Triangle Drama Ukraine, Crimea and Jews

February 17, 2016

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal investigation into Shas MK Ya’acov Margi’s visit to Crimea on Feb. 2016, in an effort to dissuade others from visiting the peninsula and giving legitimacy to Russian rule there. According to a statement on the Prosecutor’s Office website, “a criminal investigation” against Margi was launched due the illegal entry into Crimea, the territory annexed by Russia in 2014.

ukraine-crimea-referendumAccording to Ukrainian law, violation of entry procedures into Crimea is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Ukrainian authorities have also hinted that the visa-free travel to Uman for tens of thousands of Israelis visiting the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov each year may be in jeopardy.

Ya’acov Margi, chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, met with the head of the Russian-established government in Crimea, Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, breaking with Israel’s policy of maintaining strict neutrality in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Margi’s visit was trumpeted in the local press as an indication of cracks in the international isolation of Crimea. The Knesset’s spokesman said the trip was not an official Knesset delegation, and not planned or coordinated with the Knesset, beyond the requisite authorization from the Ethics Committee. Margi submitted to the Ethics Committee an invitation from Chief Rabbi of Sevastopol Binyomin Wolf, including an offer to fund his trip. Foreign Ministry officials said they did not know in advance about Margi’s trip.

Crimea’s PM Sergey Aksyonov put out a statement that the meeting was likely to help Israeli citizens and governmental bodies “form an objective opinion about contemporary processes and events in Crimea.” “Despite a widespread opinion that it is unsafe to be in Crimea, [Margi] became convinced of the opposite. He saw everything with his own eyes. I have no doubt that the people of Israel will learn the truth: Crimea returned to Russia on its own free will expressed by the people of Crimea,” Aksyonov said. The statement quoted Margi as saying he saw the life of the Jewish community there “and that tells you the truth about Crimea. I can see calm people who go to shops and ride in public transport, though I used to have a totally different picture. Jews live in many countries, and [a] bad attitude to Jews is growing in many of them. But I feel very comfortable in Crimea,” Margi said. (Source: Jerusalem Post )

crimea1Earlier on Jan. 2016 Ukrainian Embassy in Tel Aviv threatened sanctions on Israelis doing business in Crimea . Such activities, the embassy asserted in a statement, are a violation of both Ukrainian and international law, and should they continue, “relevant information will be transmitted to the competent authorities of Ukraine to further bring to justice perpetrators of violations of the current legislation.” Companies that continue operating in Crimea without coordinating with Kiev may be subject to “special restrictive measures,” such as sanctions. According to the Ukrainians, Israeli citizens have been traveling to the Black Sea peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, without permission from Kiev, and Israelis firms have been engaged in “business activity in cooperation with the illegal authorities of Crimea without a permit.” (Source: JPost )

On Aug. 2015 Jerusalem Post reported that during a meeting with Vladimir Putin, a leader of Reform Jews in Crimea said his community’s situation has improved since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine. Anatoly Gendin, chairman of the Ner Tamid Reform Synagogue in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, thanked the Russian president for what Gendin described as Russian authorities’ attentiveness to the requests of Crimean Jews on restitution and other matters, and the rule of law in the disputed territory.

As Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula following a referendum of residents that showed majority support for the move, some Ukrainian Jewish leaders condemned the annexation. However many Jews in Crimea itself, including Reform and Orthodox rabbis and community leaders, say they feel safer under the sovereignty of Russia under Putin, who is widely credited for tough action on anti-Semitism and an attentive approach to the needs of local Jews. There are an estimated 17,000 Jews in Crimea.


P.S: More about theme in my articles

 

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Pridnestrovie in Context of Ukraine

March 29, 2014

Transdniestria flag

Prologue

Transnistrian claim for independence is being met with a certain degree of sympathy and understanding by some of the western experts. As an example, a Finnish political analyst and blogger Ari Rusila can be named; he usually presents the Transnistrian de facto statehood in quite a positive light, admitting, in particular, that “Transnistria called my attention first because of its quite ready statehood elements without outside recognition, second because of changed circumstances in respect for international law after Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence and thirdly because I predicted that Trandnistria could be the next tinderbox of separatism between Georgian conflict and coming troubles in Ukraine”. He believes that Transnistria, if compared with Kosovo, has had in fact much more reasons to be recognised internationally.


The quote above is from a paper Transnistrian Conflict: State of Affairs and Prospects of Settlement  prepared for the International conference “Frozen Conflicts” in Europe (1st September 2012, Bled, Slovenia) by Natalia Belitser and the sitation is based on my articles published in 2008.
Transdniestria
Pridnestrovie as next Crimea?


As the crisis in Ukraine continues to simmer, tensions in the country’s western neighbor Moldova are beginning to rise. Seeking to capitalize on President Putin’s eagerness to use the protection of Russian speaking populations in the region as a pretext to expand his territorial claims, members of two separate enclaves in Moldova are looking toward Moscow for protection.


Now after uprising and coup in Ukraine and annexing Crimea into Russia, tensions have grown to encompass Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, which like Ukraine has been making efforts to integrate further with the West. Moldova has signed the EU association and free trade agreements at the November 2013 Vilnius summit, during which former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich rejected the deals. The Moldovan government has also supported the Western-backed uprising in Ukraine. Western experts worry that the next “Crimea” could be the breakaway region of Pridnestrovie. Many locals there don’t share that fear, and if the last referendum holds, a large majority would welcome a Russian annexation.


Pridnestrovie aka Transdniestria – also known as Transnistria aka  Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR/TMR) – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. The official language of Transdniestria is Russian, not Moldovan, while the vast Majority of schools teach the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Roman alphabet used in the rest of the country. Recently  Pridnestrovie adopted Russian legislation, a clear signal of the region’s preference for joining Moscow’s customs union.

Most recently, Russian military exercises held March 25 in Moldova’s breakaway territory of Pridnestrovie have stoked these tensions. From its side the parliament (called Supreme Soviet) of Pridnestrovie has sent a proposal to the State Duma asking for in Russian legislation to join the breakaway Republic in Russia. The document originated in the DG as feedback on refering new draft law in Russia on the simplified order of joining the Russian federation new actors on the basis of a referendum, no international treaty, if in a foreign country has no effective legitimate authority “. (Source: Forum Pridnestrovie )


Now Moldova’s Pridnestrovie region is seeking to follow Crimea and join Russia and this is not causing concern only in Moldova but in neighbouring Romania, Ukraine as well in EU and Nato too.
Transdniestria – and Gagauzia – are joining to the same club with Abkhazia and South Ossetia as de facto states, namely political entities that have achieved enduring ‘internal sovereignty’ – but lack ‘external sovereignty’ in the international system. As Crimea is annexed to Russia and these other “states” can follow to join Russia or continue as de facto state, this development is creating a Northern Black Sea corridor, frontline or buffer zone.

North Black Sea buffer zone

Photo credit: The Telegraph

Good Moldavia-Pridnestrovie cooperation since 2009 and 2011 elections


New prospects for conflict settlement have appeared after parliamentary elections of 2009 in the Republic of Moldova. The new pro-Western team – the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) – that substituted the Communist Party ruling the country from 2001, proved much more pragmatic and willing to deal with its breakaway region than their predecessors pursuing rather an isolationist policy. In 2011 presidential elections President Igor Smirnov, who had been in power since Pridnestrovie declared independence in 1990, failed to be re-elected, and was replaced by opposition MP, younger leader of the ‘Revival’ movement and former speaker of the Supreme Council Yevgeny Shevchuk. These political changes engendered hopes for the settlement process to acquire a positive momentum.


The power changes in Pridnestrovie give positive boost to peace process: the official negotiation process re-started after six years interruption in November 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to be followed by a meeting on February 2012 in Dublin, Ireland and on April 2012. Finally the Document of principles and procedures and agenda of negotiations were agreed in Vienna, whereas on July 2012 this Document was signed. It included such issues as freedom of movement of passengers and cargo, traffic of trains, education issues,etc. Also a new approach (joint initiative of Russia and Germany, Meseburg, 2010) by the EU and Russia to resolve the conflict was the setting up of a joint Political and Security Committee (EU-R-PSC) at minister level. Related to security issues it was stated that the EU and Russia will cooperate in particular towards a resolution of the Transdniestria conflict with a view to achieve tangible progress within the established 5 + 2 format (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova,Pridnestrovie , OSCE, EU, US). This cooperation could include a joint EU-Russia engagement, which would guarantee a smooth transition of the present situation to a final stage.


The main approach of the resumed negotiations and to the settlement process in general focuses on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). This means that political aspects of the settlement, for example a mutually accepted status of Pridnestrovie, are not yet touched. Instead status there has been attempts to make concrete steps of issues that both sides of the conflict are interested in. These kind of initiatives have already been following:

  • Engaging the sides into direct dialogue;
  • Establishing joint Working/Expert Groups on confidence building measures;
  • Conducting meetings at a higher level (for example, between Prime-minister of the RM Vlad Filat and leader of Pridnestrovie Yevgeny Shevchuk, also between the heads of foreign ministries Eugen Carpov and Nina Stanski);
  • Elaborating and implementing national and international social and economic development projects etc.

The direct dialogue at a higher level has been clear contrast to previous lack of any kind of dialogue lasting for years. There has been a dozen WGs e.g. on economy, agriculture and environment, transport, railways, civil status acts, social and humanitarian aid, health, education, combating organised crimes and emergencies, telecommunications, and customs, whereas the WG on demilitarisation and security is not yet operating.
Growing dispute between parties started by unilateral actions by both parties during Spring 2013. First Moldova established migration control of citizens in six checkpoints, second  Pridnestroviestarted to mark border in in the sc Security Zone or line of demarcation after the Transdniestrian war (1992).
More about negotiation history in my article Transnistrian number game and in conference paper Transnistrian Conflict: State of Affairs and Prospects of Settlement  by Natalya Belitser )

Tools against Pridnestrovie by Chisinau and Kiev

Arsenal of tools, on that, with the support of Western “ideological-political sponsors” can count in Chisinau and the Kiev could be as following:

