Tag Archive | "Ukraine"

Ukraine is being gripped by a new Maidan – but the western cameras and cookies are absent


NOVANEWS

The 2013/2014 Maidan was a ‘who’s who’ of the neo-con/liberal elite. Today’s events are like a ‘who’s he?’ of the Ukrainian far-right.

The past several weeks have seen eerily familiar sights return to the infamous Maidan in central Kiev. However, while in the winter of 2013/2014, international camera crews descended on Kiev to video and photograph the violence, today, there are more angry demonstrators and camped out agitators than international journalists.

However, an anonymous journalist working with famed independent journalist Graham Phillips, who most prominently brought intentional audiences front-line footage from the war on Donbass, has filmed the following reportage documenting what can only be called Maidan 2.0.

The phrase, “the more things change–the more they stay the same”, very much comes to mind.

Miadan 2.0 is similar to the events in 2013/2014 in the following ways

1. Meet the new-neo-Nazis…same as the old neo-Nazis

Many if not most Maidanists are perpetually angry members of  far-right and neo-Nazi groups who proudly display the red and black flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a Nazi collaborationist group which committed acts of genocide during the 1940s.

2. Anti-corruption 

New and old Maidanists are protesting a government they view as corrupt and unresponsive to their needs and desires

3. The Maidan camping experience 

Maidanists have set up camp with elaborate tends, food preparation facilities and have come prepared with their own riot shields and other utensils of urban warfare.

4. It’s growing–not shrinking

It does not look like the new Maidanists are prepared to leave, even if asked by the authorities, until various, however vague demands are met.

However, the differences between the 2013/2014 Maidan riots and the events today are more notable for their differences

1. There’s no Yanukovych to blame

In 2013/2014, Maidanists were protesting a government which took an open position towards both the EU and Russia. Far from being ‘pro-Russian’, the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych attempted to initiate discussions with the EU about a trade association agreement and visa-free regime, only to put the brakes on at the last moment when he realised that such an agreement was not going to be economically viable.

Viktor Yanukovych is more of a Pontius Pilate character than anything else, a totally uninspiring figure torn between wanting to preserve crucial economic and security ties with Russia, while also wanting to take advantage of alleged opportunities from Brussels. Ironically, disgraced former Trump campaign associate Paul Manafort helped encourage Yanukovych to move closer to Europe, a decision which proved politically fatal.

Ultimately, Yanukovych was ousted in a neo-fascist coup backed by the US and most of the EU. He responded by running away, thus abandoning his country to utter chaos and bloodshed.

2. Disgruntled military and true believers 

In the Poroshenko regime, one might think that on the surface, the far-right and neo-Nazi protesters got what they wanted. Poroshenko has destroyed relations with Russia, he continues to wage a savage war of aggression on the Donbass republics and has signed a visa-free agreement with the EU.

However, Poroshenko has destroyed Ukraine’s economy, crime is up, corruption which was always endemic in Ukraine, is now at levels which are setting world records and the safety situation is rapidly deteriorating in regime controlled areas.

While many of the most extreme Maidanists are upset that Poroshenko isn’t waging an even more aggressive war against the Donbass Republics, many of the new protesters are ex-Ukrainian soldiers who have become distraught at their lack of pay, in spite of having to fight an aggressive war with seemingly no forthcoming resolution.

Morale among Ukrainian troops is at an all time low, with non-battlefield casualties since the fascist regime came to power hitting 10,103. Over 3,000 troops have been killed away from the war-front with mental illness and desperate acts of internal violence fuelled by alcohol and drugs, being primary causes.

Demoralised troops may end up playing a large part in Maidan 2.0, an element that didn’t factor into the initial riots of the 2013/2014 Maidan.

3. Ukraine’s deathbed economy 

Economic realities are also a motivating factor. Many have taken to the Maidan because the idea of a Ukraine that had the living standards of the average EU country, with the added ‘benefit’ of cutting all links with Russia, hasn’t worked out.

Ukraine remains largely dependant on Russian investment and the more the Kiev regime cuts this investment off (which it is indeed doing), the less likely it is that anyone will fill the void. There is increasingly little money to be made in Ukraine and even pro-regime actors in Europe and the wider west, are all too aware of this.

When it comes to the economic angle, the EU and US have largely given up on ‘project Maidan’. These ‘partners’ of the regime are keen to provoke Russia, but apparently less keen on giving the people of Ukraine any real economic opportunities. Many are already venting their frustrations about this on the Maidan.

4. No cookies from the west 

The 2013/2014 Maidan was something of a ‘who’s who’ of the western neo-liberal/neo-con/anti-Russian movement. From John McCain giving rousing speeches against Russia to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland famously handing out cookies on the Maidan before secretly being recorded saying “fuck the EU”, should Europe try to take a more moderate approach to US regime change, events were something of a neo-con carnival in the midst of a violent freaks-show.

Today’s Maidan is less of a ‘who’s who’ of the neo-con elite than a ‘who’s he?’ of the Ukrainian far-right. If anything, today’s Maidan is more authentic than the first, as the US has no interests in funding and promoting a group of anti-Russian agitators who want to overthrow an equally anti-Russian regime. For the west, it is mission accomplished, all other matters are now largely domestic in nature and therefore, largely irrelevant in Washington and Brussels.

5. The Saakashvili factor

Mikheil Saakashvili, the disgraced former Georgian president who was once appointed the governor of the historically multi-ethnic Russian city of Odessa by Poroshenko, has now been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship and is on a mission to not only get it back, but to lead Ukraine.

Saakashvili is currently doing the rounds with various disgruntled mobs throughout the country, trying to increase support for his bid to oust Poroshenko and take charge.

