Ukraine in Context: What You Don't Know About a New Cold War

October 22, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

As the events in Ukraine have sent world leaders scurrying to develop and spread narratives that serve their own interests, the complexities of the geopolitical and economic implications—whether from a Russian, American, European or Ukrainian perspective—have become elusive to those trying to understand exactly what’s going on inside the country.

While the U.S. media is obsessed with what it likes to describe as the belligerence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the political implications the crisis is having on Obama’s foreign policy legacy, much of what is lost in the coverage is a more critical look at how Cold War history, austerity economics, and deep mistrust have emerged to make the situation in Ukraine, as one historian puts it, “the worst history of our lifetime.”

What follows is a brief roundup of some of the contours missing from the surface coverage by voices that take a tougher and more in-depth look at the still unfolding situation.

For his part, Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University who has long focused on Russia, says what is constantly missing from most mainstream coverage in the U.S. is the very real perception by many in Russia who see a European takeover of Ukraine as a direct military encroachment by the NATO powers on their western border.

This, he says, may be lost on an American audience, but the seriousness of it is not lost on those who know the history of War World I and the bloodshed along the Russian front after War World II that led to the Cold War.

Appearing on CNN this weekend, Cohen told viewers that it is U.S. and European policy in recent years, not what Putin is now doing, that deserves the most severe criticism. He said:

Asked to elaborate, Cohen continued:

Jonathan Steele, writing for Guardian, argues that both the US and the EU need to ratchet down both their rhetoric and threats. He contends the only real solution to the turmoil in Ukraine is one which respects the rights and aspirations of all Ukrainians. Matching Cohen’s analysis in some way regarding NATO’s encroachment, Steele writes:

As for Russia’s involvement, it should at least be seen in light of its own interests and the legality of the military intervention. Even if not justified, says Steele, it must be compared to that of other world powers who now wave their finger at Moscow with such hypocrisy. He concludes: