Ukraine: Was The West Snookered?

Kerry and LavrovWhere’s Yogi Berra with his deja vu all over again” when we need him.

On Thursday when the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine were meeting in Geneva, Vladimir Putin made a four hour speech to millions of watchers among his people in Russia. Among the things he said is: “The Federation Council granted the president the right to use military force in Ukraine.” He continued: “I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right and that we are able to solve all today’s pressing issues via political and diplomatic means,” 

He then went on to talk about certain areas in the south and east of Ukraine by referring to the region in question by its tsarist name “Novorossiya”, or “New Russia”, as it was referred to in the 19th century. He noted:  “It’s new Russia, Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in tsarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows. Then for various reasons these areas were gone, and the people stayed there – we need to encourage them to find a solution.”

Less than a month ago Putin was saying the same thing about Crimea. He said: Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. He continued:  “Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer the Crimean Region to Ukraine . . .  It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realized that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered. . . . All these years, citizens and many public figures came back to this issue, saying that Crimea is historically Russian land . . . .”

Putin made it clear in late March and again on April 17, 2014, that he intends to reclaim land that he considers to be part of historical Russia. Fix that in your head and then look at what was accomplished at the meeting in Geneva.

To start off with, remember Putin denying that Russian troops had invaded Crimea, well in his lengthy speech he admitted he lied back then. Yes, Russian troops had gone in to protect the people’s right to vote to join Russia. Now he is saying he does not have Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Do you believe him?

In Geneva the parties reached an agreement. When asked about his confidence in the deal President Obama said: I don’t think we can be sure of anything at this point.”  Not a big vote of confidence in Putin. Obama noted: “Russia’s hand is in the disruptions and chaos that we have been seeing.” Who can doubt it?

Keep in mind, this is not a civil war as many tell us. It is an invasion by one country by another.

Anne Applebaum talked about: “the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine” saying it “involves not soldiers but local thugs and volunteers, . . .  some from criminal gangs, and some who mistakenly think they are fighting for some form of benign local autonomy. They are being led not by officers in uniform but by men from Russian military intelligence and special operations forces, some wearing camouflage without insignia, some communicating with “activists” by telephone. They are supplied with Russian logistics and a few Russian automatic weapons, .  .  . “.

Now to the snookering. The EU, US and Ukraine foolishly agreed with Russia that: All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions . . . .”  The problem with that is Russia denies that it is involved in any of those activities, and we know neither the US or EU are affected by that provision, so it only applies to Ukraine. If Ukraine does other than sit back and let the Russian thugs run roughshod over the land it will be accused as engaging in violence. Ukraine has surrendered its right to defend itself.

The agreement also suggests that “all illegally armed groups must be disarmed.” Who is going to do this? Do you expect Russia will disarm its own forces? The Eu and US believe this applies to the troublemakers in eastern Ukraine. Russia reads this as saying that all those Ukrainians who took up arms in Maidan must surrender them. Russia will demand the Kiev government disarmed them which will make it easier for it to invade Ukraine.

It goes on: “all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.” Who is going to determine what streets are “illegally occupied?” Keep in mind Russia has said that the Maidan occupation was illegal. Will the Kiev government have to evict those who brought it into power?

Now when the Ukrainian government realizes it has agreed to something that is impossible to do, it will give Russia the justification for invading to enforce the agreement. It will turn to the US and EU and say “what’s your problem? You agreed to this and the Ukrainians are not doing it.”

The present Ukrainian government in Kiev in Russia’s eyes is illegal.  When the parties agreed: “all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners” does that mean the Kiev government must vacate the premises. It remains to be seen but the loosely worded agreement opens the door for New Russia. Guaranteed.


17 thoughts on “Ukraine: Was The West Snookered?

  1. Matt:

    Slavoj Zizek has written an analysis of the Ukrainian situation. It appears in today’s “Guardian.” I have not as yet figured out how to send a cite for an article, so, I’m sending the whole article. I think it will provide a good basis for further discussion of modern Ukrainian political thought. Please forgive the length of this message.

    Series: New East network

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    Why both the left and right have got it wrong on Ukraine – Žižek

    There’s a historical irony in watching Ukrainians tearing down Lenin’s statues as a sign of their will to break with Soviet domination

    • Welcome to the New East network

    • Interactive: meet the children of the revolution

    • Quiz: how much do you know about post-Soviet states?







