Given that throughout history, Europe has constantly been wracked by wars and conflicts, it is not surprising that they have still not been eradicated from the continent. Ever since the end of World War 2 and its immediate aftermath, Europe has seen the communist insurgency in Greece, Soviet demands on Turkey for military bases in the Bosporus straits, the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, the Soviet invasion of Chechoslovakia, the civil war after the break up of Yugoslavia, the US bombing of Kosovo in 1999, and now the dispute between Russia and Ukraine because the latter wanted to join the European Union which would take it away from Russian influence, resulting in Russia sending troops to Crimea.
This is significant because it means that two opposing camps are forming in Europe, the European Union, an egalitarian alliance for European countries, and Russia, a giant Eurasian country which is not a member of the EU and wants to expand its influence in Europe, going up against the EU. And we can see why. Russia has the potential to be a powerful country. It has vast amounts of resources besides oil and gas, such as minerals in Northern Siberia, which are not yet fully tapped because of the extremely low population and lack of development. But there is just one problem for Russia. Look at its map.
Given that Russia’s northern coastline borders the Arctic and is filled with ice, Russia is almost a land-locked country. Russia is totally shut off from the Indian Ocean, almost shut off from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterannean sea, and is disadvantaged in the Pacific Ocean, because its most southern port of Vladivostock is still too cold for unhampered shipping, plus the Pacific coast is far away from Russia itself. Therefore, in order to expand its power, Russia will have to exert influence over quite a lot of potential countries. The situation was better when Russia had more territory as the Soviet Union, a lot of which has now broken away. Back then, Russia was communist and so most countries were hostile to it, but since this is no longer the case, Russia now has an opportunity to freely make its way in the world.
Which brings us to Crimea. Perhaps the best route for Russia to the outside world is through the Black sea into the Mediterranean. Only by taking over Crimea, which is attached to Ukraine but seperated from Russia by a narrow strait of water, can she get an open outlet into the Mediterranean. She has some justification in that Crimea used to be a part of Russia within the Soviet Union until Nikita Krushchev transferred it to the Ukraine and Crimea was until 2014 an autonomous province. The Black Sea is an ancient hotbed of trade, and scholarrs are studying the ancient trade routes in the region. I wonder if they are connected to Russia.
There is a very simple reason for all the wars Europe is prone to. Look at the population density of Europe (its population is as high as the entire Americas and as Africa) and its contorted and zig-zagged geographical shape and features. That is because Europe used to be a large collection of islands, just like Indonesia, but they have now all joined together (Britain was one of them until sea levels went up). Europe may be the most geographically varied continent with distinct features here and there. And also, Europe lies at a very strategic location, right next to Asia, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean.
Crimea is a very valuable asset for Russia. However, because of international regulations forbidding plain imperialism, Russia may have to use fraud and subversion, such as pretending that chaos is going on in Ukraine, in order to get what it wants. However, Russia’s occupation of Georgia so far has been far more benevolent than US occupations of other countries. This may be because Russia inherits high standards of European warfare. America tends to use technology which causes a lot of destruction but Russia uses manpower more, which achieves goals while causing less damage. Americans are very unused to fighting, despite their high amount of guns, while Russians are more used to it. They have decades of ground war experience in Daghestan and Chechnya. Their Cold War battles involved the landing of troops in Eastern Europe. While America fought its Cold War battles through proxy, other than Vietnam which unlike Russia’s Daghestan, was an unhappy experience in America’s military annals.