Russian Troops in the Crimea

John Kerry is appropriately aghast at the “incredible act of aggression” by Russia in the Ukraine:

 

“You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text," Kerry told the CBS program "Face the Nation."

 

This new-found respect for the sovereignty of foreign nations represents a laudable 180 degree change in US foreign policy. You just don't do that in the 21st century! Like e.g. invading Iraq by making up tall stories about “weapons of mass destruction” hidden there. It's just not done. As an aside to this: in February, the civil war currently raging in Iraq has cost yet another 1,705 lives, with 2,045 wounded. The death toll is a considerable increase from January's 1,284 dead and 2,088 wounded. Perhaps you weren't aware there is a civil war raging in Iraq? If so, that is no surprise. The Western media have fallen almost completely silent on the topic. Yet, this is what the famous 'mission' has actually 'accomplished'.

As Jason Ditz reports regarding the recent escalation in the Crimea:

 

“While US politicians have also ratcheted up the rhetoric, US officials concede that Russia’s troops in Crimea are setting up defensive positions and are in a “self-defense posture only.”

Reports from Crimea’s government say they’ve got Russian troops helping them protect government buildings in anticipation of the referendum, and with a sense that will easily back secession and re-accession into the Russian federation, it seems that Russia doesn’t need to “invade” at all, but simply needs to keep the interim government at bay until Crimean voters affirm the switch.”

 

(emphasis added)

But we actually can't have a democratic referendum, can we? Especially one the outcome of which is very likely going to be one that doesn't conform to 'our' (the Western powers) wishes. So let's get this straight: removing a democratically elected government by violence is perfectly fine with our politicians. Please note in this context that Yanukovich, for all his faults, was actually offering one conciliatory gesture after another: he offered the opposition to join the government, he extended an amnesty to all imprisoned protesters, he twice offered a truce and agreed to early presidential elections. It is not entirely clear  which side broke the truce – if press reports are to be believed, the protesters sure had a hand in it (many of the most violent ones are supporters of the fascist 'Svoboda' party). Even CNN admitted as much, and CNN is usually well known for tailoring its reporting to the wishes of the powers-that-be (CNN's habit of faking reports is by now legendary). So, a violent revolution is fine, but a referendum over whether the Crimea wants to remain with the Ukraine is considered anathema. By the way, we are certainly not arguing that Yanukovich is anything but a major sleazeball;  there is evidently an endless supply of those in Ukrainian politics. There is also little doubt that Yanukovich in the end gave the green light to his security forces to use live ammunition. We certainly don't want to paint Yanukovich as a perfectly innocent party. We are merely pointing out a few facts that seem to be getting short shrift in the mainstream press.

 

“Territorial Integrity” Nonsense

The main point we want to make is though that it is absurd that everybody insists on keeping the 'territorial integrity' of the Ukraine intact, as if it had any special meaning or as if there were any reason to regard it as sacrosanct. The Ukraine as it exists today is largely a creation of Soviet communists, who deliberately added large Russian-dominated territories to the Ukraine precisely because they wanted to keep a lid on nationalist sentiments. In fact, the Ukrainian territory of today is – with the sole exception of a tiny piece of heartland -  almost entirely a Russian creation. What the communists didn't tack on, the Tzars did. Here is a historical map that shows what occurred. Note in this context also that the past 23 years since the implosion of the Soviet Bloc are the longest period of time in which the Ukraine has been independent in more than 300 years. That is of course not meant to imply that it shouldn't be independent. The importance of maintaining the 'territorial integrity' of a territory put together by a bunch of Soviet communists over the past 90 years eludes us however.

 


 

Ukraine-History
The tiny orange piece in the middle was the original Ukraine. Later additions to the then Russian province and later Soviet Republic were all the work of Russian tzars and Soviet communists. Not even Kiev was originally part of the Ukraine. And obviously, the Crimea was the most recent addition to its territory, courtesy of Nikita Khrushchev. That makes it a sacrosanct part of the Ukraine how exactly?

 


 

When Yugoslavia fell apart, keeping its 'territorial integrity' intact was the last thing on the mind of Western powers. They demanded the exact opposite: Serbia was to be dismantled. When Czechs and Slovaks parted ways amicably, the world somehow kept turning as well. The biggie is of course the Soviet empire itself: there was widespread delight at its 'loss of territorial integrity'. By contrast, when West and East Germany let it be known they wanted to reunify, the allied powers were initially against it. It took a lot of deft maneuvering by the West German government (including paying a big political and economic price by agreeing to the introduction of the euro) to finally convince all the former WW2 allies to give their placet to reunification.

It should be obvious that the demands regarding the Ukraine's territorial integrity are largely a result of the utterly pointless geopolitical contest between Washington and Moscow. What the citizens of the Ukraine want is way down on the list of priorities. Incidentally, now that Ukrainians have the government Victoria Nuland planned for them, they are already beginning to doubt it.

 

Protesters on the square universally tell tales of the wild riches that ordinary parliamentarians gain – one confidently talked of the "millions" a member of parliament can get for voting correctly during a debate. They reckon that the leaders of the opposition-turned government, such as acting President Oleksander Turchinov and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk will enjoy such benefits.”

 

That is of course the main reason for entering politics in the Ukraine, so the protesters probably have it quite right. On the other hand, Yanukovich and Tymoshenko before him have apparently looted the state's coffers so thoroughly that the only way to get at fresh moolah in the near future is via the EU/IMF.  

Let us get back to the territorial integrity question though. In the meantime, just as we suspected would happen, other Eastern Ukrainian regions have joined the Crimea in reconsidering their status.

 

“Dozens of people were hurt in clashes on Saturday when pro-Russia activists stormed the regional government's headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and raised the Russian flag, local media said. The UNIAN news agency said thousands of people had gathered outside the building during a protest against the country's new leaders who ousted President Viktor Yanukovich a week ago.

