Pity the Ukraine, caught in a squeeze between its past (Russia) and its future the (EU). In metaphorical terms, though, the issue is all about the pull and appeal of bulls and bears.
Does the Ukraine really want to share an ursine’s offer of shelter in a cold, dingy cave instead of the bull’s lush, green pasture lands? Sure, Boris may offer the proper socialist pleasantries, but who’s bigger, and who, push to shove, is first among equals? Caves aren’t spacious, and it could get claustrophobic.
No, neither bulls nor bears are without their moods, but consider: Bears are omnivores, but bulls are not. Boris may eat you in time of famine when his oily honey-wealth dries up, but a bull cannot. Thus, in time of danger, bulls can at least huddle with the herd, but bears are on their own.
Nationalist Ukrainian citizens may feel heritage with Russia, but they’re coming to sense the bruin’s playing a protection racket, and it comes at their expense, isolating them with the wider world, and they aren’t alone in the rising chill. The Armenian president, in need of Russia’s military support, signed onto that Customs Union, and yet he can’t bring himself to defend the pact on his home turf, and that augurs poor for this Customs shtick in the long. Armenia may endure it for now, pragmatically, but when the nationalist backlash inevitably erupts, guess what the result will be.
It will be a lot like what’s happening in the Ukraine, and that’s despite a lot of ethnic Russian-speaking citizens. Ukrainian nationalism may not be the strongest, but it’s only getting stronger thanks to Boris’s badly overplayed hand.
As long as the bear-in-chief thinks he can re-fight the Cold War, he’s sadly mistaken, and that’s the problem. If you act anti-social, and pride yourself on not playing well with others, well, what do you think will happen? Trust is out, and suspicion is in.
Let me just tell you, Mr. Boris: Avoid your little party over the West disrespecting you. You’re still a power, but not a superpower, yet you still ask to be treated as such, and therein lies the issue. Not too long ago, when you complained about certain Arab Gulf states “hitting above their weight” you inadvertently hit upon the crux of the matter.
You’re not real economies, but rather just economies floating on oil, and in the long run, mineral wealth betrays its masters’ ambitions. For now, though, it just gives you an opportunity to strut along the world stage, and makes you think you’re stronger than you really are, becoming part of the problem in the process. Sooner or later, the world economy’s going to crash, and you with it; rather than bolster your military in an unsustainable rush, I say: “Prepare your den.”
You’re gonna need it.