In 2013/2014, Saakashvili was hardly talked about in Ukraine, but now, because Poroshenko made him a kind of political martyr (by Ukrainian standards), he is in the midst of attempting to cultivate a personality cult and propel himself to power. Again, because if anything Saakashvili is even more connected to western elites than Poroshenko, no one in Washington or Brussels is particularly alarmed nor existed by Saakashvili’s self-proclaimed ‘march on Kiev’. The attitude is essentially: ‘if he takes over, we have a new puppet, if he doesn’t, nothing has changed’.

However, because Saakashvili’s record is more tainted in Georgia than Ukraine, by post-Maidan standards, Saakashvili is something of a ‘last man standing’ who could emerge as a possible successor to Poroshenko, something that seemed unthinkable not so long ago.

CONCLUSION: 

Ataturk infamously stated “they go as they come” and this will likely be the case with the Poroshenko regime, one way or another.

However, this will provide little meaningful change in Ukraine and will do equally little to end the war of aggression on the Donbass republics.

What is needed is a kind of caretaker government to stop the war and allow the Donbass republics to function in the framework of a frozen conflict that ultimately, Russia and other international partners will have to solve. If the circumstances were right, Russia could even work with an increasingly humbled German state to bring about a resolution based perhaps partly on the Minsk agreements which are violated by Kiev on an almost daily basis.

That being said, Donbass is almost certainly never going to give up its independence and the sooner Kiev and the rest of the world, including the Moscow elite realise that, the better it will be. An independent Donbass is the new reality and it will be more productive for the world to accept this rather than trying to ignore or change it.

Such a caretaker government in Kiev would ideally also work with others, including Russia, Belarus and the EU to fix the broken economy.

The problem is that, there are virtually no such candidates in Ukraine. The political landscape is so barren of any common sense, pragmatism or compassion, that the choices are generally between bad and worse.

At some point, it really does not matter who is in charge of Kiev, so long as the hateful, regressive and incompetent attitudes of its political class remain the same.

In this sense, the new Maidan is an expression of continued frustration, but this time without foreign aid, without the false optimism of the last Maidan and without any hope for change. Ukraine is about to hit rock bottom and from where things stand, getting a little bit worse will scarcely be noticeable in the immediate future. This is a reflection of just how bad things have become.

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How Ukraine Turned into An Arms Dealer? Supplying Weapons to Al Qaeda and ISIS-Daesh


NOVANEWS
  

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) together with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network revealed a scheme of weapons supply to the terrorists of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

There is no secret that the U.S. provides the so-called moderate opposition and Kurdish militia in Syria with arms and ammunition most of which are the weapons remained after the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact disbanded.

The U.S. DOD, through U.S. SOCOM, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, as well as Picatinny Arsenal, American military research, and manufacturing facility located in Dover, New Jersey, acquired arms in some Eastern European countries including Ukraine for their further sending to Syria. The procurement volume has already exceeded $700 billion.

Kiev used the logistical scheme elaborated by Washington to export arms and weapons from the Ukrainian armed forces weapons depots. The deal is estimated at $110 billion.

Between June 5 and September 15, the United States sent 1,421 trucks loaded with weaponry to the “moderate” opposition, including 596 trucks (more than 40 %) from Ukraine. Most of them ended up in ISIS’ hands.

The General Staff of Ukraine took advantage of Oktyabrsk seaport located 25 kilometers southeast to Mykolaiv and Kiev air transport hub to supply weapons to the Middle East.

The transportation of weapons by air was the most effective procedure in terms of delivery speed. The weapons were transferred from ammunition depot No. 48 of Central Missile and Artillery Directorate situated in the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia to Gavrishovka Airport and then delivered by 456 brigade jets to Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport.

Earlier, the Ukrainian authorities might have delivered arms and weapons through ammunition depot No. 65 located in Kharkiv’s Balakliya.

To cover up the illegal supplies, a series of deliberate arsons were organized at the military depots. The incident in Vinnytsia provoked the public outcry. According to the Ukrainian media, more than 40 tons of artillery shells were allegedly destroyed. In fact, this represents a basis of weapons sold and delivered to ISIS.

The similar cases won’t stop as Kiev needs to hide grand larceny and illegal arms sales from the public eye.

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Ukraine’s Chief Military Psychiatrist Fired After Uncovering Horrifying Secret


NOVANEWS
Image result for Ukraine’s Chief Military CARTOON
Sputnik 

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has sacked chief military psychiatrist Oleh Druz, who told lawmakers that 93% of veterans from the conflict in the country’s east need treatment for mental health issues. Radio Sputnik contributor Vladimir Filippov says Druz’s remarks, and Kiev’s reaction, are a testament to the senselessness of the country’s civil war.

Last week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak dismissed Colonel Oleh Druz, the head of the psychiatry clinic of the Main Military Clinical Hospital “in connection with the unsatisfactory fulfillment of his official duties.” The dismissal followed remarks by the top military psychiatrist at a round table of parliamentary committees, where Druz revealed that over 90% of the veterans of Kiev’s military operation in Donbass require mental help and pose a potential danger to society.

Commenting on the scandal, Radio Sputnik contributor Vladimir Filippov said that Druz’s real problem was that he decided to tell the truth.

The journalist recalled that according to Kiev’s own official statistics, “nine out of ten participants of the fighting in the Donbass have medical and social problems, while a third are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts say a state-run program of support for vets is needed, but for now this is something done mainly on a voluntary basis.”

In his remarks before lawmakers, Druz warned that veterans’ disorders include heightened levels of aggression, decreased ability to return to civilian work, the development and exacerbation of chronic diseases, growing rates of alcoholism and drug addiction, shortened life expectancy, and increased suicide rates. Statistics reveal that 63 veterans took their own lives in 2016 alone.