The violence signaled that Ukraine's new leaders could face a challenge in mainly Russian-speaking regions that oppose the largely pro-Western course charted by the newly installed government. The leaders of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula with an ethnic Russian majority that is home to a Russian naval base, say they have joined forces with Russian servicemen to exert control over key buildings. Russian parliament has approved a proposal by President Vladimir Putin to deploy troops in Ukraine.

Protests against the new authorities also took place on Saturday in other cities, including Odessa, Dnipro and Donetsk, Yanukovich's home town and power base.

The Russian flag was raised over the regional government building in Donetsk by several thousand pro-Russia activists waving the Russian tricolour and chanting "Russia! Russia!, witnesses said. Donetsk authorities issued an appeal for a referendum to be called on the future status of the region.”

 

(emphasis added)

 


 

Ukraine_Kharkiv_fl_2838712c

The Russian flag is hoisted in Kharkiv

(Photo via AFP / Getty Images)

 


 

This is precisely what we expected: as soon as the Crimea announced it would hold a referendum on its status, other regions with a predominantly Russian speaking population would follow suit. Again, why wouldn't they? The new government has just declared their mother tongue 'lingua non grata' again.

And why should some of the Eastern regions not be allowed to secede from the Ukraine? After all, it can be shown unequivocally that the constant eruption of violent conflict is not only the result of popular discontent with the corrupt political and economic elite. It is firmly rooted in an ethnic-linguistic conflict that could be resolved once and for all by a partition. The charts below are making all of this perfectly clear.

 

An Ethnic and Linguistic Conflict in Pictures

First let us take a detailed look at the linguistic situation. Ukrainian is spoken mainly in the Western Ukraine, while Russian predominates in the Eastern part of the country. What is interesting is that the percentage of citizens that support making Russian the second official language is quite a bit higher than the percentage naming it as their mother tongue. Obviously, most Ukrainians actually understand and speak Russian. The first three charts show survey results from 2003, which are a bit outdated by now, but nevertheless illustrate the basic situation.

Note that there is a historical reason for this East-West split: much of today's Western Ukraine used to be part of the late medieval Lithuanian Empire, and  later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which became a Russian protectorate in 1768 and was subsequently partitioned several times. At the time of its largest territorial extent, the regions that are today considered part of the 'Eastern Ukraine' were actually Russian territory. A historical map of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth can be seen here).

 


 

Russian language distributionA detailed overview of the Ukraine's language distribution – click to enlarge.

 


 

Ukraine Language-macroLanguage distribution by 'macro-region' – click to enlarge.

 


 

Official_Russian_language_support_in_Ukraine
Support for making Russian the second official language. It is interesting that the idea has considerable support in several central/Western regions as well, in spite of the fact that most of the inhabitants declare Ukrainian to be their mother tongue – click to enlarge.

 


 

ukrain, languages-2011 surveyFinally, a 2011 survey by a Kiev based think-tank, showing the regions which have made Russian the second official language after Yanukovich signed a law making it possible to adopt it as a 'regional' official language. This was one of the first laws the new government reversed. Looking at the map above, is it any wonder Russian flags are hoisted in cities in Kharkiv, Donetsk and the Crimea? – click to enlarge.

 


 

As to why we feel so certain that the linguistic divide truly reflects the political conflict, nothing is easier to prove. The first map below shows the 2004 election results after the 'Orange Revolution' ousted the the first Yanukovich government in favor of the Yushchenko/Tymoshenko government. The election result reflected the linguistic divide to a 'T'.

Below that we see the results of the 2010 election, which took place long after Yushchenko had fallen from grace, toppled by his former ally, the 'gas princess' Yulia Tymoshenko. Apparently even a number of Western Ukrainians were so fed up with Tymoshenko that a number of them decided to support the no less tainted Yanukovich (Yanukovich has been a force in Ukrainian politics since the demise of the Kuchma regime. Kuchma's government was largely a Western Ukrainian kleptocracy, but both Yushchenko and Yanukovich actually served in it as prime minsters at some point).

 


 

ukraine-2004The 2004 election in the Ukraine, which former 'Orange Revolution' star Yushkenko won. In 2010, he would not even garner 10% of the vote. The degree of East-West polarization is astonishing.  Funny enough, both Yushchenko and Yanukovich once served as prime ministers in the Kuchma government – click to enlarge.

 


 

ukraine-2010-electionThe 2010 run-off election between Yanukovich and Tymoshenko. This map shows which of the regions were ultimately won by one or the other – click to enlarge.

 


 

2010 election detailsA more detailed map of the same election, which indicates that polarization was slightly less pronounced than in 2004, largely because Tymoshenko was no longer regarded as trustworthy by many of her former supporters after deserting Yushchenko and making deals with Yanukovich – not to mention her involvement in various financial scandals. Nevertheless, the result still strongly reflects the linguistic divide – click to enlarge.

 


 

Next is a detailed map of the 2007 parliamentary election (at the time, Tymoshenko still enjoyed more support than in 2010). By and large it reflects exactly the same phenomenon: people simply tended to vote for 'their' crook, regardless of how corrupt he or she was held to be:

 


 

ukraine-2007-parliamentary-election

The 2007 parliamentary election followed the same general pattern – click to enlarge.

 


 

Next, a map showing where exactly the protests against Yanukovich broke out last year and their status in 2014:

 


 

ukraine-protests-map-kWhere the protests took place. Note where precisely the 'government center was seized by protesters' as there is an interesting parallel with the next map – click to enlarge.

 


 

The next map shows the growing electoral success of the fascist 'Svoboda' party, formerly called the 'Social Nationalist Party'. Here is a video of a march organized by one of its leaders, Yuri Michalchyshyn. At the time the party still used the  "wolf's angel" heraldic cross as its symbol. Similarities with the Swastika are entirely coincidental of course.

These worthies have increasingly captured the imagination of Western Ukrainian voters, gaining 38 seats in the 2012 parliament. Compare the regions in which their support was the greatest in 2012 with the the regions where government buildings were forcefully occupied according to the map above. This tells us something about their willingness to employ violence.