  • further tightening of border crossing for the residents of Pridnestrovieh, the introduction of a total ban on border crossings by social groups and citizens (It is noteworthy in this regard that, that the admission of foreign citizens on the territory of Moldova is liberalized; Ukrainian officials should examine stats for financial gains and losses of the Moldovan side of Ukrainian companies, eg, air carriers);
  • blocking of export-import operations of the Pridnestrovie side, transit of Pridnestrovie goods, that is well within the common “European” subjects as a way to European integration, with a demand for the full functioning of the Pridnestrovie Moldovan business rules;
  • ban on border crossings by vehicles with Pridnestrovie number;
  • refusal to issue permits for the Pridnestrovie passenger transport;
  • Moldovan law on the placement of the Ukrainian checkpoints with full access to all databases and law carry out administrative functions, etc..

Russia ready if needed

Nato warns that a pro-Russian enclave of Moldova could be Moscow’s next target after Crimea. Nato’s top military Commander Europe Philip Breedlove said on 23rd March 2014 that Russia has a large force on Ukraine’s eastern border and is worried it could pose a threat to Moldova’s separatist Pridnestrovie region.Russia launched a new military exercise, involving 8,500 artillery men, near Ukraine’s border 10 days ago. Breedlove said the Russian tactic should lead the 28-nation Western military alliance to rethink the positioning and readiness of its forces in eastern Europe so that they were ready to counter Moscow’s moves.(The Telegraph)


How the Russian forces would get there. Pridnestrovie is landlocked and to go there by land would require Russian troops to travel through much of western Ukraine. However, Russian forces based in the Eastern side of the Black Sea and Crimea could conceivably stage an airlift. Since it fought a brief separatist war to breakaway from Moldova in 1991, Pridnestrovie has been home to “peacekeeping” garrison of around 1,000 Russian troops. One option is also that Russia includes Odessa in a “security belt” that would presumably stretch from Crimea to Transdniestria.


The speaker of Pridnestrovie’s separatist parliament urged Russia middle of March 2014 to incorporate the region and the republic’s parliament, called the Supreme Soviet, sent an official request to Moscow asking if Transdniestria could be allowed to join the Russian Federation. The talks within the 5+2 format (Russia, Moldova, Pridnestrovie, Ukraine, the OSCE and observers from the EU and the US) are scheduled for 10-11 April 2014.


In Moldova the appetite for European integration among Moldova’s 3.5 million people had weakened even before the crisis in Ukraine and a parliamentary election later this year may bring a return of the pro-Russian Communist Party That was forced from power in 2009. Moldova falls under the EU’s Neighborhood Policy, which contains no explicit similar promise of membership like the countries of the Western Balkans .

Gagauzia had referendum too

Gagauzia Moldova map

Transnistria (orange) and Gagauzia (red) are pro-Russian regions in Moldova (photo courtesy of Stratfor)

Following a 1991 declaration of independence, Comrat (Gagauzia’s capital) agreed to remain a part of Moldova, after Chisinau agreed to grant the region the legal status of a “special autonomous zone“. Chisinau’s control was challenged in February 2014 when Gagauzia held a referendum to join the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union. The referendum followed Chisinau’s decision to enter a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union in November 2013–the same agreement former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich snubbed when he opted for the customs union with Moscow. Gagauzia has a population of about 155,000 people, mostly ethnically Gagauz, Turkic-speaking Orthodox Christians. Many locals fear that Chisinau’s EU-integration agenda masks an intention to unite Moldova with neighboring Romania.


An overwhelming majority of voters in a referendum – with turnout more than 70 % – held in the autonomous Moldovan region of Gagauzia have voted for integration with a Russia-led customs union: 98.4 percent of voters chose closer relations with the CIS Customs Union. In a separate question, 97.2 percent were against closer EU integration. In addition, 98.9 percent of voters supported Gagauzia’s right to declare independence should Moldova lose or surrender its own independence. Moldova’s government claims that referendum in Gagauzia is unconstitutional and had no legal legitimacy.


Although the security situation in Gagauzia remains calm, on 26 March, the executive committee in Comrat announced its decision to establish independent police stations in Comrat, as well as in its northern and southern cities of Briceni and Cahul. Moscow has demonstrated support for Gagauzia following the referendum. The regions governor, Mihail Formuzal visited Moscow in March 2014 and got impression that Russia was prepared to expand partnerships with Gagauzia and “provide the necessary support”. Despite an embargo against wine produced in Moldova, Russia began importing it from Gagauzia, likely as an attempt to encourage additional good will toward its benefactor.

Bottom line


It easy to say that incorporating Transdniestria – as well Gagauzia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Crimea – into Russia (and Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia) is against international law (whatever it is) or some international agreements. Although Russia moving into eastern Ukraine could be–as the West says–invasion-occupation-annexation. However in my opinion these actions are more legitimate or justified than U.S.expansionism, secret wars and interventions around the globe.


