Russian military personnel surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe, Crimea, on March 19. Ukrainian troops have been encircled by pro-Russian forces in their bases for days.
Russian military personnel surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe, Crimea, on March 19. Ukrainian troops have been encircled by pro-Russian forces in their bases for days.


[dropcap]E[/dropcap]urope hasn’t really learnt anything in the past ninety five years. Or how else can we explain the follies it is out to commit again. On Crimea the continent is repeating the gaffes it committed in 1919, precisely on June 28, 1919. In trying to punish defeated Germany the victorious powers of World War I, which met in Paris, actually sowed the seeds of a greater disaster — World War II. In yet another similar stupidity, the West is now trying to leverage “Crimean problem into an opportunity for confrontation with Russia.”

Europe was wrong then in 1919 and it is wrong again in 2014. Driven by hubris and myopia the continent, says Jacques Attali, a renowned French economist, will do Russia what Versailles Treaty did to Germany. Inflicting punitive isolation on Russia over Crimea will only in due time create the situation which led to the rise of Germany of the Weimar Republic and an aggressor.

We cannot disagree with Jacques Attali because the move to isolate, disengage and confront Russia is madness which has left us wondering about which one is more—the one which was committed ninety five years ago in 1919 or the one which is now being committed in 2014. I believe better would be to leave this issue or the question for historians to answer.

Escalations with Russia over Crimea are indeed not in the best interest of Europe. “On the contrary, (it) should be doing everything possible to insure that (its) important eastern neighbor is integrated with Europe and not isolated from it.”

What we fear, on the contrary, is the return of the Age of Anxiety which defined Europe between 1919 and 1939. This may lead the continent towards a fresh collapse of armistice, the type of which we saw in the wake of the rise of Hitler.

I am keeping my fingers crossed because I am seeing history repeating itself. The Age of Anxiety is resurrecting and it is perceptible. And unless there comes another Mikhail Gorbachev at the helms of matters in Russia, Moscow may, in time ahead, react to the West’s sanctions the way Germany did under Adolf Hitler.

Attempts to asphyxiate Russia are laced with perils I wonder why the West is not able to foresee. Russia is not Iran or Myanmar and neither is it a humbug rogue like North Korea. Kremlin, I am convinced, will not take things lying low for long as did Germany in 1939 to wriggle out of the senseless draconian punitive clauses of Versailles Treaty.

Sanctions have already started to tell on Russia. An AP report from Moscow said, recent figures suggest that Russia suffered roughly $70 billion of capital outflow in the first three months of the year, which is more than in all of 2013. And more of such outflows will force Russia to fall back on measures which may not augur well for Europe.

Over Crimea and in pursuing an iniquitous policy of punishing Russia Europe is fast running into terrifying consequences. I call the West’s stand iniquitous because quintessentially it smacks of dishonesty. Why would the West hurry in condemning the plebiscite of the Russian speaking majority of Crimea?

On this, dishonesty of the West is stark and all the more when it has not raised even the faintest voice of objection against Scots voting on exactly similar cause. “Don’t the Catalans intend to do likewise in Spain? Will there be protests against the taking away of the territory of Great Britain if the Scots choose independence?”

Didn’t the West accept splitting of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia? I am convinced and agree with Jacques Attali that the West will be more than willing to support creation of Kurdistan out of Iraq, Quebec independence and Wallonia if it seeks to join France.

Why would then Europe interfere in Russian matters. Europe’s dishonesty is telltale.

Crimea’s aspirations to reunite with the homeland cannot be ignored or condemned. Neither can the aspirations be branded as illegitimate. Nikita Khrushchev was wrong in giving Crimea away to Ukraine and was a move which still remains an enigma. Russians never approved this move nor did the Russian speaking majority in Crimea. Their aspiration to reunite always burned at the back burner.

On Crimea the West is simply being vindictive against Russia. And again arguments offered by Jacques Attali on the issue hold enough water. Aside from the creation of the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction in 1991, and the G8 in 1992 — both at the initiative of France — nothing has been done since the collapse of the Soviet Union to bring Russia closer to Europe and join a common area of the rule of law.

If Russia has never been candidate for membership of the European Union, one does not have to be a genius to see that if an offer had been made, or at least a proposition to join European Free Trade Association or what was left of it, it would have been accepted, to the greatest benefit of Western Europe.

West committed an error in 1938 by allowing Hitler annex Sudetenland. But to oppose Crimea reuniting with mainland Russia and attempts to asphyxiate Russia are only squalid attempts of the West to rewrite history. This will polarize the world and the process has already started. Member nations of BRICKS group have already expressed their solidarity with Russia and have warned Australia and the world against any move to ban Kremlin from G20.

Wisdom will be if the West heeds to the warning and desist from trying to correct its historic bungling. Wisdom will be if the West keeps in mind that Western domination in the post-Cold War world is wearing down. Wisdom will be if the West be more perceptive about the changing world order.