Ukraine and Russia: A normal day's debate in Kiev The Economist: "And extending the stay of the Russian fleet is backed by some 60% of Ukrainians."
Apparently the brawl at the Ukraine parliament the other day was a hangover from the unfair election, since the majority of Ukrainians don't mind keeping the Russian Sebastopol base. It might be more interesting to ask the Russian taxpayers whether they like the marriage or not? The gas subsidy is derived from removing the export duty from Gazprom.
Marrying Ukraine and Russia might be strategic in terms of securing the food potential of Ukraine once called the food store of the Soviet Union. The attitude from the West now seem to be favorable for the marriage when the economics of not having the burden of Ukraine is important rather than the political domain speak. The Obama administration is in principle letting Russia in on their old turf without fussing for potential gains in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Europe is more on their own now since they did not help out so much yonder?
The Obama doctrine is getting clearer. He is not sentimental at all as evident with Europe and Israel. Friendship is redefined. It is super pragmatic. As I pointed out once before, the slow but sure disappearance of the US from Europe has thrown Europe into a crisis of identity that is now enforced by the economic problems of southern Europe together with a prestige fight with the US about whether or not the Euro zone was a good idea. Europe's attitude towards the US was a little too harsh during the financial crisis perhaps.
What is interesting, however, is how Russia in reality views Europe. In his speech on Victory Day May 9th, 2007, when the Red Army beat Nazi Germany, Vladimir Putin said: "It is all the more important that we remember this today, because these threats are not becoming fewer but are only transforming and changing their appearance. These new threats, just as during the Third Reich, show the same contempt for human life and the same aspiration to establish an exclusive dictate over the world". A New York Times article at this point was a trifle paranoiac and suggested Putin talked about the US, but maybe he was talking about the EU and Germany? Maybe he fears economic rather than military threats?
Putin has also said that the fall of the Soviet Union was the worst catastrophe of the century. In the above speech he said: "Victory Day not only unites the people of Russia but also united our neighbors in the Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States". In other words 20m people did not die in vain, a sacrifice so large that is possible to question its reasonableness. This is all becoming more of a reality now and personally I am ready to question the wisdom of the earlier alienation from the US on its pursuit for freedom in far away places. As you make your bed, so you must lie on it.
What seems to remain now is to establish a working economic relationship with Russia as Putin tries to repair what he can from his greatest catastrophe.