The other possible scenarios than annex into Russia for Pridnestrovie are e.g:

  •  Status quo maintained aka “frozen conflict” continues;
  • Re-integration of the Republic of Moldova with condition of establishing a confederation including Moldova, Transdniestria as Gaugazia entities, this could be pragmatic option for Ukraine too;
  • Transnistria gained its independence and state sovereignty recognized internationally
  • Joining Ukraine, which option after coup in Kiev seems most unlikely option to me.

In my opinion even without international recognizion Pridnestrovie meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood. As long as Pridnestrovie’s status is unresolved, it will be a serious political obstacle to Moldova’s joining the EU, which does not want another “divided state” like Cyprus on it hands.

Transdniestria and Moldavia map
My previous article about Pridnestrovie:

 

Note: An Italian version of this article published too

Il futuro della Transnistria nel contesto della crisi Ucraina


Case Ukraine In Figures

March 20, 2014

Crimea tourism

Instead of long analysis I have collected here some flash of trivia – figures and views – related to ongoing events in Ukraine:

An U.S. view:

U.S. view about Russia

and with more details:

U.S. view Ukraine

Peoples in Ukraine vote:

Voting maps of Ukraine

Peoples in Crimea think:

Crimea languages

and more precisely:

Crimea opinion

German “Der Tagesspiegel” ongoing poll – How should the West react to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. The results of 12000+ votes

German view Ukraine

An other German view:

German view Ukraine

Eu vs. Customs Union:

EU vs. customs Union Russia

Some historical perspective:

Referendums of independence

The choice:

Ukraine's options

And the bottom line:

Putin on Ukraine 2014

Whereas something stays over century through conflicts and politics:

Swallow nest castle in Crimea Ukraine

Swallow nest castle in Crimea

Earlier about Ukraine 2014 case:

And earlier about Ukraine:


Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam, by Jan Oberg

March 17, 2014

I’m happy to reprint an article “Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam” by Jan Oberg, director of TFF (Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research). His analysis in my opinion provides an exellent framework and wider context to what now is happening in Crimea. Jan is also the founding member in TFF which was established on January 1, 1986. Its mission is following:

“TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.
TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy.
The Foundation is committed to doing diagnosis and prognosis as well as proposing solutions. It does so in a clear, pro-peace manner.”

TFF logoMore in TFF home page

 

 

Crimea: The referendum, the mote and the beam

By Jan Oberg

TFF director

Lund, Sweden March 16, 2014

Of course it is illegal and of course it will be rigged, that referendum in Crimea today. And of course it is a ploy and comes only in the wake of Russia’s (read Putin’s) unprovoked aggression, used as a pretext to build a new Greater Russia. 

That is, if you browse the mainstream Western media the last week and on this Sunday morning. 

Referendum means referring an issue back to the people. It is – or should be – an important instrument  in democracies. And it’s a much better instrument than war and other violence to settle complex conflicts.

Generally, citizens-decided conflict-resolution is likely to last longer and help healing wounds of the past than any type of solution imposed by outside actors.

In Switzerland citizens go and vote on all kinds of issues on many a Sunday throughout the year. Sweden has used it to decide about nuclear energy, Denmark about EU membership and – in 1920 – to solve the conflicts in Schleswig-Holstein and define the future border between Germany and Denmark. Referendums, binding as well as non-binding, are an accepted instrument in many countries.

 

Why did the West not use referendums?

The West likes to pride itself of its type of democracy whenever and wherever it can. But it doesn’t use the referendum instrument that often. 

About 25 years ago it decided that it was good conflict-resolution to divide Yugoslavia into six republics; foolishly it used the old administrative borders and elevated them to international borders (the purpose behind that: you could then define the Yugoslav People’s Army’s presence in Croatia and Slovenia as ”international aggression by Serbia”) instead of asking people to which republic they preferred to belong.

In a few days it is 15 years ago NATO bombed Kosovo and Serbia to ”liberate” Kosovo and make it an independent – predictably failed – state. Fifteen years later, one wonders what better situation a negotiated solution ending with a referendum could have produced. No referendum there either.

Or take the Dayton Accords from 1995 for Bosnia-Hercegovina. No one in the democratic West bothered to ask the 4,3 million people living there (arund 33% Serbs, 45% Muslims/Bosniaks and 17% Croats) whether they would like to live under those Accords.

Further, Dayton was signed in the US, the Bosnian constitution written by US lawyers and the agreement signed by three presidents none of whom were representing anybody in Bosnia at the time of signing. Not exactly a democratic peace. And it should be clear today that it is not going to work in the future either.

Or take the issue of nuclear weapons. No nuclear weapon state has ever asked its citizens whether they want want their country to possess nuclear weapons which, logically, also make them potential targets of somebody else’s nukes. All opinion surveys in the nuclear powers tell us that there is no majority anywhere for the nuclear weapon status.

And how few of the new Eastern members of NATO and the EU have had a referendum on membership?

So, even in democracies the belief that ”we know what is best for you” often stands in the way of more intelligent, democratic conflict-resolution, i.e. better and more sustainable solutions to complex conflicts.

This is dangerous: How did it come to this?

