Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ukraine -- Update on reports/commentary (March 2, 2014)

Image from

Update (certainly not comprehensive) based on the perspective of the below piece:

Options for Ukraine: The Ukraine should seriously consider the option of working with all parties involved in its current crisis–including the European Union, Russia, and the United States–in taking possible steps toward its nonviolent dismemberment in a manner acceptable to its variegated population - John Brown, Focus Policy In Focus (September 30, 2005).


"The European press suddenly began to support Russia in the Crimean crisis (quotes)...

All the talk about mandatory compliance with the territorial integrity of Ukraine ceased when the first Russian flags went up over the 'Ukrainian cities.' Now the desire to "Russian peninsula" autonomy is considered natural and democratic will of the people. ...

Analysts warned that Ukraine is too big state for the EU, and if it will, it is only in parts."

--From (March 2)

"Ukraine's leader calls Russia's moves a 'declaration of war': Ukraine's interim prime minister says the country is 'on the brink of disaster.'"

--Washington Post Headline (March 2)

'They’re drug addicts,They’re no better than frozen vegetables.'

From Washington Post, quoting a women in Kharkov commenting on activists who support the new government (March 2)

"Ukraine Mobilizes Reserve Troops, Threatening War"

--New York Times Headline (March 2)

"Mr. Putin may stop short of outright annexation of Crimea, the largely Russian-speaking peninsula where Moscow still has a major military base, but instead justify a long-term troop presence by saying the troops are there to defend the local population from the new pro-Western government in Kiev. Following a tested Russian playbook, he could create a de facto enclave loyal to Moscow much like the republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that broke away from Georgia. On the other hand, the White House worries that the crisis could escalate and that all of Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine may try to split off."

From New York Times (March 2)

"In an almost word-perfect replay of Moscow’s Cold War interventions in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979 after appeals for 'fraternal assistance' from embattled local allies, Russia’s troop mobilization in Crimea on Saturday followed a request for help from Crimea’s new pro-Moscow prime minister, Sergei Aksyonov, who was named Thursday by regional legislators meeting under the guns of the unidentified intruders. The Kremlin quickly issued a statement saying that Mr. Aksyonov’s plea 'would not be ignored,' and within hours it had announced its plans for military action.

But in stark contrast to Soviet deployments in recalcitrant foreign lands, the conspicuous display of might on Saturday met not with fierce resistance — at least not in heavily Russian areas of Crimea like Balaklava — but with a mix of delight and eerie calm. ...

While ethnic Russians rejoiced, however, Crimea’s other main populations, Muslim Tatars and Ukrainians, mourned a return to an era thought to have ended with the Cold War."

From New York Times (March 2)

"[The Kremlin's de facto control of Crimea and influence over other Russian-speaking areas of eastern Ukraine have presented that country's interim government with a virtual fait accompli: fledgling leaders filling the power vacuum since Yanukovich fled appear to be facing a choice of challenging Russia's superior military might or issuing powerless statements of outrage." (marc 2)


"Any U.S. steps to punish Russia unlikely to alter course in Ukraine: The Obama administration has several diplomatic and economic options for checking Russia's military incursion in Ukraine. But it is doubtful any would be very effective, experts say. ...

[A] senior Pentagon official said Saturday that there had been no request from the White House for military options for Ukraine and no change in the posture of U.S. forces in Europe." (March 2)


"Crimea is routinely described as 'pro-Russian,' given that an estimated 58 percent of the population of two million is ethnic Russian, with another 24 percent Ukrainian and 12 percent Crimean Tatar. Many of its inhabitants, regardless of ethnicity, are actually Russian citizens or dual-passport holders. But the picture is even more complicated. A vital naval base run by another country, a community of patriotic military retirees, a multiethnic patchwork, a weak state and competing national mythologies — that mixture is why a Crimean conflict has long been the nightmare scenario in the former Soviet Union and now represents the gravest crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War. ...

Has Crimea also now become a Sudetenland? Or is it just a Grenada? ...

With rival militias now forming on the peninsula and the Russian flag flying over government buildings in parts of southeastern Ukraine, the immediate task of diplomacy is to rescue Ukraine from the consequences of its accidental revolution. ...

European and American officials must be clear on the reasons why the international community should band together to condemn Russian actions. It is not because of the violation of national sovereignty — a concept imperfectly defended by Americans and Europeans in recent years — but because Mr. Putin’s reserving the right to protect the 'Russian-speaking population' of Ukraine is an affront to the basis of international order."

--Charles King, New York Times (March 1)

"Because of its history, geographical location, and both natural and constructed economic ties, there is no way Ukraine will ever be a prosperous, healthy, or united country unless it has a friendly (or, at the very least, non-antagonistic) relationship with Russia." (March 1)

--Former Ambassador the the USSR Jack Matlock; from

"Thousands of pro-Russian demonstrators across eastern Ukraine and Crimea are protesting against the new government, with administration buildings being seized in several cities. Gunshots have been reported as anti- and pro-Maidan protesters clash.

Protesters in Kharkov and Donetsk stormed local government offices and removed Ukrainian flags, replacing them with the Russian tricolor on Saturday.

The participants of the rally were demanding to hold a referendum on the future of the region, and particularly, on the status of Russian language.

