My colleague at the University of Newcastle, Roger Markwick, has written a great piece in the Newcastle Herald about the situation in Ukraine. Roger is a well-respected specialist on Russian history, with a couple of books and many articles focusing on the Soviet era. The piece is entitled ‘Russia Not Responsible for Upheaval in Ukraine’, in which he writes:
Far from Mr Putin stoking the flames of Ukrainian separatism, with the notable exception of his annexation of Crimea, he has been cautious in dealing with the West, Kiev and Russian separatism.
If responsibility for the upheaval lies anywhere, it is with Washington and Western Europe; particularly NATO, as it has marched eastward: nine former Warsaw Pact nations and three former Soviet republics have been incorporated into NATO. Given the catastrophic Nazi invasion of the former Soviet Union during the Second World War, it is not surprising that Moscow has viewed the prospect of Kiev falling into Europe’s and NATO’s orbit with alarm.
Notwithstanding his Russian patriotic rhetoric, Mr Putin’s priorities are Russian national security and stability, not the occupation or break up of Ukraine.