Crimea is an extremely sensitive conflict spot and has been for centuries. In my view, there is more than a 50% risk that the situation we see today in Ukraine may lead to something like Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Conflicts and violence – even the threat of it – as well as sanctions have their own dynamics and there is always a risk that they spin out of control – if people don’t stop and think but continue tit-for-tat escalation. 

Why has it come to this? There are many reasons but let me mention these:

► The US and the EU have meddled in Ukraine’s internal affairs in a way that they would never accept Russian neo-cons, finance institutions and NGOs would in their own countries and are, thus, significantly co-responsible for the mess.

► The US and the EU lack politicians and they lack advisers who understand the larger scheme of things. They invest in spin doctors and PR companies instead of in knowledge-based expertise. It should have been obvious to a historically minded Western security and foreign policy elite that Ukraine is not a place to fish in extremely troubled waters and not expect a harsh reaction.

► Putin sees a golden opportunity to play tough in the light of the history of the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact saying in effect: This far and no longer! To be or act surprised at that speaks volumes of ignorance, propaganda, or both. 

The triumphalist US/NATO/EU expansion policies since 1989 would boomerang at some point – and that point is Ukraine, Ukraine meaning ”border” (like Krijina in Croatia). 

Wiser politicians of the past: Common security

Whether we like it or not, the US and the EU have handed Russia and Putin a point or two on a silver plate.

Wiser politicians like Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, Urho Kekkonen, or Nelson Mandela knew that we need peace first and then a policy to secure it (not the other way around) and that that again means moderation, prudence and search for common interests rather than provocatively promoting yourself. 

The reduction in intellectualism and moderation of foreign and security policy elites worries me at least as much as Russia’s response to US/NATO/EU the-winner-takes-it-all policies.

Hopefully the referendum may defuse tension

And, so, let’s rather hope that the referendum in Crimea could be a means to diffuse the tension. The rest of Ukraine has its own deeply worrying conflict- and violence-prone factors looming.

But they don’t have to blow up like Pakrac, Western Slavonia in Yugoslavia were the first shot was fired in what became a terrible war. And remember that war was preceded by a similar fishing in troubled waters as we have seen in Ukraine.

Are political decision-makers and media able to learn from contemporary history this time or will Yugoslavia be repeated? 

Perhaps a Christian West should remind itself – and take serious – of the Gospel of Matthew 1-5:

”And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

The mutual blaming in Moscow, Brussels and Washington of ”the other” should be seen as little but psychological projections of their own dark sides (beams) of which they must be subconsciously aware.

We will get nowhere but to hell with tit-for-tat, judgementalism and self-righterousness. Both Russia and the West should, instead, take steps in the direction of democratic peace-making: refer issues back to people themselves but – and that is important beyond words – stop influencing or buying them on the way to the ballot box.

 

TFF provides research and public education related to the basic UN Charter norm that “peace shall be established by peaceful means”. 

Jan Oberg

TFF director, dr. hc.

March 16, 2014


Farewell Ukrainian Independency And Democracy

March 4, 2014

Nur eine Partnerschaft mit der EU und Russland kann der Ukraine Stabilität geben.” (Manfred Schünemann)

Ukrainian defence News logoThe situation in Ukraine is chaotic and tense and even on the verge of military confrontation. Kiev is seems to be under rule of former opposition groups while the Strasserian protestors are still waiting if new government is acting with their expectations; Crimea is in Russian control, eastern provincies don’t accept rule from Kiev and ethnic minorities feel thread of neo-nazi groups which occupied the initiative of Maidan; ignored average citizens know the totally corrupted political system but not how to fix it.

From my perspective the future of Ukraine looks grim, it still lacks rule of law, genuine political parties, a meritocratic civil service and movement to change situation. Due de facto bankrupty of state economic and social decisions would be taken abroad, conflict between political elite and people the foreign aid will be shared among politicians and oligarchs and due regional confrontation, thread against minority rights and geopolitical spheres of influence the outcome will probably be dissolution of the country.

From popular protest to Strasserite coup

There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”
(Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls )

Strasserism by Wikipedia

Strasserism (German: Strasserismus or Straßerismus) refers to the strand of Nazism that called for, and the neo-Nazism that currently calls for, a more radical, mass-action and worker-based form of National Socialism, hostile to Jews from an anti-capitalist basis, to achieve a national rebirth.

The protests and uprising started when one part of western Ukrainians feel that their dream or great opportunity to integrate with West had slipped away. Soon came anger against economic mismanagement of rotten politicians and finally more radical and violent elements – fanatic Greco-Roman priests, hooligans, nationalists, Russophobes, neo-Nazis and anti-semitists – took the initiative. The “shock troops” were recruited from the ranks of Dynamo Kiev football fans. The middle class, especially in the traditionally nationalist, Ukrainian-speaking West, easily supported EUtopioan dream. This Ukrainian opposition was facilitated by covert action, informal diplomacy and massive funding from U.S. institution aiming to achieve what has just happened.What happened to the Ukraine on February 22, 2014 is essentially a criminal coup committed by the radical armed anarchists and Ukrainian Nazis who have been enjoying a comprehensive financial, military, diplomatic and even religious support and instigation from the Western power groups for the last two decades. Many of the Ukraine’s cities are now falling into the chaos of looting, unprovoked violence, lynch law and political repressionn.

protests vs insurgents

Besides neutral Ukrainian army and Russian troops in Crimea the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector. One of the group’s leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight against “Jews and Russians until I die.” Asserting the Right Sector’s authority over the situation, Muzychko declared that now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.” The Right Sector is organized, well armed and focused. As the Ukrainian personnel of the private military contractors were used in provocative clandestine actions to meet Western political goals in the Middle East, there is also unconfirmed rumor that many of them were sent to Kiev to make the job they are paid for – to target both policemen and protesters on “Euromaidan” from the roofs of surrounding buildings.