Later in the day, Donetsk City Council held an extraordinary session and approved an idea of holding a referendum on the future fate of the Donetsk region. The council also supported the initiative on setting up municipal militia squads to protect citizens from possible aggression by radical nationalists, reported Itar-Tass. Additionally, authorities decided to introduce Russian as a second official language in the region. ...

In Kharkov, the largest city in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian protesters managed to break through the cordon of Maidan supporters and captured the government building. The storming was accompanied by clashes and shooting, RBC daily reported.

Some 111 people have been injured in clashes between anti- and pro-Maidan demonstrators, reported Itar-Tass, citing the city’s mayor, Gennady Kernes." (March 1)

From: Russia Today

"With the hope of avoiding a civil war, there exists in Ukraine the distinct possibility of a future partition that would see the industrial east and Black Sea littoral under Russian protection while the westerners fulfil their European destiny." (Feb 1)


"Enter a lonely, courageous Ukrainian rebel, a leading investigative journalist. A dark-skinned journalist who gets racially profiled by the regime. And a Muslim. And an Afghan. This is Mustafa Nayem, the man who started the revolution. Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine. That square is called the Maidan, which by the way is an Arab word. During the first few days of the protests the students called it the Euromaidan. Russian propaganda called it, predictably enough, the Gayeuromaidan. ...

Has as it ever before happened that people associated with Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Polish, and Jewish culture have died in a revolution that was started by a Muslim? Can we who pride ourselves in our diversity and tolerance think of anything remotely similar in our own histories? ...

The Ukrainian far right did play an important part in the revolution. What it did, in going to the barricades, was to liberate itself from the regime of which it had been one of the bulwarks. ...

In the long run, Right Sector is the group to watch. For the time being, its leaders have been very careful, in conversations with both Jews and Russians, to stress that their goal is political and not ethnic or racial. ...

The likely next president, Vitali Klitschko, is the son of a general in the Soviet armed forces, best known in the West as the heavyweight champion boxer. He is a chess player and a Russian speaker. He does his best to speak Ukrainian. It does not come terribly naturally. He is not a Ukrainian nationalist.

As specialists in Russian and Ukrainian nationalism have been predicting for weeks, the claim that the Ukrainian revolution is a “nationalist coup,” as Yanukovych, in Russian exile, said on Friday, has become a pretext for Russian intervention. This now appears to be underway in the Crimea, where the Russian flag has been raised over the regional parliament and gunmen have occupied the airports. Meanwhile, Russia has put army battle groups on alert and sent naval cruisers from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

Whatever course the Russian intervention may take, it is not an attempt to stop a fascist coup, since nothing of the kind has taken place. What has taken place is a popular revolution, with all of the messiness, confusion, and opposition that entails." (March 1)

--Timothy Snyder, from

"Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer now contending to be Ukraine's next president, has urged parliament to mobilise the army, AFP news agency reports. 'Parliament must ask the army's commander-in-chief to declare national mobilisation after the start of Russian aggression against Ukraine,' he said in a statement. He also asked for the UN Security Council to gather urgently for talks on the crisis." (March 1)


"The UN envoy to Ukraine has aborted his mission, saying tensions made it impossible to visit Crimea as requested by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon."


"Interfax-Ukraine reports that the far-right group Right Sector, which was actively involved in anti-Yanukovych protests, has called for full-scale mobilization in response to Russia's decision to back the use of troops, saying that their armed struggle will be 'against the empire but not Rusophobic'


"Mr. Obama and European leaders must act quickly to prevent Ukraine’s dismemberment." (March 1)


"It is not communism, in fact, that Ukrainians have revolted against now, but their long history of Russian rule. ...

Although Russians are fond of referring to Ukrainians by the Soviet moniker of a 'fraternal people,' most of them do not acknowledge the country as a separate nation; they see it as a breakaway region that is really Russian.

It took Ukraine more than 20 years to lay the colonial past to rest. Can we say that, with the toppling of Lenin statues and the toppling of Yanukovych, it has broken free of Russian influence? Not quite." (March 1)


"How the West Can Shape Ukraine: Room For Debate.

Together with the United States and Britain, Russia is a guarantor of the indivisibility of Ukrainian territory — a pledge the three countries made to Ukraine in return for the surrender of its nuclear arsenal in 1994. (Serhii Plokhii)

Ukraine is a divided country. ... Without Russia, Ukraine's problems are unresolvable, and ignoring Russian interest will be a disaster. (Fyodor Lukyanov)

Instead of jumping at the opportunity to engage Ukrainian leaders and people on the merits of capitalism and liberty, President Obama let the socialists argue for us. (Richard Grenell)

The prospects of NATO assimilating Ukraine represents taking Russia’s "heart": the very ancestral home where Russia was founded and on which it repelled the fascist invasion in the Great Patriotic War. (Jeffrey Sommers) (March 1)


"Russia and the West both have legitimate interests in Ukraine and its future. Fomenting more tension in a country that is already in upheaval is not in anyone’s interest. Nor is encouraging a permanent break between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine.

Russia and the West need to work together to help stabilize the country politically and develop an economic and trade package that will begin to resolve the economic crisis." (March 1)


"As tensions flared in Crimea, an outpouring of pro-Russia sentiment was underway in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, where several thousand people attended a rally to denounce the new interim government in Kiev, local news agencies reported. Many demonstrators expressed support for annexing eastern Ukraine to Russia and demanded a public referendum....

