I've been keeping track of the situation in Ukraine since the start of the Euromaidan protests last November. Lately, things seem to have gotten much uglier than anyone could have predicted.
Under the pretext of aiding Ukraine's Russian-speaking minority, Russia has effectively invaded and occupied large swaths of Ukrainian territory, using both unmarked troops and local, pro-Russian militia. The government in Kiev has admitted that it's lost control of the occupied regions. The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia in order to precipitate a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, but Russia has, thus far, persevered.
Today, Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack on some of the occupiers, allegedly killing and arresting many. Pro-Western and pro-Russian protesters clashed in the city of Odessa, leading to even more deaths. And Barack Obama and Angela Merkel held a joint press conference to threaten further, wider-ranging sanctions.
So, yeah. A hundred years on from the outbreak of World War I, it's hard not to feel some trepidation about these developments. It's equally hard to imagine how things may shake out.
I think there's little doubt that NATO would prevail if it were to intervene militarily. NATO outspends Russia by a factor of almost 12:1, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine has garnered no outside support to speak of. A full-scale ground war would spill a lot of blood, though, and I think neither the U.S. nor the EU want things to get to that point.
Economic sanctions are a less deadly alternative. However, they're slow to take effect—and if taken to the extreme, they might destabilize Russia. I don't think it's in anyone's interest to destabilize the nation with the world's largest nuclear stockpiles.
In the end, we may simply end up with a geographically enlarged but geopolitically isolated Russian Federation. Or we may end up with an even uglier situation.
What do you guys think? Discuss.