The Pnyx: Why is Russia doing this?

Joshua Schuetz
Staff Writer

The recent seizure of Ukrainian ships by Russia is a dangerous development that underscores the need for competent American leadership in Eastern Europe. 

Not that we’ll get that, of course. But the seizure is worrying. It’s more evidence of an imperialistic power bent on subjugating its neighbors.

It’s worth asking: why is Russia doing this? And the answer is relatively simple.

Russia, at an ideological level, holds that Eastern Europe is a region over which it has natural hegemony. The same way of thinking has led China to engage in adventurism throughout the South China Sea.

One might argue that it underpins the de facto power held by the U.S. over Western Europe.

Ukraine has been either affiliated with or part of the Russian sphere of influence for a long time, far beyond the Soviet era, which is the period that most Western pundits are familiar with.

Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire long before the Soviet Union was even a thought. But it is also a country with its own vibrant history.

The west ought to support an independent Ukraine. Not simply as a way to counter the influence of a rival, but as part of the belief that all nations deserve their independence. 

However, this should not imply a desire to wage war. Militarism against Russia would end in disaster for both parties, and so would trying a proxy war in Ukraine.

On an international front, support of a free Ukraine is important. It must be done with consideration and care, coordinated by the U.S. and Europe. It should not be another opportunity for adventurism.

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