The West has been tested by Russia in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and has passed the test to date. While much of the discussion both in Europe and North America has focused on various aspects of the nature of Putin’s policies and the possible future dangers they may pose, not enough attention has been given to the perspectives of the Western alliance as a whole.
The conflict in Ukraine and the massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and beyond have shown that the European Union is only as secure as its neighborhood. As long as the EU is surrounded by so-called “frozen conflicts,” its interests may be compromised.
Super Tuesday essentially sealed the deal. A more united party might have been able to defeat him a few weeks ago, but Donald Trump has gathered a sufficient lead in delegates and accumulated real support from a broad range of GOP voters over the past nine months to all but sew up the nomination to be the Republican Party’s candidate.
Since launching a bombing campaign in Syria in late September, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ended the West’s attempt to isolate Russia and has ensured that Moscow will have to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis.
On February 15, EU foreign ministers agreed to remove the sanctions first imposed in 2004 on Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials and companies, following the temporary lifting of EU and U.S. sanctions last October. This is only a small part of a bigger picture of the winners and losers of the West’s conflict with Russia.
On February 22, Kazakhstan announced the adoption of an “official program” to move the Kazakh language from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet by 2025. This seemingly domestic development is indicative of a broader regional trend: the ties between the members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) are weakening.
Early this February, Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer of the Christian Social Union (CSU), accompanied by a small delegation, traveled to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the group with Seehofer was one of his predecessors as Bavaria’s leader, Edmund Stoiber.
Just over a week ago, the dramatic resignation of Ukraine’s respected economy minister, Aivaras Abramovicius — and his accusation that the country’s leaders continue to tolerate corruption — led many Western analysts and officials to call for non-political technocrats to play an expanded role in Ukraine’s government.
Remember how the noble hero of “Game of Thrones,” Lord Eddard Stark, personally executes a deserter in the first season because “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword”? It looks as if image-makers for Russian President Vladimir Putin have taken a page from Stark’s code of conduct.
The ruble plunged to new lows today, exceeding 80 to the U.S. dollar for the first time ever. The slump in oil prices – now at $28 per barrel compared with over $100 two years ago – has dragged Russia’s currency down with it. Russia’s government depends on oil earnings for about half of its tax revenue, and commodities constitute the vast majority of the nation’s exports.