После референдума в Крыму (After the referendum in the Crimea)

Well Steve, we’re not going to agree on this one - which is fine.

I am not by any means an uncritical supporter of Putin, but I can see things from a wider Russian point from view. They have never waged aggressive war on central or western Europe - yet they themselves have been repeatedly attacked and invaded. Let’s remember that the last time this happened is still just about within living memory. It was a fundamental existential threat - an attempt to destroy them, steal their natural resources and reduce the Russian people to a kind of primitive peasant class. I can well understand why many Russians would be unhappy at the sight of violent revolutionaries in Kiev waving banners with Bandera’s face on it.

(And I can understand why they feel increasingly encircled militarily too. I certainly wouldn’t be at all happy if Russian ships and aircraft were stationed in Calais, The Isle of White, The Scilly Isles, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland…)

With modern weapons I doubt if it makes much difference whether you live in Britain or Central or Eastern Europe. It is not the geography, it is the common sense of people that matters.

The trouble with common sense is that it isn’t always very common…

And it’s very easily manipulated.

According to this article there seems to be a lot of oil and gas near Crimea. So Putin’s gamble may be worth it. Why does Putin want Crimea anyway?


Aha, so there’s OIL down there? Well, well, well.

To be honest, I couldn’t quite fathom why the entire political class of the US and EU was so reluctant to accept the simple right of the Crimean population to self-determination. But those folks who are blessed and cursed with oil under their territory usually have to accept different political rules.

The Euobserver article is interesting, including the observation that “Meanwhile, Russia’s far-right party, the LDPR, has more seats in the Russian parliament than there are far-right politicians in Ukraine’s assembly.” Note that the leader of the LDPR, wing-nut clown Zhirinovsky, deputy speaker of the Duma, recently sent letters to Poland, Hungary and Romania encouraging them to divide up Ukraine. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/24/ukraine-crisis-partition-letter-idUSL5N0ML1LO20140324

But oil has rarely been the cause of wars and I don’t think it is Putin’s main motivation. For those who understand Russian I recommend you check out Шустер Live on youtube to get a real flavour of the mood in Kiev and Ukraine. This is politics as high drama, with outstanding appearances by characters such as angry blustering Russian commentator Maxim Shevchenko, who declares that no Russian, least of all Putin would want a war with Ukraine, and that Putin just wants a democratic and friendly Ukraine, to which Sergei Sobolev, leading Ukrainian politician emotionally rebuts ( in Russian) that Russia is not a democratic country and has no right to tell Ukraine what to do.

There follows a masterly speech, again in Russian, by crafty 80 year old first president of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk and on and on. How will I ever get back to Korean, each session is 3-4 hours long!

It is worth going back to earlier shows , one around November 28 or so when an icily arrogant Olena Bonderenko, lectures the audience on how hard Yanukovich, her party leader, is working for the interests of the Ukrainian people.

A number of interesting poll results come out. For example "Two-thirds of Russians Believe “Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine are Essentially Russian Territory; Russia has the Right to Use Military Force to Protect their People” according to Russia’s Levada centre. This explains Russia’s official propaganda barrage painting the government of Kiev as a band of bandits and fascists threatening Russians and Russian speakers, which is essentially a lie.

62% of Ukrainians polled by the Shuster program from around the country think that Putin is not after Crimea, but the whole country. 72% of Ukrainians see Putin as an aggressor, yet a similar number see Russians as friends.

It is obvious that Ukrainians are deeply offended and appalled by arrogant and aggressive disinformation campaign carried out by Russia against Ukraine, which did not start yesterday.

@Steve: “…politics as high drama, with outstanding appearances by characters such as angry blustering Russian commentator Maxim Shevchenko, who declares that no Russian, least of all Putin would want a war with Ukraine, and that Putin just wants a democratic and friendly Ukraine, to which Sergei Sobolev, leading Ukrainian politician emotionally rebuts ( in Russian) that Russia is not a democratic country and has no right to tell Ukraine what to do…”

I don’t really see the rebuttal. Let’s remember that (in spite of all the hysterical let’s-start-world-war-3 lunacy floating around right now) Putin is not, in actual fact, at war with the Ukraine!

