Ukraine.

Stocks in the Asian markets diving overnight, Gold rising on price, oil going up in price.

People shrieking about war.

Here’s the script.

Russians want stability and they accept Putin as a Tsar/Dictator figure.

Putin has made large investments in updating the Russian Armed Forces since 2005.

Ukraine was gifted Crimea in 1954 by the then Soviet leader. It didn’t matter much at the time as a territory change from one soviet republic to another under the USSR was meaningless.

But, culturally Crimea is Russian. It’s people haven’t been ‘invaded’ as they see it and they’ve been fed a stream of propaganda on Ukraine and the EuroMaidan stuff.

Ukraine’s 2010 elections were one of those ones where you wondered on if it was a clean result.

The subsequent events like going back on the 2004 constitution made after the Orange revolution, confirmed a slide to Russia.

The ripping up of a deal with the EU was a final straw to the people of Kiev, who wanted to face west and not east. There’s no facist conspiracy when people protest at risk of their lives over a president taking his country away from the progressive position of engaging with the EU.

But, it’s in Russia’s backyard. A zone that they see as theirs. Places like Crimea resonate to the Russians.

Yes, the west should act, Yes there’s a principle at stake over Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

But is it worth war or a stand off? Putin has made himself the bully in international eyes. The west should just hold him at arms length, no more engagement, no more G8 or cosy chats and no recognition that legitimises or boosts his profile.

A UN partition of Ukraine is probably the only way to save Kiev and Western Ukraine from more repression and Russian interference. Longer term it might be possible to link economically and culturally that territory closer to Poland.

A nineteenth century answer. The bully gets the territory it wants in Crimea and by extension Eastern Ukraine, but a picture is painted for a new post Cold War generation that Ivan is the bogey man, not to be trusted or allowed into the civilised world.

Putin might ‘win’ Crimea and East Ukraine and be seen to be the strong leader that Russians crave but everywhere else he loses in the perception he paints and the way Russia is seen.

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