Will Svoboda's influence wane now that the opposition has taken over? Perhaps, but we actually doubt it. We suspect for one thing that the party's alliance with the more moderate 'Fatherland Party' of Yatseniuk/Tymoshenko is largely an alliance of convenience.  It is doubtful that Svoboda really shares their eagerness for joining the EU – it is largely its virulent anti-Russian stance that informs its lip service on that point.

 


 

Svoboda_party_map_2006-2012

The rise of Ukraine's fascists – click to enlarge.

 


 

The new government will be forced to take many unpopular decisions due to the precarious financial and economic state the Ukraine finds itself in. Svoboda may well decide that it will be to its benefit to oppose these decisions. Hard economic times are typically when radical parties like Svoboda tend to flourish.

Speaking of economic and financial hardship, the Yanukovich government was welcome to subsidized gas deliveries from Russia's Gazprom. However, Russia has of course no interest in extending the discounted price to the new government – and it can point to the fact that there is still a rather large unpaid bill outstanding:

 

“Russia's energy ministry said on Saturday it saw no reason to extend an earlier agreed gas discount to Ukraine for the second quarter due to unpaid debt for deliveries, the Interfax news agency cited a representative at the ministry as saying.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said earlier on Saturday that Ukraine's debt for 2013 and this year's deliveries stood at $1.55 billion. "If this continues to happen, is there any point in continuing the existing agreement on gas supplies at discount prices? No," the agency cited an unnamed ministry representative as saying.”

 

(emphasis added)

Of course these sudden second thoughts about the gas discount and the Ukraine's overdue payments are mainly designed to increase the political pressure on the new Ukrainian government.

 

Conclusion:

The Western insistence that the Ukraine must remain as it is glosses over the fact that it is a deeply divided country. Clearly citizens of Western Ukraine sympathize with Europe, while Eastern Ukrainians sympathize with Russia. Even the occasional Ukrainian warship is unwilling to obey its new masters in Kiev. The division between the two halves of the Ukraine has long-standing historical roots.  There is undoubtedly genuine frustration in the population over the antics of the country's political elite, but whether the new rulers will turn out to be any better than the old ones remains to be seen (experience to date suggests otherwise, as political corruption has seemingly become deeply entrenched).

Experience also suggests that the two opposed groups are simply unable to find a modus vivendi. In other words, forcing them to remain in a single nation state will only lead to even more conflict. When borders drawn by dictators of the past become an unending source of conflict, it is probably best to rearrange them.

 

 

Maps by: Wikipedia, Washington Post, GeoCurrents


 

 

 

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28 Responses to “Mapping the Conflict in the Ukraine”

  • JLWS:

    The real reason of “Ukrainian crisis” is CRIMEA (and its Russian military base and potential US/NATO base).

    http://jackmatlock.com/2014/03/ukraine-the-price-of-internal-division/

    “Russia, as any other country would be, is extremely sensitive about foreign military activity adjacent to its borders. It has signaled repeatedly that it will stop at nothing to prevent NATO membership for Ukraine. (In fact, most Ukrainians do not want it.) Nevertheless, Ukrainian membership in NATO was an avowed objective of the Bush-Cheney administration and one that has not been categorically excluded by the Obama Administration. ”

    Russia can tolerate Ukraine (and have close friendly relationship) if:
    “(1) this is not seen as having an anti-Russian basis;
    (2) Russian-speaking citizens are granted social, cultural and linguistic equality with Ukrainians, and
    (3) most important of all, that the gradual economic integration with Europe will not lead to Ukraine becoming a member of NATO.”

    If US would NOT try to push Ukraine to EU (and then NATO), everything would be nice and peaceful. But Russia CANNOT accept NATO presence in Crimea. US (and its paid EU alias) acted, and Russia reacted.

    The saddest thing is that now Ukrainian/Russian FAMILIES are divided and people are being killed.

    The best thing for everyone (except US) would be for Ukraine to divide.

  • Hans:

    Another historical fact that the anti-fascist Vess left out was all
    of those mass liquidations by their Communists overlords.

    Stalin and the Russians left many wounds upon the UKraine landscape.

    It is no wonder so many UKrainians what little to do with the USSR.

  • No6:

    Evidently this article has stirred up the odd emotion.
    Fascinating article but the whole affair is none of my business.

  • avocado18:

    I continue to be most impressed by the depth and quality of Pater’s analysis on such a range of subjects. The work on Ukraine has been especially outstanding. I finally registered and sent a donation today. I hope Pater will keep writing this blog for many years to come.

  • Mark Humphrey:

    I have to admit to enjoying the Ukranian upheaval, even though that’s dastardly.

    What amuses me is listening to Limbaugh and Hannity, when I tune in for 45 seconds to hear their sputtering outrage. This entertains me, having known in advance they’d slink away from war with Russia–a nation with nukes ‘n troops. As True Conservatives, they’re all for waging devastating warfare against ridiculous little slave states that couldn’t defend against and much less threaten the USSA. True Conservatives are happy to murder helpless innocents born in fascist-socialist hellholes, because they feel all goosebumpy about ‘Merican Pride, ‘Merican Interests (what’s your sand doing on top of our oil!?!) and the alleged virtues of “liberty”. Of course, their version of “liberty” is upheld by recourse to wholesale tyranny: inflation, taxation, endless looting via oceans of “defense” spending, maiming, murdering, destroying–all proof postive of ‘Merican Greatness”. These people would happily bring back the military draft if they had to to persecute their victims.

    These True Conservatives are almost as debauched as the American Left.

  • JasonEmery:

    “…by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text”

    Like Shrub did in Iraq in 2003 over non-existent WMD’s. The amount of permanent damage that idiot did to American interests knows no bounds.

    I suppose one could argue Shrub’s phony WMD pre-text inadvertently kept us from doing the same thing in Syria last Summer. But that just indicates that Obama is a Bush clone. Hardly comforting.

    Instead of preparing America for vastly higher petroleum prices, Obama is on another fishing expedition. Apparently his masters want crude oil to surge in price. I’ll be shocked if we don’t have $5/gal gasoline soon.