In light of these horrifying figures, Filippov suggested that Kiev’s reaction was highly “original.”

“They simply dismissed the chief psychiatrist. Why? Probably because he said too much. Someone might think that among the [Donbass vets] are completely mentally unstable people. In fact, to shoot one’s fellow citizens is already beyond the realm of a normal worldview. And if one kills unarmed civilians, children and the elderly, what kinds of mental state can one speak of?”

According to the analyst, the hard truth is that Ukraine’s authorities couldn’t care less about its vets, with the government allocating precious little money for them, most of its defense funds either stolen outright or allocated to weapons purchases.

Filippov suggested that as far as Kiev is concerned, the only problem posed by the vets is the political danger they pose to the government – “to their soft chairs and their wealth. They have no plans to share with the veterans, hence the need to drive their problems deep out of sight and out of mind. No one needs them. They are cannon fodder, spent material.”

“That’s why Poltorak got so anxious,” the analyst stressed. “Because the 93% figure is a military secret – top-secret information! Capable of undermining the military capability of the regime,” Filippov concluded.

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The Kiev-Controlled Mariupol Airport Continues to Operate as a Concentration Camp


In Mariupol, on the territory of the local airport, Ukrainian nationalists organized a concentration camp, which works to this day. In it punishers torture and kill people who don’t agree with the policy that is conducted by Kiev.

This was stated by the participant of the movement of liberation of Mariupol Irina Popova during an interview, reports the correspondent of Politnavigator.

Also she spoke about how exactly in the city another anniversary of the liberation from fascist aggressors was celebrated, and emphasized the fact that, despite all the attempts of the authorities to show that the city continues to lead a peaceful life, the situation there is far from being easy.

Irina Popova: “Events devoted to the Day of liberation of Mariupol from German fascist invaders were held at the initiative of the residents themselves who, for example, on September 9th came to a meeting in a small group in the Levoberezhny district. Also at the initiative of the city’s landscapers 500 bushes of flowers were planted. This day is a celebration of liberation from German fascist invaders, and, as far as Ukrainian propaganda tries to present Mariupol as a city of wellbeing, in reality the situation there is not simple at all, but very difficult.

I will describe it in an everyday picture: a person in Ukrainian military or police uniform comes onto a bus. Passengers immediately stop talking, everyone turns away and looks out of the window. What can be said here? About a normal situation in the city? Of course, no.

Many residents of Mariupol know firsthand how their acquaintances, relatives, and work colleagues disappear without a trace. Members of families of missing persons, being afraid of punishment in regards to their relatives, very often are simply afraid to submit statements to the police about the disappearance of their relatives.

And there is now no doubt that such punishment is being carried out. As such a concentration camp was already at work in Mariupol airport, it still continues to act. Nobody closed this airport. Many are being shown it for the purpose of intimidation. For example, they brought a mother to the airport, whose son had been detained, and they just kept her there for 48 hours. She was simply led to the places of shooting and torture. And I can imagine what mood and what psychological state she was in after what she had seen.

You understand, this person won’t be shown on the Ukrainian television, as well as the airport itself, but that will show the festival ‘Chervona Ruta’. Unfortunately, it is two realities: one is on TV, and another is in the real life of the residents of Mariupol, who wait for liberation and for our arrival.”

I.e., in fact, in Mariupol there is now terror?

Irina Popova: “It is unambiguously terror, and this excess cannot be called anything else.”

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Putin & Trump agree to create bilateral channel to promote Ukraine settlement – Lavrov


NOVANEWS

Image result for Ukraine CARTOON

A special channel between the Russian and American presidents will be established to further push for a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has announced following the Putin-Trump meeting.

Additional efforts will be made “to support” the Minsk peace agreements and the work of the existing contact group on Ukraine, Russia’s chief diplomat said.

“While discussing Ukraine, the American side informed us that they had appointed a special representative to assist the efforts on settling the Ukrainian crisis.

“Arrangements have been made to create a channel between presidents of Russia and US to use this opportunity that Washington has, to further advance the settlement based on the Minsk agreements and considering the potential established in the contact group and the Normandy format,” Lavrov told reporters during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Moscow hopes to soon meet the US representative “for consultations,” he added.

Saying that “everyone is interested” in fulfillment of the Minsk agreements, to which Kiev “is the main part,” Lavrov said Moscow “senses that its Western partners very much understand the necessity of additional influence” on the peace process which so far has been delayed.

Citing his “long” talks with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier in the day, as well as a Thursday meeting with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, Lavrov said everyone agrees the crisis needs to be settled within the framework of the Minsk agreements.

“I have a feeling that it has been confirmed that both the Russian and American presidents are driven by their national interests, which they see primarily in looking for mutually beneficial agreements rather than by trying to play out some confrontational scenarios.”

Lavrov added that the Ukrainian issue had been discussed “in a concrete, businesslike” manner.

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Media Suppression and Political Repression in post-Maidan Ukraine


NOVANEWS
A Conversation with Halyna Mokrushina
 

“Those two members of the – this paramilitary right wing…they were arrested and then they were released, and we see the intimidation…they appear in court, and they disrupt the work of the judges. Seeing this and how powerful they are,  judges might…some of them just prolong these pre-detention terms because they don’t want any trouble. Because they can come to their houses.” – Halyna Mokrushyna (from this week’s interview).

