By Eugene Chausovsky
Just days before the Ukrainian crisis broke out http://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical-diary/ukraine-crisis-sees-its-deadliest-day-yet , I took an overnight train to Kiev from Sevastopol in Crimea. Three mechanics in their 30s on their way to jobs in Estonia shared my compartment. All ethnic Russians born and raised in Sevastopol, they have made the trip to the Baltic states for the past eight years for seasonal work at Baltic Sea shipyards. Our ride together, accompanied by obligatory rounds of vodka, presented the opportunity for an in-depth discussion of Ukraine’s political crisis. The ensuing conversation was perhaps more enlightening than talks of similar length with Ukrainian political, economic or security officials.
Much of Europe is eagerly anticipating the results of Germany’s Sept. 22 parliamentary elections, but this anticipation may be somewhat misplaced. Of course, Germany’s importance to Europe is well founded. It is Europe’s largest economy and its main bailout creditor to struggling eurozone countries, so Germany’s economic health is vital to the economic health of Europe as a whole. But the relationship goes both ways: Germany’s economy relies on the free trade zone and on exports, which the rest of Europe can buy only if it can afford to do so. Thus any government in Berlin will continue to aid countries afflicted by the European crisis — even at the risk of growing domestic opposition.