  • bubbly:

    Kerry may be a hypocrite, but he is not wrong. Apologists for Russian aggression who are blaming the West should realize that they are basically doing this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_you_are_lynching_Negroes

    FWIW, I believe that Ukraine would benefit from a split. The question is how. Every Ukrainian I know would like Ukraine to join the EU. Including the Russians. It is not clear that the ethnic divide is the same as the political divide.

    • BK:

      It actually may indeed benefit from the split. But only if it happens through internal dialogue. There is no chance one part of Ukraine can subdue another by force – there is no force available, and no intent to do so.

  • BK:

    Pater,

    Just a few comments about your article. First, as a matter of fact, there is a very good reason for the US to be involved – it signed a treaty with Ukraine to protect it territorial unity in 1994. In exchange, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons. Pretty big deal indeed, nobody else ever done it.

    Ironically, Russia was another party signing it. And guess, what country was considered the main threat to the territorial unity? Not Fiji islands… The fact that such a treaty is not worth paper its written on would be a huge statement, and clear demonstration to all countries that only a bunch of nukes is a good guaranty of their existence. I actually hope it happens – when it does, there will be much less imperial games and bullying, as possessing nuclear weapons is probably the only tangible guaranty from attempts to “bring democracy” or “support suppressed population”.

    Your comments about Crimea people greeting Russian troops are somewhat naïve. As you may know European history, people also very enthusiastically greeted German troops liberating oppressed German populations in Poland and Austria. The fact of greetings proves nothing.

    Regarding “historic territory” maps. Putting aside the fact that the one you citing is incomplete and not correct, if you take a map of any European country, you’ll see the same changes. Actually, if you look at the US map, you will be surprised how little US existed before 1600s. Yet, this is irrelevant. The unity was guaranteed in 1994 borders. The parties have to adhere to it. Otherwise, the obvious implication would be that 1994 document was solely intended to cheat Ukraine and grab its nukes. Which, realistically speaking, is most likely the case.

    Regarding cultural and language splits. They do exist, but this is absolutely irrelevant. First, the fact that someone is Russian-speaking, does not matter they automatically want to switch to Russia, huge proportion are pro-west. If you want to get deeper into these matters, you’d better study Ukrainian sources of information. Secondly, again if you look at many European countries, you’ll see exactly the same situation. Actually, Canada is also good example. Thirdly, the fact of such tensions, even if very real, absolutely does not provide any cause for intervention. In Crimea case, do you think Kiev would be able to do anything if the people go to streets, protested, organized a referendum, and separated? I can tell you – no. The real reason for Russian invasion was exactly a fear that nothing on such level would happen, and that Crimean and Kiev elites would come to some sort of agreement, as they very successfully have been doing during the last twenty years. There was NO threats to Crimean population, and this is undisputable fact. And now, with occupation, what is the consensus may be reached, or the referendum results, whatever they are, will be of any credibility. It strips any chance for Crimea to reach successful confederative status, or even independence, as now it clearly will be a marionette of Russia.

    You cite that Russian troops are “defensive” after invading another country. You also state that Ukraine is in disarray, and a weak state. So, being a weak state should be an invitation for anybody “strong” to invade to “protect” “population” or their “interest”??? A nice twist to everything I’ve read on this blog before….

    And your comments about Svoboda being “fascist” are simply untrue. I would advice you to better study the subject, as citing a march with some sings does not make anybody fascist, but real actions against other people do. Yet, even if Svoboda is the true incarnation of Mussolini, it still would not matter at this point. It would matter if they seize the power and start a campaign to suppress Russian-speaking (or Russian nationality) population, or Jews for that matter. Yet this is simply not happening. They are minority, and they do not have any real influence anything, and they do not plan to do any such things. And, just so you know, Russians and Jews were a very strong presence on the recent Maidan.

    No matter. Being a realist, I am quite sure Russia has all the abilities to destroy Ukraine both military and economically. And very likely they will. And very likely, Europe and the US will not take real steps to protect or support it, despite all the treaties and promises. Yet, you just do not have to build the case to justify West inaction.

    • Vess:

      1) The maps are not irrelevant. They clearly show the objectively existing language divide. Even if we leave all the politics aside, the fact that the current government of Ukraine decided to remove Russian as a second language in the country means that a very large part of the country’s citizens were aggravated. This doesn’t strike me as a politics of reconciliation.

      2) If you watch carefully the newsclips from Crimea, you will notice that the Russian troops are walking with their weapons demonstratively unloaded. I mean – the clips are removed from their rifles – something which is clearly done because somebody ordered it and because it is visible. It is not just to prevent accidental confrontation – for that purpose it would have been sufficient to tell the troops to put empty clips in their rifles. No, the idea clearly is to *demonstrate* that the troops have been ordered to avoid confrontation. (They are clearly not defenseless – I am sure that they have loaded clips handy. But somebody wants their looks to make a statement.)

      3) Do not tell me that Svoboda is anything but a fascist party. I’ve seen their behavior, I’ve listened to their speeches. They are your typical neo-nazi. It’s the ideology that matters – not the symbols they carry.

      4) Regarding the Jews, for what is worth, some rabbi in Kiev has called for the Jews to leave the town and, if possible, the country, because he thinks that persecution of Jews is coming.

      5) “Justify the West inaction”?! And what, pray tell, would you like the West to do? Do you really want NATO to send 300.000 troops in Ukraine to fight the Russian army? Do you really think that *anyone* would be better off if this happens? Who? The Ukrainians who will be slaughtered? The Russians, many of who will die? The citizens of the NATO countries who will die there? Russia sending troops there is certainly deplorable, but any military escalation of the conflict would be far worse.

      6) There is a video on YouTube – some journalist is asking the people in some Eastern province of Ukraine what do they want. The first question is – do you want to be part of Ukraine? “No”, shout people from the crowd. Do you want to be independent? “Yes” some people say, but much fewer. Do you want to be part of Russia? “YES!” roars the crowd.