This level of freedom that is now, including against civil society is unprecedented. Never in the history of Ukraine has not had this level of freedom and against journalists and against civil society,”   – Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. (May 14, 2017)[1]

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

As the award-winning investigative journalist Robert Parry has detailed in his writings over the past three years, there is a persistent narrative in the Western press about the displacement of the former Yanukovych government as a victory of a democratic popular uprising over autocratic rule.[2]

According to the standard Western narrative, a “new era of freedom” had emerged over Ukraine, challenged only by Russia’s ‘illegal interference’  first in Crimea, and then in the south and east regions known as the Donbass.[3]

In spite of the well documented involvement of US politicians and US financial resources (ie. the $5 billion Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland boasted about ‘investing’ in the country’s ‘democratic’ future), Western media typically blame Russia for destabilizing Ukraine and interfering in its internal affairs.

Apparently, the democratic renaissance ushered in by the Euromaidan has yet to fully flourish. According to TheDuran, in the period between January 29, 2015 and July 20, 2016, 11 politicians and journalists critical of the post-Yanukovych government have been killed under mysterious circumstances. These include journalist Oles Buzyna (discussed on a previous installment of this program), Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet (perished when the car in which he was traveling exploded) and a number of apparent ‘suicides.’

The chill on dissent can be instigated in more subtle ways. Take the case of high profile journalist Igor Guhzva. On June 22, the editor-in-chief of independent media outlet strana.ua had his offices searched. He was detained and charged with having attempted to extort money from a politician in the Rada, a charge he denies. His lawyer, and outside observers believe the charges are a pretense for containing an effective critic of the government.

In post-EuroMaidan Ukraine, accusations of being a ‘Kremlin stooge’ can substitute for reasoned debate in disarming Poproshenko’s political opponents. The principle of ‘holding the powerful to account’ becomes conflated with treason, inviting physical intimidation from thugs subjecting their targets to serious bodily harm and property damage.

(above: surveillance camera footage of an attack on the Vesti newspaper from July, 2014)

The US-based watchdog group Freedom House acknowledges the continuation of ‘Violence, threats, intimidation, and harassment against media professionals and organizations,’ in Ukraine, however in its most recent report it notes, “Ukraine’s media environment has significantly improved since a change in government in 2014, and ongoing reforms continue to strengthen the legislative environment for journalists and outlets.” It should be noted however that the major sponsors of Freedom House, including the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State, The Walt Disney Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup Grumman, are all aligned with the same foreign policy goals of the same U.S. government conducting a propaganda campaign against Putin’s Russia.[4][5]

This week’s installment of the Global Research News Hour, the last of the regular 2016-2017 season makes an effort to reveal the suppression of speech, thought and press freedom hidden under the veil of protection from a malevolent internal threat. In a feature interview, our guest Ukrainian-Canadian Halyna Mokrushyna addresses the trumped up charges against journalists Igor Guhzva and Ruslan Kostaba, the equation of communist writings with terrorism, the failure of popular political movements, and the isolation she has experienced as a member of the Ukrainian diaspora departing from the standard Ukraine narrative.

Halyna Mokhushyna is a regular contributor to the independent site newcoldwar.org. She is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Sociology at the University of Ottawa and a part-time professor. Her doctoral project deals with the memory of Stalinist purges in Ukraine. She travelled to Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donetsk in the summer of 2013 to conduct her field research. She last traveled to the region in April of 2015.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca . The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in everyThursday at 6pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

Notes:

  1. http://hir.harvard.edu/article/?a=14466
  2. https://consortiumnews.com/2015/01/06/nyt-still-pretends-no-coup-in-ukraine/
  3.  http://hir.harvard.edu/article/?a=14466
  4. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/ukraine
  5. https://freedomhouse.org/content/our-supporters

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Ukraine, Crimea and the Push for War


NOVANEWS
Image result for Ukraine, PRESIDENT CARTOON
By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook 

There are currently three major flash points in the world, where a false step could rapidly lead to escalation and a major war from which human civilization would be the main loser. Those flashpoints are the Middle East, the South China Sea and Ukraine/Crimea. In each of them Australia has made major missteps, invariably at the request of the Americans, and where Australia’s national interest is either non-existent or the opposite of the actions that have been taken.

The recent upsurge in fighting in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, collectively referred to as Donbass, where Ukrainian forces have vastly increased the artillery barrage of civilian areas has sharpened the likelihood of a more serious war breaking out. In these circumstances the responsibility of the media to accurately report what is happening and why is high. Yet, as is so often the case, we are treated to a non-stop barrage of misinformation and outright propaganda.

The reincorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation in March 2014 is invariably portrayed as the result of an “invasion” and “annexation” and that peace can only be restored with Crimea’s return to Ukraine.

This is not only a rewriting of history; it also ignores the crucial historical background of that region of the world and how that is relevant to the present day. A brief history is in order, if only because it is not something that the mainstream media will ever state, as wedded as they are to a narrative whose sole purpose is the demonization of Russia and of President Putin.

Ukraine itself has only had its modern borders since 1945. Prior to that time part had come under the sway of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and another part had been incorporated into Tsarist Russia in 1667. Following the peasant revolt of 1768/69 there was a partitioning between the Austrian empire and the Russian empire. It has therefore to a greater or lesser extent been a part of the Russian empire for more than 300 years. To give that some perspective, it is a longer period than either the United States or Australia has been a nation state.

Following the Ukrainian War of Independence from 1917-1921 it was absorbed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics where it remained until the break up of the USSR in 1991.

Crimea has had a similarly chequered history. Prior to the Crimean War 1853-56 when Australian troops fought with the British and the Turks against Russia, Crimea had been part of the Russian Empire. Catherine the Great defeated the Ottomans in 1783 and thereafter Crimea was part of Russia. That war was fought on Crimean soil. Prior to the Ottomans, Crimea had for the previous 2000 years been variously parts of the Greek, Roman, Mongol and other empires. Then as now it occupied a strategic position on the Black Sea. The Crimean War had as a primary target the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. Which is further evidence that nothing really changes.

After the Russian Revolution Crimea became an autonomous Republic within the USSR and stayed there until 1954. In that year, following a resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR it was transferred to Ukraine.

There are various theories as to why the transfer was made, one popular version being that it was a symbolic gesture marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming part of the Tsardom of Russia. The actual reasons do not matter so much as two other factors that were operative.

The first was that as an integral part of the USSR it did not make a great deal of political difference as to which State Crimea was nominally attached. The second factor was that neither the Russian people nor the Crimeans were consulted about the decision.

There things remained until February 2014 when a coup was mounted against the lawful government of Ukraine. The Australian media refuse to acknowledge that it was a coup, and that the coup was organized and paid for ($5 billion dollars) by the Americans, as the chief organizer, then Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland freely acknowledged to a congressional committee.

The Crimeans, as indeed also the residents of the Donbass region, were extremely unhappy with the takeover in Kiev of a frankly fascist government. The people of eastern Ukraine, including Crimea, are overwhelmingly ethnic Russian, speak the Russian language as their first language, intermarry with Russians across the border, and culturally identify with Russia.

A referendum was hastily organized and held on 16 March 2014. The result was that there was an 83% turnout, and 96.77% of those who voted were in favour of being readmitted to the Russian Federation. That result was condemned by the US and Australia, among other nations. The main objections stated were that the vote was held after Russian troops had “invaded” Crimea, and that the Crimeans had no right to hold such a referendum.

In one form or another those objections have been repeated by the western media ever since. An added claim is that the “annexation” of Crimea is further evidence of “Russian aggression” in general and that of Mr Putin in particular.

The facts are rather different. First, let us look at the “invasion” claim. There were already 25,000 Russian troops in Crimea. They were there pursuant to a treaty with the Ukrainian government, mainly associated with the very important Russian naval base at Sevastopol. It will be recalled that that naval base was a major target of the British and allied forces in the Crimean War more than 150 years earlier.

There was absolutely no evidence that the presence of Russian troops prevented the free exercise of the vote by Crimeans in the referendum, except indirectly in that their presence certainly deterred Ukraine from military intervention.

Independent polls conducted after the referendum, for example by the German Gfk polling organisation showed that 82% of those polled supported the referendum result and only 4% opposed it. Other, including American, polling organisations, obtained similar results.

The second major claim is that the referendum was “unlawful” and as such not recognised by the western powers. This is a classic example of western hypocrisy. Western governments are perfectly willing to accept independence referenda when it suits their geopolitical purposes to do so. There are a number of recent examples.

In April 1993 Eritrea held a referendum to establish its independence from Ethiopia. Only Eritreans were able to vote. It passed overwhelmingly. There was no objection from the US or Australia.

On 17 February 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. There was no referendum. Not only did the US not object, they bombed Serbia to encourage the government to accept the result. Australia protested neither the declaration of independence nor the illegal bombing.

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 23 July 2010. The Court noted that previous declarations of independence being declared invalid had to be seen in their specific context. Importantly, the Court noted as a general principle that there was an absence of a general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence under international law.

The important factual difference in Crimea’s case is the long history of the peninsula as a part of Russia; its ethnic and linguistic ties to Russia; and that there was a referendum with the overwhelming majority of citizens voting to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

In September 2014 the people of Scotland voted in a referendum of whether or not they would remain a part of the United Kingdom or become a separate sovereign nation. In that case the referendum was narrowly lost although a mooted second referendum following the Brexit vote in the UK may well have a different result.

Again, neither the US nor Australia claimed that the Scots were not entitled to have a referendum, nor that they would refuse to recognise the result.

The final point to be made in this context is that in 1970 the United Nations General Assembly passed by acclamation (i.e. without dissent from either Australia or the United States) a Declaration on Principles of International Law .

In the section of the Resolution regarding “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” was the following passage:

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.

What the Crimeans have done is no more nor less than they are entitled to in accordance with this Declaration. It is Australia, the United States and others that condemn Crimea and the Russians who are in breach of their legal and moral obligations.

A further illustration of western hypocrisy over Crimea and the Donbass is the total silence over the ongoing military assault against the civilian population of Donbass. The Minsk 2 Accords, initiated by France and Germany, and agreed to by Russia and Ukraine, contained a number of provisions designed to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the people of Donbass.

The Minsk 2 Accord provided, inter alia, for a ceasefire; a pullback of Ukrainian troops; for the Ukrainian Rada to pass specific laws relating to the governance of Donbass; and to amend the Ukrainian constitution to incorporate decentralization as a key component.

All of these provisions have been ignored and violated. Instead of condemning the Ukrainian violations and failure to carry out its obligations, the US and its allies have continued to blame Russia. Immediately after the US election, Senators McCain and Graham travelled to Kiev and urged Ukraine to keep fighting, promising American support.

There is no evidence that they did so with the support of then President –elect Trump and their authority to do so is unclear. The immediate result of the US Senator’s visit was an upsurge in the bombardment of villages and towns in the Donbass region.

There is an equally stunning silence from the Australian authorities. They seem incapable of understanding history, incapable of recognizing the efforts made by the Russians to create an economic arrangement that would benefit Ukraine through open association with both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union; and of recognizing the grave potential for war posed by the reckless expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.

Instead of recognizing the historical and geopolitical realities, including that Ukraine is now a failed state ruled by neo-fascists, they continue to parrot the tired cliché that the Russians are to blame.

Upon such fatal ignorance are wars often started.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine, Crimea and the Push for War

Ukraine Sabotages Trump’s Russia Detente


NOVANEWS
Image result for Ukraine NAZI LOGO
By Jonathan Marshall 

Less than two weeks into office, President Trump faces one of the first big tests of his non-confrontational policy toward Russia. As new fighting erupts in Eastern Ukraine, the Kiev regime and its U.S. supporters are predictably demanding a showdown with Vladimir Putin.