The most urgent task for new rulers was to State Language Policy Act, which granted “regional language” status to all languages of minority groups that make up more than 10 per cent of the population in a given area. The decision mainly affects not only communities of Russian-speakers but others too; for example Bulgarians and Hungarians are very worried. This was totally wrong signal as well extra reason for confrontation.

Coup a la Gene Sharp’s instructions

(1) seize a central square and organise a mass peaceful sit-in,

(2) speak endlessly of danger of violent dispersal,

(3) if the authorities do nothing, provoke bloodshed,

(4) yell bloody murder,

(5) the authority is horrified and stupefied and

(6) removed and

(7) new powers take over.

The West apparently likes Yatsenyukof the Fatherland Party. He speaks English quite well and is ready to repeat all the phrases that are pleasing to Western ears. The notorious telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt suggests that the Batkivshchyna leader was Washington‘s selelection and indeed now his acting PM in Kiev. Vitali Klitschko, the boxer, is a very attractive figure: he’s got a doctorate and he’s a world-class boxing champion. Plus, he’s against corruption, he’s moderate, and he wouldn’t want to cut off Russia. But heUkraine parties‘s got no experience in government. The oligarchs there are also not going to be too keen on somebody who’s going to battle corruption too valiantly. Anyway I think that Klitschko have a good change in Presidential elections. 

As the apparent pro-European/Western uprising was succesful it tells only one part about average Ukrainians attitudes related to EU or NATO. As on 2004, 40% of Ukrainians were against joining NATO and 30% were in favour, the rest were uncertain. According to the FOM-Ukraine pollster, in April 2009, 57% of Ukrainians were against joining the alliance, while 21% were in favor. A November 2009 poll by Ukrainian Project System relieved 40.1% of Ukrainians polled said the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia was the best global security group for Ukraine to be apart of, more than 36% of the respondents of the poll said that Ukraine should remain neutral and only 12.5% supported Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

Support in Ukraine for NATO membership since 2002 (Source: Wikipedia)

Polls

For

Against

2002 Razumkov Centre

32%

32.2%

2004 University of Sussex

30%

40%

April 2009

21%

57%

November 2009 Ukrainian Project System

12.5%

December 2009 Democratic Initiative Foundation

21%

60%

January 2011 RATINGFOM-Ukraine

24%

70%

February 2012 RATING

20%

70%

July 2012 RATING

17%

70%

December 2012 Democratic Initiatives Foundation & Razumkov Center

15%

60%

Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia (Source: Wikipedia)

Opinion Oct 2008 Jun 2009 Sept 2009 Nov 2009 Sep 2011 Jan 2012 Apr 2013
Good

88%

91%

93%

96%

80%

86%

70%

Negative

9%

13%

9%

12%

Ukraine’s dissolution after military confrontation

Leaders of mainly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine have challenged the legitimacy of the national (Kiev) parliament and have taken control of their territories. These regions – Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Lugansk and Crimea – have a population of 14.4 million. Most are important industrial centers. The nightmare scenario, however, is the disintegration of the country.

Ukraine territory

The situation has now gone from chaos to the verge of military confrontation. The pro-Russia region of Crimea is seething, and the new central government that took over in Kiev after Mr. Yanukovych fled is barely functioning. The fact that the Crimean peninsula – the main flashpoint in Ukraine’s crisis – is a pro-Russia part of Ukraine, separated from the rest of the country geographically, historically and politically and it also hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Personally I do not believe that situation in Ukraine will escalate to war. The globalcontext of military confrontation in Ukraine is related to strategic interests of Russia, U.S. foreign policy and NATO’s expansion since the end of the Cold War. In my opinion this part of problem is easiest to solve when both sides define and agree each other’s red lines.
Russian flags in Ukraine
The citizens in Ukraine do not have shared concept of Ukrainian identity; one explanation can be that the Ukrainian state – with borders today – was assembled, not by Ukrainians themselves but by outsiders. The eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine are Russian areas that were added to Ukraine in the 1950s by the Soviet leadership in order to water down the influence of the nazi elements in the western Ukraine that had fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union during WW2.

Ukraine means ‘borderlandand that it exactly is in geo-strategy. Some form of annexation of Russian-speaking areas – and not only Crimea – may have the Kremlin’s backing. The tension between the regions is real, and heavy pro-EU pressure could split the country which on the other hand might blanguage id in Ukrainee not so bad outcome. The outcome might be then a federation or confederation and anyway more power in regions than today. I hope that whatever way Ukrainians choose they can make it in future without interference from abroad.

