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Akhmetov calls for constitutional reform, decentralization

Akhmetov calls for constitutional reform, decentralization (INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT)
Donbas billionaire Rinat Akhmetov

akhmetov

Editor’s Note: This is the text of TRK Ukraine’s interview with Donbas billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, to be broadcast at 7 p.m. on May 14, 2014

Today the situation in Donbas is extremely difficult. The region has been gripped by fear. People are closing stores and offices and leaving cities. People are being shot and killed in streets.

This is a disaster for our land. We are living in disaster.

But I want Donbass and every citizen of our region to be happy. And what is happiness? Happiness is when you live in peace.Happiness is when you feel secure. Happiness is when the economy is strong, when new jobs are being created, when people have good employment, good salaries and good lives. Happiness is when we are respected, when people honour our heritage, our history and our language as well as our holidays, traditions and our ambitions for making life better.

How can we achieve it? I believe there are four scenarios.

Scenario 1: Everything remains as it is. Kiev has all the power, while regions develop on the leftovers. I am strongly convinced that this way has already run out of steam and is not right for the future.

Scenario 2: The Donetsk People’s Republic. Nobody in the world will recognise it. However, our economy is based on coal, steel, energy, heavy engineering, chemical industry, agriculture and all the business areas related to them. We will face huge sanctions and will not be able to sell or produce. It will result in suspended production, unemployment and poverty.

Scenario 3: Joining Russia. I strongly believe that neither Russia nor Donbass need it. And neither Russia nor Donbass will benefit from it. We will face huge sanctions and again will not be able to sell or make our products. It will result in an economic downturn, unemployment and poverty.

Scenario 4: The only right way, in my view, is to amend the Constitution and decentralize government. It is when Kiev gives authority to the regions. It is when regional governments are not appointed but elected. And it is when local authorities are responsible to the people in the present and future.

I strongly believe that Donbass can be happy only in a united Ukraine.

www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/05/14/7025347/?fb_action_ids=10152143114793581&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Will the Real Akhmetov stand up. Does he care about the fate of Ukraine besides the fate of his empire of wealth. Is he a dark figure with money as his religion.

Read more:
Ukraine’s oligarchs accused of double dealing over separatism
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/76d548cc-c4a9-11e3-b2fb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz31kK9igOg

Richest man in Ukraine is a blond Muslim
isteve.blogspot.com/2014/02/richest-man-in-ukraine-is-blond-muslim.html

Billionaire Akhmetov’s empire on frontline in Ukraine crisis
news.yahoo.com/billionaire-akhmetovs-empire-frontline-ukraine-crisis-151308627.html

Putin’s remarks raise fears of future moves against Ukraine

Putin’s remarks raise fears of future moves against Ukraine

Video: NSA leaker Edward Snowden questioned Russian President Vladimir Putin about domestic spying on Thursday. Putin wasn’t exactly truthful in his response. (Fact-checking source: Andrei Soldatov)Video
By Kathy Lally, Published: April 17 E-mail the writer
MOSCOW — A confident President Vladimir Putin on Thursday used his annual televised meeting with the nation to portray a powerful Russia — one that is dismissive of the West, had troops operating in Crimea even as it denied it and regards a large swath of southeastern Ukraine as historically part of its territory.

Somewhat ominously, Putin reminded his audience that Russia’s parliament has given him the authority to send troops into Ukraine. Southeastern Ukraine — including the cities of Luhansk, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Odessa — had been part of the Russian empire, called New Russia, he pointed out. The Soviet Union turned it over to Ukraine. “Why? Let God judge them.” The argument was reminiscent of the one he had made earlier about Crimea, which was given to Ukraine in 1954.

Putin’s remarks raised fears that he was justifying a possible incursion into southeastern Ukraine, where the United States says 40,000 Russian troops are massed just across the border. U.S. and European officials have accused Russia of organizing the armed men and agitators who have been capturing government buildings in southeastern Ukraine and raising Russian flags. Putin denies it. The West says he is lying.

“Nonsense,” Putin said Thursday. “There are no Russian units in eastern Ukraine — no special services, no tactical advisers. All this is being done by the local residents.”

In early March, Putin denied that the well-equipped troops operating on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and wearing green uniforms without insignia were Russian. Anyone could buy those uniforms, he said. On Thursday, when asked about the soldiers widely known as the green men, Putin acknowledged that they were Russian. Their presence had been necessary, he said, to keep order so that Crimeans could decide their future in a referendum.

“We didn’t want any tanks, any nationalist combat units or people with extreme views armed with automatic weapons,” he said. “Of course, Russian servicemen backed the Crimean self-defense forces.”

The hastily arranged March 16 referendum resulted in 96 percent counted as voting for joining Russia. “In this situation,” he said, “we couldn’t have done otherwise.”

For just shy of four hours Thursday, Putin answered questions from a studio audience, from a video-connected crowd standing in the heart of the Crimean city of Sevastopol and from people calling in and texting from around the nation. Of 2 million calls and 400,000 texts, he answered around 70 questions. Last year, he spoke for four hours and 47 minutes.

Even Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed a wide-scale U.S. surveillance program and has taken refuge from prosecution in Russia, came out of the shadows to ask a video question: Does Russia spy on its citizens the way the United States did?

No, Putin said. “Thank God, our special services are strictly controlled by the state and society, and their activity is regulated by law.”

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow tweeted in contradiction: “Snowden would probably be interested to know that Russian laws allow the control, storage and study of all data in the communication networks of the Russian Federation.”

Putin’s program was broadcast live on three main television channels and three radio stations. From across the nation, people added their voices to a chorus of “thank-you-Mr.-Putins,” expressing their gratitude for his acquisition of Crimea and his standing up to the West. Journalists and artists lauded him. “There is no legitimate power in Ukraine today,” lamented Karen Shakhnazarov, a filmmaker, who said that as a 20-year-old, his father had fought in the Soviet Army to free Crimea in World War II.

Andrei Norkin, a journalist for Kommersant Radio, said he was worried about the nation’s level of patriotism and urged Putin to support legislation that would set up military academies where schoolchildren could study under inspiring conditions.

“They learn respect for women and older people,” he said. “At cadet schools, they are trained to become real men.”

A few critics were heard, giving Putin the opportunity to describe how misguided they were.

“Laws are being developed that will make culture just a servant of ideology,” said Irina Prokhorova, a literary critic, head of the Civic Platform party and sister of Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. People are being persecuted if they object to the annexation of Crimea, she said, calling it a “sad and forced decision.”

This is not 1937, Putin said, when people were being sent to labor camps.

“Some members of the Russian intelligentsia are unaccustomed to the fact that they might meet resistance or have someone else express a different position and disagree with their position,” Putin said. When contradicted, he said, they get emotional.

He said he had heard that regarding Crimea, some people “want their country to lose and think that this is a good thing. Here, too, there is a continuity. As is known, during the First World War, the Bolsheviks also wanted the Russian government and Russia in general to lose, and the situation quickly got out of hand, which led to the revolution.

“There is some sort of historical continuity here, not the best, though. However, I agree that in any case, we should not slip into some extreme forms of dealing with each other’s views or cast aspersions on people for their opinions. I will do my best to prevent this from happening.”

He dismissed U.S. complaints about Russian behavior as a double standard. “Why isn’t Russia allowed to defend its own interests?” he asked. And he criticized the sanctions the United States has imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea as counterproductive.

“If you try to punish someone like mischievous kids and put them in a corner kneeling on frozen peas so it hurts them, then in the end, you will cut off the branch on which you are sitting,” he said, mixing his metaphors.

Many of his friends — wealthy men — were targeted by the sanctions. They had nothing to do with Crimea, he said.