There were unconfirmed reports, meanwhile, of additional Russian military forces arriving in the Crimea, including Russian ships landing in Fedosiya, in eastern Crimea. ...

The United States and its Western allies have rushed to recognize the legitimacy of the new interim government in Kiev, though numerous questions remain about the votes in the national Parliament to remove Mr. Yanukovych from power." (March 1)


"The newly installed pro-Russian leader of Ukraine’s rebellious Crimea region appealed Saturday for the Kremlin’s help in restoring 'peace and calm,' and Russian President Vladimir Putin responded that Moscow will not ignore the request.

It was unclear what kind of help the Crimean republic’s prime minister, Sergei Aksenov, was requesting or what Putin might be willing to do to secure the strategic peninsula where Russia bases its Black Sea naval fleet on territory leased from Ukraine." (March 1)


"Crimea was a part of Ukraine only since 1954. And it was given to Ukraine by Khrushchev, believe it or not, to celebrate 300-year anniversary of Ukrainian decision to join Russia. ...

Russia has a major interest in Crimea.

And unlike in Kiev, where Russia had very few instruments of power, and the West had many more instruments, in Crimea, Russia controls situation on the ground. And we have to understand that we either would have to develop a solution together with Russia, or there would be a military conflict.

And in a military conflict, the stakes would be much higher for Russia than for the United States. So who is going to blink first an interesting question. If I would be President Obama, I wouldn’t be talking about any red lines in Crimea for the United States." (Feb 28)

--Dimitri Simes From

"The threat seemingly appears during every Ukraine crisis.

In 2004, governors in eastern Ukraine warned that Russia-friendly regions in the east would split if Viktor Yushchenko became president. ...

[But] [a]ny effort to break eastern Ukraine from Ukraine proper would meet resistance not only from the western half of the country, but from wide swaths of Ukrainians living within those regions . ...

In Crimea, the home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet and long a hotbed of separatism, thousands of Crimean Tatars -- who made up 11 percent of Crimea's population according to the 2001 census -- have massed in opposition to separation from Ukraine.

Ukraine's diversity runs deep in both its east and west -- ethnolinguistic maps notwithstanding." (Feb 28)


"The destabilization of Ukraine may only have just begun. The events in Crimea might only be the first act." (Feb 28)


"Events in Ukraine actually illustrate how the world has changed and how U.S. leadership is better exercised in this new era.

First, the United States was not the most important player in the crisis. Ukraine wants to be part of the European Union, and it is the European Union that will make the crucial set of decisions that will affect the fate of Kiev. (That’s why Washington was understandably frustrated with the union’s slow and fitful diplomacy, as evidenced in Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s profane phone criticism.) By staying relatively quiet and working behind the scenes, the Obama administration ensured that the story was not about America’s plans to steal Ukraine from Russia but rather about the Ukrainian people’s desire to move West. (Nationalism, that crucial force, is not working against U.S. interests for a change.) Now the United States can play a key role in helping to deter Russia from derailing Ukraine’s aspirations. That will require some firmness but also careful negotiations, not bluster." (Feb. 28)


"Crimea’s Bloody Past Is a Key to Its Present

Historically, Crimea has been a crossroads for stampeding empires, and it has been occupied or overrun by Greeks, Huns, Russians, Byzantines, Ottoman Turks, Golden Horde Tatars, Mongols and others." (Feb 28)


"[T]he expansion of genuine federalism in Ukraine would reduce tensions between east and west because not all issues would have to be solved in Kyiv, making many of them zero-sum game event, but could be solved differently in different parts of the country at the level closest to the electorate." (Feb 28)


"As to how Vladimir Putin might respond to his humiliation last week in Ukraine, the answers came in rough and rapid succession on Thursday. At least the U.S. and the European Union can't harbor any more doubts about the Russian president's intention to provoke a possibly violent conflict in Europe. ...

The alarm is ringing in Crimea."


"If Yanukovych called for Russian troops to support his government, Putin could claim that intervention was a legitimate peace enforcement operation instead of an illegal act of aggression.

Crimea may provide the catalyst for another brisk war." (Feb. 28)


"Unidentified armed men who may belong to the Russian military are blockading an airport near Sevastopol Friday in an escalation of tensions between the neighboring states that Ukraine's interior minister is calling an 'armed invasion.'

'I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation,' Ukraine's new Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote in a post on Facebook." (Feb 28)


"Ukraine's fugitive president turned up in Russia on Thursday and masked gunmen seized government buildings in the Crimean region as tension built over the direction of the country's revolution.

The day's developments left Russia trying to maintain a delicate balance between assuring the West that it would not intervene and members of Ukraine's Russian-speaking minority that it would seek to protect their rights.

U.S. officials urged restraint. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said he had been reassured by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Moscow "will respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine." In Brussels, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cautioned against provocative actions that could spin out of control, creating a conflict no one wants. ...

Kerry, in an appearance at the State Department with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the Russian military exercises that began near Ukraine were previously scheduled and were 'not related to the Ukraine.'" (Feb 28)


"Amid fears of a Kremlin-backed separatist rebellion here against Ukraine’s fledgling government, armed men in military uniforms took up positions at two Crimean airports as Ukraine’s interior minister warned of 'a direct provocation,' but there was no sign of any violence.