      That said, I am by far not condoning what the Russians are doing. Their invasion is just as illegal as the US invasion of Iraq. I am simply pointing out that neither Russia, nor the USA and the EU are “innocent observers”. Both sides are playing for power and nobody really cares what the Ukrainian people want.

      • BK:

        “… he thinks prosecution coming…”, “… it’s ideology that matters…”, “… citizens were aggravated…”. Do you understand the difference between expectations of some people and the action of the government? Should I explain the basics? Sending the armed forces to a sovereign country without a consent of it’s government is called invasion be they with “unloaded” weapons or with loaded ones. I repeat, it is an act of invasion. Russia is quite experienced in these things, yet, at least, when they were USSR they did bother to do it “at request of the government”, at least in Finland and Afghanistan. Now, they did not even care about that…

        There are all types of videos on Youtube with a lot of people making all the types of statements. But you will not find a single one with “fascist” Svoboda (you really should drop that as I feel you do not even understand the difference between fascism and Nazism) or any other “neo-Nazi” force mistreating “Russian” population in Ukraine in any way. Ah, except Lenin idols… By the way, you should vouch for “unloaded” invasion in Greece – neonazies have a huge presence there… And to France – does Le Pen name ring a bell?

        Read carefully about the case of inaction in my piece. Has it been built by Pater? Yes. Did I mention anything about 300,000 NATO troops. No. (Well, now, after your “unloaded” fancy, I can suggest NATO troops also can come with “unloaded” riffles ))). But on diplomatic front the response can be and should be much stronger. And financially, if the US decides to strike, the effect on Russia elites would be much more devastating that the actual “hot” war.

        Finally, regarding the military escalation. Ultimately, it is in hands of Ukraine. As I mentioned, I am a realist, maybe even a cynical one. All the countries, the US included, fought for independence. Ukraine will have too. What they decide – to be split and perish without struggle, or to fight without certain outcome, is up to them. Yet, if they do not fight for themselves, nobody would help anyway.

        • White eagle:

          Pater has made excellent work here.BK is dishonest.One of first things Nazi mob in Kiev did was banning Russian and all other minority languages as official language in their regions,all regions,even in Crimea where 60%people are Russians.At the same time they were demolishing Russian monuments,even monuments dedicated to victory over Hitler and Napoleon.They lifted ban on Nazi signs.There was even serious proposal by some Madian leaders to revoke Ukrainian citizenship for all Russians and let them live like second class people….People of my nation reported that even during Maidan protests violent thugs on the streets of Kiev were harassing and intimidating Russian speakers,even when those people were from other countries and not Russia.That was before they took power in Kiev.
          I am Slav.For every Slavic nation mother language is sacred thing.Banning this liberty is red flag for every Slav person.Worse than this is only Genocide.This is probably the most important reason that detonated Austro-Hungarian empire well before start of WW1.War was just coup d’grace for Habsburgs.
          Anglo-Saxons will probably never understand this profound thing.

          • BK:

            Bely Orel, you talk about honesty. Let’s review…

            “Nazi mob…” Apparently, you do not understand what Nazism is. Putting that aside, it was not “mob”, it was the parliament, by majority of votes. The law repeal was later vetoed. So, you are wrong at best, lying/creating propaganda at worst.

            Secondly, changes in official language does not constitute any “Nazi” related act. Please, learn history 101. It is at best internal dispute which is solved by dispute, voting, referendum, general strike et. It does not provide any ground for invasion.

            And if Russia wanted punish the Ukrainian government for that, maybe, just maybe, it should have started with some diplomatic action, or trade blockade, not with military invasion?

            Thirdly, do you understand term “proposal”. Especially if it is done by whomever called “Maidan leader”. In Russia, many including some parliamentarians were talking about eliminating Chechens. So what, the UN should bomb them for that? Just stop blabbing about “proposal” by nobodies, or “harassments”. The only DOCUMENTED harassments were by the government thugs directed at everybody, including Russian speakers.

            You saying you are Slav. I strongly suspect which Slav you are. You may not pay attention, but in Russia, Russian is the ONLY legal official language. What about Tatars, you may ask, who are natives to that land? What about Ukrainians living in Russia? So, what about the genocide? Do not hide behind Slavic, as, if you ask anybody in eastern Europe, they will tell you a lot of “good” things about Russia.

            Funny, about the monuments. Surely, demolition of a monument dedicated to victory against Napoleon is the best reason for military intervention. In what part of Crimea did it happen, by the way????

            Also, if you are Slav, you should know very well like real Nazi state some time ago liberated its native-speaking populations in Poland and Czechoslovakia. I really, really should not remind you of these things.

            Sorry, but it is you who is dishonest. You omit facts, and provide rumors, “proposals”, and outright propaganda, as an excuse for the real hostile act – military invasion.

            • White eagle:

              All of my relatives were send in Nazi slave camps in 1941 for one only reason:Hitler came in spring of 1941 in my country,more precisely city of Maribor,with his SS thugs and said ‘make me this land German again’.All property confiscated and later in war all young man were taken from camps and sent to Russian front under threat if they desert the rest of families will be sent to Treblinka,Sobibor,Oswiencin-Auschwitz…I have nothing with Russians.But I remember when I was French legionnaire that worst people from Eastern Europe were Ukrainians.Just as the worst people in Nazi camps were Ukrainians.I have your number.
              As I see it,there are no Russian soldiers on Ukrainian ethnic soil.They are in Crimea and are welcomed by Crimea residents and not one shot was fired in the process.Think about that!

              • BK:

                Now you got me!!! This is the argument I missed – “…when I was French legionnaire that worst people from Eastern Europe were Ukrainians.” You convinced me, now we have to help Russians to finally eliminate all those evil Ukrainians starting with the ones you saw in France.

                I did not quite got your comment about my number, but anyway. You failed to object to any of my arguments. Instead, you started to claim all the stuff regarding your relatives. True or false, they are un provable, and irrelevant to our discussion.