“I should tell you,” he said, “that I don’t feel ashamed of my friends.”

Would he remarry, someone asked, referring to Putin’s recent divorce.

“First, I have to help my former wife get married, then think about myself.”
His comments were once again met by applause.
www.washingtonpost.com/world/putin-changes-course-admits-russian-troops-were-in-crimea-before-vote/2014/04/17/b3300a54-c617-11e3-bf7a-be01a9b69cf1_story.html

Read more, very ominous message from Putin with Russian imperialism intending on destroying Ukraine and/or start a World War 3:

Putin Makes Worrying Comments About Novorussia
www.businessinsider.com/maps-of-novorussia-and-old-russian-empire-2014-4?nr_email_referer=1

False Claims About Ukraine

False Claims About Ukraine
Russian Fiction the Sequel: 10 More False Claims About Ukraine

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 13, 2014

“No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.”
– President Obama, March 26

Russia continues to spin a false and dangerous narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine. The Russian propaganda machine continues to promote hate speech and incite violence by creating a false threat in Ukraine that does not exist. We would not be seeing the violence and sad events that we’ve witnessed this weekend without this relentless stream of disinformation and Russian provocateurs fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine. Here are 10 more false claims Russia is using to justify intervention in Ukraine, with the facts that these assertions ignore or distort.

1. Russia Claims: Russian agents are not active in Ukraine.

Fact: The Ukrainian Government has arrested more than a dozen suspected Russian intelligence agents in recent weeks, many of whom were armed at the time of arrest. In the first week of April 2014, the Government of Ukraine had information that Russian GRU officers were providing individuals in Kharkiv and Donetsk with advice and instructions on conducting protests, capturing and holding government buildings, seizing weapons from the government buildings’ armories, and redeploying for other violent actions. On April 12, armed pro-Russian militants seized government buildings in a coordinated and professional operation conducted in six cities in eastern Ukraine. Many were outfitted in bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms with insignia removed, and carrying Russian-designed weapons like AK-74s and Dragunovs. These armed units, some wearing black and orange St. George’s ribbons associated with Russian Victory Day celebrations, raised Russian and separatist flags over seized buildings and have called for referendums on secession and union with Russia. These operations are strikingly similar to those used against Ukrainian facilities during Russia’s illegal military intervention in Crimea in late February and its subsequent occupation.

2. Russia Claims: Pro-Russia demonstrations are comprised exclusively of Ukrainian citizens acting of their own volition, like the Maidan movement in Kyiv.

Fact: This is not the grassroots Ukrainian civic activism of the EuroMaidan movement, which grew from a handful of student protestors to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from all parts of the country and all walks of life. Russian internet sites openly are recruiting volunteers to travel from Russia to Ukraine and incite violence. There is evidence that many of these so-called “protesters” are paid for their participation in the violence and unrest. It is clear that these incidents are not spontaneous events, but rather part of a well-orchestrated Russian campaign of incitement, separatism, and sabotage of the Ukrainian state. Ukrainian authorities continue to arrest highly trained and well-equipped Russian provocateurs operating across the region.

3. Russia Claims: Separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine enjoy broad popular support.

Fact: The recent demonstrations in eastern Ukraine are not organic and lack wide support in the region. A large majority of Donetsk residents (65.7 percent) want to live in a united Ukraine and reject unification with Russia, according to public opinion polls conducted at the end of March by the Donetsk-based Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis. Pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine have been modest in size, especially compared with Maidan protests in these same cities in December, and they have gotten smaller as time has progressed.

4. Russia Claims: The situation in eastern Ukraine risks spiraling into civil war.

Fact: What is going on in eastern Ukraine would not be happening without Russian disinformation and provocateurs fostering unrest. It would not be happening if a large Russian military force were not massed on the border, destabilizing the situation through their overtly threatening presence. There simply have not been large-scale protests in the region. A small number of separatists have seized several government buildings in eastern cities like Donetsk, Luhansk, and Slovyansk, but they have failed to attract any significant popular support. Ukrainian authorities have shown remarkable restraint in their efforts to resolve the situation and only acted when provoked by armed militants and public safety was put at risk. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers have reported that these incidents are very localized.

5. Russia Claims: Ukrainians in Donetsk rejected the illegitimate authorities in Kyiv and established the independent “People’s Republic of Donetsk.”

Fact: A broad and representative collection of civil society and non-governmental organizations in Donetsk categorically rejected the declaration of a “People’s Republic of Donetsk” by the small number of separatists occupying the regional administration building. These same organizations confirmed their support for the interim government and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

6. Russia Claims: Russia ordered a “partial drawdown” of troops from the Ukrainian border.

Fact: No evidence shows significant movement of Russian forces away from the Ukrainian border. One battalion is not enough. An estimated 35,000-40,000 Russian troops remain massed along the border, in addition to approximately 25,000 troops currently in Crimea.

7. Russia Claims: Ethnic Russians in Ukraine are under threat.

Fact: There are no credible reports of ethnic Russians facing threats in Ukraine. An International Republican Institute poll released April 5 found that 74 percent of the Russian-speaking population in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine said they “were not under pressure or threat because of their language.” Meanwhile, in Crimea, the OSCE has raised urgent concerns for the safety of minority populations, especially ethnic Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, and others. Sadly, the ethnic Russians most at risk are those who live in Russia and who oppose the authoritarian Putin regime. These Russians are harassed constantly and face years of imprisonment for speaking out against Putin’s regular abuses of power.

8. Russia Claims: Ukraine’s new government is led by radical nationalists and fascists.

Fact: The Ukrainian parliament (Rada) did not change in February. It is the same Rada that was elected by all Ukrainians, comprising all of the parties that existed prior to February’s events, including former president Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The new government, approved by an overwhelming majority in the parliament — including many members of Yanukovych’s former party — is committed to protecting the rights of all Ukrainians, including those in Crimea.

9. Russia Claims: Ethnic minorities face persecution in Ukraine from the “fascist” government in Kyiv.

Fact: Leaders of Ukraine’s Jewish as well as German, Czech, and Hungarian communities have all publicly expressed their sense of safety under the new authorities in Kyiv. Moreover, many minority groups expressed fear of persecution in Russian-occupied Crimea, a concern OSCE observers in Ukraine have substantiated.

10. Russia Claims: Russia is not using energy and trade as weapons against Ukraine.

Fact: Following Russia’s illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, Russia raised the price Ukraine pays for natural gas by 80 percent in the past two weeks. In addition, it is seeking more than $11 billion in back payments following its abrogation of the 2010 Kharkiv accords. Russia’s moves threaten to increase severely the economic pain faced by Ukrainian citizens and businesses. Additionally, Russia continues to restrict Ukrainian exports to Russia, which constitute a significant portion of Ukraine’s export economy.

Kiev’s Independence Square, the focal point of protests against Mr. Yanukovych, has echoed in recent days with angry denunciations of authorities for their failure to crush separatists in the east and calls for citizens to take up arms to defend the country.

A recent opinion poll in Donetsk suggested that less than a third of the population wants to join Russia, far less than the proportion that wants Ukraine to remain intact. Donetsk residents who support Kiev increasingly wonder why a pro-Russian minority has been able to run amok.

“The ball is now on the side of Kiev,” wrote Oleksandr Honcharov, a lawyer from Donetsk, on his blog. “If the government cannot stabilize the situation, does it deserve to be called the government at all?”

www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224759.htm

Will the world unite against Putin? Russia’s UN veto must be overturned by the civilized world.
Ukraine pleads with U.N. for peacekeepers
www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/14/kiev-russia-ukraine-insurgents/7691747/

The Russians Are Coming

The Russians Are Coming
10 very good reasons not to believe Vladimir Putin when he says he’s totally not going to invade eastern Ukraine.

