No country in the world can hope to survive in an environment of tense military confrontation. Once the foreign strategies of major powers force small and medium-sized countries to choose which side to take, it is bound to create problems.
Protests began on November 21 in Ukraine, with peaceful demonstrators demanding change, but these soon snowballed into massive demonstrations, one after the other, against the government. The demonstrators are trying to force European integration on the country. Others hope that the President will apply pragmatism in taking action on the economy, rather than choosing to take sides between the European Union (EU) and Russia.
Western public opinion is very clear on the current Ukraine crisis. Some scholars have criticized the United States and the EU for not showing enough support to the country, even complaining that "Ukraine has been abandoned by the U.S.".
Although more than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991, in the heart of many western people there still remains a strong "sense of family". They take it for granted that in a tug-of-war between the Western powers and Russia, Ukraine should become a "family member " of the western bloc.
In the eyes of such Westerners, Russia is not part of their clan; likewise, Russia always maintains a vigilant attitude to the West. The end of the Cold War did not bring about the end of such confrontations.
Geopolitical competition between traditional power blocs still exists in the current globalized world. Washington and Moscow are still rivals in the competition to strengthen their influence on Russian’s neighboring countries, according to Charles A. Kupchan, professor of international relations at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S.
A month ago, NATO held a week-long military exercise, code-named "Steadfast Jazz 2013", in Poland and Latvia. It was the biggest NATO drill in 10 years.
Since the 2008 international financial crisis, power relations have undergone a shift. Many experts predict that in the face of a relative decline in their influence, the Western powers will redirect their attention to achieving a new balance by means of adjusting the global management mechanism.
However, the massive demonstrations staged in Ukraine remind us that although the process of economic recovery is very difficult, and internal national politics and wider society are in a period of adjustment, the focus of the western powers' strategy has not moved fundamentally – dominance remains the driving force.
Today, the game between powers still dominates international trends. We can see its shadow behind major world events such as the Syrian crisis and the Iranian nuclear issue.
Traditional logic in the relations among major powers will be further showcased in the international arena in the immediate future; it will remain the most prominent political phenomenon during a period when the old model of power relations will transit to a new one. Powers will strive to carve a more favorable position for themselves in the future world system.
But small and medium-sized countries in vital geopolitical locations, like Ukraine, will face difficult times in the games of major powers. It appears that such countries would benefit from the competition between the two big powers by means of "equidistance diplomacy" on condition that the two powers are of equal strengths.
Ukraine’s current problem is that it is being forced into choosing between becoming the "bridge" or "link" either to the EU of to Russia.
Despite the challenges facing Ukraine, no experts believe that it will make a full commitment to one side or the other in the near future. Voices advocating that foreign policy should address itself first and foremost to the national interest are already making themselves heard in Ukraine, showings a growing awareness of the importance of taking an independent stand for small and medium-sized countries.
No country in the world can hope to survive in an environment of tense military confrontation. Once the foreign strategies of major powers force small and medium-sized countries to choose which side to take, it is bound to create problems. At the same time, the rising power of emerging small countries will constitute an important factor shaping the future relations of big powers.