Sunday, July 12, 2015

Global Questions: Ukraine at a Crossroads

Please listen to this excellent BBC ipod broadcast:

Global Questions: Ukraine at a Crossroads

But why only nebulous talk of 'conflict in the east' and so little about Russia's brazen, aggressive war against Ukraine intended to wreck any hope of a better future?

And why should Ukraine proper be expected to support its citizens in territories occupied by a wicked enemy armed to the teeth organised, funded  and controlled by Moscow?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Young will not be fooled by thug Zakharchenko

Official message of Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko to the young people of the South-East of Ukraine on: June 28, 2015: 

I heartily greet my young fellow countrymen, residents of the South-East on the Day of Youth! For my part, in fact, for all the Donbass, you’re like relatives and family. Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa, Kharkov and Nikolayev, Kherson and Zaporozhye – these are beautiful Russian cities, true sister cities of Donetsk and Lugansk....

I urge you, the young people of the southeast, to cast aside all your fears, to unite your efforts, and present a united front against the [sic] occupation regime. Free yourselves, be masters in your own land; stand up to defend your culture, traditions, and mother tongue! ...."

[More of this rubbish, if anyone is interested, here from 'Novorossia Today'*.]

Compare with this..

".... many Russian speakers in Ukraine — who live primarily in the country’s east and in large cities — are demonstratively turning to Ukrainian as a badge of self-identification. A concise tutorial on how to switch from Russian to Ukrainian, written by a Kiev blogger, has earned thousands of shares and reposts. Patriotic Russian-speakers in Kiev and big eastern cities are pledging on social networks to speak Ukrainian to their children, hoping to make the next generation more fluent and natural speakers of their native tongue..." 

And this about volunteer workers helping people in eastern Ukraine: "We realized that young people in our country are the same," he said, adding that news stories about different ethnicities exaggerate the differences, and that all young people want a better future...

Self-appointed 'Oplot' militant thug Zakharchenko will not fool or impress the young....while he and his Putinist zombies are in charge the future for the young residents of separatist-held territories of Ukraine  is grim. To see what this future looks like they need only look at Abkhazia, Transnistria and other 'black hole' frozen zones of the former Soviet Union.

p.s. And I thought Novorossia was dead...isn't it?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Russia must pay for occupied territories in eastern Ukraine

Ivan Yakovyna in "Novoye Vremya"  notes the importance of a recent official appeal of Ukraine to the Council of Europe.

It declares the territories in eastern Ukraine not under Kyiv's control to be temporarily occupied, as result of armed aggression, by the Russian Federation. According to Kyiv, responsibility for the welfare of people in this territory should therefore fall onto what is the de facto occupying power.

Yakovyna considers  this to be an extremely beneficial and important decision that should have to been made a year ago at the beginning of the occupation when it could have saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives [rather than declaring the Anti Terrorist Action - ATO].

Now the Kremlin has two choices - either take on the burden of maintaining the Donbas,  or commence direct negotiations with Ukraine about the conditions of reintegration of the occupied territories back into Ukraine. Kyiv should insist: We will only take occupied parts of Donbas back in one package together with Crimea.

Friday, June 05, 2015

British Ambassador's statement at UN

"There are three things that now need to happen to prevent further escalation [of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine].
First, Russia must immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukraine, stop its flow of weapons to the separatists, and make every effort to secure a political solution to this crisis. This includes the immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko, who has been illegally detained for nearly a year. 
Second, we urge Russia to use its considerable influence on the separatists to cease their provocative behaviour and live up to their commitment to implement fully the Minsk Agreements. The separatist forces are Russia’s creation; they are Russia’s tool. Russia has the capacity and the influence to control the separatist forces. It must exercise that influence to ensure compliance with the Minsk agreements. If it is not ready to do so, this Council must be clear in its condemnation.
And third, it is vital that all parties engage seriously in the process and implement the Minsk agreements..."

Thursday, June 04, 2015

More Maryinka-type attacks likely soon

Pavel Felgenhauer in 'Novoye Vremya' explains why Russian and separatist fighters attacked Maryinka yesterday and why it is likely these kind of attacks will increase in the weeks to come, until any remnants of any peace process disintegrate.