In Simferopol, the regional capital of Crimea, a large number of masked armed men were stationed at the international airport Friday morning. They were dressed in camouflage and carrying assault rifles, but their military uniforms bore no insignia. It was not clear who they were and they declined to answer questions. ...

The men took up positions around a central administrative building, but they did not appear to enter the terminals. The airport, by all appearances, was operating normally, with flights arriving and departing roughly on schedule. ...

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in Crimea, denied that its forces were involved in the deployment at one of the airports. ...

The rapid-fire developments came a day after a well-orchestrated power grab by pro-Russian forces played out across Simferopol on Thursday: Armed militants took control of government buildings; crowds filled the streets chanting 'Russia, Russia,' and legislators called for a vote to redefine relations with Ukraine. The region is currently autonomous, meaning it has greater local control over its affairs.

Police officers, nominally under the control of the Ministry of Interior in Kiev, made little or no effort to control the crowds and, in some cases, even applauded their pro-Russia zeal. The police stood aside as the armed militants who seized government buildings overnight on Thursday built a barricade outside the regional legislature. The authorities ordered an emergency holiday, leaving streets mostly empty except for the protesters chanting for Russia, and many shops closed.

'This is the first step toward civil war,' said Igor Baklanov, a computer expert who joined a group of anxious residents gathered in a cold drizzle at a thin police line near the Parliament building, a line that quickly vanished when activists of a nationalist group called Russian Movement of Ukraine marched up waving Russian flags. They were followed by columns organized by Russian Bloc, another pro-Moscow organization. ...

Russia controlled Crimea for centuries but lost it to Ukraine in 1954 after what seemed at the time an inconsequential redrawing of internal Soviet boundaries by Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Communist Party leader.

The pace of developments, set largely by well-organized pro-Russia groups that marched through Simferopol in military-style formations, has perhaps outrun even Moscow’s capacity for geopolitical machinations. Having mobilized its air and ground forces around Ukraine on Wednesday for previously unannounced military exercises in Western Russia, Moscow has raised expectations among its most zealous supporters that it will intervene to support their cause.

But any open military intervention would risk plunging Crimea, a vital outpost for the Russian Navy, into bloody chaos and also undermine security inside Russia, particularly in heavily Muslim areas.

Crimea’s Tatars have no record of extremism, but armed intervention by Moscow could strengthen the hand of tiny militant Islamic groups that have long tried, but failed, to rally Tatars for jihad." (Feb 28)


"My father is from Lviv, and my mother is from Donetsk; if they can stay married for 45+ years, Ukraine can stay united." (Feb 27)


"Russia mobilizes 150,000 troops to test their battle readiness. Opposing groups clash over whether Ukraine will look to Moscow or Brussels. Triumphant demonstrators in Kiev celebrate the nomination of an interim government likely to turn westward.

Those ominous events, however, may obscure what is largely a meeting of minds among Russian President Vladimir Putin, European Union officials, the White House and more pragmatic elements of Ukraine's new leadership.

A confrontation over Ukraine or a breakup into a European-oriented western half and Russian-allied eastern and southern regions would help no one. The country needs peace and a representative interim government to manage an infusion of foreign aid and avert bankruptcy." (Feb 27)


"Viktor F. Yanukovych declared on Thursday that he remained the lawful president of Ukraine and appealed to Russia to protect 'my personal safety,' only hours after masked gunmen seized the regional government buildings in Crimea’s capital, barricaded themselves inside and raised the Russian flag.

Even as Ukraine’s interior minister appealed for calm and vowed to prevent any escalation of the confrontation in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, Mr. Yanukovych added fuel to what seemed to be the stirrings of a separatist rebellion that could tear Ukraine apart. He warned that the largely Russian regions of Ukraine in the east and in Crimea 'not accept the anarchy and outright lawlessness' that has gripped the country.

Mr. Yanukovych, in a written statement given to two Russian state news agencies, sounded determined to continue to fight for power, perhaps in a splintered state, five days after he fled Kiev in a helicopter and disappeared from sight. From the Black Sea to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the developments raised fears that the already wrenching confrontation over Ukraine’s future was worsening rather than ending." (Feb 27)...

The seizure of the government buildings in Crimea raised the specter of a violent confrontation over the status of Crimea and other regions where a majority of residents supported Mr. Yanukovych. ...

The overnight raids in Simferopol created an ominous uncertainty here and left residents stunned. The raids took place just hours after thousands of Crimean Tatars, the region’s minority indigenous Turkic population and a separate throng of ethnic Russians staged competing rallies outside Crimea’s regional Parliament. The rallies, which ended in a chaotic melee and left several people injured, disrupted a session of the regional Parliament that hardline pro-Russia groups had hoped would declare Crimea’s secession from Ukraine. ...

'This is the first step toward civil war,' said Igor Baklanov, a computer expert who joined a group of anxious residents gathered in a cold drizzle at a police line near the seized regional legislature."


"UPDATE 6-Ukraine leader warns Russia after armed men seize government HQ in Crimea
Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:52am EST

* Armed men seize buildings in Crimea, run up Russian flag

* Acting president warns Moscow against Crimea troop moves

* Russia fighters on alert, says it will defend compatriots' right

* Hryvnia falls to record low

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Armed men seized regional government headquarters and parliament in Ukraine's Crimea on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, alarming Kiev's new rulers, who urged Moscow not to abuse its navy base rights on the peninsula by moving troops around.

'I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet,' said Olexander Turchinov, acting president since the removal of Viktor Yanukovich last weekend.

'Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory (the base) will be seen by us as military aggression,' he said.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry also summoned Russia's acting envoy in Kiev for immediate consultations.

Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new leadership in Kiev following Yanukovich's ouster and provides a base there for the Russian Black Sea fleet. ...

In Kiev, Ukraine's new rulers though pressed ahead with efforts to restore stability to the divided country, approving formation of a national coalition government with former economy minister Arseny Yatseniuk as its proposed head.

Yatseniuk told parliament that Yanukovich had driven the country to the brink of economic and political collapse.

And he warned of growing threats to the territorial integrity of Ukraine. 'We must preserve the integrity of the Ukrainian state which will one day become a member of the European Union,' he said.

Yanukovich said on Thursday he was still president of Ukraine and warned its 'illegitimate' rulers that people in the southeastern and southern regions would never accept mob rule. ...

As the drama unfolded in Crimea, there were mixed signals from Moscow, which put warplanes along its western borders on combat alert. Earlier it said it would take part in discussions on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) financial package for Ukraine. ...

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski called the seizure of government buildings in the Crimea a 'very dangerous game'.

'This is a drastic step, and I'm warning those who did this and those who allowed them to do this, because this is how regional conflicts begin,' he told a news conference. ...

About 100 police were gathered in front of the parliament building, and a similar number of people carrying Russian flags later marched up to the building chanting "Russia, Russia" and holding a sign calling for a Crimean referendum.

One of them, Alexei, 30, said: "We have our own constitution, Crimea is autonomous. The government in Kiev are fascists, and what they're doing is illegal ... We need to show our support for the guys inside (parliament). Power should be ours."

About 50 pro-Russia supporters who came in from the port of Sevastopol, where part of Russia's Black Sea navy is based, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder facing police lines in front of parliament in Simferopol. ...

Ukraine's new leaders have been voicing alarm over signs of separatism there. The seizure of the building was confirmed by acting interior minister Arsen Avakov, who said the attackers had automatic weapons and machine guns.

'Provocateurs are on the march. It is the time for cool heads,' he said on Facebook.

Turchinov, speaking in Kiev to parliament which had been called to name the new government, described the attackers as 'criminals in military fatigues with automatic weapons.'

He called on Moscow not to violate the terms of the agreement that gives them naval basing rights at Sevastopol until 2042. ...

Ethnic Tatars who support Ukraine's new leaders and pro-Russia separatists had confronted each other outside the regional parliament on Wednesday. ...

Crimea is the only region of Ukraine where ethnic Russians are the majority, though many ethnic Ukrainians in other eastern areas speak Russian as their first language.

The Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group, were victimised by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in World War Two and deported en masse to Soviet Central Asia in 1944 on suspicion of collaborating with Nazi Germany.

Tens of thousands of them returned to their homeland after Ukraine gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991."  (Feb 27)


"Ukraine is ethnically homogenous [sic], and does not allow dual citizenship. However, there is a clear east-west split in its political and economic outlook.

Wealthy western Ukraine [sic] looks towards its European neighbors – especially Poland - and this is where Ukrainian nationalist sentiment is strongest. In the industrialized east and south, ties are closer to Russia.

Ukraine's acting leader, Oleksander Turchinov, told the parliament on Tuesday that he would meet law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism in eastern regions with large Russian-speaking populations." Feb 26


"Should the West act with similar indecision on Ukraine, we could see the same thing happen again: Russia could well decide to 'come to the aid of' ethnic Russians living in Crimea, in southern Ukraine, who are already issuing invitations. (Feb 25)


"There is ample evidence that Ukrainians of all religious and linguistic backgrounds yearn to draw closer to the West, and the challenge for the United States and Europe is to make sure that political reform is not unraveled by civil strife or a vindictive Kremlin." (Feb 25)


"Ukraine's interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. ...

The delay in announcing a unity government was to allow further consultations, Mr Turchynov said, adding that 'a coalition of national faith must be elected'.

Anyone held responsible for separatist moves should be punished, his press service quoted Mr Turchynov as saying in a later statement, the Reuters news agency reports." (Feb 25)


"A large part of the population in the ethnically Russian east and south of the country are enraged that power in Kiev has been seized by a rival political camp: Ukra[i]nian pro-European nationalists. A huge question is whether the revolution presages Ukraine’s disintegration. ...

While politicians in Kiev are scared to mention federalisation because of its separatist undertones, in reality it is already happening. The biggest danger for Ukraine’s integrity is not federalisation, but that Russian interferes and exploits it. (Feb 25)


"TWO STATES [:] In an address to parliament, [Acting President Oleksandr] Turchyno said he was taking seriously the potential threats in Ukraine's Russian-speaking eastern regions, where the risk of elements partial to separatism is a 'serious threat,' he said. Turchyno said he is working with police agencies to monitor the situation. (Feb 25)

In Ukraine, radical nationalist groups now clearly feel that they have a veto over government actions. The large pro-Russian populations in the east and south may well feel that they too have the right to engage in violent demonstrations in support of their goals. ...

