Sunday 23rd February
The trouble with the Ukraine is that it isn’t a proper country. Of course, most of Europe wasn’t always proper countries either, but at least most of them have had some sort of a history as a unified political unit. At least for a while. The Ukraine is a bit different. It is big for a start, slightly larger than France, and it isn’t really homogenous. The people in the West are quite different from those in the East. Until recently the country had only been actually independent for a few years after the First World War when the Austrian and Russian Empires crumbled. The West had been largely occupied by the Austrians and the East by the Russians. It was completely subsumed into the Soviet Empire when Stalin’s tanks rolled through at the end of World War 2. And although technically independent for twenty years or so, it has almost been at Russia’s discretion; Russia is by far its largest trading partner; Russia supplies almost all of its energy and a large proportion of Ukraine’s population speak Russian and see Russia as their friend.
It is unfortunately a victim of the old colonization of the last few centuries, and though it may call itself a country it may well have to become two separate entities. The EU are keen to have it as a part of Europe, but Russia are just as keen to keep it in their sphere of influence. Worst case scenario it could end in another civil war, but more hopefully a looser federation; once the euphoria has died down a lot of hard talking needs to take place.
We see this all over Europe; the twin pulls of regional separation and the need to hang together for strength and economic power. We are still in the History of Europe, a continent which has never remained peaceful or stable for long, but one which has created a large part of the culture of the modern world. Interesting, to say the least.