    Slavoj Zizek

    Slavoj Žižek for the London Review of Books, Tuesday 10 June 2014 05.00 EDT

    Jump to comments (128)

    A protester hammers at a toppled statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin during a pro-European protest in December 2013.
    A protester hammers at a toppled statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin during a pro-European protest in December 2013. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

    Again and again in television coverage of the mass protests in Kiev against the Yanukovich government, we saw images of protesters tearing down statues of Lenin. It was an easy way to demonstrate anger: the statues functioned as a symbol of Soviet oppression, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia is perceived as continuing the Soviet policy of domination of its neighbours.

    Bear in mind that it was only in 1956 that Lenin’s statues started to proliferate throughout the Soviet Union: until then, statues of Stalin were much more common. But after Krushchev’s “secret” denunciation of Stalin at the 20th congress of the Communist party, Stalin’s statues were replaced en masse by Lenin’s: Lenin was literally a stand-in for Stalin.

    This was made equally clear by a change made in 1962 to the masthead of Pravda. Until then, at the top left-hand corner of the front page there had been a drawing of two profiles, Lenin and Stalin, side by side. Shortly after the 22nd congress publicly rejected Stalin his profile wasn’t merely removed but replaced with a second profile of Lenin: now there were two identical Lenins printed side by side. In a way, this weird repetition made Stalin more present in his absence than ever.

    There was nonetheless a historical irony in watching Ukrainians tearing down Lenin’s statues as a sign of their will to break with Soviet domination and assert their national sovereignty. For the golden era of Ukrainian national identity was not tsarist Russia – where Ukrainian national self-assertion was thwarted – but the first decade of the Soviet Union, when Soviet policy in a Ukraine exhausted by war and famine was “indigenisation”. Ukrainian culture and language were revived and rights to healthcare, education and social security introduced.

    Indigenisation followed the principles formulated by Lenin in quite unambiguous terms:

    The proletariat cannot but fight against the forcible retention of the oppressed nations within the boundaries of a given state, and this is exactly what the struggle for the right of self-determination means. The proletariat must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that ‘its own’ nation oppresses. Unless it does this, proletarian internationalism will remain a meaningless phrase; mutual confidence and class solidarity between the workers of the oppressing and oppressed nations will be impossible.

    Lenin remained faithful to this position to the end: immediately after the October Revolution, when Rosa Luxembourg argued that small nations should be given full sovereignty only if progressive forces would predominate in the new state, Lenin was in favour of an unconditional right to secede.

    Vladimir Lenin addressing a crowd in Moscow in October 1917, the day the Bolshevik-dominated Soviet government was established
    Vladimir Lenin addressing a crowd in Moscow in October 1917, the day the Bolshevik-dominated Soviet government was established Photograph: Print Collector/Getty Images

    In his last struggle against Stalin’s project for a centralised Soviet Union, Lenin again advocated the unconditional right of small nations to secede (in this case, Georgia was at stake), insisting on the full sovereignty of the national entities that composed the Soviet state – no wonder that, on 27 September 1922, in a letter to the Politburo, Stalin accused Lenin of “national liberalism”. The direction in which Stalin was already heading is clear from his proposal that the government of Soviet Russia should also be the government of the other five republics (Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia):

    If the present decision is confirmed by the Central Committee of the RCP, it will not be made public, but communicated to the Central Committees of the Republics for circulation among the Soviet organs, the Central Executive Committees or the Congresses of the Soviets of the said Republics before the convocation of the All-Russian Congress of the Soviets, where it will be declared to be the wish of these Republics.

    The interaction of the higher authority, the Central Committee, with its base was thus abolished: the higher authority now simply imposed its will. To add insult to injury, the Central Committee decided what the base would ask the higher authority to enact, as if it were its own wish.

    In the most conspicuous case, in 1939 the three Baltic states asked to join the Soviet Union – which granted their wish. In all this Stalin was returning to pre-Revolutionary tsarist policy: Russia’s colonisation of Siberia in the 17th century and Muslim Asia in the 19th was no longer condemned as imperialist expansion but celebrated for setting these traditional societies on the path of progressive modernisation.

    Putin’s foreign policy is a clear continuation of the tsarist-Stalinist line. After the Russian Revolution, according to Putin, the Bolsheviks did serious damage to Russia’s interests:

    The Bolsheviks, for a number of reasons – may God judge them – added large sections of the historical south of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic make-up of the population, and today these areas form the south-east of Ukraine.

