Are we watching a rematch of Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in the Cold War confrontational chess game of the Twentieth Century?
Is it a remake of the Cuban Missile Crisis with John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in a “to the death” struggle of brinkmanship?
I think not!
I believe a more accurate historical comparison would be the march of the former Soviet Union into Hungary is 1956. Russia, the king on that chess board, squashed the aspirations of the Hungarian people as they will likely repeat in this attempt of the Ukrainian people towards self-determination.
The Soviets saw the Hungarian movement as the first major threat to their control of Eastern Europe since their forces drove out the Nazis hordes at the end of World War II. After their initial invasion of Hungary, the Soviets announced a willingness to withdraw their forces. However they changed their mind and moved to crush the revolution resulting in over 2500 Hungarian and 700 Soviets dead. 200,000 Hungarians fled their country as refugees with many of these settling in Canada. Russia sees the movement of the Ukrainian people toward closer ties with the European Union as the same kind of threat to their sphere of influence.
What did the Western Nations and Western Europe do at that time to quell the Soviet threat?
Nothing but meaningless denunciations and idle words!
What did the United Nations do?
Nothing! We only need to ask our own General Romeo Dellaire of Rwanda fame how much you can count on UN to help in times of crisis.
Will there be any difference this time?
Not likely! Western Europe’s track record is even more dismal than that of the UN. The recent wars in the Balkans are a case in point. The stakes are way too high and the chess board is Russia’s backyard. Hungary was the lowly pawn in the 1956 chess game. The Ukraine is the lowly pawn in today’s game.
The meaningless rhetoric has already begun. What lines will be drawn in the Ukrainian soil? How quickly will those lines become as blurred and meaningless as those drawn in the wind-blown sands of Syria, Iraqi and Afghanistan? Putin, schooled in the tactics of the KGB, has already out-foxed Obama’s diplomatic efforts regarding Syria and I fear the Ukraine will be no different.
Is military action by the west an option?
An emphatic NO!
This is no Libya! No air force comparable to the planes of “Arctic Air” here. This is one of the most powerful military nations on earth and they already have “boots on the ground” in the Ukraine. Boots supplemented by both air bases and a naval base. This coupled with 18% of the country’s people of Russian origin, who will aid and abet any Russian action, makes military intervention a “fool’s errand”.
Russia also has a significant non-military weapon. Energy! The Ukraine imports much of its energy needs from Russia and approximately 80% of the European Union gas from Russia is delivered via the Ukraine.
What will be the final move in this game of world chess? What will be the solution? I fear it will have more to do with the actions of the old antagonists of the Cold War, namely the United States and the former Soviet Russia, than with fulfilling the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. The tensions, remnants of the past, were already present. The Ukraine, a mere pawn in the game, is just this year’s spark that has ignited the tinderbox of old wounds!
The solution centers on Russia withdrawing russia Ukraine war any extra troops from the Ukraine. Moving other Russian soldiers to their normal positions on the leased bases within the Ukraine will also de-escalate the current “powder keg”.
Will this happen? It will happen only if Russia sees an “about face” by the Ukrainian people from closer ties with Europe to a quiet subservience to their former Soviet masters.
Is this likely? It will happen because Russia controls all the Kings on the Chess Board. However, I also fear that it will include the shedding of much more Ukrainian blood as the country fights alone in its quest for self-determination.