Ukraine ceasefire, tension and further conflict

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - FEBRUARY 13, 2015

A ceasefire agreement has recently been reached between the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko; all in the presence of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and French President, Francois Hollande.

However, this does not necessarily mean that tensions will be reduced. This understanding was emphasised in the recent statement by Merkel, in the wake of the agreement, admitting that there is “very, very much work still to do.”

In realising the hard work that could still very well be required, and in sensing that the tension simply cannot afford to wither away anytime soon, one is thrown back to the Cold War; more specifically, the Korean War.

The Korean War was a ferocious conflict which lasted just three years, yet took the lives of countless individuals – well over one-million. It was a conflict which drew in the participation of the United States and the United Nations, which consisted of the direct participation of sixteen nations (including South Africa) and 41-supporting nations, in support of the South Koreans. North Korea would be supported by the Soviet Union and backed by the Chinese, who would see action against the “western” forces in almost creating a complete massacre for the US and UN.

After three years of harsh fighting, a “ceasefire” would be reached, but the tension would not fade away. Even to this day, fierce tension still exists between North Korea and the west-backed South Korea.

The tension within the Cold War would continue right until the complete collapse of one of the superpowers and, as history decided, it would be the Soviet Union. However, this would not be seen for almost another forty years.

Furthermore, within those years, more “indirect” conflicts would be seen in the Vietnam War; seeing support by the Soviet Union and China towards North Vietnam alongside the United States showing South Vietnam theirs. The Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 60’s would spark a tension so great that the world almost prepared for full-out nuclear war. This tension would even come to Africa with the Angola situation, drawing in the involvement and/or support of various sides including the United States, the Soviet Union, Cuba and even South Africa.

The point being made is that the tension has not necessarily been lowered, not even the slightest, especially in light of the history between the “west” and “east”. Russia is making tighter relations with China, putting even more pressure on the west. South Africa itself, not only being a proud member of BRICS but also having a long history with the Soviet Union (with the ANC having received much support from the Kremlin during the “Struggle”), has demonstrated its commitment to its Eastern European allies, with nuclear-power deals being a possible example.

Russia’s alleged backing of pro-Russian rebels and the west’s complete support for Ukraine, alongside the conflict’s ceasefire after over a year of fighting, finds itself webbed in a tension-ridden and possibly “new cold war”. The scenario unfolding can be argued to echo of a time gone by, yet seemingly forever present.

Should we expect calm from this ceasefire; one which will eventually fade from conscious memory? Or should we be prepared for not only prolonged tension, but further conflict laced with the fibres of historically-common enemies, and a new string of allies?

 

Image courtesy of: rt.com