The next attacks may occur in Lysychansk or Schastya in a few weeks time after a large mass demobilization of conscripts in the Russian army takes place.

Freezing the conflict in the Donbas or its termination brings no benefit to the Kremlin. Putin faces a possible sharp drop in his ratings next year and mass protests cannot be ruled out.

Currently Russian society is mobilized against a perceived external threat and has rallied around the Kremlin. But if this threat diminishes and the conflict in Ukraine is frozen, economic [and social] issues will come to the fore in the public consciousness. A decline in real wages and household incomes is predicted so for the Kremlin it would be dangerous to freeze military conflict.

The appointment of Mikheil Saakashvili, a man Putin loathes, to the post of governor of the Odesa region has worsened relations between Putin and Poroshenko to even greater depths, to a point where informal contacts between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine have all but disappeared.

However, the freezing of the conflict in the Donbas would increase the likelihood of preservation and stabilization of power in Kyiv, which is unacceptable for the Kremlin. [Putin's overarching aim is to trash Ukraine's economy and turn the country into an unmanageable wreck. A successful, western orientated Ukraine is his greatest nightmare.]

If the front lines remain stable during July and August, Russia and the separatists will have to wait until the next year to mount further serious offensive attacks. In the meantime the regime in Kyiv will only get stronger.

For Russia and the separatists it is now only a matter of when, on what pretext, and to what degree, to renew the conflict.

Leonid Bershidsky, in a BloombergView article in which he quotes from a recent Chatham House publication that predicts dire consequences if NATO and EU do not challenge Russian aggression, agrees with this analysis.

"[Putin] cannot afford a prolonged lull in events, because he must keep his audience focused.

If Western leaders don't signal their willingness to normalize relations -- for example, to cancel sanctions while freezing the conflict in eastern Ukraine, or to pressure Ukraine into a softer approach to reintegrating separatist-held territories -- Putin can only make the conflict more acute.

In recent days, fighting has flared up again with the pro-Russian rebels attacking, but so far failing to take, the town of Marinka near Donetsk. If previous experience is any indication, when the rebels suffer military setbacks, regular Russian troops come in and wreak havoc on the Ukrainian military. If the current shaky truce breaks down and this happens again, the West will not be able to keep playing its waiting game. It may lean toward arming Ukraine and, instead of building up its economy, drag it into a destructive, full-scale war. In other words, for the West, too, the stalemate may turn into a zugzwang.

While they understand the root causes and the current shape of the "Russian challenge" perfectly well, the best Western experts -- and therefore the Western leaders -- lack the courage to take a stand. Just like after the Crimea annexation, the choice before them is simple: Fight to win or do a deal. There's no waiting it out."

I hope G7 leaders meeting in Schloss Elmau, Germany this weekend will rise to the new challenge, decide on a firm response,  and not allow themselves to be bullied by upstart Putin.

Monday, June 01, 2015

DNR and LNR in terminal decline

"Financial Times's" Roman Olearchyk, writing from Donetsk, describes how "Fighting in Ukraine leaves economy shattered and factories idle".

'' provides a run-down of the current economic state industrial enterprises in DNR and LNR, giving figures that reveal the massive drop in output.

Because DNR and LNR are not economically viable the two pseudo-statelets are now running huge fiscal deficits and are incapable of paying state employers, pensionsers, and recipients of welfare payments while at the same time trying to maintain tens of thousands of armed men equipped with hundreds of pieces of military hardware.

Russia has contributed  - some payments are now even being made in rubles, but it is becoming clear leaders in the Kremlin will not financially support the occupied territories in the long term. The cost of subsidising recently annexed Crimea is huge already - the Russian economy simply cannot withstand subsidising a large portion of Donbas too.

Much industry there is dependent on Ukraine proper for supplies. The steel mills of east Ukraine are primarily supplied by iron ore from Kryviy Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast. The biggest plant producing blast furnace coke for is in Ukraine-controlled Avdiivka. Huge steel works in Mariupol are not so badly affected, but even if the city and its vast steel mills were to fall to separatists the problems do not go away - rather they become even more intractable. Serious difficulties will remain with supply and export of produce to and from factories in the east to traditional markets. And output from Donbas factories and mills is just not required by Russia which produces much analogous produce..

