Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Want those Red Mittens Back!

You will recall that on Valentine's Day, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Canada House during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.  He and the Canadians talked sports (mostly hockey) and he wished us all the best in our medal search.  He hoped that Canada and Russia might meet in the Gold Medal Hockey Game.

We were very pleased that President Putin visited Canada House and the Canadians there gave him a pair of iconic Red Mittens, emblazoned with the red maple leaf.  He held them high above his head and smiled.

A few weeks later, Putin has ordered his armed forces to invade a sovereign neighbour nation.

Mr. Putin, give back those mittens.  You are not worthy!

I understand Mr. Putin's concern for the Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the Crimean peninsula.  They've lived there for more than eighty years and now call the Ukraine their home.  But I truly believe that there must be a better way to safeguard their interests than a Russian invasion!  This is where Canada must insist that Vladimir Putin remove the Russian Armed Forces from the Crimea and hustle to the negotiation table to work this one out peacefully, without tanks.

In the meantime Mr. Putin, give us back those mittens!


  1. Crimea has been under Russian influence much longer than eighty years. The largest concentration of Russians in Crimea is around Sevastapol, which has been a Russian city at least since the rule of Catherine the Great in the late 1700s; the Crimean War in the 1850s was in part over the rights of the Russian empire to protect Russian Orthodox Christians living, there.

    I really don't see how the number of years makes much difference, though. Beyond a few militant Ukrainian nationalists, I don't think anybody is implying that the ethnic Russians living in Crimea don't belong there.

    The existence of those extremists along the fringes of the Ukrainian 'Maidan' protest movement, is a cause for concern. Their threats and isolated attacks against non-Ukrainians in Kiev and other places - particularly against Jewish people, who were urged to leave the country by their Chief Rabbi, a couple weeks ago - should give us pause before we try to interpret all that is going on, over there. Much less, try and pick sides.

    I would really just as well stay out of it.

  2. Russia and The Ukraine have been squabbling on and off for centuries. Joe Stalin thought he had the solution to this problem back in the 1930s by exterminating the Ukrainians. It didn't work. Russia and the Ukraine signed a treaty to observe and respect each other's boundaries just a few years ago. A number of other nations signed that same treaty!
    As a nation, we cannot stay out of it. Russia is being a bully like so many others we've seen in the past. They cannot be allowed to get away with it simply because they're the big kid in the neighbourhood.
    Also, there are millions of Canadians who can trace their ancestry to the Ukraine. Many still have relatives there. As a courtesy to those fellow Canadians, I believe we must support them in their objection to this outright bullying.
    As Canadians we must also support the Ukraines attempts to create a democracy out of last month's violence!

    1. As I read in the Economist several months ago, the Ukrainians (and the Egyptians, who are also protesting their government) seem to be better revolutionaries than democrats. As it's been pointed out, hopefully - the Ukrainian president which was ousted by the Ukrainian parliament in lieu of the 'Maidan' protests in the past month, was democratically elected. This is also the second revolution in Ukraine in as many years.

      That's another reason why I think Canada should really stay as far away from this mess as we can. I support the idea of stable democracy in Ukraine, too - but that's a road that goes both ways.

      And it should go without saying; if this were Mexico we were talking about, and not Ukraine, our largest ally would've likely considered some form of military intervention as well.

    2. It's clear that my son Rhys and I have agreed to disagree on this one. It's not the first time and won't be the last! I still believe that Putin is being a bully and must be called to account for his behaviour in the Crimea. Hopefully words will keep flying back and forth and not bullets!