    A woman carries a protrait of Stalin during Victory day celebrations in Odessa.
    A woman carries a protrait of Stalin during Victory day celebrations in Odessa. Photograph: Petr Shelomovskiy/Demotix/Corbis

    No wonder Stalin’s portraits are on show again at military parades and public celebrations, while Lenin has been obliterated. In an opinion poll carried out in 2008 by the Rossiya TV station, Stalin was voted the third greatest Russian of all time, with half a million votes. Lenin came in a distant sixth. Stalin is celebrated not as a Communist but as a restorer of Russian greatness after Lenin’s anti-patriotic “deviation”. Putin recently used the term Novorossiya (New Russia) for the seven south-eastern oblasts of Ukraine, resuscitating a term last used in 1917.

    But the Leninist undercurrent, though repressed, persisted in the Communist underground opposition to Stalin. Long before Solzhenitsyn, as Christopher Hitchens wrote in 2011:

    The crucial questions about the Gulag were being asked by left oppositionists, from Boris Souvarine to Victor Serge to CLR. James, in real time and at great peril. Those courageous and prescient heretics have been somewhat written out of history (they expected far worse than that, and often received it).

    This internal dissent was a natural part of the Communist movement, in clear contrast to fascism. “There were no dissidents in the Nazi party,” Hitchens went on, “risking their lives on the proposition that the Führer had betrayed the true essence of National Socialism.”

    Precisely because of this tension at the heart of the Communist movement, the most dangerous place to be at the time of the 1930s purges was at the top of the nomenklatura: in the space of a couple of years, 80% of the Central Committee and the Red Army leadership was shot.

    Another sign of dissent could be detected in the last days of “really existing socialism”, when protesting crowds sang official songs, including national anthems, to remind the powers of their unfulfilled promises. In the GDR, by contrast, between the early 1970s and 1989, to sing the national anthem in public was a criminal offence: its words (“Deutschland einig Vaterland” – Germany, the united Fatherland) didn’t fit with the idea of East Germany as a new socialist nation.

    Demonstrators clash with riot police officers in Kiev during protests that led to the fall of former president Viktor Yanukovitch.
    Demonstrators clash with riot police officers in Kiev during protests that led to the fall of former president Viktor Yanukovitch. Photograph: Demotix/Corbis

    The resurgence of Russian nationalism has caused certain historical events to be rewritten. A recent biopic, Andrei Kravchuk’s Admiral, celebrates the life of Aleksandr Kolchak, the White commander who governed Siberia between 1918 and 1920. But it’s worth remembering the totalitarian potential, as well as the outright brutality, of the White counter-revolutionary forces during this period.

    Had the Whites won the civil war, Hitchens writes, “the common word for fascism would have been a Russian one, not an Italian one … Major General William Graves, who commanded the American expeditionary force during the 1918 invasion of Siberia (an event thoroughly airbrushed from all American textbooks), wrote in his memoirs about the pervasive, lethal anti-Semitism that dominated the Russian right-wing and added: ‘I doubt if history will show any country in the world during the last 50 years where murder could be committed so safely, and with less danger of punishment, than in Siberia during the reign of Admiral Kolchak.'”

    The entire European neo-fascist right (in Hungary, France, Italy, Serbia) firmly supports Russia in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, giving the lie to the official Russian presentation of the Crimean referendum as a choice between Russian democracy and Ukrainian fascism. The events in Ukraine – the massive protests that toppled Yanukovich and his gang – should be understood as a defence against the dark legacy resuscitated by Putin.

    Pro-Europe Ukrainians celebrate New Year in Kiev in January 2014.
    Pro-Europe Ukrainians celebrate New Year in Kiev in January 2014. Photograph: Stringer/reuters

    The protests were triggered by the Ukrainian government’s decision to prioritise relations with Russia over integration into the European Union. Predictably, many anti-imperialist leftists reacted to the news by patronising the Ukrainians: how deluded they are still to idealise Europe, not to be able to see that joining the EU would just make Ukraine an economic colony of western Europe, sooner or later to go the same way as Greece.

    In fact, Ukrainians are far from blind about the reality of the EU. They are fully aware of its troubles and disparities: their message is simply that their own situation is much worse. Europe may have problems, but they are a rich man’s problems.

    Should we, then, simply support the Ukrainian side in the conflict? There is a “Leninist” reason to do so. In Lenin’s very last writings, long after he renounced the utopia of State and Revolution, he explored the idea of a modest, “realistic” project for Bolshevism.

