they follow. Photo: SEAN GALLUP/GETTY IMAGES.
In 1994 the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was signed by the Ukraine, Russia, the UK and
They agreed to respect Ukraine's borders in accordance with the principles of the 1975 CSCE Final Act in
return for the handover of the stock of nuclear weapons the Ukraine had obtained when the Soviet Union
fell apart and bases in the satellite states found themselves under the control of now independent nations.
There have been comments that Russia has broken this agreement and that this would directly lead to
British troops being sent in.
However in terms of international Law it is entirely possible that the Russians have NOT violated this
agreement since they can make the case that they are providing support at the request of the legitimate
president of the Ukraine since they do not recognise the new regime in Kiev.
In terms of the military situation. Russia has troops on hand in the Crimea, the entire black sea fleet is
available and they have the ability to bring in additional troops easily.
Nato have nothing anywhere close to the Ukraine, the national armed forces have exactly no chance
of standing up to Russia and would be reduced to a guerrilla campaign if it comes to fighting.
The likelihood of the Ukrainian armed forces actually starting a war is fairly small however, many of the
soldiers are from the ethnic Russian east or south, many favour the pro Russian political groups and
those who are thinking of fighting know very well what the outcome would be of trying to start a land
war against Russia.
Politically the EU can and will publicly make lots of threats. The UK will rattle sabres a bit when the
Memorandum is mentioned but will then either have the matter referred to legal counsel to investigate
whether or not the treaty has been broken or will attempt to mediate while calling for a consensus
The US and Obama will be vocal but will do nothing just as they did nothing when Russian intervened in
Belarus or Kazakhstan or any of the other ex Soviet nations that they routinely involve themselves with.
Also after Obama cancelled the missile shield and mutual defence agreements and basically threw Poland
and the Czech Republic under the Russian bus there is a distinct lack of support for any US led anti Russia
action across Eastern Europe.
Economically as has been mentioned elsewhere the EU draws a substantial quantity of its Gas from Russia
via the pipelines that cross the Ukraine. If the EU ever reaches the point that they look likely to actually do
something then due to “Security Concerns” the Gas will be shut down and suddenly the EU is looking at a fuel
crisis. It would take weeks to arrange for a replacement supply of gas from other sources if they can even
make up the volume and it would cost Billions.
The prospect of losing up to a third of Europe’s entire gas supply would cause an almost immediate and
very large price increase followed by shortages. As a result of a fairly mild winter Gas stores are a little
higher than normal for this time of year but due to the complexities of modern market economics
(IE price gouging and corporate greed) I suspect the EU as a whole or governments on a national level
would need to step in to stabilise Gas prices even while the reserves last.
Within the Ukraine itself there are substantial numbers of ethnic Russians in the east and south of the
country and the act that the Russian Parliament has pushed through, a fast track for Ukrainians to gain
Russian citizenship, means there is a large and growing number of Russian speaking people available to
call for help against what they say are the armed gangs that have driven the president out.
Russia is putting a very different slant on this situation.
Western media are comparing this to Egypt where a popular uprising has restored democracy to a
nation that was suffering under a tyrannical and or corrupt regime. But from a legal point of view
both the Ukraine and Egypt were uprisings that overthrow legitimately elected governments.
What this means is that Western governments have a powerful excuse to stand back and remain
hands off, doing nothing except talking as usual.
The EU, US and Nato can do nothing but talk. Any economic threat will be countered by the Gas flow
being shut down which will have a far more significant impact on Europe than calls for sanctions will
on Russia. They have no military forces in country and any attempt to send in military forces from
Europe runs the very real risk of military confrontation. A clash between Nato and Russian forces is
the first step towards something that no sane person wants to happen and aside from some possible
weapons supplies, electronic information gathering or deniable advisors, Nato or Europe is not going to
risk starting world war three over some eastern European backwater.
No one wants to poke the bear enough to anger it so they will stand back a bit till it stops growling.
From the Russian point of view, the expansion of Europe and the EU to the Russian border is a
massive threat to traditionally paranoid government of that nation. To Russian eyes the fact that the
EU, a western European power block, is trying to set up camp right next door is not something they
The Black Sea naval base in the Ukraine is Russia’s only deep water port that allows them access to the
Mediterranean and from there to the Atlantic and Indian Ocean without the long voyage times involved
in sailing from mainland Russian naval bases. With the ongoing problems in Syria the possibility of a
base there is essentially nil right now so Russia is not going to abandon the Crimea.
In addition you have President Putin who has worked hard to build and maintain his reputation as a
hard man, he is not going to allow the loss of a major Russian base and port, nor is he going to accept
the loss of a large Russian speaking population in a neighbouring nation as the result of what the Russians
are calling a Fascist uprising.
The West will talk and talk and do nothing substantial. The Ukraine is looking likely to end up as two
nations, the Western leaning West and the Russian leaning East and south. Much as the old nation of
Czechoslovakia broke apart to form Slovakia and the Czech Republic so I think the Ukraine is going to go
the same way.
Those who want to be linked to Western Europe will end up one nation, those who wish to remain tied to
Russia will become another. The fact that the Ukraine is basically broke as a nation and that almost all of
its Industry and Food production is in the Pro Russian Areas means that the EU will be forced to provide
massive financial support for a new Western Ukraine whereas the East of the country has ready markets
for its production in Russia already.
Those who fought and died in order to bring their country closer to the EU will get their wish but it is likely,
to my mind anyway, that it will only be part of their country rather than the whole of the Ukraine that joins
the EU. The new unity government is too anti Russian to be tolerated by Putin or by the south and East of
Hopefully the fighting is over and there will be no more killing, the prospect of some damn fool starting a
shooting war with a Russia under a President that is working hard to maintain a reputation as a hard nosed
militaristic leader is not something anyone should look forward to.
I think the Ukraine as it was yesterday no longer exists, it may take a year or two before it becomes official
but I think the Ukraine as a single nation is now part of the history books.