The EU and US are ... faced with the most complicated and dangerous challenge in Europe since the collapse of Yugoslavia. (Feb 25)


"Keep this in mind: However courageous and determined the protesters who occupied Kiev's Maidan Square these past few months, the president they brought down had been freely elected just four years ago, in a vote international observers described as an 'impressive display of democracy.' ...

Whatever else one might say about the uprising in Kiev, then, a revolt against naked tyranny it was not. More like a revolt against self. How does a nation become self-governing when so much of "self" is so rotten? Run-of-the-mill analyses that Ukraine is a "young democracy" with corrupt elites, an ethnic divide and a bullying neighbor don't suffice. Ukraine is what it is because Ukrainians are what they are. The former doesn't change until the latter does. (Feb 24)


"[T]he biggest issue facing Crimea, and southern and eastern regions of Ukraine more generally, is the vacuum that might be left from the disappearing power vertical of the Party of Regions, and not from weak Russian separatist movements." (Feb 24)


"Rather surprising  that among the Western pundits I've read (and there are so many of them, the pundits!) speculating on Ukraine none of them has mentioned Aksyonov's "Ostrov krym

in connection with the recent events in that part of the world. Here's a plot summary of a quite remarkable (and humorous) book:
In The Island of Crimea, set on the Crimean peninsula, Aksyonov imagines that Crimea is an autonomous society separated from the Soviet Union. The novel is another social satire reliant on a stretch of the imagination, but it is deemed less surrealistic and far-fetched than Aksyonov's  previous works. (Feb 24)"

'"Voters in the east and west are very disappointed in that fact that Maidan in Kiev has won,' said Konstantin Bondarenko, a political analyst with the Institute for Ukrainian Policy. 'In the worst-case scenario, there could be a split in the country by federalization, which would be ruled by separate powers.'

[B]ecause the recent triumph of western Ukraine in Kiev forces the Russophone eastern and southern regions to seek to protect their own interests. A decentralized Ukraine which might emerge as a result would be Russia's best bet. ...

The situation in Ukraine, however, remains highly uncertain.

A new power balance—whether in Kiev or between Kiev and the regions, or among the regions—will not shape up for months at least.

The threat of a civil war continues to exist. Radicals of various stripes are getting armed and are becoming more aggressive.

Crimea is a sore point. A conflict there can serve as a gateway to Russia's direct involvement in Ukraine. Moscow would need a lot of sang-froid to protect its interests there and avoid being trapped." (Feb 24)


"The Ukrainian revolution has delivered a powerful blow against Putin’s plan 'to create a pan-Eurasian ‘community of dictators' ' and called into question his own authoritarian rule at home, although he is likely to be able to maintain himself because of the strength of 'the post-imperial syndrome' in the Russian Federation.

In an article on today, Vladimir Milov, president of the Moscow Institute of Energy Policy and a former deputy energy minister, says that that conclusion arises from the fact that Moscow has been wrong on two points: the ability of Viktor Yanukovich to suppress the Maidan and the supposed interest of Eastern Ukraine in splitting off from the rest of that country.

In fact, he writes, 'efforts to forcibly disperse the Maidan were not crowned with success (and after them Yanukovich fell) and the prospects for a territorial split of Ukraine' are not nearly as great as many in Moscow and elsewhere think. Moreover, Moscow hasn’t prepared for either (" (Feb 24)


"With Kiev firmly in the hands of the so-called Maidan opposition movement, attention has turned to the Russian-oriented south and east, Yanukovych’s support base. The industrialized region contains about 43 percent of Ukranian voters, and many have watched the events unfolding in Kiev with alarm, fanned by Russian media reports that depicts protest leaders as nationalistic extremists.

Some cities in the east and south, held small pro-Russia rallies on Sunday.

'Voters in the east and west are very disappointed in that fact that Maidan in Kiev has won,' said Konstantin Bondarenko, a political analyst with the Institute for Ukrainian Policy. 'In the worst-case scenario, there could be a split in the country by federalization, which would be ruled by separate powers.'” (Feb 23)


"The US could and should convey clearly to Mr Putin that it is prepared to use its influence to make certain a truly independent and territorially undivided Ukraine will pursue policies towards Russia similar to those so effectively practised by Finland: mutually respectful neighbours with wide-ranging economic relations with Russia and the EU; no participation in any military alliance viewed by Moscow as directed at itself but expanding its European connectivity.

In brief, the Finnish model is ideal for Ukraine, the EU and Russia in any larger east-west strategic accommodation." (Feb 23)


"Speaking for a highly nervous EU, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, telephoned Putin on Sunday to try to make sure nothing untoward was planned. Whether she got the reassurance she wanted was unclear. Few details of their conversation were released, other than that the two agreed Ukraine's stability and 'territorial integrity' must be safeguarded. This worthy sentiment could mean, or be used to justify, any number of things, both good and bad.

Unable to address him directly, Susan Rice, US national security adviser, used a TV interview to warn Putin it would be a grave mistake for Russia to intervene militarily. 'It's not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see a country split.' ...