    Because of the economic under-development and cultural backwardness of the Russian masses, he argues, there is no way for Russia to “pass directly to socialism”: all that Soviet power can do is to combine the moderate politics of “state capitalism” with the intense cultural education of the peasant masses – not the brainwashing of propaganda, but a patient, gradual imposition of civilised standards.

    Facts and figures revealed “what a vast amount of urgent spadework we still have to do to reach the standard of an ordinary west European civilised country … We must bear in mind the semi-Asiatic ignorance from which we have not yet extricated ourselves,” he wrote.

    Can we think of the Ukrainian protesters’ reference to Europe as a sign that their goal, too, is “to reach the standard of an ordinary western European civilised country”?

    But here things quickly get complicated. What, exactly, does the “Europe” the Ukrainian protesters are referring to stand for? It can’t be reduced to a single idea: it spans nationalist and even fascist elements but extends also to the idea of what Etienne Balibar calls égaliberté, freedom-in-equality, the unique contribution of Europe to the global political imaginary, even if it is in practice today mostly betrayed by European institutions and citizens themselves.

    Between these two poles, there is also a naive trust in the value of European liberal-democratic capitalism. Europe can see in the Ukrainian protests its own best and worst sides, its emancipatory universalism as well as its dark xenophobia.

    Let’s begin with the dark xenophobia. The Ukrainian nationalist right is one instance of what is going on today from the Balkans to Scandinavia, from the US to Israel, from central Africa to India: ethnic and religious passions are exploding, and Enlightenment values receding.

    These passions have always been there, lurking; what’s new is the outright shamelessness of their display. Imagine a society which has fully integrated into itself the great modern axioms of freedom, equality, the right to education and healthcare for all its members, and in which racism and sexism have been rendered unacceptable and ridiculous.

    But then imagine that, step by step, although the society continues to pay lip service to these axioms, they are de facto deprived of their substance.

    Hungarian protesters gather around a fallen statue of Josef Stalin in Budapest in October 1956.
    Hungarian protesters gather around a fallen statue of Josef Stalin in Budapest in October 1956. Photograph: Arpad Hazafi/AP

    Here is an example from very recent European history: in the summer of 2012, Viktor Orbán, the right-wing Hungarian prime minister, declared that a new economic system was needed in central Europe.

    Let us hope that God will help us and we will not have to invent a new type of political system instead of democracy that would need to be introduced for the sake of economic survival … Co-operation is a question of force, not of intention. Perhaps there are countries where things don’t work that way, for example in the Scandinavian countries, but such a half-Asiatic rag-tag people as we are can unite only if there is force,” he said.

    The irony of these words wasn’t lost on some old Hungarian dissidents: when the Soviet army moved into Budapest to crush the 1956 uprising, the message repeatedly sent by the beleaguered Hungarian leaders to the west was that they were defending Europe against the Asiatic communists. Now, after the collapse of communism, the Christian-conservative government paints as its main enemy the multicultural consumerist liberal democracy for which today’s western Europe stands. Orbán has already expressed his sympathy for “capitalism with Asian values”; if the European pressure on Orbán continues, we can easily imagine him sending a message to the east: ‘We are defending Asia here!’

    Today’s anti-immigrant populism has replaced direct barbarism with a barbarism that has a human face. It enacts a regression from the Christian ethic of “love thy neighbour” back to the pagan privileging of the tribe over the barbarian Other. Even as it represents itself as a defence of Christian values, it is in fact the greatest threat to the Christian legacy.

    “Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity,” GK Chesterton wrote 100 years ago, “end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church … The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them.”

    Doesn’t the same hold for the advocates of religion too? Fanatical defenders of religion start out attacking contemporary secular culture; it’s no surprise when they end up forsaking any meaningful religious experience. In a similar way, many liberal warriors are so eager to fight anti-democratic fundamentalism that they end up flinging away freedom and democracy if only they may fight terror.

    The “terrorists” may be ready to wreck this world for love of another, but the warriors on terror are just as ready to wreck their own democratic world out of hatred for the Muslim other. Some of them love human dignity so much that they are ready to legalise torture to defend it. The defenders of Europe against the immigrant threat are doing much the same. In their zeal to protect the Judeo-Christian legacy, they are ready to forsake what is most important in that legacy. The anti-immigrant defenders of Europe, not the notional crowds of immigrants waiting to invade it, are the true threat to Europe.

    One of the signs of this regression is a request often heard on the new European right for a more “balanced” view of the two “extremisms”, the right and the left. We are repeatedly told that one should treat the extreme left (communism) the same way that Europe after the second world war treated the extreme right (the defeated fascists).

    Statue of Stalin in the Museum of Communism in Prague
    Statue of Stalin in the Museum of Communism in Prague Photograph: Petr David Josek/AP

    But in reality there is no balance here: the equation of fascism and communism secretly privileges fascism. Thus the right are heard to argue that fascism copied communism: before becoming a fascist, Mussolini was a socialist; Hitler, too, was a National Socialist; concentration camps and genocidal violence were features of the Soviet Union a decade before Nazis resorted to them; the annihilation of the Jews has a clear precedent in the annihilation of the class enemy, etc.

    The point of these arguments is to assert that a moderate fascism was a justified response to the communist threat (a point made long ago by Ernst Nolte in his defence of Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism). In Slovenia, the right is advocating the rehabilitation of the anti-communist Home Guard which fought the partisans during the second world war: they made the difficult choice to collaborate with the Nazis in order to thwart the much greater evil of communism.

    Mainstream liberals tell us that when basic democratic values are under threat from ethnic or religious fundamentalists we should unite behind the liberal-democratic agenda, save what can be saved and put aside dreams of more radical social transformation.

    But there is a fatal flaw in this call for solidarity: it ignores the way in which liberalism and fundamentalism are caught in a vicious cycle. It is the aggressive attempt to export liberal permissiveness that causes fundamentalism to fight back vehemently and assert itself.

    When we hear today’s politicians offering us a choice between liberal freedom and fundamentalist oppression, and triumphantly asking the rhetorical question, “Do you want women to be excluded from public life and deprived of their rights? Do you want every critic of religion to be put to death?”, what should make us suspicious is the very self-evidence of the answer: who would want that?

    The problem is that liberal universalism has long since lost its innocence. What Max Horkheimer said about capitalism and fascism in the 1930s applies in a different context today: those who don’t want to criticise liberal democracy should also keep quiet about religious fundamentalism.

    What of the fate of the liberal-democratic capitalist European dream in Ukraine? It isn’t clear what awaits Ukraine within the EU. I’ve often mentioned a well-known joke from the last decade of the Soviet Union, but it couldn’t be more apposite:

    Rabinovitch, a Jew, wants to emigrate. The bureaucrat at the emigration office asks him why, and Rabinovitch answers: ‘Two reasons. The first is that I’m afraid the Communists will lose power in the Soviet Union, and the new power will put all the blame for the Communists’ crimes on us, the Jews.’ ‘But this is pure nonsense,’ the bureaucrat interrupts, ‘nothing can change in the Soviet Union, the power of the Communists will last for ever!’ ‘Well,’ Rabinovitch replies, ‘that’s my second reason.’

    Imagine the equivalent exchange between a Ukrainian and an EU administrator. The Ukrainian complains: “There are two reasons we are panicking here in Ukraine. First, we’re afraid that under Russian pressure the EU will abandon us and let our economy collapse.” The EU administrator interrupts: “But you can trust us, we won’t abandon you. In fact, we’ll make sure we take charge of your country and tell you what to do!” “Well,” the Ukrainian replies, “that’s my second reason.”

    A pro Russian rally in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, with a statue of Lenin in the background.
    A pro Russian rally in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, with a statue of Lenin in the background. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

    The issue isn’t whether Ukraine is worthy of Europe, and good enough to enter the EU, but whether today’s Europe can meet the aspirations of the Ukrainians. If Ukraine ends up with a mixture of ethnic fundamentalism and liberal capitalism, with oligarchs pulling the strings, it will be as European as Russia (or Hungary) is today. (Too little attention is drawn to the role played by the various groups of oligarchs – the “pro-Russian” ones and the “pro-western” ones – in the events in Ukraine.)

    Some political commentators claim that the EU hasn’t given Ukraine enough support in its conflict with Russia, that the EU response to the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea was half-hearted. But there is another kind of support which has been even more conspicuously absent: the proposal of any feasible strategy for breaking the deadlock.

    Europe will be in no position to offer such a strategy until it renews its pledge to the emancipatory core of its history. Only by leaving behind the decaying corpse of the old Europe can we keep the European legacy of égaliberté alive. It is not the Ukrainians who should learn from Europe: Europe has to learn to live up to the dream that motivated the protesters on the Maidan. The lesson that frightened liberals should learn is that only a more radical left can save what is worth saving in the liberal legacy today.

