By Harvey Oberfeld
Make no mistake about it: Vladimir Putin’s goal is a Greater Russia … and the annexation of the Crimea is just a dress rehearsal for his next land grab.
Putin wants part of what Canada has longed claimed … but Russia (and other countries) has never officially recognized … a massive part of the lands, waters AND most importantly, the resources that lie close to the Arctic Circle.
That’s exactly why Putin has been picking on Canada lately … making critical and hands-off warning statements to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his stand supporting the Ukrainian government.
Does anyone really believe that, in the world of major powers and international conflicts, Canada is anything more than a bit player, compared to Russia, the US, Britain, France and Germany?
Yet there was Putin … taking a shot two weeks ago specifically at Canada and Harper … as if any actions WE could take would have MUCH of an impact on Russia.
And Harper shot back … escalating the nasty war of words and calling out Putin for the expansionist aggressor that he is.
To make the point even more strongly, Harper has been front-and-centre at the swearing in and several ceremonies surrounding Ukraine’s new prime minister over the past few days.
Canada has also taken a stronger stand than most of our allies … including sanctions against not just several Russian officials, but two Russian banks as well following the military annexation of the Crimea and Russian arming/incitement of unrest in eastern Ukraine.
When the World Bank considered a $372 million loan for companies expanding into Russia, ONLY Canada voted against.
And even at D-Day ceremonies, Harper stood firm … refusing even a brief one-on-one conversation with Putin … apparently unaware that US President Barack Obama did hold one … after telling Harper he would not!
I LIKE Harper’s affinity for principle-based foreign policy.
I heartily support his tell-it-like-it-is denunciations and condemnations of many barbaric countries, terrorist organizations, his refusal to be one of those look-the-other-way nations when minorities are threatened or harmed and his outspoken support for freedom and democracy in many places where Canada does business … even wish he’d go further on that one.
But his poking Putin in the nose so openly and so frequently now has no doubt angered the Russian bear even more.
Especially now that Putin realizes (and so does China, for that matter) when it comes to defending Western interests, or even US foreign interests in trouble spots, Obama is the weakest US President in decades.
ALL talk …no real bite.
And he’s flanked on the world stage by equally mouthy but feckless “allies” unwilling to commit to any REAL sanctions that will damage not only Russia …but their own economic interests as well … especially business or energy related.
Sure, they make great speeches, move their armed forces around, increase their military ships’ presence in contested areas and they’ll all, of course, increase defence spending … more to the benefit of defence corporations than to actually intervene and defend any threatened country.
Let’s keep it real: so far, in dealing with the Crimea or Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine, the West has done NOTHING that really impacts Russia in any meaningful way.
It’s a perfect storm setup for any aggressive dictator-type leader willing to use force, kill people and seize new territories take over territories … to expand their own empire.
That’s why we have seen Russia being so aggressive militarily in Georgia (the first TEST case) , in Chechnya, in the Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine. And Putin is prepared to have his forces kill people who stand in his way.
And why we have also witnessed China expanding its territorial claims, stepping up its military actions and engaging in violent confrontations against its own neighbours in the South China Sea … Vietnam, Japan, Philippines … as it pushes for both territorial and resource expansion. And China is also prepared to kill people who stand in their way.
Because for Russia and China today, the end justifies the means and they KNOW the US, Britain, France, Germany will harrumph, harrumph, harrumph …. but lack the fortitude to take any really strong actions …. military or sanctions …. to stop them.
That bodes poorly for Canada.
Putin has deliberately moved to cool … even freeze … any previous warm and co-operative relations with Canada. Especially involving the north.
In fact, the current skirmishes are but a prelude to a planned Putin push.
Watch for the Russian leader to act … BEFORE Obama leaves office … to take advantage of the US leader’s weakness and stake a Russian expansionist claim in the North, moving many more Russian ships than we have ever seen there before further into and through parts of the north that Canada claims as our own.
Maybe even set up a settlement of “scientists” and military “protectors” to plant a few Russian flags and start exploring for underwater resources.
And what will Canada be able to do about it?
Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph!
And we may even get a Harrumph of support from Obama too!
While Putin takes our territory.