Even if he dumps his discredited ally, Putin could still opt to encourage eastern regional leaders to reject Kiev's authority and pursue forms of greater autonomy. Down this road lies the dread prospect of partition, peacefully achieved or not. (Feb 23)


"Things moved fast today—Yanukovich denying his resignation; the security forces switching sides; the parliament ousting him and setting new elections; his political allies, and perhaps Yanukovich himself, fleeing the country; members of his party in parliament fleeing the party; his jailed political rival Yulia Tymoshenko being popped out of a prison hospital and boarding a plane for Kiev—but it all moved peacefully, joyously, and seemingly in the right direction. This was no longer a referendum on the EU or Russia, who stood helplessly by as Ukrainians finally determined their own fate without them; this was not about the east or west of the country. Today was about getting rid of a man who had stolen a lot of their money and killed a lot of their countrymen. There will, inevitably, be a hangover. I won't try to predict what's going to happen in Ukraine in the coming weeks and months, but here are some of the moving pieces to watch.

East and West: There is a huge element of anti-colonialism in this revolt. Most of the crowd in the Maidan speaks Ukrainian and the tents are marked with the names of cities of the Ukrainian-speaking West. For at least the last century, speaking Ukrainian was an inherently political act, one that showed one's cultural and spiritual independence from Russian political and linguistic dominance. (This is in part why Tymoshenko, who had to learn the language, now speaks exclusively in Ukrainian in public.) The Russian-speaking east of the country doesn't share this sense of oppression. They feel closer to Russia, and don't mind the Russian embrace. They also have most of the country's industry. For the last week, there has been talk of the country splitting, or, worse, civil war. While I think civil war is highly unlikely, the East-West divide is going to be one to watch: will the Russian-speaking East go along with the change, or not?

The Crimea: The home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Crimean peninsula has long been a subject of contention between Ukraine and Russia, with the latter deliberating whether it should have been kept by the Russian Federation in the 1991 split. Russia has been fanning those fires, handing out Russian passports to local residents, and there are reports that pro-Russian separatism is on the rise. And, given the number of Russian speakers in the area, these tensions could escalate. Watch, for example these Russians yelling at local activists who tried to set up their own Maidan in the Crimean city of Kerchi. ...

The nationalists: There is undeniably a faction of ultra-nationalists on the Maidan, and, when the violence started, they formed the core of the anti-government forces. They say they want to form a political party and run for parliament, but they too have tasted victory and blood: will a seat in the Rada be enough?"

--From (Feb 22)

"The West now has some decisions to make, and the EU and the United States will have to make them together. The biggest one, that could be upon us much sooner than we think, is whether the West wants to keep Ukraine united. What would be the consequences if Russia and its Ukrainian friends move toward de facto and perhaps ultimately de jure partition? If partition is the answer, is the West prepared to let Russia unilaterally set the boundary? Will the West accept a de facto arrangement on the ground or will it insist or try to insist on referenda and fair elections? If partition is unacceptable, how exactly does the West propose to prevent or reverse it? What if the situation on the ground turns ugly, with fighting between militias, some backed by Russia?"  (Feb 22)


"[S]top talking about 'the Ukrainian people' as if it were a monolithic concept. Two closely related, but distinct, cultural heritages comprise Ukrainian identity—Ukrainian and Russian. Attempts to isolate, ignore or minimize the importance of the Russian cultural component of Ukrainian national identity, to which more than half the population give some allegiance, can only lead to more political conflict. ... Ukraine’s current trajectory is leading the country toward a divide. At best, this divide will leave profound scars in the body politic that will take decades to heal. At worst, it could still result in a physical divide."


"Putin is not rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of an epic battle with the West over Ukraine. In fact, says Carnegie's Andrew Weiss, who worked on policy toward the region in the Clinton and George H.W. Bush administrations, 'I think if you're sitting in the Kremlin the prospect of a Yugoslav scenario in Ukraine is quite scary.' ... Clan struggles among Ukraine's oligarchs, social and political crisis, regional differences between western and eastern parts of the country -- Ukraine's home-grown problems are deepening, even without meddling by Vladimir Putin. 'What we see in Ukraine is, unfortunately, in the 20 years of independence, Ukrainian leaders have done little or nothing to create a single Ukrainian nation,' says Trenin [Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center], 'and the divisions within Ukraine have persisted and they have also become much more pronounced in the last few months.' Keeping Ukraine together is a priority for the Obama administration but, says Trenin, it's also a Russian policy priority. 'Despite what you may hear from various Russian figures,' he says, 'it's very much Mr. Putin's preference, in fact, priority, that Ukraine stays in one piece. Otherwise, a civil war very close to home, next door, essentially, could be too dangerous for Russia itself.' Russia would fight to protect the ethnic Russian population and Moscow's base in Crimea, says Harvard's Saradzhyna, quoting a senior Russian government official who told the Financial Times, 'If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war...They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia.' Trenin isn't so sure. "I don't think the Russians are about to invade Crimea," he says. 'What I think is more likely is that, in the future, the various regions of Ukraine will present their own claims and may go in different directions on a number of issues. And attempts by Kiev to clamp down on those autonomous or regionalist tendencies could lead to a new spike in tensions in Ukraine.' Kiev is burning and Ukraine is unraveling. Yanukovich -- or the leader of a new government -- will have to find a new way to keep the country together. Vladimir Putin will not simply stand by and watch it happen, but he is not the puppet master of Yanukovich -- or of Ukraine." (Feb 22)


