Cold War 2.0: what is the true cost of peace in Europe?

Written by Solomiia Bobrovska.*

After the Cold War ended in 1991 Russia continued to dream of its revenge on the Western world. That has never been a secret here in Eastern Europe.

cold war, ukraine, putin, solomiia bobrovska, crimea

Russia persists in these aims, with the idea that - step-by-step - it will restore itself to the status it had in the era of the Soviet Union.

We witnessed the destabilisation of neighbouring Georgia, first in 1992-1994 and again in 2008, when it caused the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to declare “independence”.

We saw armed conflict in the Transnistria region of neighbouring Moldova in 1992.

And we experienced the Russian annexation of the Crimea and its involvement in war in neighbouring Ukraine in 2014.

These are all examples of the re-building of the Soviet empire.

The Western world was careful and restrained in responding to these crises with public speeches and sanctions. Nobody seemed prepared to acknowledge that Russian aggression in Ukraine was an attempt to initiate a new political order in Europe.

It was only the Baltic countries, Latvia especially, that announced military preparations and appealed to NATO for assistance. Their historical memory still works; Latvians remember the inhumane tortures of the USSR.

Russia has meddled with Brexit, it has exerted influence over the United States Presidential Election, and it has interfered in the Catalonian independence referendum. There have been obvious and systematic murders of former Russian citizens living in the UK. What other proof do people need to wake up to reality and and not be duped by the convenient explanations of Russian politicians and media?

The brazen use of the Novachok radioactive poison - which is monopolised by Russia - to target former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK shows a lack of vigilance by the British security services.

Look at how the Russian plane used to take the 23 diplomats expelled from the UK after the Skripal attack was the very same one used in December to smuggle 389 kilos of cocaine into Argentina in Russian diplomatic baggage. This contemptuous gesture and other nuanced signals are warnings to the politicians and security services in Europe.

I wonder how long it will take the West to start acting, not simply waiting to respond to an attack. The attempted murder of Skripal and the murder in London of Nikolai Glushkov - the former business partner of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky -  and its involvement in various elections shows the extent of this programme of destabilisation and gives a clear signal of Russia’s threat to Western security and its ability to directly intervene in European politics.

Every day the price of peace in Europe is rising. The question is, what is the true cost we are paying for it?

Watch Solomiia's speech at the OYW 2014 Summit in Dublin, Ireland:

*Solomiia Bobrovska is Ukrainian civil activist, military volunteer. She has more than seven years of experience in civil society NGOs and state service. After serving as an aide to the Vice Prime Minister on Humanitarian Issues in Kyiv, she began working in the Odesa Regional State Administration (2015-2017, first as Advisor to the Governor, then as Deputy Governor, and finally as acting Head (Governor). In 2017 was awarded Top 30 Under 30 by Kyiv Post for being the youngest to serve as Acting Governor in Ukraine.