Once upon the time, there was an Empire. An Empire that over the years was increasing its sphere of influence – not only conquering the lands of neighboring countries but also by building a network of dependant territories all over the word. This Empire has committed many sins – for example it allowed the population of conquered country to starve while still exporting grain produced in its lands. Only 20th century made it possible for this conquered country to return to independent existence. But it was not the end of its troubles.
Geopolitical factors of 20th century made it possible for most of the dependant territories to break away from this Empire, but it’s nearest neighbor still had problems: despite it managed to declare its independence, army of occupants did not left entirely from its territory. Part of that country, inhabited by descendants of the settlers from the occupying country, although formally autonomous, still remained a part of the former Empire and for many years was troubled with street fights and bombs planted in public places…
You might think that I made a mistake, as Crimea, despite presence of Russian military, was integral part of the Ukraine. But who told you I am writing about relations between Ukraine and Russia? The history above is a story (extremely simplified of course) of relations between Great Britain and Ireland. Why I am writing about it? Because Great Britain, as per many international treaties, is a warrant of the safety of other states.
So let’s look into that another situation. There was a country. After devastating collapse it has began to get back on its legs. Encouraged by its successes in other fields, it has decided to amend its borders. Just next to it there were land that, although historically belonging to its neighbor, were inhabited mostly by its nationals. Because it was impossible to take over these lands with openly diplomatic or military offensive – mostly due to pressure from the Western world – the leader of the country decided to take an advantage of the unstable situation and act on the method of fait accompli. While its politicians were participating in international meetings and diplomatic discussions, the lands in question were being taken over by the rebellious forces answering to no one. The truth was however that general Żelichowski, who was simulating this rebellion, was acting at the clear order of Marshall Piłsudski and with the logistic support of the rest of the Polish army. Because I am not talking about Crimea again, I am talking about year 1920 and Polish take over of Vilnius and surrounding area. After military take over, free republic of Central Lithuania was proclaimed, and newly elected parliament voted to join Poland. Now there was the time for France and Great Britain to fullfil their obligations as a guarantors of the international treaties, but France was not interested in antagonizing Poland, it’s possible ally in the future war with Germany, while Britain was not interested in getting involved in some local tensions at the wild end of Europe.
And this is how the wheel of history rotates. Some time later, another similar situation emerged. Yet another Empire, 20 years after it’s demise raised it’s head and it’s charismatic leader demanded a piece of neighboring country. Yet again the fate of its fellow nationals inhabiting the lands in question was used as a pretext and yet again Western forces without hesitation granted the aggressor whatever it wanted hoping that this concession will prevent some much more far-reaching demands. Prime minister Neville Chamberlain on his return to England was proudly waving his copy of Monachium agreement, and his words „I bring you peace” was welcomed with outbursts of joy. But we all know how short lived that peace was. As per old saying that if you give a finger to a dog, it will bite off your whole hand, Hitler was not satisfied with Sudetenland and less than year later has began his attack on Poland, and later conquered or made dependant most of European countries.
The attack on Poland was preceded by the provocation along the so well known to us scenario. A German soldiers, dressed in Polish uniform, attacked German radio station in Gliwice, giving a pretext to announce that attack on Poland is a result of Anti-German actions and it’s purpose is to ensure safety of the German state. Yet again, allies from both side of the Canal La Manche were not interested in fulfilling their duties as per international treaties, unless someone believes that so called Phoney War consisting of throwing leaflets and planting signs „Please do not shoot as we don’t shoot you” along the French-German border can be considered as real action. On the other hand, despite being defeated in September Campaign, Poles fulfilled their side of the bargain, taking part in defense of France and Great Britain (as, what could be expected, sitting and doing nothing did not ensured safety to Britons and French), they were also participating in other actions of the allies – Polish Army was fighting at almost every front of Second World War. This has not stopped Britain from ignoring it’s deals with Poland and selling it’s ally to Stalin during Yalta conference (also known as Western Betrayal).
This is why I would not have too much hope for any Western actions when it comes to current situation in Ukraine. You might only expect some speeches „expressing concern and outrage” and few manifestation outside Russian embassy in London. Not too numerous, though, as Britons have already lost interest in situation at the Crimean peninsula: even in BBC4 reports from the Ukraine have to give up the airtime to relations from Oscar Pistorius’ process.
Second guarantor of Ukrainian security is USA. Of course here also words of condemnation can be heard, for example John Kerry said: „You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.” Funny words coming from the country that invaded Iraq using a pretext of weapons of mass destruction…
According to a treaty, Russia is a third and last guarantor of Ukrainian independence. Other countries even if wanted to do something, have no way to stand up against Russia. And all that ordinary people can do apart from sending help to the victims of the Ukrainian riots, is to organize demonstrations, happenings, to post outraged tweets and publishing moving memes on their Facebook pages. This is why I am rather pessimistic when it comes to the events in Ukraine. As we can learn from history, international treaties are worth nothing, the reality is that the leaders of this word will draw the lines on the map as they please, depending of who is strong at the current moment and if the others have any interest to prevent them. That leaves us with only one question: who’s gonna to be next?
Text was published in gazetae.com
Picture: public domain.