                Your argument regarding “ethnic soil” is irrelevant too, and also misleading and false. It is not Russian ethnic soil either. It is crimea tatars ethnic soil. And they are against Russian presence, and actually hate Russians. I, if you care or able to read, was mentioning sovereignty and recognized national borders.

                Invasion is still invasion even if no shots was fired. However, at this point it would be easier to reverse it if strong pressure applied. When shots fired, it would be quite different.

            • Hans:

              Excellent post, BK.

        • Vess:

          BK, you seem to be either intellectually dishonest or your mind is so closed that you refuse to read properly what others write. There are no people more blind than those who do not want to see…

          I sincerely doubt that intelligent discussion with you is possible, but I’ll make one last attempt to clarify my points:

          1) I DO NOT condone the Russian invasion of Crimea. It is as illegal as the US invasion of Iraq was. Every people has the right of self-determination and the fate of the people in Crimea should be decided only by the people of Crimea – not Russia, not the USA, not the EU.

          2) Nazism was just a form of fascism – yes, look it up – which incorporated racism and anti-semitism. Yes, Greece has a large fascist party too. In general, fascism and neo-nazism has been on the rise lately in many countries. I did *not* state the fascist character of Svoboda as an excuse for the Russian invasion (nothing can excuse that) – I just objected against your characterization of them and pointed out that Pater was correct.

          3) Maybe you believe that you know better what the proper “diplomatic” reaction should be. I do not believe that you are correct. Let’s just agree to disagree here. And let’s hope that the conflict doesn’t escalate militarily, because many people will die, on both (all?) sides.

          • BK:

            One more accusation of dishonesty. Please, do not abandon my case, I will try the best to have an intelligent discussion )

            1. Here we are in the complete agreement. All what is necessary now is to get Russia the hell out of there.

            2. If you want to debate the difference between fascism and Nazism, we’d probably be better doing it somewhere else. Svoboda is neither. They are nationalists, and out of that breed in Ukraine, they are one of the least extreme. Still, as you rightly said, this is absolutely irrelevant to the Russian invasion, and, thus should not be mentioned. Their mentioning helps to build the case for West inaction. Will you disagree?

            3. I did not quite get what are you trying to say. Do you propose to have no diplomatic reaction? Or very limited one? Or approval of Russia actions? Please, explain.

            Finally, I still do not understand why you called me dishonest. You do not have to expand on this, unless you strongly care. Yet, I would suggest to refrain from such accusations in the future.

            • Vess:

              “Nazism” is short for “national socialism”, so saying that Svoboda are “nationalists” is disingenuous at best. They are fascists, as far as I am concerned. I’ve seen their behavior, I’ve listened to their speeches and nothing you or anyone else says will change my opinion on this subject.

              I am willing to believe you that there are even more radical groups in Ukraine. I have no experience with them, so I have no opinion on them. It was you who objected to Pater’s description of Svoboda, which is why I brought up the subject – I object to your objection and maintain that Pater is right on this. I also agree with his speculation that the actions of the radical elements have increased the bloodshed during the past few months. I’ve seen it happen in other countries, too. Whenever the economy worsens, the people become restless and the fascists (and other extremists) use the situation to have their “fun” – which inevitably leads to people being hurt.

              Yes, I disagree that their mentioning helps build the case for West’s inaction. Nobody in the West is justifying their inaction by the fact that there are fascist parties in Ukraine. It is Russia who uses that fact as one of the justifications for their invasion – but as Pater correctly points out, this is just propaganda. Both Russia and the West (the USA and the EU) are dishonest and are playing power games while the people of Ukraine are suffering. This is precisely what Pater has so clearly revealed in his blog. Anybody who sees the shenanigans of only one of the sides is wrong and biased.

              I do NOT approve Russia’s actions. I have stated this several times here. The fact that you keep implying that I do is one of the reasons why I find you intellectually dishonest. And no, I will not refrain from such accusations unless you refrain from grossly misrepresenting my words, putting words in my mouth, and picking and choosing only some words from my sentences and presenting them as if I’ve said something completely different.

              I am not “trying” to say anything. I SAID something. I said that maybe you believe that you know what the proper diplomatic solution is but I believe that you are wrong – that you do NOT really know what the proper diplomatic solution is. Neither do I know it, but at least I am not arrogant enough to claim that I do.

              As I’ve already stated, I believe that every people has the right of self-determination. In accordance with this belief of mine, the people of Crimea should hold a referendum and decide their own fate – should they remain part of Ukraine, should they become part of Russia, should they become an independent country and whether that country should align itself with the EU or with Russia. Or maybe something else – whatever they decide. The same goes for every other province of what is currently Ukraine.

              Is this the proper diplomatic solution of the present crisis? I don’t have the foggiest idea. It is just the solution which is aligned with my own, personal beliefs.

              Can it be misused? Of course it can be. For instance, if the people of Crimea mostly want to be part of Russia and Putin has correctly judged that, he can hold a referendum there (while his army is preventing the Ukrainian government from stopping or interfering with the referendum), get the results he expects and wants, and then say “See? A democratic referendum. The people have spoken. They want to be part of Russia. So, piss off Ukraine, USA, EU and everybody else.”. All the while not caring one little bit of what the people really want but using their wants to further Russia’s interests.

              • BK:

                Indeed, this is not an easy topic….

                It just seemed to me that we agreed on 2., that any comments regarding Svoboda are not relevant to the Russian invasion case. And here you go again, bringing this topic! You devoted three full paragraphs to it. Please, explain why you are bringing this back.

                You reiterated that you are not approving Russian invasion in Ukraine. Again you called me dishonest, because, as you claim, “The fact that you keep implying that I do…”. Please, show me, where in my response I ever implied that you are approving the invasion? Quite the opposite – I said: “1. Here we are in the complete agreement…” to your comment 1, regarding this subject. So, you are lying, or you are unable to read and understand text.

                Regarding the diplomatic response of the west. I said it can be done, also I said that there is a range of possible diplomatic responses. Did I say I know the “right” response? No, you are lying again.

