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Value alliance called for in new `Cold War` era

Posted March. 20, 2014 01:56,   


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty that absorbs Crimea into Russia on Tuesday, Russia`s relations with the United States and the European Union are showing signs of returning to the Cold War era. Depending on how the situation develops, major countries around the world could be forced to make a choice between being pro-Russia or anti-Russia for the first time since the dismantlement of the former Soviet Union. It is time for South Korea to cool-headedly read the situation and make a strategic choice in order to protect its national interest amid the seismic changes in the international order.

The latest incident, in which one country took another country`s territory for the first time in Europe since World War II, is a violation of international law. No other state but Russia recognizes the result of the Crimean referendum that took place amid Russian troops` deployment to the region. Nearly 97 percent of the voters supported the annexation. The cause for Russia`s annexation of Crimea is nothing but an excuse under which Moscow attempts to intervene in the domestic affairs of all former Soviet Union states.

Under a slogan of building "a strong Russia," Putin has been relentlessly pursuing an expansionist line based on Russia`s economic growth fueled by brisk exports of gas and oil. Although the U.S. has avoided head-on collision by passively intervening in the situation, the latest incident will likely make it impossible for Washington and Moscow to redefine their relations. U.S. President Barack Obama plans to hold an emergency meeting with leaders of the G-8 powers, except Russia, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in the Hague, the Netherlands next week. They are expected to discuss further sanctions in addition to freezing bank accounts of ranking Russian officials and entry bans. However, it would not be easy to find an effective solution unless they are resolved to risk a war.

Seoul`s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it would not recognize Russia`s annexation of Crimea, it has to make a difficult decision whether to join the sanctions. Joining the sanctions could deal a serious blow to the Park Geun-hye administration`s Eurasia initiative aimed at increasing exchanges with Russia. Also, there is no guarantee that North Korea or China would try to protect its national interest at the risk of violating international law.

Seoul has to not only make a careful judgment about the situation but also has to align itself with its allies, with which it shares the values of liberal democracy, market economy and human rights. Despite the friction between South Korea and Japan over past history, it is true that the two neighbors share common values in their present and future relationship. Russia, albeit a democratic state in form, is actually under the rule of Putin, who is a modern-day czar. If Putin`s expansionist ambition is left unchecked, it will likely undermine the basis for peace from Central Asia to the Baltic region. While closely cooperating with Washington, Seoul needs to exchange dialogue channels with Tokyo as well. As South Korea will become the chair state of the U.N. Security Council next month, it will have more room to make diplomatic efforts.