And what’s more, I will eat my hat live on youtube if he does send in the tanks - at least barring some kind of genocide against ethnic Russians there (something which is, however, equally unthinkable.)

This is a time for cool heads, in my opinion.

And Steve, I’m “deeply offended and appalled by arrogant and aggressive disinformation campaign cfarried out” by the most western countries against Russia! And it “did not start yesterday”.
There are some resonable voices, but they are lost in the mass anti-Russian propaganda!
And our Russian propaganda is a child in comparison with this falsely covered under the ‘democratic’ words the geopolitical propaganda against Russia.
The western countries have nothing against the collapse of the Soviet Union - hurrey, we’ve won the cold war!
Yes, it was in the interest of the weestern countries and first of all the US to weaken Russia and to be the first power in the wolrld to their will and their demands to all other countries.
And when Russia helped the people of the Crimea to throw off the Ukraian occupation of this Russian peninsula because it’s in our intersts, what a wild wolf’s howl is sounding now from all western countries. Only the USA have their own interests, and they can’t permit to Russia to have such interests although Ukraine is 7000 miles from the US and at the border to Russia.
And we only agreed to re-join the Crimea, we didn’t kill there people, how the ‘free’ America made it in Irak, Libia, Yugoslavien, Grenada and many other corners of the world!
When will the West come to its sense after all?! Or the ‘big brother’ the US has already ensklaved the whole western world? How right was Snowden!
But thank God we have also China, India and Russia at least who will never be the ‘servant’ to the US!
And it is the hidden main ground of whole Hysteria - the US can’t forgive Russia for its independant position in the world.

Evgueny, you may not like what much of the Western media is saying but it is not a concerted government propaganda campaign. Journalists form their own opinions. That is the main thing, to maintain freedom of expression so that everyone can state their point of view.

Yes, the US often behaves with the arrogance of power. But they are not unique in that. I feel they should have a minor role in Ukraine.

It is the EU which is involved in the Ukrainian crisis, as they are also neighbours. I share the broad concern that the combination of nationalistic propaganda and suppression of opinion in Russia are dangerous ingredients.

As to the examples of US aggression it is worth looking at each one.

Grenada: While the invasion enjoyed broad public support in the United States,[5] and received support from some sectors in Grenada from local groups who viewed the post-coup regime as illegitimate,[6] it was criticized by the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United Nations General Assembly, which condemned it as “a flagrant violation of international law”.[7]
The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day,

Irak: A tragic and strategic mistake and example of the arrogance of power. Not unlike the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan. US media and public opinion at first supported the war and then turned against it.

Lybia: More of a European lead intervention into the civil war of another country. I was against it, and so were many in the West including many in the media.

Yugoslavia; Again an intervention into the civil war of another country. The Serbian forces were responsible for massive killing and raping of civilians in Bosnia and Kosovo as a tool of ethnic cleansing. This had been going on for a long time with tens of thousands of victims. I guess the outside world could just have let them do as they pleased. In the end there were 500 victims of the Nato bombings of which 60% in Kosovo and the rest in Serbia. The killing of civilians by the Serbs stopped and Kosovo achieved independence and this was recognized by most countries. Not really comparable to Crimea in any way. No country annexed Kosovo.

I don’t know what the position of India on this is, but China will support Russia quietly based on Mao’s adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. On the other hand, allowing national groups in China the right to hold referenda on independence is not something they would support internally, nor does Russia for that matter.

I have no doubt that the EU politicians promise more than they can or will deliver to Ukraine. That is how politicians act.

However, ultimately it is for the Ukrainians to decide. They can listen. Representatives of the US, EU and Russia or China for that matter, can show up and persuade and promise, but only the Ukrainians are or should be responsible for their own fate.

If you speak Russian, check out Шустер Live on youtube. Quite fascinating. You get a flavour of how Ukrainians see things.

Note that as of today or yesterday all paramilitary groups, like Right Sector, have now been outlawed in Ukraine, and one of the higher ups of that organization has died in police custody under somewhat unclear circumstances.

