17:18 Oct. 25, 2016
The article author points out the common patterns in Russian aggression in Ukraine and in Syria
Seen from the red-brick towers of the Kremlin, Syria, and Ukraine look very different. But as the wars in both countries continue to drag on, some in the West have become accustomed to lumping Russia's two interventions together. After all, Russia seeks a sphere of influence that includes both countries. However, its actions and motivations in Syria and Ukraine are vastly different, and confusing them runs the risk of derailing possible solutions.
Russia fueled a conflict in the Donbass and annexed Crimea as a matter of principle: the Kremlin believes that Ukraine rightly belongs within its sphere of influence. Ukraine, on the other hand, sees its European aspirations as part of its slow crawl out from under the yoke of its colonial oppressor. Russia has politically dominated Ukraine since the early 1700s, with only a brief break after World War I.
For three hundred years, the two countries' cultural and political leaders have operated in both spaces. Leonid Brezhnev was Ukrainian. In today's Kiev, you'd be hard-pressed to find a TV or radio show on which the speakers don't frequently switch languages between Ukrainian and Russian, sometimes mid-sentence. So President Vladimir Putin has difficulty imagining that a country so similar to his own might prefer a European future.