|Pro-Russian forces illegally occupying Ukraine's Crimea. |
A reason for Colombia to worry?
Russia's occupation of Ukranian territory has, of course, troubling impacts for the whole world, not least because of the episode's multiple parallels to Hitler's first aggressions: Hitler also started off by occupying ethnically friendly parts of Czechoslovakia, as well as Austria, a German-speaking neighbor. Also like Nazi Germany, Russia is fresh from hosting an Olympics. And impossible to ignore are Russia's discriminatory laws against gays, one of the groups persecuted and murdered by the Nazis.
Putin doesn't appear to be another Hitler. But he does have big territorial ambitions, as Hitler did, and those may grow if the West doesn't stop him here. (It's hard not to ask whether Putin might have thot twice before invading Ukraine if the West had taken firm action against the Syrian dictatorship, a Russian ally, after it used poison gas to massacre its own people.)
|Russian military jets' route over Colombian territory.|
More troubling, at the end of last month, Russia's defense minister said that Russia planned to establish military bases across Asia and Latin America, including in Venezuela and Nicaragua. To its credit, an official in Venezuela, whose Constitution declares it to be a 'territory of peace' and bans all foreign military bases, said that no Russian base would be allowed. Yet, considering Venezuela's economic crisis and its government's need for allies, I could certainly see it allowing in the Russian military and just not calling their facilities a 'base'. Venezuela, after all, is full of Cuban 'advisers,' whose presence would in a normal country be called a violation of sovereignty. Venezuela and Colombia have old border disputes in the Guajira region.
If Putin gets his way and the Russian bear is permitted to seize neighbors' territory, Colombia should worry that the Russian bullies will help their allies across the globe grab disputed territory from their own neighbors.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours