The Russian Federation is in the midst of a controversial annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from the Ukraine. And with that, Ukraine is being driven into the West. The Russian Federation’s de facto leader, President Vladimir Putin, instigated the annexation following the ouster of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Are we in store for a new ice age, of the political kind? The facts on the ground in the Russian Federation made this sort of move inevitable. Lack of economic modernization both in Russian Federation and in the Eastern Ukraine, particularly Crimea, have long had the Ukraine treated as a modern-day, softer-split Germany. Like a child in the midst of a heated divorce and custody dispute between Russian Federation and the West.
Now, the bulk of the Ukraine moves west into what will undoubtedly be greater economic prosperity. The result will likely be a reunion with Crimea in the decades to come, as they see the prosperity to their north.
That differs from, say, North Korea, in that the people there cannot see the prosperity they are being denied so clearly. They must blend the dictator’s words and power with the glimpses of the outside. But for Crimea, which will likely retain stable relations with the Ukraine after tensions settle, the picture will be not just in their browsers and phones and televisions, but out their window.
To be clear, the greatest thing that Putin could do, should have done, is to work to modernize the Russian Federation economically. His failure to do so has led to this awful circumstance of now cooling out his entire Western border. This will only stall out the progress of the Russian Federation further. It will be like the United States eight years under leadership that was ineffective at first, then economically destructive at last.
One day Russian Federation itself will decide to turn itself around. Not under Putin, it appears. We can only hope they come to their senses before too much social and economic damage is done across the globe.
To be clear, economic modernization means chiefly diversity of business. Relying heavily on, e.g., extraction and sale of natural resources, is an ineffective strategy. It depends too heavily on a single outlook, blinding the countries and regions that are resource-heavy from other opportunities. No, diversity of business is essential to all regions’ economic health.
Practically every country that relies on resource exportation is authoritarian in nature. Because when you run only one simple national business model, you do not require the sort of culture of excellence that requires cooperation and innovation. But the people of every country have excellence in their hearts, denied by the revulsion of the leadership to diversity of business.
Diversity takes time, and it does not have the same psychological benefits of simple resource extraction. It is a long-term strategy that devalues the immediate gains in favor of holistic and qualitative measures.
But just like evolution, in time the diverse models win out. In ten, twenty years, will Crimea not look north, see the diversity, and seek to join it? How could they not?