BY Michael Weiss
MARCH 28, 2014

rus com

Late on Friday afternoon, news broke that Russian President Vladimir Putin had called President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the possibility of a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Crimea. The two agreed to dispatch their chief emissaries to talk details about how to diffuse the situation. But while a settlement might now be a possibility, United States and NATO intelligence assessments agree that the likelihood of Russian troops crossing the border into eastern (and possibly northern and southern) Ukraine grows by the hour. So, is this another Putin psych-out? It may well be.

Here are 10 facts on the ground that add up to a very real chance that Russia might still invade Ukraine:

1. The size of troop movements, and the field hospitals.

As of this writing, Russia has amassed as many as 50,000 troops at various points along the Ukrainian border, including in Russian-occupied Crimea. Videos uploaded to the Internet show armored vehicles being taken off flatbed freight trains in Voronezh, a city northeast of Ukraine’s Kharkiv, and in Novozybkov, which is 50 miles north of Kiev. (Tanks there are already rolling on the ground, in fact.) The Russians have also moved food, medicine, and spare parts into position, which would not be needed for any short-term military “springtime exercises,” as the Defense Ministry now claims is all they’re up to. A field hospital has been erected in the Bryansk region, as Voice of America reported: that’s just 12 miles away from Ukraine’s eastern border, which is now heavily monitored by Russian drones. Furthermore, Moscow has resorted to subterfuge to hide its activities — not a terribly good sign of its sincerity. U.S. signals intelligence has been hindered by old-school tactics, including the use of couriers who deliver messaging from the army’s High Command to commanders in the field. A senior U.S. military official told the Wall Street Journal: “They have moved into concealed positions,” almost certainly to evade American spy satellites. If Russia wanted to reassure Washington that it was only staging drills, it would broadcast its movements and activities, not conceal them. “We’ve seen no specific indications that exercises are taking place,” said the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, on Thursday. Russia has enough men and firepower to reach the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova, according to NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe, Gen. Philip Breedlove. Meanwhile, Moldova Prime Minister Iurie Leanca sees “provocations” by the illegal statelet-within-a-state as likely. Let’s not forget that the last time Russia held an impromptu military “exercise,” it invaded and lopped off Crimea.

2. Putin enjoys embarrassing the United States, and especially its current commander-in-chief.

On Feb. 28, Obama warned that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” — before high-tailing it to a Democratic National Committee cocktail party at the Washington Hilton. The next day, the world awoke to a Russian invasion of Crimea. “Rarely has a threat from a U.S. president been dismissed as quickly — and comprehensively — as Obama’s warning on Friday night,” the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson reported. And let’s look at the laundry list of American desires and warnings the Kremlin has brushed aside: Russia has dramatically increased its arms transfers to Syria since the chemical disarmament deal was struck last fall. It continues to host fugitive NSA spy Edward Snowden. And during the midst of the Maidan protests, Russia’s own spies intercepted a phone call between a top U.S. State Department official and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, then leaked the contents of it to Kremlin-controlled media. Moreover, neither Putin nor his inner circle seem terribly aggravated by the current suite of U.S. or EU sanctions or the blockbuster admission by the Treasury Department that Putin — now a staunch patriotic proponent of the “de-offshoreization” of the Russian economy — personally controls assets in Swiss oil commodities giant Gunvor.

3. The IMF bailout.

The International Monetary Fund’s assistance package to Ukraine was announced yesterday. It amounts to $18 billion to be dispensed over two years, and to which can be added the $14 billion already promised to Ukraine by other international contributors, such as the United States and European Union. That’s a serious amount of money to help fish a floundering country out of a deep financial soup, and it well exceeds the bribe Putin offered Viktor Yanukovych to scrap the association agreement with the EU, which led to the revolution in Kiev. Yes, the IMF loan comes with conditions, particularly in Ukraine’s energy sector. State gas company Naftohaz will have to be restructured and consumers will have to pay higher energy prices, which might not go down so well in the Maidan. But even so,

Putin has been written out of his decade-long role as the dark lord of Ukraine’s volatile and expensive gas industry. I wonder how that makes him feel. Clearly, he would now prefer the total collapse of Ukrainian state institutions and its market economy to an IMF-facilitated stability. And who better to guarantee a reconstruction effort than conveniently located Russian troops?

4. Putin has seen how reliably the U.S. policy establishment has done his work for him already.

How he must love it when the former director of Policy Planning at the State Department Anne-Marie Slaughter publishes an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing, inter alia, that the annexation of Crimea was legally and morally equivalent to NATO’s intervention in Kosovo (conveniently forgetting that the latter stopped a genocide waged by a former Communist apparatchik turned pan-Slavic nationalist). This equivalence is exactly what Kremlin propaganda has maintained. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s vice president for studies, Andrew Weiss, told the New York Times two days ago that Brussels is to blame for precipitating Russia’s aggression by pursuing an association agreement with Ukraine in the first place. Putin couldn’t agree more. All of the Beltway’s best and brightest, who now profess to be in a state of total shock at the erosion of the post-Cold War order, nevertheless agree that the priority for the United States is to mollify rather than antagonize an angry bear. This is not a message lost on its subject. Putin must reckon that if his tanks roll into Kiev next Wednesday, those advising Obama will say, “Well, we mustn’t upset him more because then he might invade Warsaw.” (And judging from American rhetoric, Putin might be right about that.)

5. Well, seriously, what are we going to do about it?

As Russian armored personnel carriers and paratroopers move into position, John Kerry’s spokesperson, Jennifer Psaki, tweeted this: “Watching huge Russian military buildup on #Ukraine’s borders: dangerous intimidation #RussiaIsolated.” That’ll teach ‘em. Does the administration not see the futility in accusing Putin of playing by 19th-century rules using 21st-century media he’s looking to censor, disrupt, or eventually shut down? How many divisions has the hashtag? Indeed, no one at any senior level in the U.S. government or NATO is contemplating a military response to an invasion of the Ukrainian mainland and the dismemberment of a European country. And Putin knows it. There’s not even a bluff he has to call.

6. Listen to what the Kremlin functionaries are saying.

Yesterday, as the United Nations General Assembly voted to reaffirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russia’s ambassador to that body, Vitaly Churkin, accused the U.S. embassy in Kiev of hosting the real shooters of Maidan demonstrators. Last week, Russia’s insane propagandist-in-chief Dmitry Kiselyov took to the airwaves of his brand-new disinformation clearinghouse, Rossiya Segodnya, to remind viewers: “Russia is the only country in the world which is really capable of turning the USA into radioactive ash.” Does this sound like a government looking for an “off-ramp” to an imminent confrontation with the West?

7. Russia’s military and arms trade relies on Ukraine.

A little-noticed item in Sovershenno Sekretno, a Moscow-based magazine, authored by Vladimir Voronov, appeared in late February making the case for why Russia would indeed mount incursions into Ukraine. The most salient reason given was that, contrary to conventional wisdom that Ukraine’s military depends on Russia, the situation is actually the other way around: Russia’s military-industrial complex needs Ukraine’s manufacturing resources. “It is difficult to overestimate the significance of Motor Sich for our aviation at least because its engines are used in all our helicopters, including the combat ones,” Voronov wrote, referring to Ukraine’s aircraft engine company. “It also remains the supplier of engines for aircraft used by the Russian Air Force and civilian airlines.” The Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv alone hosts three different shipbuilding facilities, without which, Voronov says, “Russian shipbuilders cannot handle the ambitious program of rearming their own fleet.” And the Ukrainian state-owned design bureaus Pivdenne and Pivdenmash are also necessary for Moscow’s nuclear missile upgrades.

In September 2013, the Washington-based arms watchdog c4ads published a brilliant report called “The Odessa Network,” which showed how a serious portion of the global arms trade was being conducted out of Odessa and Oktyabirsk, two Ukrainian port cities that now sandwich Crimea. Oktyabirsk is where the Soviets sent nuclear missiles to Cuba from in 1963, and, as of last year, was “functionally owned by Russia — the port manager is a former Russian a navy captain, and the port owner is a Kremlin-linked oligarch,” as authors report Tom Wallace and Farley Mesko wrote. Odessa is home to the shipping companies that handle the logistics for weapons transfers, particularly by Russia’s state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport which controls 80 percent of the country’s arms exports. In the last several years, Rosoboronexport has dispatched Kh-55 cruise missiles to Iran, Pechora-2 SAMs to Eritrea, T-72 tanks to Venezuela and — very likely — other forms of hardware to Bashar al-Assad’s Syria from this southeastern city on the Black Sea. Rosoboronexport had $34 billion in weapons contracts as of June 1, 2013, with sales inked with 66 countries.

The company has two other maritime ports through which it likes to ship its materiel to paying customers: St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. But look at a map and weigh for yourself the differential cost in time, money, and insurance in transporting cargos from those ports to, say, countries stationed along the Mediterranean or the Horn of Africa versus from the Black Sea. With a new pro-American, pro-European government now convened in Kiev, do you really think Putin will allow his Odessa network to be disrupted or cancelled?

8. The Kremlin lies shamefully and farcically.

Putin insists to this day that Assad didn’t unleash poison gas in Syria’s capital city last August — despite the Kremlin’s brokering of a diplomatic accord to dismantle and destroy Assad’s poison gas stocks. Putin also insists that there is no Russian military presence in Crimea. Rather, pro-Russian “self-defense” militias — “little green men,” as Ukrainians call them* — have somehow assumed total strategic control over a European peninsula the size of Wales, equipped with toys such as the VSS Vintorez sniper rifle, which is only given to elite units in the Russian military. So measure this track record of bare-faced mendacity against assurances given by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russia has no plans for an invasion of east Ukraine. Some 80,000 Russian soldiers could march into Donetsk and Kharkiv tomorrow, and we’d no doubt hear for the first 24 hours that news of such belligerence was a sinister U.S. conspiracy designed to distract attention from Detroit’s bankruptcy.

9. Kombinatsiya is very much in evidence now.

This under-employed but still extremely relevant concept was defined by Vasili Mitrokhin, the former senior archivist in the Foreign Intelligence Directorate of the KGB, in his KGB Lexicon: The Soviet Intelligence Officers Handbook thus: “Operational combinations to create the right conditions for carrying out overt measures to disrupt enemy subversive activity (by catching the enemy red-handed, by the ‘chance’ discovery by people who can be questioned as witnesses of material evidence of subversive activity…” Kombinatsiya also means disseminating “disinformation of the enemy, recruiting agents, planting them on the enemy, creating conditions required for the effective use of technical operations equipment, etc.”

Saying that homosexual neo-Nazis financed by the State Department are in charge of Ukraine is one interlocking maneuver. So is releasing compromising or embarrassing phone conversations between European foreign ministers, American diplomats, and Ukrainian opposition figures; embedding FSB and GRU agents in the now-disbanded Ukrainian riot police Berkut or in the still-active Ukrainian security service SBU; egging on pro-Russian mobs to provoke pro-European Ukrainians into acts of violence in Kharkiv and Donetsk is yet another. And turning the lights off on Russia’s independent media in the very same week you invade its neighbor is part of the domestic operation.

Putin doesn’t want the truth to penetrate his national Potemkin village because the lie needs to be sold complete: the narod (similar to the German volk) must understand that its ethnic kin is under systematic assault from Tallinn to Sevastopol and that, if anything, it’s the Americans who are the ones invading another country — Russia. One also sees a bit of kombinatsiya in the incredibly successful boost to Putin’s popularity (itself a function of a carefully scripted and acted-out propaganda narrative), which jumped 20 points since the Crimean adventure got underway and now hovers at around 80 percent. If Russia invades eastern or southern Ukraine, that figure will go up even higher because the excuse for protecting the Fatherland and its far-flung and imperiled diaspora has been cultivated in advance.

10. Modernizatsiya isn’t just for show.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has only been in the job for little over a year and already he’s polled as the “most efficient” minister in Dmitry Medvedev’s cabinet. His portfolio was also the most scandalized, as Shoigu’s immediate predecessor, Anatoly Serdyukov, was sacked in 2013 owing to corruption charges involving Oboronservis, a Defense Ministry-owned real estate firm that appears to have been largely managed by Serdyukov’s 33-year-old mistress, who allegedly [source] embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars out of it. (It didn’t help Serdyukov’s case that his wronged wife is the daughter of Viktor Zubkov, a former prime minister and close confidante of Putin’s.) But Shoigu wasted no time in establishing himself as a national hero. He has overseen the largest and most ambitious re-armament and modernization program of the Russian military since the fall of the Soviet Union. As my colleague Andrew Bowen has noted, Moscow plans to spend $773 billion by 2020 equipping the majority of its armed forces with the state-of-the-art weapons such as T-50 fighter jets, Borei-class ballistic missile submarines, and RS-26 inter-continental ballistic missiles. Shoigu is also responsible for expanding the ranks of contract soldiers (kontraktniki) who are seen to be more reliable than conscripts. By 2017, the goal is to have 425,000 kontraktniki trained and ready to deploy (Russia currently has less than half that number).

Plenty of military analysts are skeptical that these blue-sky reforms can ever be realized, but consider the exhibitionism that Shoigu’s army and air force have resorted to in the last year. Zapad-2013, another military exercise — this one waged jointly with Belarus — last September, featured as many as 70,000 troops including paratroopers, Spetsnaz (Special Forces), and paramilitary servicemen from the Interior Ministry. It’s had “counterterrorism” exercises with India, and a large-scale naval exercise with China. Russia also conducted its own much-vaunted war game in the Far East, with what it claimed was 160,000 troops, 70 ships, 130 aircraft, and 14 separate army brigades, although, as deputy editor of the newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal Alexander Golts pointed out at the time, these advertised numbers simply didn’t add up. But they really didn’t have to: it’s the plumage of the fledging modernizatsiya that matters most of all. “The objectives have been achieved, and the exercises have been more than satisfactory so far,” Putin declared upon the completion of the Far East exercise. More ominous have been the serial violations of Swedish, Norwegian, Estonian, Japanese, Colombian, American, and Ukrainian airspaces by aircraft that include long-range strategic bombers — the kinds that would, say, reduce a country to radioactive ash.

The Russian armed forces aren’t being revamped and expanded and better equipped for showroom purposes; they were being taken out for a test drive. Recall, too, that Putin, who was appalled at the bumbling and bungled 2008 war with Georgia for which he exclusively blames his former marionette, President Medvedev, has yet to have his own uniquely personalized war in well over a decade.

It’s been a long time since the scorched-earth campaigns in Chechnya. And the timing couldn’t be more right. The U.S. Department of Defense is mired in sequestration blues; the White House is catering to a war-weary and isolationist electorate (which may resent being given what it’s asked for), and John Kerry is racking up air miles pursuing phantom “peace” deals around the globe. (He even met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 24.) Meanwhile, Russia’s spending a mint on its own war-making capability, scoring diplomatic victories over Kerry whenever it can, cleverly exploiting the deterioration of traditional U.S. alliances in the Middle East (whether Egypt or Israel), and now looking to ensure that Ukraine — which Putin considers “not even a state” — of the former Soviet “near abroad” doesn’t stand a chance of existing without a little help from old friends.

It doesn’t bode well, either, that the Kremlin’s read-out of Putin’s phone call with Obama emphasized the “rampage of extremists” in Kiev and beyond, or the “blockade” of Transnistria. Both are clearly pretexts just waiting for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

*Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Putin refers to pro-Russian “self-defense “militias as “little green men.” It is Ukrainians that call the militias “little green men,” not Putin.

VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images
www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/28/10_reasons_russia_is_likely_to_invade_ukraine

The 11th reason not written about is the fact that Kremlin and Putin have never recognized the existence of a Ukrainian language, history, culture, and heritage irrespective of its geography!!!
This would be a once and for all final attempt to annihilate Ukrainians living in Ukraine and near abroad like in Poland
.

Read more: Why You Shouldn’t Believe Vladimir Putin When He Says He Doesn’t Want To Invade Eastern Ukraine
Paul Szoldra0Mar 29, 2014, 07.43 AM
www.businessinsider.in/Why-You-Shouldnt-Believe-Vladimir-Putin-When-He-Says-He-Doesnt-Want-To-Invade-Eastern-Ukraine/articleshow/32882455.cms

Young girl from Odesa: We are all Judeo-Bandero-shahids!

Young girl from Odesa: We are all Judeo-Bandero-shahids!

We must share this post by a young girl from Odesa:

odesa
March 2, 2014 Facebook
Translated by Voices of Maidan
Source: https://www.facebook.com/EvromaidanSOS/posts/383770915097257
Image source: https://twitter.com/Dbnmjr/status/440099119412310016/photo/1

“If we survive, live through [these events] and stabilize, then I would suggest to build a monument to Vladimir Putin – for the revival of the Ukrainian nation. We thought Yanukovych had united us. No, it was still not the unity we could have had. Yesterday, Odesa held an “Odesa is Ukraine” rally, which proved to be the most numerous rally in the history of Ukraine’s independence (you must understand, it’s Odesa after all). We finally lifted our butts off the sofa and went. Apparently, there are still some Jews left in Odessa. A couple of thousand for sure. And, you will not belive it, they are all Banderites! Yes! The real Banderites. We have a preponderance of Banderites here [in Odesa]: Jewish Banderites, Russian Banderites, Ukrainian Banderites, as well Armenian Banderites, Bulgarian, Greek and many others. Muslim Banderites uh … I do not remember how they call it …. said that three million Muslims will defend their homeland – Ukraine, and a column of Jewish Banderites passing by a mosque (disguised as Arab cultural center) shouted “Allah Akbar!” One man said, “Now I’ve seen everything in life!”

Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], you have made the impossible possible! We thought we were Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Tatars, Orthodox, Jewry, Muslims … and it turned out that we are all Ukrainians. Banderites. They say that Kiselev will have a glitch, but I believe in him! Expect a new term: “State Department agents, Judeo-Bandero-shahids!” God save Ukraine! Glory to its Heroes!”

‪#‎ЄвромайданSOS ‪#‎Евромайдан ‪#‎EuromaidanSOS ‪#‎Euromaidan ‪#‎saveUkraine ‪#‎Одеса
People attend an anti-war rally in the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odessa on March 2, 2014. Ukraine has placed its army on full combat alert, but with ageing equipment and limited personnel. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXEY KRAVTSOV/AFP/Getty Images
UKRAINE-UNREST-RUSSIA-POLITICS
People attend an anti-war rally in the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odesa on March 2, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXEY KRAVTSOV/AFP/Getty Images

maidantranslations.com/2014/03/05/young-girl-from-odesa-we-are-all-judeo-bandero-shahids/

Ukraine Chief Rabbi Accuses Russia of Anti-Semitic ‘Provocations’ in Crimea. Yaakov Dov Bleich Compares Behavior to Nazi Anschluss

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/193766/ukraine-chief-rabbi-accuses-russia-of-anti-semitic/#ixzz2v76holuw

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/193766/ukraine-chief-rabbi-accuses-russia-of-anti-semitic/#ixzz2v76QPZ7z

forward.com/articles/193766/ukraine-chief-rabbi-accuses-russia-of-anti-semitic/

jew syn

Open letter of Ukrainian Jews to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.
eajc.org/page32/news43672.html

Euro – Asian Jewish Congress | Open Address to Jews of the World

Open Address to the Jews of the World

03.02.2014, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism

Vitaliy Nakhmanovich (photo by DJC.com.ua)

Vitaliy Nakhmanovich (photo by DJC.com.ua)

Over the last month there had been a total of three attacks on worshippers attending a Podil synagogue in Kyiv. Two were unsuccessful, one left its victim, a yeshiva student, wounded. The modus operandi and the circumstances leave us no doubt as to who is the culprit. It is certainly not a spontaneous upsurge of aggression from “Maidan’s anti-Semites,” as there is a far closer synagogue in the very center of Kyiv. Besides, only a madman could try to plan something like this consciously in the middle of Maidan today, as this would mean throwing away any hope for help from the West with their own hands. But the other side… First of all, the act has an air of cheek and complete impunity about it. The worshippers themselves caught an “observer” who had been drawing the routes of yeshiva students to and from the synagogue; he went to the police quite calmly and was never seen or heard from again. Second, the police itself, which hasn’t found anyone – and seems to not have even started looking. It’s a familiar scene for Kyiv today: hired thugs protected by the “agents of law enforcement” burn cars, attack passersby, and disappear into the night. Their expectations are simple: either the Jews believe that they have become victims of the “Bandera followers” and call for a stop to the Maidan “outrage,” or the Jews understand that they were chosen by the government for a scare and… call for a stop even louder, afraid of things becoming worse.
We have long lived on this land. The Jewish communities of Crimea have existed for over 2000 years. Kyiv was first mentioned in a letter written in Hebrew. But our modern history in Ukrainian lands began only 500 years ago. It had been a very diverse history: great and insignificant, happy and frightening. The “Golden Age” and Hasidic Judaism; Zionism and Haskalah; pogroms and the Holocaust; Communism and the “fight against cosmopolites” – this is all part of our history here. And it always happened that we have always lived side by side with the Ukrainians but very rarely with them. This was due to their land belonging to anyone but them. Lithuania and Poland, Austria and Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia, the USSR and the Third Reich – empires and republics, monarchies and tyrannies, they had all been united in one thing: that the people of this land must remain silent and obedient. And we had followed our natural instinct of self-preservation and tried to always be on the side of the strong, on the side of the government, and that meant – never on the side of the Ukrainians. However, that also meant that whenever they attempted to finally break free of the foreign yoke, we became one of the first channels for instinctual hatred or targeted propaganda. Then we once again asked for help and protection from the current government, and the cycle repeated itself. Perhaps if at least one Ukrainian attempt to achieve independence turned out differently, we would have had a different relationship.
The last attempt, made a little over twenty years ago, has seemingly succeeded. The last empire of Europe broke into pieces, and on its remnants arose or were restored new independent states, including Ukraine. This entire time the young country sought its own way and its own place in the family of free peoples, and it has been a difficult search. The Baltic peoples were lucky: they had been accepted into the European family right away. Civil wars were imposed upon the Moldavians and the Georgians, and their countries broke apart. The Ukrainians demonstrated miracles of composure and stamina, solving ever more political crises with no blood spilled. But today the time of reckoning has come. The forces of imperial recoup outside and inside Ukraine have openly placed their stakes into the hands of the most odious politician of the pro-Soviet camp, who combines a petty criminal past, a lack of schooling, and a provincial outlook. Over less than three years of his rule he managed to become insanely rich and make a host of enemies, all while destroying Ukraine’s national economy and its hope for integrating into Europe.
Two months ago, the citizens of Ukraine, who have snatched a few breaths of the air of freedom over the last twenty years, went out to a square with one demand: to stop the country from becoming a dictatorship and to return hope for a brighter future to its people. Since then they have been standing at Kyiv’s Maidan and many other squares all over the country. It is not just Ukrainians who are making the stand, but also Russians, Armenians, Belarusians, Crimean Tatars. And the Jews are standing as well. The government threw special police forces and the internal military at them, hired thugs and frightened government employees – all those who still carry within them the Soviet-bred indifference to their own future and a fear to lose the piece of stale bread that they are fed with by the almighty bureaucrat.
Today our word means much for these people and for the entire world. We received the privilege to speak out and be heard through the blood and ashes of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, today many of us are once again trying to either seize profit for themselves from the situation or to simply wait it out. That has already happened more than once in our history. But today it is time to remember that our people received their right to immortality three and a half thousand years ago not just by promising to fulfill G-d’s commandments but to bring knowledge of Him to all peoples. Today 45 million people from a country that had been watered with our blood, too, ask only for Justice and Mercy. They ask for two things which G-d grounded this world upon. Do we truly have the right to deny them that?

