Ukraine: a basic primer

The latest events in Ukraine didn’t start yesterday. And claiming that what’s been happening these days is a serious breach of international law is so much empty rhetoric it’s no longer funny.

Those who have been accusing the West (the U.S., the European Union and NATO, in particular) of trying to shift their public’s attention from the failed coronavirus fear, with all of its mandates and brutalities, to a substantiated fear of nuclear war, may have a point.

Not that the other side, Russia, that is, has been an innocent virgin, waiting for her first kiss, either.

Here’s a brief list of events that had led to two eastern Ukrainian regions (Donbass and Luhansk) declaring themselves independent people’s republics, and Russian President Vladimir Putin recognising them as such, getting Western leaders hot around their starched collars.

  • The European Union offered an association agreement to Ukraine that was insulting enough for then-President Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych to reject it.
  • This sign of independence on President Yanukovych’s part, in turn, would upset the European Union all the way to undisguised hysterics. Enough, in any case, for the bozos in Brussels to make a deal with the United States, send in several so-called NGOs (non-government organisations) and start what Western mainstream media would call Orange Revolution at Ukrainian capital Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (“Independence Square”).
    For those keen enough, maidan is translated into English is an Asiatic or African parade ground or esplanade.
  • Back to history: Police violently dispersed the crowds, much to the hypocritical consternation of European and American politicians and journalists, who all accused Yanukovych of bowing to pressure from Moscow.
    Whether Yanukovych was guilty as charged so far as the bowing to the Kremlin goes, matters not now, eight years after the fact. What DOES matter is that movements and groups that have never made any secret of their ultra-nationalistic leanings took over the country.
    The entire picture is filled with strange contradictions: a strong part of the new ultra-nationalist groups are openly anti-Semitic. At the same time, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy (44) is a Jew who makes no secret of it.
    Formerly a popular actor and comedian, the current Mariinskyi Palace resident won his seat in a popular vote in 2019. Looking from the outside, he seems established quite well.
  • But: what’s the easiest way to make loud impact upon arrival when you confuse nationalism and patriotism? Why, you ban any other language than your own and demand that all and sundry start using your language as the official means of communication with authorities (a.k.a. lingua franca) forthwith, or else.

Here’s the issue: major parts of eastern Ukraine speak Russian. No, they are NOT pro-Russian. They are Russian, plain and simple. So, they staged an uprising of their own.

Now, whether Russia is entitled to step in is a different question. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric, alas, reminds many of Nazi Sudeten German leader Konrad Henlein. This Czech-born mini-Führer had been pushing for his compatriots to split from Czechoslovakia and join Adolf Hitler’s Germany (their slogan was Heim ins Reich, or home to the empire).

In any case, the new Ukrainian government sent their armed forces to quell the eastern Ukrainians.

Logically, that would lead to calls for eastern Ukraine to pack up and leave.

Instead of offering any form of debate, be it round a round table, a steam bath (banya in Russian, бaня in their alphabet) or a sit-down with a bottle of vodka or two, the Ukrainian government went on, rattling their sabres and missiles and artillery pieces, hurling insults at the guys on the other side all along.

Not that is anything new in post-Soviet (or Soviet, for that matter) Russia.

Two different agreements were signed in the Belarussian capital, Minsk (2014 and 2015), by members of what used to be called the Trilateral Contact Group. That body consisted of representatives of Ukraine, Russian Federation and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with leaders of the two disputed regions Donbass and Luhansk) present and attaching their signatures, as well.

The two documents spelt out precisely how the two warring sides should distance themselves from one another, in order to create a semblance of peace.

The first document failed, the second one seemed to have taken root.

Please note: seemed.

Imposing official languages and banning all others can happen without any artillery shelling, yet, it usually has similarly deadly impacts.

Putin, meanwhile, has been going on insisting that Ukraine got her statehood only courtesy Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin, which, on paper, is true so far as it goes.

Trustworthy? Not really

The Soviet constitution included a clause allowing each and every republic to quit any good old time it pleases.

Not many in the West and definitely not today’s leaders of the West recall what happened in the 1970s when a group of Georgians thought that the time has come to bid the USSR a friendly farewell. (No, not the Georgia on Ray Charles’s mind in the U.S., the one in the Caucasus Mountains.)

That Western mainstream media do now know how to use their archives is no longer shocking.

Anyhow: how that information got to then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s ear is now irrelevant. It got there, and that mattered.

The Supremo mentioned it to the then-chief of Soviet secret police and espionage, KGB, Yuri Andropov, and he dispatched one of his trusted generals, Eduard Shevarnadze, to look into matters.

Yes, THAT Shevarnadze, a native of Georgia, known in the West as the polished Soviet diplomat.

A couple of thousand executions later, there was peace in the valley (meaning: Georgia), and Shevarnadze was rewarded: he’d become chief of the Georgian communist party, de facto a dictator in his republic. He’d also become buddy-buddy with the neighbouring Stavropol region communist boss, and they would remain joined at the hip like Siamese twins. Who was the neighbour? Why, Mikhail Gorbachev, that’s who.

The word of the death of the Georgian uprising spread fast, and the Ukrainians would think twice before entertaining such seditious ideas like becoming independent in real terms, not only on paper.

Different direction

Russia’s new foreign policy could be called one of constructive destruction, says Professor Sergey Karaganov. The honorary chairman of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, and academic supervisor at the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow, wrote a wide-ranging analysis that appeared (also online) in the Russia in Global Affairs journal.

To quote from Prof. Karaganov’s opening points: “Constructive destruction is not aggressive. Russia maintains it isn’t going to attack anyone or blow them up. It simply doesn’t need to. The outside world provides Russia with more and more geopolitical opportunities for medium-term development as it is. With one big exception. NATO’s expansion and formal or informal inclusion of Ukraine poses a risk to the country’s security that Moscow simply won’t accept.

“For now, the West is on course to a slow but inevitable decay, both in terms of internal and external affairs and even the economy. And this is precisely why it has started this new Cold War after almost five hundred years of domination in world politics, the economy, and culture. Especially after its decisive victory in the 1990s to mid-2000s. I believe it will most likely lose, stepping down as the global leader and becoming a more reasonable partner. And not a moment too soon: Russia will need to balance relations with a friendly, but increasingly more powerful China.”

To read the analysis in its entirety, and the argument that Prof. Karaganov puts forward to prove his conclusions, check out the full text at Russia in Global Affairs.

To conclude, a minor reminder of major consequences: If all this reminds anyone of anything closer to home, the semblance is but accidental.

Thanks for paying attention, or, as Vladimir Putin likes to say, спасибо за внимание.

2 thoughts on “Ukraine: a basic primer

  1. dragahaj@seznam.cz February 24, 2022 at 09:42 Reply

    Samozrejme jsem zdesena, a to, co pravdive rikas, by tu ted na ulici asi mnohde neproslo – i kdyz… zas moc tam nechodim. No – nazor (svuj) mam. Takze se prosim nezlob, ze jsem z te vsi hruzy pobavena slovem Georgia a jeho prekladem… ! 🙂 pa, dik.

    D.

    Like

  2. […] In addition to current Ukrainian government’s support for openly Nazi (and anti-Semitic) groups, i…. […]

    Like

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