Economic independence went already
After all the emotional revolutionary clamor dies down, the revolutionary regime will be subject to the tender mercies of European bankers and the IMF, as it pleads for desperately needed loans in the tens of billions of dollars. Ukraine’s new rulers have said loans worth $37 billion went missing from state accounts during Yanukovich’s three years in power. Ukraine hoped to begin receiving international aid soon and was determined to fulfil conditions needed for IMF support. A previous deal collapsed after Kiev failed to implement IMF demands for lower gas subsidies, which would have hurt Ukrainians by pushing up energy prices sharply. The United States promised to add economic aid to anticipated IMF and EU packages for the Ukraine. The country has asked for $35bn. EU officials put its short-term needs at $4bn.

As before possible rescue package by the IMF would carry harsh conditions similar the ones imposed on Greece or worse. This is also a powerful factor for workers in the eastern part to oppose the turn to the EU. Although they hate the oligarchs and do not love the ousted President or his party, they fear that any alternative would be worse for them. There would have to be savage cuts in public spending, increased taxation and a reduction in subsidies. The IMF is demanding a substantial increase in energy prices of the order of 40 percent. Ukraine owes $73 billion in foreign debt, and $12 billion of that comes this year. It’s the IMF’s job to dispense unpleasant medicine, and so far neither Brussels nor Washington have offered much to sweeten the pill.

In December 2013, President Putin promised Yanukovich a $15 billion bailout, but Russia has put the deal on hold after releasing an initial instalment, saying it wants more clarity about the new government and its policies. Because of its history, geographical location, and both natural and constructed economic ties, there is no way Ukraine will ever be a prosperous, healthy, or united country unless it has a non-antagonistic relationship with Russia. A federation with governors elected locally and not appointed by a winner-take-all president or prime minister would be essential. Real autonomy for Crimea will also be required. Russia has strong cultural, historical and economic ties with eastern Ukraine, and some factories there have contracts with the Russian military. One possiblity is that Ukraine could become a federation giving more power to its regions – a move, that might enable eastern regions to join a trading bloc led by Russia. The key principle in my opinion is that Ukraine must not be forced to choose between east and west, and that its future peace and prosperity depends on balanced and respectful economic and other relationships with EU and Russia.

Ukraine’s future will be determined by the extent to which the IMF, the United States, or the European Union can sweeten its aid package. However, because of the eurozone crisis in Europe and the debt crisis in the United States, financial pledges face a high hurdle. Objectively, the optimal scenario for Ukrainian economy would be to continue the old policies of geopolitical “neutrality”, without decisive integration into Western or Eastern structures. Any “choice” will be a severe blow to Ukrainian exports.

 “Ukraine’s capital has fallen with pro-Western street coup.”

“Ukraine’s capital has fallen with pro-Western street coup.”

Oligarchs have benefited from the corruption and political chaos in Ukraine over the past two decades. A tiny handful of wealthy robber barons enjoy obscene wealth from the property they have stolen from the people through so-called privatisation. About half a dozen oligarchs in Ukraine have concentrated fabulous wealth since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The oligarchy continues to loot the people, especially through its hold over the banks that charge exorbitant rates of interest (25-30%). While the oligarchs fight over the division of the plunder, small businesses are being ruined. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of businesses shrank by 600,000, according to the state statistics committee of Ukraine. There is a split within the oligarchy as the heavy industry bosses in the eastern part of Ukraine, with only Russia to sell their products to, protested that the price for European integration was too high while the steel industry bosses, with export markets in the EU and Asia, maintained their silence.

The Ukrainian economy suffers from a fatal combination of all the worst features of the old bureaucratic state and all the worst features of gangster capitalism. According to the World Bank, Ukraine is among the top 10 recipients of remittances from abroad, with transactions reaching $9.3bn in 2013. It estimates the total number of Ukrainians working abroad at close to five million. In 2012 they sent home $7.5bn (4% of Ukraine’s GDP) through bank transfers. It easy to understand that the EU’s offer of a trade deal was popular in the western Ukraine because it promised to ease the conditions for immigration.

USA vs UkraineThe EU is hardly likely to send large amounts of money to Ukraine‘s totally corrupted system so they look to the USA to help them out under the disguise of the IMF. The idea that Moscow would be prepared to continue to underwrite the debts of a government in Kiev that is openly hostile to Russia is unrealistic dream. Instead any rapprochement with the EU could be met by high tariffs against Ukrainian exports to Russia. They could also call in their outstanding debts. That would be enough to send the Ukrainian economy – already in a very bad state – into free fall with dire consequences. Anyway what would be left of the idea of Ukrainian national sovereignty when all important economic and social decisions would be taken by European and American bankers?