Vitaliy Nakhmanovich, historian; Kyiv.

eajc.org/page34/news43050.html

The Jews have suffered immensely from the Biblical times through to the Holocaust and now annihilation threats from the Arab and Muslim world. The Ukrainians too have suffered in their own way from occupations, suffering the wrath of the Russian empire as slaves, khakhols, and little Russians. Experimented on by communism, fascism and nazism. Millions of Ukrainians exterminated by Stalin’s Holodomor. Denigrated for their language, religion, culture and traditions by Kremlin as inferior to Russian. Manipulated by Kremlin’s Ukrainophobic propaganda as neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic labeling Ukrainians as villains denying them the human right of dignity.
Ukraine’s existence as a free, democratic and sovereign nation is under threat by Putin’s New Russia in his quest for a Eurasian empire. Putin wants to wipe out Ukrainians from the face of this world. We ask for sympathy and empathy from all Jewish people as they look up to Israel as their free and strong country and support Ukraine’s aspiration to be free among all nations of Europe. Please support the EuroMaidan and Ukraine’s revolution of dignity against Putin and Yanukovych and the evil they represent
.

Ukraine – Doomed After the Olympics

iputin
Posted on January 31, 2014 by Martin Armstrong

Ukraine – Doomed After the Olympics

According to a former adviser to Vladimir Putin, the economist Andrei Illarionov, the Kremlin will take one of three possible scenarios with respect to the Ukraine problem. The most dramatic will be the establishment of full control over the whole Ukraine. Within the first half of February, Illarionov states that Russia will begin the total pressure on Ukraine, the purpose of which, will be to assert full control of Moscow over the country.

According to Illarionov, within the next week, Russia will begin to assert a lot of pressure on Kiev.Moscow has resumed a reduced trade war with Ukraine and there has been an information war against Ukraine put out by the government. In particular, there is a delay at the border of Ukrainian goods moving into Russia for 10-15 days. This is expected to increase domestic economic pressure in Ukraine.

The mainstream news in Russia portrays the Ukrainian protesters as criminals and what they are attempting to do amounts to a coup. Some even claim this will lead to a resurgence of Nazis and neo-Nazis power on the border. Purpose of this revolution in Ukraine is to accomplish, says Illarionov literally, is “genocide and the destruction of the Russian population.”

Others in Russia talk about the “reunification” of Russian lands, not that Ukraine is even a separate country. They place this in the news and the context is justified the same as German unification. The Eastern part of Ukraine was historically once Russia. This is the same justification Iraq made on invading Kuwait. The Western portion of Ukraine was never part of Russia so this reasoning would not apply. Indeed, even in the West they speak Ukrainian whereby in the East they speak Russian. We could see Russia justify taking the East as a “reunification” but I would not expect anything before the Olympic games are over.

At the same time, according to the ex-adviser to Putin, Russia has increased its presence in Ukraine, in particular, in the Crimea and the Luhansk region, where the predominant Russian population live. They entered that region to protect the Russian population in eastern Ukraine. Additional Russians were sent into Sevastopol to protect it from the raging swells against Russians. All this gives the impression of a major well-prepared campaign that has just begun and will go on increasing in February. It is not much different from American troops being sent to a foreign land to protect Americans.

Illarionov believes that the active phase will begin immediately after the opening of the Olympics in Sochi, February 7-8th. It is unlikely that Russia would take any such action prior to the Olympics. What happens after the games, is purely political motivation. However, the Russian government will paint the Ukrainian protesters as criminals no different than Hoover called the Bonus Army criminals to justify military action against them in Washington back in 1932.

According to Illarionov, Russia’s options are

(1) establishing a baseline scenario control over the entire Ukraine. This would be the most appropriate option;
(2) pro-Kremlin politicians and political scientists see this as the federalization or confederation Ukraine in the context of reunification as a state subservient to Moscow. and
(3) llarionov suggests that if the first two options fail, then control over the Crimea, Luhansk , and possibly part of Sumy region will need to be established under this idea of “reunification” with Moscow over part of the country in the East joining the Russian population with their mother country.

Illarionov believes that the outcome is really predetermined and that whatever attempts are made to pretend to appoint a opposition Prime Minister of Ukraine, the decision is simply a stall tactic.

It is very clear that many Russian politicians call directly for a popular idea to recreate the age-old dream of reunification of Ukraine and Russia. It is very clear that many have never considered Ukraine as an independent state and call it “nedogosudarstvom”. From their point of view, Ukraine will no longer be so weak in relation to Russia, and Russia will not be as strong in relation to Ukraine, as it is today.

The Western powers represented by the EU and the US have nothing to stand on to protect Ukraine and can only offer lip-service at best. So once again, it appears that Ukraine is doomed and the best one can hope for there, is that Russia will allow the West to leave. The countdown goes forward and the political and economic crisis is indicative of what we see with the first shot across the bow in the rising trend of the Cycle of War.

Putin- don’t underestimate Ukraine’s determination for freedom and fight for dignity and self-determination. Ukraine is no Georgia in numbers. There are hundreds of millions both living and souls of dead Ukrainians in this world that will not stand down to you and your fascists! With God Ukrainians shall prevail!

Source: crimea24.info/2014/01/31/obnarodovan-plan-rossii-v-otnoshenii-ukrainy-zakhvat-nachnetsya-v-fevrale/

9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask

9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask
map
Ukraine’s language divide. Data source: 2001 national census. (Laris Karklis/Washington Post)

Ukrainians have been protesting since Nov. 21, when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal for closer integration with the European Union, instead drawing the country closer to Russia. They are still in the streets in huge numbers and have seized regional government buildings in several parts of the country. In Kiev, the capital, clashes between protesters and security forces have become violent, killing several people. On Tuesday, the prime minister resigned. No one is quite sure what will happen next.

What’s happening in Ukraine is really important, but it can also be confusing and difficult to follow for outsiders who don’t know the history that led up to – and, in some crucial ways, explains – this crisis. Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. First, a disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive or definitive account of Ukraine’s story, just some background, written so that anyone can understand it.

1. What is Ukraine?

Ukraine – not “the Ukraine” – is a country in Eastern Europe, between Russia and Central Europe. It’s big: about the area of Texas, with a little less than twice the population. Its history goes back thousands of years – the first domesticated horses were here – and has long been characterized by intersections between “east” and “west.” That’s continued right up to today’s crisis.

