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Is Putin Winning? The Ukraine Crisis Remains Unresolved.

11/09/2014 1 comment

Some people interpret the cease fire in Ukraine as a victory for Russia and Vladimir Putin. The reasoning is that the cease fire leaves Ukraine with disputed borders, which rules out Ukraine’s membership in NATO. But will the cease fire hold? No, I don’t think so. I think we learned enough from the previous cease fire. And there are already reports of violations of the cease fire. Guns might be silent in eastern Ukraine right now, but President Vladimir Putin as an anachronistic leader still fighting the Cold War and seeking to expand Russia’s territory.

The big questions is, what is going to happen next? Well, we all hope for that day to come sooner, when all the separatists are gone from Ukraine and Ukraine can start recovering from this crisis that is tearing apart the whole country. Instead, Russia has started working on other things on the side. Kidnapped Estonian agent and ‘green men’ in Moldova… Is President Putin moving on to his next targets? President Barack Obama visited Estonia last week and reaffirmed the United States’ and NATO’s commitment to the security of Estonia. Just two days later, Russian agents crossed the border and using smoke grenades and radio jamming devices, kidnapped an officer of the country’s Internal Security Service. Eston Kohver, kidnapped Estonian officer, appeared later that day in Moscow, here he was charged with spying and carrying an illegal handgun. Russia claims that Kohver was arrested on Russian soil, but Estonian officials claim that not only is this untrue, but that Kohver appears to have walked into a trap set by Russia’s security service, the FSB.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said: “The masks have fallen. We see how Russia continues to isolate itself from democratic nations.” Addressing the taking of the security officer, he said, “Russian security service FSB kidnapped an Estonian citizen from Estonian soil and took him to a prison in Moscow and even bans the Estonian consul from meeting the Estonian citizen.”

Meanwhile, E.U. and the U.S. are trying to come up with the further sanction to counter Putin’s intimidation. They believe that Russia will eventually surrender under the economic pain, which should be obvious, yet Putin is not showing any marks of weaknesses on his side. The problem is that the West is not willing to put major sanctions on Russia out of concern for the adverse consequences on their own economies. While I completely understand that we can’t collapse our own economies, we need to sacrifice a little to stop Russia’s aggression. And we all know, if we let Putin win this one, he will NOT stop. Never.

Few weeks ago, the United Nations human rights office in Geneva implicated the pro-Russian separatists in repugnant crimes of war:

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are guilty of a wide array of human rights abuses, including murder, abductions and torture, and are receiving a “steady supply” of sophisticated weapons and ammunition, according to a U.N. report obtained by Reuters.

“Armed groups continue to commit killings, abductions, physical and psychological torture, ill treatment, executions, murder and other serious human rights abuses,” the report said, adding that violations were “disproportionately targeting civilians.”

Putin has free hands to act with impunity inside the Ukraine. It is a war in Europe. The 23-year-old post-Cold War order has crumbled, and we need to put an end on it.

Defining Religion

When Estonians were recently asked whether religion played an important part in their life, only 20% said yes. It suggests the Baltic country is, statistically, the least religious country in the world (BBC news, 26 August 2011). I am from Estonia, and I have to be honest, I never had interest in religion, never read the Bible and never went to church before, but college classes like culture and civilisation (history) and theology made me realize how interesting its philosophy is. The most interesting part of religious and historical studies is definitely learning about God. But who is God really? There are other questions that interest me and make me want to know more about: What is religion really and what is relationship between religion and science?

I believe that religion is just something that helps us along. It’s like a parental figure. Something that can guide you along in your life, step by step. Some people say God is not religion, but to me, He is. To me, God is a mystery. Although the Bible does not contain a formal definition of “God,” (as it also does not seek to prove His existence formally), yet His Being, attributes and characteristics are seen on every page of  the Bible. There are theologians who believe God is in heaven and that life of heaven is also present on earth. I do have a faith in God and sometimes I do ask for the help, but I am not very passionate about the religion overall. I do not go to church and normally, I do not read the Bible, but I do believe in God. God is someone who helps me go through the hard times. Sometimes I feel that God has let me down or that he did not answer to my prayers in times that I most needed him, but then I realise that everything happens for a reason and everything God does is for a reason.  I believe that God helps me all the time. For me, God is life. God is light. God is love. God is a friend. God is faithful. God is the creator of the world. God is good and wants only good to human kind. This is how I see God.

As Albert Einstein wrote in his book ”The World as I See It”: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The relationship between religion and science has been a subject of study since a very long time ago and is still a very common topic. Science can both falsify and and verify claims of religion. One of the most notorious examples was the medieval Church’s condemnation of Galileo for his holding that the Earth moves around the sun rather than vice versa. Also, there were times when the brightest minds in the world thought that earth was flat or that the atom was the smallest thing until it was split open and even smaller things came up. I am not denying evolution, but I just think that there might be a possibilities that some new theories will come up and science will totally change. Since I raised a question of evolution theory, it made me want to know more and I did some research on that, and I found two interesting (and funny) quotes by a great author Richard Dawkins: “Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours.” Second quote: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

There are a lot of different religions and religious groups in the world that people follow. Some people believe, some people do not. This is the way it is going to be, possibly forever. I don’t think that the rise of scientific authority will lead to a decline in religion. Like I said in my introduction, I was never interested in religion, but I learned so much while writing this paper and to be honest, it really is an interesting field. I am going to end my paper with the quote by Dalai Lama XIV: “The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness.”