Ukraine’s democracy as an illusion

Of the people that protested, few had read the Association Agreement. Most thought that immediately after it was signed they would be able to travel to Europe without a visa and that there would be an end to corruption in Ukraine and life would be like it is in Europe. That wasn’t going to be the case.” (Vera Kovalenko, Kiev)

Krim 2014The obstacle clouding over the future of Ukraine‘s democracy is the rotten political elite and some dozen oligarchs behind system .The real fundamental conflict in Ukraine is between ordinary citizens and political elite. So there are some cold realities ahead for Ukraine’s revolutionaries. It is normal faith of Strasserism that sc revolutions will soon be hijacked; the recent examples can be found from outcome of “Arab Spring”. The bottom line now is that there is not a one political party in Kiev which represents other interests than those of their leaders – the masses will be bystander like always.

How to progress from uprising to revolution? The main weakness of the uprising in Ukraine has been the absence of an independent movement of the working class. According Marxist/Trotskyistperspective Where is Ukraine going? by Alan Woods – the only real alternative to the rule of the oligarchs is a democratic Socialist Ukraine, in which the land, the banks and the industries would be in the hands of the working class and the wealth of the country would be used for the benefit of all. Such a programme could cut across all differences between East and West, uniting all the working people against the wealthy parasites and political elite. The first step would be the confiscation of all the wealth and property. The loot should be returned to the people of Ukraine from who it was robbed. It should be used to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine on the basis of a democratically planned socialist economy.

The second step is the repudiation of all the debts contracted by the oligarchy and its political puppets. The Ukrainian people were never consulted about the shady deals of their rulers and cannot accept any responsibility for them. They must not permit the foreign robbers to suck any more of their blood! The wealth created by the Ukrainian workers must remain in Ukraine and be used for the benefit of the people who created it. Once the working class has thrown the parasites off its back and taken control of the means of production, the sky would be the limit. Unfortunately I estimate that this kind of progress is at least as big utopia than Ukraine’s EU membership although better one.

Ideal solutions unfortunately mission impossible

People in many towns have demonstrated that together they can have influence at local level. Together without ethnic or religious tensions they can avoid failure like it happened with “Arab Spring”. What is clear is that the current political elites have widely lost their legitimacy. There is real change for progress by creating new power-structures at grassroots. The task would be the gradual building of grassroots networks and institutions that reflect the will of the people, in all different ways and complexity. Unfortunately I’m afraid that this kind of challenge is too big any time soon in Ukraine.

On the opposite there is also change that counter-move by centralized establishment will win with help of EU, US and Russia. An easy task is to gain political stability by making deal between foreign powers, oligarchs and national political elite. However, if agreements are again conducted by the same power elites – establishment – than before, the results will again lack the democratic legitimacy and nothing will change. In my opinion a new kind of engagement by both the US and the European Union could be, that the protests should be welcomed, old power structures and elite ousted and real implementation and progress led by masses at local grassroots level facilitated. By this way I think that “Ukrainian Spring” and real democracy could be flowering.

My conclusions

In my opinion the only practical peaceful way to save Ukraine’s Potemkinin villages as independent united state is that the political elites from moderate opposition parties now ruling in Kiev and Party of regions plus other parties from ousted government as well oligarchs behind them join their forces to slam The Right Sector and similar groups down. An ideal pragmatic outcome would be a broad settlement involving Ukraine’s new leadership (after May elections), Russia and the EU, arranged under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This does not solve the real fundamental conflict in Ukraine is between ordinary citizens and political elite. One possible way of preserving territorial integrity would be decentralization — giving more autonomy to the different regions of Ukraine. Although federalization is seen in Kiev and western Ukraine as a step toward ultimate partition, it could in fact help hold Ukraine together.


More about Ukraine e.g. in

Ukraine’s Would-be Coup As New Example About US Gangsterism
Ukraine: End of Orange Revolution, start of Stabilisation
Ukraine – choosing a new Way
Stop to Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Nato dreams can start the policy of detente again

Appendix:

The Uniate Church –

One of the the ultranationalist elements in the Western Ukraine

The Uniate Church, a minority religious Greek-Catholic community of the Eastern rite, created by the Holy See in XVI century in a desperate attempt to weaken close ties of Rzeczpospolita’s Orthodox with Moscow. Their tactic was to aggressively occupy Orthodox cathedrals on the canonic territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. The last thing the Uniate clergy used to preach in the occupied churches for all these years was the Christian call for repentance and peace. Instead they propagated a new crusade against the Orthodox and directly instigated and justified race-motivated prosecutions and even killings, acting exactly like radical jihadist preachers of the militant pseudo-Islamic sects.

Suffice to watch a “Sunday sermon” by Mykhailo Arsenych, the clergyman from a local Uniate church in Ivano-Frankovsk region, Ukraine saying: “Today we are really ready for a revolution.The only effective methods of combat are assassination and terror! We want to be sure that no Chinese, Negro, Jew or Muscovite will try to come and grab our land tomorrow!”

Appendix 2:

On the other side a number of Ukrainian regions have announced referendums on the issue of secession from Ukraine.  One possible outcome:

Ukraine vs Crimea map

Appendix 3:

Russian forces on Ukraine border

A senior security chief in Kiev said Moscow could launch a full-scale  invasion and Russian troops would be in the Ukrainian capital within ‘two or three hours’ of the order to advance.  An option this too!


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