    The Maidan protesters were heroes, but the true fight – the fight for what the new Ukraine will be – is happening now, and it will be much tougher than the fight against Putin’s intervention. A new and riskier heroism will be needed. It has been shown already by those Russians who oppose the nationalist passion of their own country and denounce it as a tool of power. It’s time for the basic solidarity of Ukrainians and Russians to be asserted, and the very terms of the conflict rejected.

    The next step is a public display of fraternity, with organisational networks established between Ukrainian political activists and the Russian opposition to Putin’s regime. This may sound utopian, but it is only such thinking that can confer on the protests a truly emancipatory dimension. Otherwise, we will be left with a conflict of nationalist passions manipulated by oligarchs. Such geopolitical games are of no interest whatever to authentic emancipatory politics.

    LRB cover
    London Review of Books cover. Image: LRB

    This article first appeared in the London Review of Books

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    1. Khalid:

      Thanks for noting the article for me. I’ve read it on the Kyiv Post site. I have to think about it more since it contains many gems for thought, things I had not considered before. The author is a noted Marxists a breed I must admit I have a prejudice against but he sure offers some compelling thoughts. I hope when I have more time to get back to you on it.

  2. “it doesn’t matter who votes – it matters who counts the votes”

    That’s the Russian-Putler-Stalin system of voting

    A group of armed Kremlin-backed rebels in possession of a 100,000 ballots already marked with a ‘yes’ vote for the May 11 referendum in Donetsk Oblast were captured and the ballots seized during the Ukrainian government’s anti-terrorist operation near the rebel-occupied city of Sloviansk on May 10.

    In addition, a Kalashnikov rifle, Makarov pistol, plus ammunition were seized, Obezrevatel reported. Earlier, Ukrainska Pravada reported that the separatists had seized 80 schools in Donetsk city to carry out their referendum.

    Local news website Novosti Donbassa reported that at polling stations in some Donetsk schools voting had already begun.

    1. Elmer:

      If you have any interesting up to date information on Ukraine would you let us have it. Thanks.

  3. Elmer:
    Is there a putsch planned for May 1? Kyiv Post reports that there will be night-time military maneuvers in downtown Kyiv on the first. The Ukrainian Army denies any knowledge of these imminent actions. Will the army be used to clear the Maidan, and/or, topple the current government? What’s the word on the street?

  4. Elmer:

    Gallup published a recent poll taken in Ukraine (LA Times). Approximately, 20% of the population in the southern oblasts, and, 30% in the eastern oblasts, support Russian intervention. They are a fifth column that shelters, supplies, and, assists, covert Russian operatives in their designs. Without their support the Russian effort would founder. Is Kyiv “taking the gloves off?” On what model will SB base its counter-insurgency effort in the East/South? Events are moving so fast in Ukraine, it’s hard to even make good guesses.

    If Pravy Sektor, and, Svoboda, joined together for the upcoming election, what percentage of the popular vote do you think they could command?

    Thanks for the e-cite.

  5. Khalid


    One of many recent polls

    2) Ukraine’s revised constitution reduced the powers of the president precisely because of what it previously led to under Yanukonvikt – a “strong” president DICTATOR, thoroughly corrupt, who dismantled Ukraine’s military and security forces – except for his own personal security force – and who stuffed Ukraine’s government with Russian Kremlinoid operatives for the sake of his own personal wealth, and those of his cronies

    A strong country comes from a strong empowered populace, with checks and balances on the government, not from a “strong” president. Just look at the Rasha and Vlad Dracul Putler the Dictator.

    3) The Kremlinoid in the Rasha are a never-ending fountain of perverted logic – they will invent and use ANY pretext.

    dezinformatsiya, provokatsiya, maskerovka and agitprop

    A bunch of Kremlin operatives infiltrate Ukraine, take over government buildings at gunpoint, and proclaim themselves to the the “Republic of the City Block” which they have taken over.

    Ukraine properly responds to remove the armed rascals – and the perverted logic Kremlinoids take this as a “provocation.”

    4) The people of Ukraine will indeed have to defend themselves. “If you don’t feed your own army, you will be feeding someone else’s army.”

    The people of Ukraine took a big step in defending themselves in their Revolution of Dignity, which got rid of Yanukonvikt, who is now sitting ensconced in a mansion he purchased outside of Maskva.

    5) Ukraine needs a lot of things after over 20 years of the raping, robbing, pillaging and murder done by Yanukonvikt and his ilk. It does not need the Kremlinoid Rasha coming anywhere into its borders, whether in eastern Ukraine or in Odessa.