                You are stating you do not know what the “right” diplomatic response might be. Ok. Do you have any opinion about it? Any guess? Should there be any response? Please, answer.

                Regarding the referendums. Here, I completely agree with you. Please, read again – “completely agree”. For any part of any country. Regarding Crimea – they should have it. Yet first, Russia should get out of there, secondly, the situation should be normalized, thirdly, rules for the referendum should be established, and the referendum held. By the way, how should the results be treated if tatars vote no? If some Crimea regions vote no? As we agree that it should work for any territory, then those parts of Crimea should remain with Ukraine… Regarding Russia – I strongly hope they will have one in some their own parts. I can even predict the result for those parts.

                And, no, no, no. Putin cannot hold referendum there. It is Ukraine. It should hold the referendum. Otherwise, it is invasion, occupation, and annexation. Simple and plain. The results of the referendum will not be recognized. Of cause, Russia can enforce them and complete the annexation, because it has enough power. But it will be annexation.

                What if Ukraine does not want to have referendum? Don’t you think combined diplomatic pressure from Russia and West will not force it? I think it will.

                Sort of conclusion here: you lied two times, you contradicted yourself by bringing again and again Svoboda specter, despite your very own statement that it is irrelevant. So, what about “intellectual discussion”? Dude, you got to learn not to forget your own statements and to re-read previous pieces, before engaging in any discussions. Fare well.

                • Vess:

                  There we have it BK displaying his dishonesty again, twisting my words.

                  I have to read my own statements?! How about you? You asked me why I mentioned Svoboda’s character. Go back and read. I already answered that question. Pater correctly pointed out that they are fascists. You objected to that. I objected to your objection – they *are* fascists. I’ve seen them, I’ve listened to them. I am not saying that them being fascists excuses in any way the Russian invasion (although, of course, Putin is using this card in his propaganda). I am saying that your objection is WRONG and Pater is RIGHT. They ARE fascists. This is the only reason why I brought it up.

                  Where are you implying that that I approve of the Russian invasion? Well, go back and read the exchange again.

                  I said: “That said, I am by far not condoning what the Russians are doing.”

                  To which you replied: “Do you understand the difference between expectations of some people and the action of the government? Should I explain the basics? Sending the armed forces to a sovereign country without a consent of it’s government is called invasion be they with “unloaded” weapons or with loaded ones.”

                  Do I look like you should explain me that difference? I was being polite when I said that you are “implying”. You are basically ACCUSING me of condoning the Russian invasion and faking lack of understanding that it is an invasion.

                  And you have the gall to accuse me of lying and of not reading?!

                  Regarding the diplomatic solution. You said that it can be done. Really? You are so sure of it? This means that you KNOW what has to be done. Perhaps you really believe that you do – I am willing to grant you that. Me, I just voiced my own disbelief that you really know what the proper diplomatic solution is. I doubt that anyone knows it – although there is clearly no lack of arrogant people who claim that they do – neither in the USA, nor in the EU, nor in Russia.

                  Do I have an opinion of what the proper solution is? Yes, I do – and I have already stated it above. Go back and read it. I am just not as arrogant as you as to believe that I really know that it IS the proper solution, so I wrote that this is the solution which is most closely aligned to my own beliefs. This is what I’d do, if it was up to me. But is it the right solution? I do not know.

                  The vote of the Tatars mostly won’t matter, sadly. There are too few of them left there, after Stalin displaced (and mostly killed) about half a million of them. :-(

                  Working for “any” territory isn’t very practical. What if some small village wants to be part of Ukraine? What if some household wants to be part of Ukraine while the whole oblast does not? You can’t please everyone. You have to put a limit at some point. Putting it at “oblast” level seems reasonable to me. Besides, Crimea is mostly self-contained anyway. They have a parliament and at some point of time even had a president.

                  Regarding how the referendum should be held, it’s a tricky question. If it is done while the Russian army is there, the West (and Ukraine) will dispute the results. If the Russians leave first, they will claim that either West Ukraine will not allow the referendum at all or will interfere with its results. In an ideal world, we should have the UN ensuring the honesty of the referendum – but it is so much dominated by the USA and the EU these days… Honestly, I don’t know. I hope that some kind of reasonable agreement is worked out – although I can’t figure out how it could be done.

                  So, in conclusion, you keep twisting and misrepresenting my words, not reading what I have clearly written, and now call me a liar?! Well, *THIS* is why I find you intellectually dishonest, troll!

                  • BK:

                    Dude, you are aggravated and going in circles. You are citing the first message, as if you have not responded to it with “1. 2. 3.” message, and have not seen my reply. That’s why I suggested you need to re-read the whole discussion. Which you obviously missed again. Please, please, relax, re-read all messages, re-read my last one, with citations, put them in proper chronological order, and it will clear your mind.

                    It is sad that you need to be explained that there is difference between “I know it can be done”, and “I know what is the right one”. If you do not believe there is the difference between these two statements, please, ask anybody else, they will confirm.

                    Regarding “practical” things about referendum ))). It’s so nice when I see these comments. Why to choose this particular territory? Because you want so? Because you hope it will vote the right way? If, let’s say, north of Crimea, where Ukrainians live, or central part, where Tatars live, will vote against? What, “independent” Crimean authorities will send “unidentified” troops? Or Russia will bomb?

                    There are 500,000 Tatars in Crimea, by your account. If 10% of them strongly disagree and take arms, it will be 50,000. (by the way I think it is not likely to happen). Is it too few, as you said? Will Turkey have the right to invade with “unarmed” troops?

                    As for UN – no chance. The die is cast, for Putin this is the act of his life. Russia have occupied Crimea, will carry the referendum, and will make it “independent”, I am pretty sure of it. They probably can expel the Ukrainians, but with Tatars it would be impossible to do second time ))). Reasonable agreement is impossible here, any Ukrainian government accepting annexation will fall.

