The situation in Crimea is dramatic evidence that the world is in a phase of great fluidity, where old divisions are uncovered and new dangers are arising. The breakup of the Soviet Union left many areas of possible conflict when the cohesive factor of a transnational entity fell apart. We saw this in a smaller dimension in Yugoslavia, whose breakup brought a return to nationalism and years of bloodshed. To a lesser – but no less notable – extent, the economic crisis in the European Union highlighted that the default position in international politics is still a return to ethnic stereotypes and the pursuit of each nation state’s interests over those of the whole.
Seeing that it is losing a country which it had dominated, Russia is now trying to exert the greatest possible influence in the region, moving dynamically to create a fait accomplis. But this is likely to sow the seeds of further strife. The only way to deal with this is through a united front, with cooperation between the US and the EU. And with the EU realizing, at last, that it has to act and think like the single, powerful force that it could be.