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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Is the Ukraine situation a result of the Syrian conflict?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16538points) August 28th, 2014

It appears that Russia has lost Syria. While Assad is winning for now, and will receive some indirect Western assistance in the form of air strikes against the IS, he will eventually lose. Whoever replaces him will likely be West leaning, and so Russia loses another ally.

Would Russia be so brazen in their operations in Ukraine or so unwilling to give up their influence in the East if they still had Syria in their circle of friends? Is the Ukrainian situation a result of the West’s successful erosion of Russia’s circle of influence?

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14 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Putin seems to want the old soviet union back. I think they are taking over the Ukraine now simply because he thinks they’ll be able to get away with it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Russia kept Syria as a way to keep their fingers in the middle east pie. Sure, they had in interest in the mediterranean port, but mainly they were there in order to exert some level of influence in that region. But it was a secondary, if not tertiary, interest for the Russians,.

Ukraine, on the other hand, was/is a primary interest for Russia – particularly for an old KGB slob like Putin. Ukraine is home turf for him, and in his opinion, worth fighting for.

So is there a direct link, as you ask? I would say no. Perhaps on a low level, the Russian military budget that might have been used in Syria was shifted to the Crimea, but I doubt that amounts to very much.

I think that the Ukraine adventure is more along the line of Putin, like so many Soviet dictators before him, wanting to create mischief wherever he can.

Wait until he sends missiles to Cuba,..... he’ll try that soon.

Kropotkin's avatar

It could be a small part of it.

I wouldn’t call Putin’s actions “brazen”. I think what Russia is doing is a fraction of what a US response would be if the roles were reversed.

I don’t think any side has a moral high-ground, but the media loves to focus on the alleged and apparent crimes of Russia and Putin and largely ignore those of the US and West (and Israel). The moralistic posturing of Kerry and Obama in relation to Putin is almost surreal—It’s like one murderous psychopath telling another not to be naughty.

Just to put myself into the Machiavellian shoes of an amoral geopolitical strategist on the Russian side—I would actually invade Eastern Ukraine. I think it would force the Ukraine to capitulate and negotiate a federalisation of Donetsk and other Russian majority regions almost immediately, and the the US and EU would be able to do nothing about it.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Kropotkin I don’t think any side has a moral high-ground, but the media loves to focus on the alleged and apparent crimes of Russia and Putin and largely ignore those of the US and West (and Israel).
I think that is it in a nutshell, we can all go home now. Russian is not doing anything the US has not done in actuality, ideology or reasoning for it notwithstanding, that has not gone on in places like Granada, Haiti, Panama, etc.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Europe, with the possible exception of Britain, are a bunch of spineless wimps. Even Germany.

Their weakness is of their own making. They got into bed with Russia after 1989 and forgot that the Russian bear can turn on you. And Europe, in general, are afraid to stand up for themselves because of lousy armies (France!! A joke!), business entanglements (Germany) or just plain wimpiness (everyone else).

What galls me is that Europe utterly forgot the years 1917–1989 and specifically the Cold War.

Kropotkin's avatar

@elbanditoroso Yes, Britain—the least spineless—has also been the most murderous in recent years, supporting Bush’s illegal wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, and supplying arms to dictators around the world. I suppose by an “exception”, you mean a pathetic lapdog that follows the US in each and every one of its deranged and criminal endeavours, you’d be right.

On one level you seem to realise that Europe isn’t a single political entity, but then talk of Europe collectively as if it were. The member states are independent sovereign nations with competing and conflicting interests.

On the whole, the EU was quite happy with the relations they had with Russia—they did miscalculate when courting the Ukraine as a possible EU member, but it has been the US intervention in the Ukraine and the support for an anti-russian, right-wing neoliberal government there that has driven a wedge between the EU and Russia, and is the source of the very conflict there today.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Kropotkin – Europe itself has an identity crisis – it’s not me.

On some things, they have given up their sovereignty to that abominable European Union, but on others they have kept it for themselves. Among other things, that’s way Europe in general has been so poor at coming out of the recession—they NEED to act as a single economic entity but they don’t because of local policies.

I have to say “I told you so” – I thought that the EU was a bad idea 30 years ago, because the countries could only keep their interests ‘unified’ temporarily. THe current half-in, half-out philosophy is doomed to fail, eventually.

I disagree with you about your last paragraph. I think that Ukraine was perfectly legitimate in trying to join NATO; it was in their long term national interest, according to their leaders. I think that the real problem was that no one – not, Ukraine, not EU, and not the US, took into account how Russia would react.

Which brings me back to my initial point – Europe (as a group) either accidentally or purposefully ignored the history of the Soviet Union.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me “Putin seems to want the old soviet union back. I think they are taking over the Ukraine now simply because he thinks they’ll be able to get away with it.”

Historically Ukraine has been a part of Russia since long before the United States existed (before Europeans even settled America for that matter). 1,000 years ago Ukraine was part of the Kievan Rus (the kingdom from which the nation and identity of Russia derive), and pretty much has been part of Russia (save for the last couple of decades) ever since. You can damn well bet that if this kind of situation were going on in, say, a Massachusetts or New York that had split off from the Union that the United States would be doing everything it assert its power and influence there.

Kropotkin's avatar

@elbanditoroso ” I think that the real problem was that no one – not, Ukraine, not EU, and not the US, took into account how Russia would react.”

I’m almost certain that the policy to support the coup in Kiev and then diplomatically and financially back the anti-Russian government there was well calculated, and and a range of possible Russian responses and reactions were investigated and analysed. Russia will be doing the very same.

It would be very frightening to think that such geopolitical manoeuvres are done on a whim with no analysis at all. Maybe that was the case under the Bush administration—it would explain a lot.

Expanding NATO has next to nothing to do with Ukraine’s national interests. It has everything to do with US arms sales to NATO members. The Russian annexation of Crimea made NATO members “nervous”, so they could conveniently increase military spending as a response. This call just happened to be led by the Estonian President whom Obama recently visited. Also notice how the Estonian President repeats the narrative of Russia as “unpredictable and aggressive”.

And the fuss over the Crimea was likely more about the oil and gas in its maritime territory. An estimated $300 billion worth of energy assets gone to Russia overnight, and agreements with Exxon, Shell, and others to explore and extract fuel resources from the Black Sea scuppered.

Considering the strategic importance of Crimea, and the mineral wealth of its maritime zone—do you think the Russian response was “unpredictable”?

The protests in eastern Ukraine were probably spontaneous at first, and the subsequent armed rebellion doubtlessly supported materially from the Russian territory, if not directly by Putin’s goverment. This wasn’t unpredictable either, and Kiev could have avoided it but chose to listen to their new US paymasters instead.

But whatever. It’s all a great pretext for increasing military spending.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Darth_Algar That’s pretty much what my thoughts are.

Darth_Algar's avatar


So then you surely realize that it’s a bit more complex than just wanting the Soviet Union back or doing it simply because Putin thinks he’ll get away with it.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Darth_Algar of course, The cliff note version is Putin want the old soviet union back and he thinks this would be a good time to get away with grabbing the Ukraine. I do realize there is much more going on though. It quite literally is like if we lost Texas as a state for a while.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me – is losing Texas really that bad?

rojo's avatar

Yeah, just imagine how upset the rest of the US would be if you lost Texas.

You would not have either Rick Perry or Ted Cruz as (viable?) presidential candidates anymore; then you’d be sorry.

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