Robert, just watch Шустер Live. We do much assuming about what the Ukrainians think. Listen to some Ukrainians. Much is in Russian and I am getting better at understanding Ukrainian.

@Robert: “…The way ethnic Russians are treated in some Baltic states is quite appalling - they are clearly treated as second-class citizens and all this happens in countries which are members of the EU…”

Yes. At an anecdotal level, I should mention that I have also personally met someone in Germany who was practically forced to leave home after the break-up of the UdSSR (on her own account, at any rate.)

@Robert: “…I think there is more to this movement than what has been talked about over the past few weeks on most of our Western TV stations…”

I agree. I think many people are guilty of (to say the least) extreme naivety.

@Robert: “…Again, I think what Russia did was wrong. You don’t send troops to another country (nobody really believes the story of the so-called “self-defence forces”, not even RT does, I guess) and then hold a referendum under such conditions…”

Agreed - they shouldn’t have been actively deployed. (But they were, of course, already stationed there quite legally as per existing agreements.)

@Robert: “…I have not heard a single statement by Putin where he even remotely suggested that he plans to invade any country. I think instigating such fears does more harm than anything else…”


@Robert: “…The EU is lulling Ukraine into a false sense of security if it suggests that it could or would actually protect it from any outside aggressor. Brussels thought it could cut a cheap deal with Kiev and then it realized things weren’t as easy as they had hoped…”

Again spot on. If this episode has done anything it has exposed the EU-creeps for what they are: a bunch of sly calculating windbags with neither capability nor willpower to act openly and decisively. (Which is, however, just as well - for goodness alone knows just how badly they would screw things up otherwise.)

@Robert: “…Then the protests started in Kiev. Mind you, it was not the entire country that was up in arms, no general strike (as far as I can recall), no massive protests in other parts of Ukraine. It was basically a protest which was concentrated in Kiev…”

Once again, I fully agree: the existing government had a clear mandate at a national poll. There is not, as far as I am aware, any suggestion that this election wasn’t free, fair and democratic.

On the other hand, what kind of mandate did the Kiev mob have? Who did they represent? How many people in the country at large supported them? (And, yes, who from outside was advising, organizing, funding them??)

I don’t see how anybody who believes in democracy and the rule of law can support what these these hoodlums did.

BTW, the group most often identified as “hoodllums” in Ukraine is the Right Sector. They are against joining NATO or the EU.

As to the legitimacy of the present government, I guess this will be a moot point after the elections in May. In the meantime, as an interim government, there really is no credible alternative. In any event it is for the Ukraine to run their affairs, and other countries can choose to recognize this government or not.

Jay, you really know far too little about Ukraine to make such statements. Do yo know about regional Maidans? Do you know how many people traveled from elsewhere in the country to take part in the Maidan? Do you know of the level of frustration of ordinary Ukrainians with the government of Yanukovich? I suggest you take the trouble to inform yourself.

I believe in democracy but even a democratically elected government can lose the support of the people and if it reacts with excessive violence to demonstrators, it may very well trigger an even more violent counter reaction, which can spiral out of control. And faced with this situation the democratically elected President of the Ukraine fled with as much money as he could take with him. It was then left for the remaining parliamentarians to put together an interim government and organize an election as soon as possible.

Elections need to be organized in a peaceful manner, in a way which ensures each candidate or each side can present its case to the people, without pressure or suppression of views. Not like the parody of a referendum which Russia, a foreign country, organized in Crimea, after its troops had seized the parliament buildings, local Ukrainian army outposts and other assets That is why the referendum is not recognized by the international community.

For a country like Russia which is swept up with patriotic fervour, a little respect for the patriotic feelings of its neighbour might be in order.

I have no seen no evidence of any beatings of Russian speakers or ordinary citizens by any Banderaists or fascists, as claimed by Russian propaganda. I have seen videos of “pro-Russian” mobs beating pro-Kiev demonstrators in Donetsk and journalists in Crimea.

There are rightist thugs in the Maidan, they are not many. There are also apparently fascists and racists among the pro-Russian demonstrators in the Eastern part of the Ukraine, some of whom have come from Russia.

So I really think we need to refer to as many sources of information as possible, and form our own opinion based on as much actual information as possible.