Initial evidence suggests, however, that the latest flare-up in this nearly three-year-old conflict was precipitated by Kiev, possibly in the hope of forcing just such a confrontation between Washington and Moscow. It’s looking more and more like a rerun of a disastrous stunt pulled by the government of Georgia in 2008, which triggered a clash with Russia with the expectation that the George W. Bush administration would come to its rescue and bring Georgia into the NATO alliance.

After months of relative quiet, the fighting in Ukraine erupted on Jan. 28 around the city of Avdiivka, a now-decrepit industrial center. Eight pro-government fighters and five separatists apparently died in the first two days of hostilities. Meanwhile, residents of the city are struggling to survive heavy shelling and sub-zero weather with no heating.

Perennial critics of Russia were quick to blame Moscow for the renewed bloodshed. “We call on Russia to stop the violence (and), honor the cease-fire,” declared a State Department official.

The Washington Post’s reliably neo-conservative editorial page suggested that Russia felt liberated to unleash rocket and artillery barrages after Putin spoke with Trump by phone, with the goal of wrecking a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Russian onslaught “look(s) a lot like a test of whether the new president will yield to pressure from Moscow,” the Post declared, as if this were Czechoslovakia, 1938, all over again.

Poroshenko was quick to take advantage of the clash by asking, rhetorically, “Who would dare talk about lifting the sanctions in such circumstances?” Just last month, Austria’s foreign minister called for an easing of sanctions on Russia in return for “any positive development” in Ukraine. President Trump has been noncommittal about sanctions in the face of full-throated demands by congressional hawks in both parties to keep them in place.

Who’s to Blame?

The jury is still out on who provoked the latest violence, but Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, established by the U.S. government to broadcast propaganda during the height of the Cold War, reported Monday:

“Frustrated by the stalemate in this 33-month war of attrition, concerned that Western support is waning, and sensing that U.S. President Donald Trump could cut Kyiv out of any peace negotiations as he tries to improve fraught relations with Moscow, Ukrainian forces anxious to show their newfound strength have gone on what many here are calling a ‘creeping offensive.’

“Observers say the Ukrainians appear to be trying to create new facts on the ground . . . In doing so, the pro-Kyiv troops have sparked bloody clashes with their enemy, which has reportedly made advances of its own — or tried to — in recent weeks.”

A senior member of Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine warned, “The direct result of forward moves is escalation in tension, which often turns to violence.” How right he was.

It’s hard to see what Putin gains from new fighting, at a time when Trump faces an army of skeptics at home for his go-easy-on-Russia strategy. Poroshenko has everything to gain, on the other hand, by pressing Americans and West Europeans to reaffirm their support for his government, which took power after a 2014 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who was strongly supported in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The Georgia Playbook

The situation is reminiscent of the August 2008 conflict between Russia and its neighbor on the Black Sea, Georgia. A bloody clash between the two countries’ armed forces in the tiny enclave of South Ossetia prompted a blast of militant rhetoric from American hawks.

Vice President Richard Cheney declared, “Russian aggression must not go unanswered.” Richard Holbrooke, who would become a senior adviser to the future President Obama, said, “Moscow’s behavior poses a direct challenge to European and international order.”

It may have been significant that the Georgian president’s paid U.S. lobbyist was also presidential candidate John McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser. As one analyst commented at the time, “McCain’s swift and belligerent response to the Soviet actions in Georgia has bolstered his shaky standing with the right-wing of the Republican Party. . . . Since the crisis erupted, McCain has focused like a laser on Georgia, to great effect. According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on August 19 he has gained four points on Obama since their last poll in mid-July and leads his rival by a two to one margin as the candidate best qualified to deal with Russia.”

Yet when the smoke settled, it turned out that Georgia, not Russia, had started the war by launching an artillery barrage against South Ossetia’s capital city. It was a ploy by Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili to drag the West into supporting his campaign to take over the enclave.

The independent International Crisis Group had warned in 2007 that Georgia’s risky strategy of provoking “frequent security incidents could degenerate into greater violence.”

A year later, following the brief war with Russia, an ICG investigation reported authoritatively that it began with a “disastrous miscalculation by Georgian leadership,” who “launched a large-scale military offensive” into the Russian-occupied enclave, killing dozens of civilians and causing severe damage to South Ossetia’s capital from artillery barrages.

The report also criticized “Russia’s disproportionate counter-attack,” which it deemed a response to “the decade-long eastward expansion of the NATO alliance” and other grievances.

Putting blame aside, the ICG report observed that “The Russia-Georgia conflict has transformed the contemporary geopolitical world, with large consequences for peace and security in Europe and beyond.” Indeed, it marked one of the greatest setbacks in post-Cold War relations between Moscow and the West until the 2014 Ukraine crisis.

If the 2017 Ukraine crisis gets out of hand, the consequences for peace and security may be just as great or greater. It will be informative to see whether President Trump and his national security team get the straight facts before capitulating to the interventionists who want to see U.S.-Russian relations remain strained and volatile.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine Sabotages Trump’s Russia Detente

Ukraine’s offensive ‘aimed at preventing Russian sanctions being lifted’: provokes criticism instead


NOVANEWS

Image result for Ukraine’s offensive CARTOON

By Alexander Mercouris 

Just a few days ago on RT’s Crosstalk programme Peter Lavelle, myself and the two other guests, Dmitry Babich and Ed Lozansky, discussed the Ukrainian regime’s likely reaction to the new Trump administration.

We all agreed that the likely response of the Ukrainian regime to the steps the Trump administration is taking to try to patch up US relations with Russia would be to escalate military tensions in the Donbass with a view in part to bolstering its political support in the West as this appeared to slide.