Many have commentated that some kind of end game between the masters of the universe in the USA and Europe, and the Kremlin, is in progress. Western leaders have gone quiet on Crimea...perhaps offering tacit acceptance of its Russian-held status in exchange for withdrawal of Russian forces and the end of Russian support for separatists in the east of Ukraine. The wishes of Ukraine's population seems to be a side show in all of this.

But any compromise between Kyiv and and disparate separatist groups that include irregular militia, Russian regular troops working under cover, Russian mercenaries , and fanatical crackpots is totally unrealistic.

Jerry Toms, in a RadioSvoboda piece explains why. It is dawning on the separatists that not only has the Novorossiya project  been scuppered but that they are also incapable of getting a grip of the declining economy in the areas they control. However, they are definitely not prepared to give up the power they hold whilst the build-up of arms from Russia continues.

Toms compares the separatists to the trapped bungling 'Dog Day Afternoon' bank robbers... list the names of the more radical field commanders who have been eliminated or arrested in recent times in an attempt by DNR commanders, led by Aleksander Zakharchenko, to try to centralise control. And it seems 'Party of Regions' people are seeping back into positions of authority there, trying to rescue the vestiges of their 'empires of dirt'?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

2018 World Cup in Russia already dead in the water?

Following the huge scandal that has hit FIFA, serious Russian publications such as are already speculating  the 2018 World Football Championship, to be hosted by Russia [and which they call The World Championship of Corruption], may now not take place.

In the UK one publication has announced: "England are the 11/10 favourites to host the 2018 World Cup amid speculation that Russia and Qatar [in 2022] could be stripped of the tournaments."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Black hole of Donbas

Dmitri Oreshkin, in his "Novoye Vremya" article, 'Putin, Kerry and the Black Hole of Donbas', suggests a frozen conflict scenario is probably the best option for the territory currently held by Russian backed separatist in Eastern Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Kerry, during his meeting with Putin, may have offered his host in Sochi a compromise: the United States will slightly weaken sanctions if Russia, if in return,  hostilities cease and the sending weapons and armaments into Ukrainian territory stopped.

[The 'Slate's' Joshua Keating is of  a similar opinion, claiming..."if Russia can be convinced that full-scale hostilities are not in its interest, there’s potential for the war to turn into a “frozen conflict”: the rebel-held eastern regions would remain under de facto Russian control for the time being but violence would die down. While far from an ideal outcome, this would at least give Kiev some time to rebuild Ukraine’s economy and military with substantial western support. The alternative is a return to full-scale hostility with deepening western military involvement."]

Putin is not prepared to put up the money to maintain Donetsk: rather he is is doing all he can to dump the costs to run the region onto Ukraine proper. DNR leader Pushilin has already said that insurgents are ready to be a part of Ukraine, but with greatest possible autonomy, i.e. to realise a  "Transnistria-2" type project.

For Putin it is important extract himself from the situation without losing face, but in reality, over the last year and a half, he has actually 'lost' Ukraine. However he can claim a 'virtual victory' having annexed the Crimea and its two million population in what was a virtual, P.R. driven operation.

The same applies to the Donbas. The Kremlin cannot support the region in any significant way and current leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk are incapable of growing the economy because they do not understand how the economy works. All they know is aggression and plunder.

The economy of Donbas is seriously damaged and much infrastructure destroyed, but a great number of people who live there will never feel much sympathy for Kyiv again.

Their plight is well described by the "Insider' site in an article describing life in the self-styled Luhansk People's Republic [LNR] one year after their "independence referendum".

Violent clashes have taken place between 'official' LNR armed structures and numerous independent Cossack units caused by disagreements over payments and extortion rackets. These may have subsided somewhat as areas of influence become better defined.

The social and economic situation is very difficult. The price of products in shops is much greater that in the rest of Ukraine as a result of the blockade. For transport to get through bribes have to be paid to both Ukrainian and LNR border guards, and prices of Russian products are greater in any case. Burgeoning illegal schemes for transfer of cash from Ukraine to the LNR and for obtaining 'propusky' [passes] have sprung up. Many of the latter are inevitably forgeries, and bribe-taking has become order of the day.

