12 march 2014, ukraine, minus a bit

Though we obsess about it, europe rarely deserves global geopolitical headlines. Ukraine though, is an exception. The baltic states were desperate to join the eu in the 1990s because it enabled them, like drunken boxers, to pull the rope over their heads and step out of the ring to the promised land that for all europe's many faults they still enjoy. Ukraine had no such luck, and remained from that day to this in the vague netherland that is soviet union post-sovereignty. For most russians the crimea always was and always will be part of russia, but it was tolerable having it nominally in the ukraine, as long as russia retained sufficient influence in its "near abroad". The day that went was the day they needed somewhat more control, and there are no armies that will be pushing them out, leaving it like transnistria, like south ossetia and like abhazia what some call frozen conflicts and others simply russia. In huntington's seminal and fantastic clash of civilsations, ukraine lies on a fault line between two (see how we made the fatal mistake of not talking to hamas): the slavic-orthodox and the western. Geographically, ukraine is in europe, which reaches north to the arctic sea, west to the atlantic, south to the mediterranean and east to a line generally taken to follow the urals, the emba, the kuma-manych depression and then the caspian, black, aegean and mediterranean seas. Politically, joining europe will be the work of generations.