Ukraine has a long history of being subjugated by foreign powers. This is even reflected in its name, which many scholars believe means “borderland” and is part of why it used to be called “the Ukraine.” (Other scholars, though, believe it means “homeland.”) It’s only been independent since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and it broke away. The last time it was independent (for a few short years right after World War I; before that, briefly in the 1600s), it had different borders and very different demographics. That turns out to be really important.

2. Why are so many Ukrainians protesting?

The protests started, mostly in the capital of Kiev, when President Yanukovych rejected an expected deal for greater economic integration with the European Union. The deal was popular with Ukrainians, particularly in Kiev and that part of the country (although not as popular as you may have heard: about 42 or 43 percent support it).

But this is about much more than just a trade deal. Symbolically, Yanukovych’s decision was seen as a turn away from Europe and toward Moscow, which rewarded Ukraine with a “stimulus” worth billions of dollars and a promise of cheaper gas exports. Moscow had subjugated or outright ruled Ukraine for generations, so you can see why this could hit a nerve.

But this is about more than just geopolitics. Yanukovych and his government, since taking power in 2010, have mismanaged the economy and have been increasingly seen as corrupt. In 2004, there had been mass protests against Yanukovych when he won the presidential election under widespread suspicions of fraud; those protests, which succeeded in blocking him from office, were called the “Orange Revolution” and considered a big deal at the time. But now he’s back.

The protests had actually been dying down until Jan. 16, when Yanukovych signed an “anti-protest law” that also deeply restricts free speech, the media (especially from criticizing the government), driving in a group of more than five cars, even wearing a helmet. Protests kicked back up with a vengeance, not just in Kiev but in a number of regional capitals, outright seizing government administration buildings in some.

3. I heard this was about Ukrainians wanting ties with Europe and their government selling out to Moscow. Is it?

That’s sort of true – lots of Ukrainians want their country to be “European” rather than linked with Russia, and Yanukovych is sure buddying up to Moscow – but it’s also sort of wrong. Yes, about half of Ukrainians say they want the European Union deal. But another third say they’d prefer integrating with the Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union. So it’s more split than you’d think.

Here’s the thing you have to understand: Ukraine is divided. Deeply, deeply divided by language, by history and by politics. One-third of the country speaks Russian as its native language, and in practice even more use it day-to-day. The Russian-speakers mostly live in one half of the country; the Ukrainian-speakers live in another. You can see that clear-as-day divide in the map at the top of this page.

It’s not just that Ukraine has two halves that predominantly speak different languages. They have different politics – and different visions for their country. Check out this composite of four maps: the top two show the language and ethnic divide, the bottom two show the election results for the 2004 and 2010 presidential elections. The lines are identical!
map2
Top left: Ukraine’s Russian-speakers in blue. Top right: Major ethnic and linguistic groups. Bottom left: 2004 presidential election results. Bottom right: 2010 presidential results.

Top left: Ukraine’s Russian-speakers in blue. Top right: Major ethnic and linguistic groups. Bottom left: 2004 presidential election results. Bottom right: 2010 presidential results. The western half of the country voted overwhelmingly against Yanukovcyh; that’s also where, until very recently, most of the protests have been.

The Russian-speaking, eastern half of Ukraine tends to be, big surprise, more pro-Russian. Yanukovych is from that part of the country, has most of his support there, and did not even speak Ukrainian until he was in his 50s.

The pro-E.U.-deal protests have mostly been in the Ukrainian-speaking, western half. That’s also the half that voted overwhelmingly against Yanukovych in 2010. (That has been changing since the anti-protest law, which inflamed nationwide anger with Yanukovych.)

This divide has been a challenge for Ukraine since it won independence in 1991. Elections have been near-evenly split between the two halves, pulling the country in opposite directions. As the Ukraine-focused political scientist Leonid Peisakhin put it, Ukraine “has never been and is not yet a coherent national unit with a common narrative or a set of more or less commonly shared political aspirations.”

In some ways, this crisis is about popular anger against a president who mishandled the economy and whose attempts to quash protests have edged into authoritarianism. But it’s also about Ukraine’s long-unresolved national identity crisis. This story is often framed as Ukraine being pulled by Moscow on one end and Europe on the other. But Ukrainians themselves are doing a lot of the pulling: a 22-year tug-of-war between two halves and two identities.

4. Wow. How did Ukraine get so divided?

Ukraine was conquered and divided for centuries by neighboring powers: the Polish, the Austrians and most of all the Russians. But Russian rulers didn’t just want to rule Ukraine, they wanted to make it Russian.

The Russification of Ukraine began 250 years ago with Catherine the Great, who oversaw Russia’s “golden age” in the late 1700s. At first, she controlled only eastern Ukraine, where she developed vast coal and iron industries to feed Russia’s expansion. Though she later took the west as well, she and subsequent Russian rulers focused overwhelmingly on the east, which also happens to be some of the most productive farmland in the world.

The director of Harvard’s Ukrainian Research Institute, Serhii Plokhii, recently told National Geographic that the country is divided between a super-fertile steppe in the east and forestland in the west – an ecological split that lines up almost perfectly with the linguistic-political line in our maps above.

So many Russians swept in to Ukraine’s southeast – a number of them troops, to fight the neighboring Ottoman Empire – that it became known as “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia.” Russian leaders, hoping to make the territory permanently Russian, banned the Ukrainian language.

Then came Joseph Stalin. In the 1930s, the Soviet leader “collectivized” peasants into state-run farms, which caused several million Ukrainians to die of starvation. The governments of Ukraine and the United States consider it a deliberate act of genocide, though historians are more divided. In either case, after the famine, Stalin repopulated the devastated eastern farmlands by shipping in ethnic Russians.

Today, Ukraine is only about one-sixth ethnic Russian. But the cultural imprint goes much deeper, and not just because so many Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language. When the Western-oriented, Ukrainian-nationalist politician Viktor Yushchenko became president, in 2005, “about 60 percent of TV programming was in Russian and 40 percent in Ukrainian,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. By the time he left office in 2010, “that ratio [had] been roughly reversed.” Most magazines and newspapers were still in Russian. This came after five years of “Ukrainianization” so aggressive that, even though he spoke fluent Russian, he would only converse with Russian President Vladimir Putin through an interpreter.

5. This is getting complicated. Can we take a music break?

Great idea. Ukraine has a rich tradition of folk and popular music, but let’s listen to one of their many classical greats, Mykola Lysenko. A Ukrainian nationalist, and by his death in 1912 a major star, Lysenko loved to incorporate Ukrainian folk melodies into his compositions. Here’s his simple but beautiful Second Ukrainian Rhapsody for piano, performed by his now-deceased granddaughter Rada Lysenko:

Lysenko’s life, more than a century ago, charted many of the same issues driving today’s crisis. Ukraine was then a part of Imperial Russia, which pushed composers and musicians to use only the Russian language. Lysenko refused, composing two operas in Ukrainian (here’s one), which he refused to translate into Russian, even though this meant they could never be performed in Moscow. Because an 1876 czarist decree banned the use of Ukrainian in print, Lysenko had to have his scores printed in secret abroad. He died a hero to Ukrainians, his music cherished by contemporaries such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, but recordings are criminally difficult to find today.

6. So I get that Russia used to rule Ukraine but doesn’t anymore. Why do I hear so much about its role in all this?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been highly aggressive in pushing Ukraine to reject the European Union and, he hopes, instead join the Moscow-led Eurasian Customs Union, which consists of a few other former Soviet states. That included threatening to impose economic sanctions on Ukraine. In 2004 and 2006, when the pro-Western Yushchenko was in power, Russia shut off natural gas exports to Ukraine over political disputes, doing serious damage to the economy.