"Underscoring Ukraine's regional divisions, leaders of Russian-speaking eastern provinces loyal to Yanukovich voted to challenge anti-Yanukovich steps by the central parliament. Eastern regional bosses meeting in Kharkiv - the city where Yanukovich had apparently sought refuge - adopted a resolution saying parliament's moves 'in such circumstances cause doubts about their ... legitimacy and legality. Until the constitutional order and lawfulness are restored ... we have decided to take responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens' rights and their security on our territories.' Kharkiv Governor Mikhaylo Dobkin told the meeting: 'We're not preparing to break up the country. We want to preserve it.' ... With borders drawn up by Bolshevik commissars, Ukraine has faced an identity crisis since independence. It fuses territory integral to Russia since the Middle Ages with former parts of Poland and Austria annexed by the Soviets in the 20th century.
In the country's east, most people speak Russian. In the west, most speak Ukrainian and many despise Moscow. The past week saw central state authority vanish altogether in the west, where anti-Russian demonstrators seized government buildings and police fled. Deaths in Kiev cost Yanukovich the support of wealthy industrialists who previously backed him." (Feb 22)

--From; via LJB

"Report: As Ukrainian Unrest Unfolds, Anti-Semitism Rises: Ukrainian police forces have been threatening Kiev's Jewish community, Arutz Sheva's Russian language sources reveal.'


"Ukraine was briefly independent at the end of World War I, and has been again since the breakup of the Soviet Union.Still the religious, ethnic, cultural and historic ties between Russia and Ukraine are centuries deep. Eight million Ukrainians are ethnic Russians. In east Ukraine and the Crimea, the majority speak Russian and cherish these ties. Western Ukraine looks to Europe. Indeed, parts belonged to the Habsburg Empire. Pushed too far and pressed too hard, Ukraine could disintegrate." (Feb 5)


"Ukraine's chief rabbi tells Kiev's Jews to flee city: Fearing violence against Ukraine's Jews, the Jewish community asks Israel for assistance with the security of the community." (Feb. 22)


"Units from the western city of Lvov, a stronghold of the opposition, took over the palace after making their way to the capital in spite of halted train service. ... A group of 40 police officers who rebelled against the command and arrived from the west of the country stood in the square in full uniform, unarmed. They were greeted with chants 'You will be heroes!' and 'The police is with people!' 'We are here because we gave the oath to protect the people of Ukraine and we want to really follow the oath,' said Major Oleh Kormyliuk, 35. 'More officers are coming soon. Here we will be doing what we usually do — maintaining order.'" (Feb 22)


"One reason that the last months in Ukraine have been so chaotic is that Ukraine, despite being an independent state for more than two decades, is neither a fully functioning state nor a fully formed nation. To use the phrase 'law and order' to describe any of what happened in Ukraine last week is like using 'tea and sandwiches' to describe hooch made of vodka, gristle and blood."

"Defiance, Skepticism In Lviv Over Yanukovych-Opposition Deal" (Feb 21)

--From Via LJB

"The boundaries of the Soviet republics did not follow clean, crisp lines. When the empire fractured into 15 countries overnight, long-suppressed grievances among rival groups burst into the open. Again, Ukraine serves as a prime example. The western part of the country has historic links to Europe, while the eastern part is much more aligned with Russia when it comes to language, culture and religion."


"Ukraine, this fragile and vital bridge, is in danger of collapsing."

--Romano Prodi, the prime minister of Italy from 1996 to 1998 and from 2006 to 2008, and the president of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004

"Crimea may mull breaking away from Ukraine -  Voice of Russia: The head of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has not ruled out that Ukraine’s southern territory may break away from the conflict-ridden nation if the political crisis spirals further out of control."


"And now Yanukovych appears to be losing his grip on the west of his country, which is historically far less pro-Russia than the east. 'Raising the prospect of Ukraine splitting along a historic cultural and linguistic faultline, the regional assembly in Lviv, a bastion of Ukrainian nationalism near the Polish border, issued a statement condemning President Viktor Yanukovich’s government for its ‘open warfare’ on demonstrators in Kiev and saying it took executive power locally for itself, Reuters report on Wednesday."


"But the risk of the conflict spreading – leading political figures have warned of civil war – is serious. There are other steps that could help defuse the crisis: the creation of a broad coalition government, a referendum on EU relations, a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system and greater regional autonomy. The breakup of Ukraine would not be a purely Ukrainian affair. Along with China's emerging challenge to US domination of east Asia, the Ukrainian faultine has the potential to draw in outside powers and lead to a strategic clash. Only Ukrainians can overcome this crisis. Continuing outside interference is both provocative and dangerous."


"Perhaps the largest untruth promoted by ... most U.S. media is the claim that 'Ukraine's future integration into Europe' is 'yearned for throughout the country.' But every informed observer knows — from Ukraine's history, geography, languages, religions, culture, recent politics and opinion surveys — that the country is deeply divided as to whether it should join Europe or remain close politically and economically to Russia. There is not one Ukraine or one 'Ukrainian people' but at least two, generally situated in its western and eastern regions."


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