The Ukraine.You know you're in trouble when the country you're talking about begins with a preposition. Nobody talks about The Russia, or even The United States of America, unless they want to sound pompous and self-important. The Ukraine is like The Alps, or The Black Sea (more on that in a moment).
Yes, there have been some recent attempts to make The Ukraine sound like a grown-up country by just talking about "Ukraine" as in this jingoistic New York Times article: Russia Masses Military Forces at Border in Ukraine, but it neither comes trippingly off the tongue or flowingly out of the keyboard, and probably won't until The Ukraine is split into Crimea and, finally, simply, Ukraine. For that is where we're headed, if we're lucky, and if saner heads prevail. Go on, punk (American or Russian), do you feel lucky?
This ex-Ottoman empire outpost, ex-Polish territory, ex-Khrushchev era protectorate, can barely be found on the map, if at all, by most Americans. In any case, neither Americans nor Russians (who can find The Ukraine on a map), care enough about this region to go to war over, even conservatives! I looked for a poll indicating American or Russian positions on whether they want their respective countries to go to war over The Ukraine, but couldn't find any. Maybe the usual pollsters find it too ridiculous a question to even ask, considering the protests already taking place.
Would a split of The Ukraine be a win for Putin? Don't count on it. The majority of the country would then be more firmly pro-Europe than ever, not only demographically, but because they would now have a more-or-less permanent grudge against Russia. Meanwhile, Russia would have to station precious forces forever guarding their new borders in Crimea. And guard the new Crimea-Russo citizens against the remaining Ukraine Fascists who are stalking and attacking them. And then there's the infrastructure repairs in this decrepit country, new checkpoints, changing all those road signs... What a headache!
Let Democracy Reign!
There's an election coming up this Sunday. It's unfortunate the choices for Crimea are basically: Join Russia Now, or Join Russia Later, but at least people get to vote, and that's what counts, right? Uh, maybe not. After all, no one voted for this interim Ukraine Prime Minister, Oleksandr Turchynov, either, or for this new one, Arseny Yatseniuk, who speaks much better English, apparently, perfect for making pleas to Western ears at the U.N.
But, really, as long as the Crimeans (it already rolls off the tongue) vote to become part of Russia, now or later...again, who cares?
After decades of showing us they can blow the world up 5 to 50 times over (but really, who's counting?), the People of both America and Russia (The Ukraine doesn't get a vote here) are properly cowed and impressed! Yes, yes, split the Ukraine! Do whatever you want! Just don't end life as we know it over a backwater semi-nation that no one cared about except as a conduit for gas pipelines until two weeks ago! Let's be Solomon here: split the baby.