Ukraine May Awaken 'Ghosts of the Great War' (Sol,
"With a nationalist pride exacerbated by the Winter
Olympics, which Putin bet on as a demonstration of his power as new 'czar,' the
sudden collapse of Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Moscow regime left Russia looking
like a wounded bear. ... As if that weren't enough humiliation for Russia, then
came the cowardly and embarrassing flight of its allied dictator ... Putin sees
the Ukrainian uprising as a direct threat to himself and his regime."
the Coliseu, at the close of the PSD
Congress, party leader Passos Coelho said: the
“country is better off,” even if the Portuguese people don't yet feel it. That's
the only consolation we have when compared to the Ukrainians, who are headed to
an unknown destination after days of bloody revolutionary upheaval. These are
very dramatic times for the people of Ukraine and for the future of the Europe to
which we belong - and that pro-European Ukrainians would like to belong.
convenient as it is for us to think Ukraine is too far away to merit our
attention, despite the fact that our paths often cross with immigrants from the
other side of the continent, what's at stake there does have something to do
with us, with peace and stability in Europe, and with a threat of confrontation
between Russia and the West.
the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet bloc, the
crisis in Ukraine is perhaps the worst in 25 years - from which unsettling
ghosts are being projected like those that led to the first Great War exactly a
history doesn't repeat itself - and the context of events in Ukraine are
clearly different than they were 100 years ago, we might avoid the magnetism of
the abyss, in which these ghosts could manifest themselves with almost suicidal
misstep - and no one will be able to prevent this from happening in a “perfect
storm” scenario - will tend to precipitate a conflict between Russia and the
West of unpredictable proportions.
a nationalist pride exacerbated by the Winter Olympics, which Putin bet on as a
demonstration of his power as new "czar," the sudden collapse of Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Moscow
regime left Russia looking like a wounded bear.
if that weren't enough humiliation for Russia, then came the cowardly and
embarrassing flight of its allied dictator and revelations of a grotesque, rotten
oligarchy that in just three years sacked Ukraine's coffers, which were already
drained from the previous reign of Mrs. Timochenko's competing
self-serving oligarchy - with luxurious spending on horribly kitsch palaces - as
anyone can see on TV.
Putin is well-acquainted with the universe of corrupt oligarchs, as he - Russian
boss and godfather - is one himself. However, he doesn't support the caricature
when it reflects on him and undermines his credibility and influence. So he
sees the Ukrainian uprising as a direct threat to himself and his regime.
course, Ukraine is not the Georgia of a few years ago, or the Czechoslovakia of
the Brezhnev era, which should lessen the risk of an invasion and occupation by
Russia. Trouble may arise, however, due to the fact that as a result of the
Stalinist inheritance, Ukraine is a country “scientifically” divided between
the majority Russian Crimea to the east and the markedly European west.
all the extremes rub together in the complex Ukrainian chess match. Anti-Russian
nationalist extremists touch their pro-Russian enemy brothers, whose visceral
rage is fed by a common nostalgia for fascism (even with the colors
Bolshevism, which consists of ideologues like those in the Putin regime).
between the two activist extremes are populations that either aspire to
integration into Europe or feel closer to Russia. As reflected by the irrational
decision of the post-Yanukovych authorities to abolish
a law that allows Ukraine's regions to authorize Russian as an official second language,
the tendency is for a gradual distancing or even separation of the two "national"
the central aspiration to democracy, freedom and the rule of law that animated
the uprising in Maidan Square seems captive to the
internal radicalisms and external conflicts that threaten Ukraine.
of all, things may have gone too far to return to a balance between the preservation
of national unity and a federal solution of the kind that would maintain
peaceful coexistence among regional, ethnic and linguistic diversities.
is far, far away, but the drama playing out there has become part of our daily lives
and now conditions our future at the other extreme of Europe.