But if Putin taketh away, he also giveth. A few weeks after Yanukovych rejected the E.U. deal, Putin offered Ukraine a stimulus package worth $15 billion and a 33 percent price cut for Russian natural gas. That will make it much tougher for Yanukovych to walk away from Putin’s embrace, particularly given how much of the popular discontent is driven by the poor economy.

7. Why does Russia care so much about Ukraine?

There are the surface reasons. The cultural connections are indeed deep, and Putin can’t not want to remain close to a country with so much shared history and so many Russians. The country, a source of food and a transit hub for Russian energy exports, is economically and strategically important to Russia. Putin is thought to personally care a great deal about the Eurasian Trade Union and sees it as his legacy.

And then there are the deeper reasons. Ukraine makes or breaks Russia’s self-image as a great power, which has fared poorly since the fall of the Berlin Wall. As Tufts political scientist Dan Drezner put it in Foreign Policy, “For all of Putin’s Middle East diplomacy, Ukraine is far more important to his great power ambitions. One of the very first sentences you’re taught to say in Foreign Policy Community College is, ‘Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.’ ”

Even if Putin can’t bring Ukraine in, he’d like to keep it out of the European Union, which he sees as an extension of a century-old Western conspiracy against Russia. There is a certain lingering suspicion in Moscow that the West wouldn’t mind Russia’s destruction, which is part of why it so opposes any Western intervention into another country, which it fears could be precedent for a similar attack on Russia some day. This is why, silly though it may sound, some security experts tend to emphasize Ukraine’s importance to Russia as a defensive buffer.

8. Why haven’t the U.S. or Europe fixed this?

Western countries could pressure Yanukovych to halt his authoritarian-tinged actions since the crisis began (the Ukrainian parliament rolled back most of the anti-protest law on Tuesday). But most of the power seems to be with Putin and with actual Ukrainians, so it’s not clear what the West could do. A New York Times op-ed by four (four!) former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine mostly just called for the United States to issue statements, adding that it could follow those up with economic sanctions.

The danger, though, is that any Western action strong enough to make a difference risks triggering a backlash that would make things worse. If the West gets too aggressive about pushing Yanukovych, then the country’s eastern, Russian-facing half might see it as foreign meddling not so different from Russia’s involvement.

Ultimately, the deeper issues here are Ukraine’s troubled economy and its unresolved national identity. Outside countries (including Russia) can certainly help with the former, but the latter can be solved by only Ukrainians.

9. I skipped to the bottom. What’s going to happen next?

The parliament rolled back most of the anti-protest law that had so angered people; it also passed a blanket amnesty for protesters, provided they leave government buildings they’ve occupied.

Putin has put the $15 billion financial aid on hold, which could actually make it easier for Yanukovych to walk away from Putin and go back to the European Union deal.

Still, protests are spreading rapidly – including into the country’s Russian-speaking eastern regions. Right now, the immediate crisis is about more than the E.U. deal or the cultural divide or even the anti-protest law, even if all those things brought Ukraine’s crisis to this point. Yanukovych’s not-terribly-adept handling of the two-month crisis has forced him into a very tight little corner.

There is chatter among analysts, in Moscow as well as Washington, that if Yanukovych panics and calls in the military to disperse protesters it could lead to a civil war. That looks like an extremely remote possibility at this point; probably more likely that the government and opposition leaders strike a deal, the government muddles through and Yanukovych is voted out overwhelmingly in the February 2015 election. But the fact that civil war is being discussed at all shows the degree of international concern and uncertainty about what comes next for Ukraine.
Fisher_Max_1
Max Fisher is the Post’s foreign affairs blogger. He has a master’s degree in security studies from Johns Hopkins University. Sign up for his daily newsletter here. Also, follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Why are so many Ukrainians protesting? Max is missing the main reason: this is a revolution of dignity for respect of human values, Ukrainian culture and traditions, against corruption, money power and greed. It’s not just for European integration!!!

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/01/30/9-questions-about-ukraine-you-were-too-embarrassed-to-ask/

Ukraine chaos unwelcome jolt for confident Putin

Ukraine chaos unwelcome jolt for confident Putin

(MOSCOW) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has been waging one of the most furious diplomatic battles of his career to keep Ukraine from signing an historic deal with the European Union.

But Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s sacking of his trusted prime minister in the face of two months of protests over his decision to keep closer ties with Russia now raises the prospect of the pro-EU opposition coming to head the government.

The sudden reversal of fortunes in Kiev puts the Russian leader’s seeming victory in doubt. Here is a closer look at what rests behind Putin’s fierce determination to keep Ukraine in the Kremlin’s orbit.

Why does Putin need Ukraine?

The Russian leader has made the formation of an economic alliance of ex-Soviet nations that could rival the European Union one of the defining goals of his 14-year rule.

Most analysts believe that Putin’s dream will shatter unless his bloc also includes Ukraine — a nation of 46 million with a strong industrial and agricultural base. Such membership would be impossible should Kiev and Brussels strike their own free trade deal.

“Putin’s economic union idea is much less serious without Ukraine,” noted Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

Does Putin depend on Yanukovych?

Putin viewed Yanukovych as a pro-Russian ally when he recognised his victory in disputed 2004 elections that were annulled after weeks of protests that became known as the pro-democracy Orange Revolution.

Yanukovych has since shown a more independent streak that appears to take the views of Ukraine’s powerful billionaire tycoons into account as much as those of Moscow.

But Yanukovych has ultimately tied himself to the Kremlin by ditching the EU agreement and striking a $15-billion bailout deal with Putin that also slashes by a third the price Ukraine pays for the Russian natural gas imports on which its economy depends.

Will Russia still release Ukraine loan?

Putin said firmly in Brussels on Tuesday that Russia would honour the terms of the Ukrainian bailout no matter who came to head the Kiev government next.

But Russia’s powerful First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on the sidelines of the Brussels meet that payment of the remaining $12 billion may be reconsidered if the new Ukrainian cabinet follows “a different agenda and different priorities”.

Putin seemed to muddy the waters further on Wednesday by saying that Russia will consider resuming the loan payments after the new Ukrainian government is formed — a statement some analysts read as a sign of confusion in Moscow’s ruling circles about their next move.

Why hasn’t Putin intervened in the crisis?

The two-month rallies in Kiev turned deadly after Yanukovych on January 17 signed into law hugely unpopular measures effectively making the street protests against him illegal.

Yet Putin — well-known for his tough talk and seeming disregard for diplomatic etiquette — was uncharacteristically reticent during the most heated days of the crisis and remained silent when the Ukrainian government stood down.

He argued on Tuesday that he “will never interfere” in Ukraine. Analysts believe that Putin decided to take a less blunt approach with Ukraine out of fear that the violence could get out of hand and possibly be blamed on Russia.

Have Sochi Games softened Putin’s tone?

Putin has staked both his reputation and prestige on the success of Winter Olympic Games in Sochi that kick off on February 7, but he has faced a chorus of international criticism over the Kremlin’s draconian new law against “homosexual propaganda”.

As he tries to boost Russia’s image ahead of the Games, the Kremlin chief who accused the West of charging into Ukraine wearing “colonial helmets” during the 2004 Orange Revolution has been much more muted in his criticism of both Brussels on Washington on this occasion.

“Putin understands that he cannot interfere in Ukraine too openly because this would ruin his Sochi project,” said independent political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin.

http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/ukraine-russia.tdn

Updated Map of Ukraine’s protest

map of ukraineThis map, in the Ukrainian language, shows the progress the move for democracy that has spread across the Ukraine. Every day more regions are joining the movement and we are looking forward to moving away from Russian President Putin’s control of our destiny to a democratic form of government.