    The Rasha’s credit rating has just been downgraded severely again, causing more massive capital flight, and increasing the cost of borrowing.

    Putler can whistle past the grave all he wants – but that is going to have an effect on Der Fuhrer Putler and his plans of world domination.

  6. Elmer:

    I hope you are right, and, that I am wrong. It seems that the only people the current imbroglio has served are the lumpen hooligans on both sides of the dispute. Who really calls the shots in Kyiv? To resist the Russians, the people of Ukraine will have to vote a strong man into power. That means Yarosh, and/or O. Teyanyuck (Sp? Svoboda Party) must be raised to national leadership. Can they bury their differences, and, present a united front in the coming elections? The present government of Ukraine appears weak, and, ineffectual. The West will not go to war over Ukraine. The people of Ukraine will have to defend themselves.
    Recruiting a national guard, and, sending it east to tamp down dissidents in the Donbass could provoke a civil war leading to a Russian invasion. Better the Guard should be sent to defend Odessa, and, Kherson. Ukraine needs its’ port more than it requires the outmoded industrial facilities of the East.
    As far as my guessing goes, that’s all we in the West can do. We’re dependent on the electronic, and, print, medias, reporting on the situation. That’s why your posts are so important. Being on the ground in Ukraine, you give witness to the Ukrainian “street,” Your impressions of what folks really feel about their situation are invaluable.

  7. Khalid, you are ignoring the reality on the ground. And you are guessing.

    The Rashans have once again shown their brutality.

    Right now, Putler is concentrating on Lunansk and Donetsk, but even there Putler is getting very little support.

    A bunch of Rashan operatives have declared “republics”

    Noone’s buying it.

    Putler is doing a bunch of sabre-rattling all along the eastern borders of Ukraine.

    The polls show that people do not want federalization – or partition.

  8. I don’t support partition, but, I can’t see how it can be avoided. Putin doesn’t want the West of Ukraine. He knows that the occupying Russian army would face another Afghanistan. The viability of Spetsnaz troopers, and, FSS agents, operating in Eastern Ukraine, depends on the sub-rosa pro-Kremlin infrastructures Russian intelligence has birthed, and, fostered, in the eastern oblasts. This infrastructure doesn’t exist in western Ukraine. In order for Putin’s territorial ambitions to succeed, a significant portion (20-30 %) of the population in the east must tacitly support the pro-Russian paramilitaries, or, at least, maintain a neutral stance. Sending FSS operatives, and, Spetsnaz commandos to foment insurrection in an overwhelmingly hostile population would be a futile effort. Che Guevara failed in such circumstances. In Vietnam, areas held by the syncretic-cults, Hao Hoa, and, Cao Dai (parts of Tay Ninh province, and, the western Mekong Delta), VC cadres were unable to penetrate the local populations to any great extent, making the creation of intelligence networks very difficult in those areas.
    If the Ukrainian speaking, and, Russian speaking populations, of eastern Ukraine uniformly opposed Russian intervention, Kremlin sponsored provocateurs, and, paramilitaries, could not survive on Ukrainian soil for any length of time. The Russians have thoroughly prepared the ground for their actions, at least, perhaps, a third of the population, in the East, must support Russian aggression, if the Kremlin’s investment in paramilitaries is going to succeed in dismembering Ukraine.
    Putin would accept a Bosnian solution to limit his exposure. The question is, would Western Ukraine be better off as an independent nation, or, a canton, in a decentralized Ukraine? If Western Ukraine had to go it alone, would it be an economically viable country?
    (al Jazeera has an interesting opinion piece in its on-line addition, “Last Stand of Marx: Eastern Ukraine” by Vladimir Golstein. You can also find it in the “What’s Hot” section.

  9. Matt, you have it exactly right.

    There is talk of additional sanctions, but that’s all.

    Putler’s immediate goal is to disrupt Ukraine’s upcoming May 25 presidential election.

    Longer term, having been in power for 15 years, he wants to keep his power.

    How to do that? Russian’s economy is in the toilet. There are a few wealthy people – Putler and his allies. So what Putler is selling is making the Rasha “great”- invade other countries, ship nuclear materials to Iran, ship weapons to Syria, in general do what the sovok did – try to poke Rasha’s finger into everybody else’s eyes to show that the Rasha is “great.”