Our discussion took place in the early stages of the latest Ukrainian military offensive near the village of Avdeevka in eastern Ukraine. Since we had our discussion the situation has escalated – exactly as we predicted – with the fighting becoming fiercer and more bitter.

There is as always dispute about the state of the fighting and who is winning.  The Ukrainians predictably claim to be advancing. More reliable reports suggest they have in fact made little headway, and that their losses are high.

The most important point about the fighting is not that it is happening, or that it is getting worse.  Despite the two Minsk agreements – agreed by Ukraine in September 2014 and February 2015 – fighting in the Donbass has never stopped, and bitter flare ups repeatedly happen, as the Ukrainian military repeatedly goes back onto the offensive.

Rather what is striking about the latest fighting is that for the first time Ukraine is coming under criticism from the West.

For the first time since it was created the OSCE monitoring mission is apparently blaming Ukraine for the fighting.

Meanwhile a statement released by the US State Department – whose press office is still headed by Obama’s appointee Mark Toner – not only failed to support Ukraine but also failed to blame Russia for the fighting.  Instead it merely expressed “deep concern” and support for the Minsk II agreement (which Ukraine is violating) whilst appearing to contradict Kiev’s casualty claims by speaking of “dozens of Ukrainian military casualties” as opposed to the dozen dead Ukraine has admitted to.

Of far greater concern to the Ukrainian regime must however be the reaction of the German government, which following the change of administration in the US is now the one important ally it has left.

According to a report in Süddeutsche Zeitung, not only is the German government blaming Ukraine for the fighting, but it is apparently worried that the Ukrainian regime will achieve the opposite of its intentions. Specifically it seems the Germans realise the purpose of the offensive is to prevent US President Trump from cancelling the sanctions US President Obama imposed on Russia. However the Germans are worried that Trump will cancel the sanctions anyway, despite the fighting, leaving Ukraine further exposed.

Here is how Süddeutsche Zeitung explains German thinking

According to Berlin, whose information is based, among other things, on reports from the OSCE mission in the Eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian military forces are currently trying to shift the front line in their favour…..

According to some members of the German government, this might be intended to increase tensions so as to block plans by US President Donald Trump to relax the sanctions. According to Berlin’s interpretation, Poroshenko wants to do just about anything to prevent an end to the sanctions against Russia.

The Federal [German] Government is however concerned that Kiev’s calculus could be counterproductive. Trump might ease the sanctions independently of the situation at the contact line. And then Kiev would be faced with double damage: an improvement in Russia’s position with a simultaneous intensification of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine.

Whether it is possible to dissuade Kiev from its own provocations, no one in Berlin dares to predict.

If the Germans really are thinking in this way then it is understandable why Ukrainian President Poroshenko has just cut short his visit to Germany. Instead of getting the support from the Germans he might have been expecting, hearing this sort of thing would have been – to put it mildly – extremely unwelcome. It’s not surprising that Poroshenko preferred to return home rather than hear it.

How far Poroshenko and the Ukrainian regime are prepared to go in pursuing their latest offensive remains to be seen. The key point however is that even if some sort of ceasefire is patched up, it will not mean peace in Ukraine or the Donbass. Quite simply peace in Ukraine and the Donbass cannot happen so long as the current regime in Kiev remains in power.

In that respect the article in Süddeutsche Zeitung points to the key problem which has stood in the way of peace in Ukraine and the Donbass since the start of the conflict there.

Having trapped herself into a policy of open ended support for the current Ukrainian regime, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (the likely source of the story in Süddeutsche Zeitung ) is not really concerned with Ukrainian responsibility for the latest fighting in the Donbass, even though it breaches the Minsk agreement and a succession of ceasefires which she has herself negotiated. The report in Süddeutsche Zeitung contains no hint of moral censure by her of Poroshenko’s or the Ukrainian regime’s actions.

Instead Merkel’s concern is that because of Donald Trump’s policy of rapprochement with Russia the Ukrainian regime, by violating the Minsk agreement and the ceasefires by going on the military offensive, may be overreaching itself, threatening its own existence and by extension Merkel’s position in Germany and Europe.

Needless to say the converse of this is that if contrary to Merkel’s expectations the Ukrainian “calculus” turns out right, and the Ukrainians either achieve a military breakthrough or prevent the lifting of the sanctions, then Merkel will be delighted, in spite of the fact that the Ukrainians have violated the Minsk agreement and the ceasefires she has herself negotiated by going on the offensive.

So long as such cynical attitudes persist in Western capitals the Ukrainian conflict will continue because the Ukrainian regime will feel that it has a critical mass of Western support it can always rely upon however badly it behaves.

I would add that the cynicism behind Merkel’s thinking revealed by Süddeutsche Zeitung – which is so different from the moralising poses she likes to strike – is actually typical of her, and in large part explains the widespread mistrust and dislike of her there now is in Russia, in many European capitals, and quite possibly before long in the US.

It remains to be seen whether the new Trump administration in the US is able or willing to break with it, bringing a hope of peace finally to the Donbass and Ukraine, and securing the basis for a better relationship with Russia, which without a settlement of the conflict in Ukraine is in the end impossible.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine’s offensive ‘aimed at preventing Russian sanctions being lifted’: provokes criticism instead

Ukraine in Full-Blown Collapse: Deep-seated Economic, Social Crisis and Environmental Crisis


NOVANEWS
Ukraine

With all the action in Syria, the Ukraine is no longer a subject for discussion in the West. In Russia, where the Ukraine is still a major problem looming on the horizon, and where some 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees are settling in, with no intentions of going back to what’s left of the Ukraine, it is still actively discussed. But for the US, and for the EU, it is now yet another major foreign policy embarrassment, and the less said about it the better.