A rudimentary banking system based on the Russian rouble has come into being quite recently. Pensions were paid out once in April, but have not been paid out since.

Sources of funding for the LNR budget are not clear - they may include some taxes, sales of coal to Russia, and the 'fire-sale' sell-off of industrial equipment to buyers in Russia. Huge contraband schemes which were operated even before the current troubles continue to operate, but have been taken over by LPR leaders.

Matters are particularly difficult in the fields of medicine and education. Many doctors have left, leaving few remaining to treat patients.  Those that have stayed find themselves in an almost impossible situation. One can only assume that any medical treatment has to be paid for strictly' under the table'.

The last time LNR doctors and teachers  received any money was in November 2014. Since they have only been given food rations from time to time.

Since the battle for Debaltseve there has been an attempt to form a battle-ready 'Novorossiya' army comprising several military brigades and also a 'Republican Guard'. In total,  Novorossiya armed forces may comprise 35-45 thousand men. The rapid increase in size is primarily due to the now stable financing of these units, particularly at a time of severe mass unemployment amongst the remaining populous.

Russian advisers and specialists are actively involved in this process, and are forming anti-aircraft units supplied with Russian surface to air missiles.

Several closed off zones have sprung up where even local fighters do not have access.  It is likely that various Russian electronic surveillance systems are deployed there intercepting and suppressing Ukrainian communications. These systems are capable of communicating with Russian military headquarters and their state of the art air defence systems.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Timothy Snyder Video - "War and Peace (1945-2015) Updated

Watch this unmissable 45 minute video of Timothy Snyder speaking to the EPP Group in the European Parliament two days ago.

"In 2015, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 laid the foundations for durable European peace, which was formalised by the Helsinki Accords of 1975. Now its very existence is challenged, as Putin’s Russia is redrawing Europe’s borders by force and attempting a new Yalta.

In Europe, 8 May is a day of remembrance and commemoration. In Russia, the Victory Day celebrations consolidate the official narrative of the Great Patriotic War, mobilising the Russian people for an increased confrontation with the West.

Against this backdrop, the conference “War and Peace 1945-2015” will reflect on the politics of the commemoration and on how to preserve the European peace order, to defend the values for which Europeans, East and West, have paid a high price during and after the War."

Update: Also read this fro Snyder:

As Russia revives the tradition of wars of aggression on European territory, Vladimir Putin has chosen to rehabilitate the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as good foreign policy. But why violate now what was for so long a Soviet taboo? Timothy Snyder explains.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Proud of victory over Nazis but also supportive of struggle against Russian aggressor

The sacrifice and contribution to victory in 1945 over Nazi Germany by Ukrainians was huge but has largely not been recognised in the west - and the current Russia authorities are doing everything possible to monopolize the remembrance of the victory  in 1945 too.

But there is no contradiction in Ukrainians being proud of their contribution, and yet supporting Ukraine' fighting forces in their struggle against a Russian aggressor who is still trying to bring their country to its knees. I know this from elderly members of my own family who fought in the Red Army during WW2

Now two brief but emotionally charged videos are being shown on Ukrainian television to underline this.

Please watch these videos at this link

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New laws mean Ukrainian cities to be renamed at last?

Following the recent de-communisation laws passed in the Verkhovna Rada the renaming the Sovietized names of some Ukrainian cities has now, quite correctly, become a hot topic.

The reluctance to do this after more than two decades of independence was an absolutely unbelievable disgrace to the shame of all previous administrations.

First on the list for change is undoubtedly Dnipropetrovsk, named after the infamous Hrigoriy Ivanovich Petrovsky, one of organizers of the genocidal 1932-33 famine in Ukraine.

Next should be Kirovohrad, named after Sergei Mironovich Kirov head of the Leningrad Communist Party. Kirov's 1934 assassination served as one of the pretexts for Stalin's escalation of repression against dissident elements of the Party, culminating in the Great Purges of the late 1930s

Dniprodzerzhynsk is named after Felix Dzerzhynsky, founder of the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka - responsible for vast numbers of summary executions.

Tsyurupinsk in the Kherson region was named in honour of Alexander Tsyurupa, RSFSR People's Commissar of food in 1918-1921 and head of Gosplan. During his period in office mass forcible seizure of grain and food from the local population by Bolsheviks was common practice. The city has been trying to change its name to Oleshky for several years, indicating that at least some people demand change.