    It is very very telling that during Putler’s little marathon TV talk, there was a 38 second interchange from outlying Russia. A villager asks Vlad Dracul Putler to improve the roads in the village, to which Putler responds:

    “why do you need a car? Is this some kind of provocation?”

    In other words, in the Rasha, one is either an accomplice or a victim.

    People don’t need cars or roads or anything else to improve their life. Because Putler has his palaces and his wealth, and he is busy making the Rasha “great” by exporting and fomenting terrorism in other countries.

    And f*** the citizens of the Rasha – under Putlerism, they don’t need no stinkin’ cars or roads or anything else.

    Here’s the clip:

  10. Khalid, this is the 21st century.

    The Kremlinoids are not getting support in Eastern Ukraine – that’s why they went in with guns and weapons. That is why Russian military operatives have been using babushkas and women and kids as shields.

    The most recent polls show that the overwhelming majority do not want to be part of Vlad Dracul Putler’s Kremlinoid Krapland. They had enough with Victor Yanukonvikt already.

    dezinformatsiya, provokatsiya, maskerovka and agitprop

    1. Elmer:

      Putin’s problem is as you suggest: there is no support in Eastern Ukraine for becoming part of Russia which is the reason Putin has sent in his forces which seems beyond reasonable doubt. He expected an uprising which didn’t come and now his alleged reason for going in which is to save the Russian speakers who want to be part of Russia has evaporated. Now if he goes in it will be pure and total inexcusable aggression.
      The idea that just because people use Russian as their language makes them want to be part of the Russia of today is absurd; it’s like suggesting Great Britain has the right to come in to the US and free all us English speaking people or that becaaus many here speak Spanish they’d prefer to be allied with Spain.
      Russia has been busily pumping out lies; fortunately they are recognized as such. The Russian foreign minister has lied so often that I’d suggest he is impossible to deal with.
      The problem is that with the certainty that Russia is causing the trouble in Ukraine, and that there is no civil war as Russia keeps telling us, we have not imposed serious sanctions on it. I don’t understand what is holding the west back – perhaps it is the same thing holding Russia back – uncertainty.

  11. Matt:

    The Russians could not operate in Eastern Ukraine unless a significant percentage of the population either supported them, or, stayed neutral. There is a very real contrast in weltanschauung between Ukrainians in the East, and, those in the West. Historically, Eastern Ukraine welcomed socialism, and, anarchism. The West, on the other hand, influenced by Austrian, and, Polish feudalism, has always been staunchly bourgeois, and, peti-burgeois. The East is the land of M.O. Skrypnyk, and, Nestor Makhno, not Stepan Bandera, and, Roman Shushkyvech. The Donbass , in particular, is an area with socialist/anarchist political traditions that stretch back to the late 19th century. For example, historical land tenure relations in Galicia, Volyn, and, Podolia, have always been markedly different from those in Trans-Dnieper Eastern Ukraine. During WWII, the East did not support Ukrainian independence. OUN-B, and, UIA, had difficulty establishing cells, and, running operations, in the East. People there, did not, and, do not, share the same world view as folks in western Ukraine. Seventy years of socialism forged a distinctly different political identity in the East. Partition is the only solution.
    I welcome all arguments to the contrary, but, will not reply to ad hominem screeds. Let’s have an intelligent discussion based on historical facts, rather than, emotionalism. I’m tired of the propaganda from both sides. Truth seems long lost in the current war of words.

    1. Khalid:

      There are differences between the west and east of Ukraine but one thing that all have in common is none want to be part of Russia. You are falling into the trap of believing because the Russians have sent in some operatives who have rounded up the local thugs to seize some buildings that the population of Russian speakers in the area are behind them. It is only a small minority abetted by Russia that is pretending the wish of the east of Ukraine is to be back with Russia. People in Ukraine have watched the people in Russia lose all their freedoms. They don’t want to be enslaved again, even the Russian speakers have no desire to have that happen. I’m surprised you have fallen for the Putin “new Russia” argument suggesting partition. Your argument to split Ukraine could be applied to the United States in some states that border on Mexico where Mexican immigrants do not “share the same world view” as others in the United States. I’m sure you’d find about the same number of Mexicans in that category as you would find Russians in Ukraine. But for the great majority of Mexicans who speak Spanish they are very content to be Americans even though they may go out and celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

  12. As April 19 approaches, residents of New England beware! Great Britain might get inspired.

    1. Ed:

      The idea of Alaska did come up to Putin. It seems to fit his historical arguments. That was a real steal.

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