from Moscow towards Brussels and the EU, even NATO.
Russia was faced with the same question, and under Yeltsin seemed to want an orientation with the West. But Putin has rejected this and re-oriented Russia towards Eurasia.
Ukraine is basically the fault line between the Euro-centric and the Russo-philic. The western part of the country wants to integrate with Europe, the eastern part and the leadership are cowed and co-opted by the Russian Bear.
Ukraine sits in the balance. If it tilts westward, it is a rebuke to Putin. If it tilts eastward, it likely becomes more authoritarian, along the lines of its northern neighbor Belarus.
Luckily, they have the cover of the Sochi games to keep Putin somewhat under control. But if they haven't solved their problems before the Closing Ceremonies, I fear Russia will not sit on the sidelines indefinitely, as it loses another satellite state to the idea of democracy.