As Russian forces seize control over Crimea, apparently on the basis of protecting the majority Russian-ethnicity population, tensions have escalated. International pressure has followed, with talk of possible war and sanctions by the United States and their allies. It is an unlikely situation however, given the strong trade relations between them. Although the ‘occupation’ by Russia is illegal, the situation is complicated by the semi-autonomous status of the region. Their local parliament has as a result, elected a pro-Russia prime minister in the form of Sergei Aksenov who has appealed to Putin for help; in light of rumours pertaining to the potential disturbances by Ukrainian nationalists and ‘pro-western anarchists’. This is in addition to former President Viktor Yanukovych (currently seeking refuge in Russia), who aside from claiming himself to still be the President, had asked Putin to intervene with what the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described as an illegal coup d’etat.

The situation in Ukraine, boiling down to a tug-of-war between Obama and Putin, forms a recurring theme in global politics. Putin stands accused of everything from corruption, censorship and violation of human rights, and is often painted in the west as a villain. However, ranging from his stance on Palestine, Syria and even fellow Nobel Peace Prize nominee Edward Snowden, he has demonstrated admirable foresight and diplomatic acumen. Worryingly for someone recognised popularly as the ‘most powerful man in the free world’, Obama on the other hand, has increasingly relied on rhetoric and poor foreign policy. Russia, despite projecting primarily peace-keeping intentions, are essentially protecting their national interests within a neighbouring country; the condemnation of which is hypocritical from a country notorious for their aggressive disregard for sovereignty and human rights in matters of national interest and security. The situation in Ukraine is not about who is good, bad, right or wrong. Essentially, as with many other countries, its only role is that of an unfortunate pawn in a global power struggle.