In the meantime, the Ukraine is in full-blown collapse—all five glorious stages of it—setting the stage for a Ukrainian Nightmare Before Christmas, or shortly after.

Phase 1. Financially, the Ukrainian government is in sovereign default as of a couple of days ago. The IMF was forced to break its own rules in order to keep it on life support even though it is clearly a deadbeat. In the process, the IMF stiffed Russia, which happens to be one of its major shareholders; what gives?

Phase 2. Industry and commerce are approaching a standstill and the country is rapidly deindustrializing. Formerly, most of the trade was with Russia; this is now over. The Ukraine does not make anything that the EU might want, except maybe prostitutes. Recently, the Ukraine has been selling off its dirt. This is illegal, but, given what’s been happening there, the term “illegal” has become the stuff of comedy.

Phase 3. Politically, the Ukrainian government is a total farce. Much of it has been turned over to fly-by-night foreigners, such as the former Georgian president Saakashvili, who is a wanted criminal in his own country, which has recently stripped him of his citizenship. The parliament is stocked with criminals who bought their seat to gain immunity from prosecution, and who spend their time brawling with each other. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk was recently hauled off the podium by his crotch; how dignified is that? He seemed unfazed. Where are his testicles? Perhaps Victoria Nuland over at the US State Dept. is keeping them in a jar. This sort of action may be fun to watch on Youtube, but the reality is quite sad: those who “run” the Ukraine (if the term still applies) are only interested in one thing: stealing whatever is left.

Phase 4. Ukrainian society (if the term still applies) has been split into a number of warring factions. This was, to some extent, inevitable. What happens if you take bits of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Russia, and stick them together willy-nilly? Well, results may vary; but if you also spend $5 billion US (as the Americans did) turning the Ukrainians against Russia (and, since they are mostly Russian, against themselves), then you get a complete disaster.

Phase 5. Cultural collapse is quite advanced. The Ukraine once had the same world-class educational system as Russia, but since independence they switched to teaching in Ukrainian (a made-up language) using nonexistent textbooks. The kids have been taught a bogus history hallucinated by rabid Ukrainian nationalists. They’ve been told that Russia is backward and keeping them back, and that they deserve to be happy in the EU. (Just like the Greeks? Yeah…) But now the population has been reduced to levels of poverty not commonly seen outside of Africa, and young people are fleeing, or turning to gangsterism and prostitution, to merely survive. This doesn’t make for a happy cultural narrative. What does it mean to be “a Ukrainian” now? Expletives deleted. Sorry I asked.

Now, here’s what it all really means. With so much going wrong, the Ukraine has been unable to secure enough natural gas or coal supplies to provide a supply cushion in case of a cold snap this winter. A few weeks of frosty weather will deplete the supply, and then pipes will freeze, rendering much of the urban areas unlivable from then on (because, recall, there is no longer any money, or any industry to speak of, to repair the damage). That seems bad enough, but we aren’t quite there yet.

You see, the Ukraine produces over half of its electricity using nuclear power plants. 19 nuclear reactors are in operation, with 2 more supposedly under construction. And this is in a country whose economy is in free-fall and is set to approach that of Mali or Burundi! The nuclear fuel for these reactors was being supplied by Russia. An effort to replace the Russian supplier with Westinghouse failed because of quality issues leading to an accident. What is a bankrupt Ukraine, which just stiffed Russia on billions of sovereign debt, going to do when the time comes to refuel those 19 reactors? Good question!

But an even better question is, Will they even make it that far? You see, it has become known that these nuclear installations have been skimping on preventive maintenance, due to lack of funds. Now, you are probably already aware of this, but let me spell it out just in case: a nuclear reactor is not one of those things that you run until it breaks, and then call a mechanic once it does. It’s not a “if it ain’t broke, I can’t fix it” sort of scenario. It’s more of a “you missed a tune-up so I ain’t going near it” scenario. And the way to keep it from breaking is to replace all the bits that are listed on the replacement schedule no later than the dates indicated on that schedule. It’s either that or the thing goes “Ka-boom!” and everyone’s hair falls out.

How close is Ukraine to a major nuclear accident? Well, it turns out, very close: just recently one was narrowly avoided when some Ukro-Nazis blew up electric transmission lines supplying Crimea, triggering a blackout that lasted many days. The Russians scrambled and ran a transmission line from the Russian mainland, so now Crimea is lit up again. But while that was happening, the Southern Ukrainian, with its 4 energy blocks, lost its connection to the grid, and it was only the very swift, expert actions taken by the staff there that averted a nuclear accident.

I hope that you know this already, but, just in case, let me spell it out again. One of the worst things that can happen to a nuclear reactor is loss of electricity supply. Yes, nuclear power stations make electricity—some of the time—but they must be supplied with electricity all the time to avoid a meltdown. This is what happened at Fukushima Daiichi, which dusted the ground with radionuclides as far as Tokyo and is still leaking radioactive juice into the Pacific.

And so the nightmare scenario for the Ukraine is a simple one. Temperature drops below freezing and stays there for a couple of weeks. Coal and natural gas supplies run down; thermal power plants shut down; the electric grid fails; circulator pumps at the 19 nuclear reactors (which, by the way, probably haven’t been overhauled as recently as they should have been) stop pumping; meltdown!

If this winter stays very, very warm, then the “19 Fukushimas” scenario just may be averted. This is not impossible: we’ve been seeing one freakishly warm winter after another, and each passing month is setting new records. The future is looking hot—as in very warm. Let us pray that it doesn’t also turn out to be hot—as in radioactive.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine in Full-Blown Collapse: Deep-seated Economic, Social Crisis and Environmental Crisis

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