Friday, March 14, 2014

Kiev, the New Berlin

The Cold War ended on December 25, 1991 with the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Berlin airlift

But, Cold War references appear back in vogue, and it can be traced back to the return to power of Vladimir Putin in May 2012. His election for a second non-consecutive term was accompanied by widespread protest, which initiated a systematic suppression and convinced Putin that the West was behind it. The increasingly autocratic Putin has been single-mindedly focused on reestablishing Russia’s influence with its neighbors, former states of the old Soviet Union and on the world stage.

The attack on Georgia in 2008 was the first indication that he would use the army to achieve his goals, and now Russian troops occupy the Crimea.

Eastern Europe was an early battleground in the Cold War. The first and one of the most serious flash points of the West’s confrontation with the Soviet Union was in Berlin.

In 1949, Berlin’s land supplies were blocked. Joseph Stalin was in charge, and he wanted to assert control over Berlin deep in the Soviet sector of occupied Germany. Again, it was Berlin in 1961 where Nikita Khrushchev agreed with East Germans to build the Berlin Wall to halt immigration to the West. President John Kennedy faced his first test with the Soviets.

Stalin lifted the blockade after the West’s airlift kept the city alive. It took 26 years, but the wall fell as the entire Eastern bloc of the Soviet empire began to unravel in 1989 and was completely dismantled in 1990.

American presidents led the effort to protest Berlin and rollback the Soviet empire.

Kennedy, 1963 – “Ich bin ein Berliner”
Reagan, 1987 – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”

Is Kiev the new Berlin? Is it the first in a series of casualties in the imperial design of Russia? Will the West show the same unity and determination? Will America lead it?

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