There should be no obfuscation on the left about the situation in Crimea.
As was revealed yesterday evening, the Tory party is once again happy to prostrate itself before a foreign government for money. This time the government is Russia and the ostensible reason for doing so is the protection of the City of London from punitive EU action against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Indeed, for all their condemnation of Ed Miliband for ‘weakness’ over Syria, the Tories appear more than willing to set their principles aside if the price is right. In the case of the Russian annexation of Ukraine it is damage to their beloved City that they are unwilling to countenance.
Not that this should come as a surprise. During its time in office the coalition has consistently put commerce above democracy and human rights. Arabs who took to the streets in Egypt and Bahrain were met with British tear gas; and last summer David Cameron jetted around Kazakhstan aboard the private jet of its dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, an authoritarian ruler with a penchant for torturing members of the opposition.
More worryingly is the fact that, in the case of Russia, the coalition (and the British political establishment in general) do not appear to understand the seriousness of events in Crimea, nor to have grasped the nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. For if they had they would probably be slower to dismiss the idea of meaningful sanctions against the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine – even if the prospect happened to upset a few City spivs.
Considering Russian actions in Syria, not to mention the recent persecution of the LGBT community and political dissidents such as Pussy Riot, the lack of understanding is quite remarkable. As is the fact that any serious person accepts the idea that the incursion of the Russian military into Crimea is some kind of humanitarian mission to rescue ethnic Russians (only one Russian citizen has died in the current crisis, and he was shot by snipers in Kyiv).
The United States has not been ‘stirring up’ revolution in Ukraine, despite what many seem to be suggesting; rather ousted president Yanukovych was impeached by the Ukrainian parliament because his government issued orders to the army to shoot protesters.
It is no secret that Vladimir Putin considers it his historic mission to restore Russia to the glory days of the Soviet Union (something he refers to as a ‘tragedy’ for Russians). This is one of the reasons the ousting of president Yanukovych has so infuriated Moscow: the Kremlin had intended for Ukraine to be the jewel in the crown of its so-called Eurasian Union, a sort of Warsaw Pact-lite set up in opposition to the European Union.
Revolution in Ukraine is not part of an EU/US conspiracy to overthrow a ‘democratically elected government’ (read this Human Rights Watch report if you’re wondering why I’ve written that as a quotation), but rather was born out of a desire to forge closer relations with Europe and loosen oppressive bonds with an expansionist Moscow.
It shouldn’t be a huge surprise to learn that the Tories are willing to put commerce before principles; but there should be no obfuscation on the left about the situation in Crimea. What we are witnessing is naked imperialism on the part of a resurgent and chauvinist Russian government intent on keeping its ‘near abroad’ in check.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.
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