A good sign is that the Russian foreign minister and Ukrainian foreign minister met in the Hague. An ideal solution, in my view (but I am not Ukrainian) would be for Crimea to have some kind of special status within Ukraine, and for Ukraine to declare itself neutral, not in NATO, and with some arrangement with the EU like Switzerland has, and to have similar relations, or even closer relations with Russia. Time heals all wound they say.

It’s great to see many thoughtful people discussing here. I’m sometimes posting links in Facebook and commenting things but most people don’t seem to care. I have a lot of respect for people who get out of their way to do some research about this. In my opinion, it is important to express your thoughts about the events in Ukraine even if you don’t feel that you are a great geopolitical expert.

I don’t have a clear opinion what the fate of Crimea should be. I don’t know enough about it. At the moment, the fate seems pretty clear though. It will be part of Russia. And I guess in a way it is good that the situation is clear instead of uncertainty about a possible independence (and prolonged tensions in a place with many nationalities). People freak out when they they don’t know the future. Certainty is one of the basic emotional needs of human beings according to Tony Robbins.

It is very possible that oil was one of the main reasons for the Russians taking over. It has also increased the popularity of Putin. He has to show that he is a big boy who can shoot tigers etc. Perhaps it’s kind of a Hollywood performance to show that the power of the Russian army.

Yes, US and others have done similar things, but I think it is not a justification for Russians to do whatever they want. Fortunately Crimea was probably enough for Putin’s appetite.

It is true that there is now, like Evgueny said, hysteria towards Russia. I think the hysteria arises from the fact that the Russia has taken a firmer control of Russian media. People are afraid that ordinary Russians get brainwashed. Luckily the majority of Russians are used to lies and don’t believe everything that is said in the TV. And luckily not all of them watch the TV. I’m not saying that everything is lie that is said in the Russian media. And of course there is also a lot of filth flowing in the tubes of the Western media.

Tymoshenko says in her twitter that the tape was her voice but it was manipulated. That it’s a montage. I read about this in YLE in Finnish. There is a screenshot of Tymoshenko’s tweet. Tymošenko: Puhelutallennetta venäläisten tappamisesta käsitelty | Yle Uutiset This seems to be one of the examples of Russian propaganda. And RT presents it like holy truth with showing Tymoshenko’s face and the seemingly scientific waves showing the sound. RT: - YouTube

“Russia’s annexation of Crimea has sent hundreds of the region’s ethnic Tatars fleeing the peninsula for western Ukraine out of fear of a backlash from Moscow.” http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/crimea-s-tatars-flee-for/1046148.html

From the Guardian article: “Elena, an ethnic Ukrainian from Crimea’s vehemently pro-Russian naval city Sevastopol, says her family are no longer free to express their opinions openly. ‘It was never like this before. But now our neighbours, friends have fallen out with us. They think all Ukrainians are fascists. I am afraid of the people around us, they are going crazy,’ she says.”
(These are the fruits of Russian propaganda! I’m not surprised if this is true. This is the kind of news that make some of Russia’s neighbours hysterical.)

There is the question of will other parts of Ukraine get independent or join Russia. To me it seems unlikely, but who knows? I guess it depends how the new political and economic structures will develop in Ukraine. What are the factors that affect this development…?

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine met each other in Haag yesterday. Their meeting was probably like the one in South Park: - YouTube I hope they also had a bro hug.

@Steve: “…Jay, you really know far too little about Ukraine to make such statements…”

I don’t lay any claim to be an expert on the Ukraine, but I doubt very much whether I know any less about this than you do, Steve.

@Steve: “…I suggest you take the trouble to inform yourself…”

We don’t have to agree, but statements such as the above are relatively arrogant, IMO. What gives you the right to tell me that I need to inform myself?

We all need to inform ourselves as much as possible. It may be that you also need to inform yourself about the historical basis to this, and to do so from less biased sources? I couch that as a question.

(For my part, I have heard - and continue to hear - both sides of the argument.)

@Robert: “…The way ethnic Russians are treated in some Baltic states is quite appalling - they are clearly treated as second-class citizens and all this happens in countries which are members of the EU…”

Could you be specific?