Now that Sochi Olympics are over, we’ll see more of Russia in Ukraine

Now that Sochi Olympics are over, we’ll see more of Russia in Ukraine

When a country’s self-confidence is boosted; does it become more aggressive (in the negative sense) or less aggressive, with its foreign policy?

In the case of Turkey, we have seen mixed results. Increased self-confidence helped Turkey’s reconciliation with Greece, with which it was in hostile terms until the 2000s. Yet, this same self-confidence became quite self-destructive in the case of Syria.

Now there is a new case for political scientists: Russia.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin, these Olympics’ political architect and booster-in-chief, watched and smiled as Sochi gave itself a giant pat on the back for a Winter Games that IOC President Thomas Bach declared an ‘extraordinary success,’” reported The Associated Press. But the same story talks about how the past few days of the Ukrainian turmoil overshadowed the last few days of the Olympic Games.

There could be two possible scenarios if we were to read Putin’s state of mind in the closing ceremony of the Olympics (a near impossible mission, obviously).

Either he was so happy about the “success” of the games that he did not want the Ukrainian issue to spoil the moment, or he was extra furious at Ukraine for precisely spoiling the moment.

Obviously, Ukraine is much more important to Russia than simply being a nuisance overshadowing the glamour of the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. Ever since the demise of the Soviet Union, Moscow has tried to keep Ukraine under its sphere of influence.

Many observers tend to see Ukraine as a battle field for Russia and the Western camp. Yet, we are not talking about two equal forces in the battle field. Ukraine is much more important to Russia than it is to the European Union and the United States.

The anti-Russia camp within the EU, such as Poland and the Baltic states, might be willing to stand fiercely against Moscow in Ukraine, but countries like Germany, Italy or France who have lucrative bilateral business deals with Russia will not be willing to antagonize Putin for Ukraine.

Those who think the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency is a victory for the West might be disappointed, since it might be a short lived victory. Ukraine needs substantial assistance from the EU if it wants to survive on its own. Yet, it will be very difficult for the EU to offer the same kind of assistance that has been delivered by Russia in the past.

Now that the Winter Olympics, an issue of high prestige for Putin, are over, we will definitely see more of Russia on the ground.

Turkey’s standing on Ukrainian crisis

Meanwhile, Turkey’s policy in the Ukrainian crisis has been low profile. As far as principles are concerned, this does not diverge from the EU’s policy. Turkey’s interests dictate that Ukraine comes closer to the EU, rather than remains under the Russian sphere of influence. However, as in the case of other European countries, its relationship with Moscow is too important to say this out loud.

Meanwhile, comparing the reactions of the government to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Yanukovych is revealing, in the sense that it shows how Turkey reacted emotionally and disregarded national interests in the case of Egypt.