                    If “independent” Crimean authorities will try to suppress Tatars, there will be a civil war. If they will try to pay them tribute, like Russians pay Chechens, it will cause hatred and instability among Russian population. In any case, Russia will get the bill. What Ossetia costs to Russia? Crimea will be multitudes of that. Funny to watch indeed.

                    Just for your info, these are my assumptions, not certain knowledge.

                    Sleep well, comrade. I hope you saw the news that the snipers on Maidan were, in fact, some neo-nazis. Russian spies discovered that. You see how grate it is – a group of neo-nazies shooting at a meeting organized by fascist Svoboda. Hopefully, they will eat each other quite soon. Otherwise, in a month, Russian spies may discover that the whole western Ukraine is one giant fascist tumor in need of immediate eradication.

                    Sleep well, comrade, and do not take these frivolous discussions “to your heart”.

                    • Vess:

                      Dude, it is you who keeps repeating the same nonsense and misrepresenting my words, as if people are blind or too stupid to see them above. The only reason why I keep repeating myself is because you keep asking me the same things over and over.

                      Yes, I gave you the answer of the question you asked in my first message. You asked again and again, so I answered it again and again. Apparently, you are too stupid to read, so I won’t answer it once more.

                      If you don’t know what is the right answer, how do you know that a right answer exists? You can’t know that for sure – which is why I said that I believe that you are wrong.

                      I am not choosing “this particular territory”. I think that ALL the provinces of Ukraine should decide their own fate. Why this decision should be taken on a province level and not on smaller level I already explained. Oh, right, I forgot. You can’t read – at least not the parts you find inconvenient.

                      The important thing is to give everyone the ability to voice their wish. This is how democracies work. Preventing any group (or even a single person) from voting would be wrong – but it is not practical to make the administrative decision on something smaller than a province. Which, of course, I already explained. Oh, right, you can’t read.

                      There are no 500.000 Tatars in Crimea by “my account”. I wrote something completely different – that Stalin displaced (and mostly killed) about half a million Tatars. Oh, right, but you can’t read.

                      I don’t remember the NUMBER of Tatars in Crimea right now, but their PERCENTAGE is in the single digits. They should, of course, have a vote on the fate of the province. Unfortunately, due to them being a relative minority, their vote won’t really matter. The Tatars can’t even be a “swing deciders”, because the vast majority of the population in the province is ethnic Russians. This is unfortunate from the point of view of the Tatars, but this is how democracies work.

                      And before you say “why don’t then have the whole of Ukraine vote for the fate of Crimea” – it is because, as Pater’s maps clearly show, there is an objectively existing ethnic and linguistic divide in what is currently Ukraine. Clearly, this isn’t “one people”. Any “one solution” imposed on it (by popular vote or otherwise) would aggravate a LARGE PART of the people. The proper solution (at least according to my own beliefs; as I already said, I don’t know – and neither does anyone else – what the proper solution really is) is to have these “different people” each decide their own fate. It is mostly “West” vs “East” provinces, because this is the largest divide (as Pater’s maps clearly show) – but going as low as a province-level seems reasonable to me. Going even lower (village, household) is simply not practical.

                      Why are you asking me if Turkey would “have the right to invade” no matter under what pretext? Where in ANY of the messages I’ve written did you see that I consider invasion of another sovereign country acceptable? Are you trying to smear my reputation by implying that I do? Typical approach of a troll.

                      I agree that it is probably in Putin’s best interests if Crimea (and the other Russian-speaking provinces) become independent (i.e., not part of Ukraine and not part of Russia, albeit allied closely with the latter). That is probably what the vast majority of the people there want, too, so Putin can achieve what he wants via democratic means, by using the people’s wishes to further his own interests. He is intelligent enough to do it. In my personal opinion, being allied with Russia or with the EU is just a choice between two evils – but if being allied with Russia is what the majority of people in these provinces want, let them have it. It is their right. Besides, every people deserves the government it allows remaining in power. :-)

                      Regarding whether an independent Crimea would suppress the Tatars – I don’t have enough information to have an informed opinion on this subject – and from this whole exchange, you are the last person I’d use as an information source. So, I’ll take a “wait and see” stance on this one. Let the people of Crimea decide their own fate first, via a democratic vote. What they will do afterward – well, let’s get there first.

                      Yes, I watched the report. It is not exactly new – it’s just more proofs that have surfaced on this subject. Much before the Russian invasion, Reuters reported that many of the Yanukovich police forces had been shot by sniper fire. “Russian spies”? More like Ukrainians, still faithful to the Yanukovich government. But Estonia has confirmed the authenticity of the intercepted phone conversation. I guess the Estonian government is on Russian payroll too, yes? Oh, and apparently it wasn’t Svoboda this time – it was the Right Sector loonies, who seem to be an even worse kind of fascists.

              • Hans:

                Vess, you have not agreed or compromised once with your adversary.

                This is not a good trait.

          • Hans:

            Why do you not tell the truth and stop repeating yourself…

            The Irack campaign was voted on by the UN general assembly
            and pass by a majority vote, authoring an attack.

            You seem to forget that Saddam was an aggressor, attacking
            two neighboring states.

            Your moral compass is broken. Oh, you forget the slogan, War for Oil.

            • Vess:

              I was talking about the most recent US invasion of Iraq, of course. I thought this was obvious. Guess it wasn’t for you. Yes, the first Gulf war was done properly, after a UN vote and so on, defending a victimized country. (Although documents have surfaced that Saddam was actually intentionally led to believe that the USA would not oppose his invasion of Kuwait.)

              The second Gulf war, however, which is what I was referring to by saying “the US invasion of Iraq” was nothing like that. Dubya intentionally avoided consulting the UN, because he knew he would never get an approval. He invaded under a false pretext – and yes, the idea was to get access to the oil, although that was only one of the goals. Saddam was rejecting the dollar hegemony by selling his oil for euros – that couldn’t be tolerated. Israel wanted Saddam gone too – that was also a factor. In any case, that (second) Iraq invasion was just as illegal and against international law as the current Russian invasion of Crimea.

      • Hans:

        West UK raine or East Ukaine? Or EUraine?

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