[More on this story and background on other cities here, in an article from]

p.s. Why should any sane person be against renaming cities, currently associated with such hideous personages, by law? Is this indication of the serf-like mentality of some Ukrainians, ready to accept humiliation for a crust of bread thrown down to them by 'pany'?

Also - Latest opinion polls indicate ever-increasing numbers of Ukrainians would like to see their country part of the NATO alliance. Even around 20% of Donbas residents support future membership.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Putin's right hand man oversaw Euromaidan crisis?

Highly respected journalist Sonya Koshkina reveals in the massive involvement of Russian agencies, and in particular that of Vladislav Surkov, [who some call 'Putin's Rasputin  and 'The Hidden Author of Putinism'], in the Euromaidan crisis.

Below are two excerpts from her article:

"During the winter of 2013/14 groups of Russian FSB and Russian Interior Ministry operatives visited Kyiv on three occasions.

First time from 13 to 15 December - this was the largest group - twenty seven people in total. The second time was from 26 to 29 January - six people. And the third time - from 20 to 21 February - seven people.

Each time theses "guests" appeared just after peaks in the confrontation.

In December it followed attempts to disperse [Euromaidan] protesters on 10th and 11th of that month.

In January after the collapse of the state of emergency.

And in February after the massacre on the 18th, and on the day of the mass shootings at Instytutska.....

From the summer of 2013 until the end of the winter of 2014 the following visits were recorded:

Mid August 2013 - Vladislav Surkov in Kyiv. August 13-14 - in Crimea;

13-15 December - group of representatives of the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation in Kyiv;

20-21 January 2014 - Vladislav Surkov in Kyiv. at the height of preparations for the introduction of a state of emergency;

January 26-29 - second visit of the siloviki group;

January 31 - February 1 - Surkov, Russian presidential adviser Rapoport, Chesnakov, Pavlov in Kyiv on Bankova Street [Ukr president's admin];

February 11-12 - Surkov and Rapoport in Donetsk and Crimea;

February 14-15. Surkov again in Kyiv;

February 20-21, Surkov, FSB General Beseda, and siloviki in Kyiv. Russian ambassador Zurabov and official RF representative Lukin  visited Bankova on 21st;

On the morning of the 27th the siloviki arrive at Simferopol airport.

Koshkina also reveals how Russia supplied Ukrainian law enforcement agencies with thousands of stun grenades and other lethal equipment and weaponry.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Russian marauders in Donbas

Yesterday's I wrote how extremist elements of Russian society are wreaking havoc in Donbas with the full blessing of the Kremlin leadership.

Now check out this brief RFE/RL video entitled "Debaltseve – Gunmen, Looting, And Bread Queues...

The town of Debaltseve, in eastern Ukraine, fell to a Russian-backed separatist assault shortly after the Minsk cease-fire agreements were signed in February. A fraction of the pre-conflict civilian population now lives there. Those who remained have experienced looting, buried bodies being dug up, and bread queues controlled by gunmen"

According to most accounts Debaltseve was taken in violation of the Minsk 2 agreement, almost entirely by heavily equipped Russian forces.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Where the fascists are..

If you have a spare hour check out this deeply scary BBC documentary [first of three]....and worry:

[Also on YouTube here]

"Reggie Yates' Extreme Russia - 1. Far Right & Proud

In the first of three programmes revealing the extreme side of Russia, Reggie Yates travels to Moscow to get close and personal with some of the country's far-right nationalists."

The people whom he meets are the same ones described in this recent revealing description of the current situation in Donbas - "Russia has found a great way to use the situation [in the Donbas] to its own advantage. It sends those which pose a threat to itself - all the radical, marginal political organizations in Russia - they are clearly anti-government, anti-Kremlin. 

Kremlin with a light heart opens up a pathway for them to Donbas. They are told: you have two choices - either you are going to jail for a long time, or you go out there and are not coming back. And we'll let you go with  weapons , with anything you need. The main thing is do not come back.

A great many such people realize their ambitions, desires and political ideas in the Donbas..."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

BBC report on Ukraine's Fragile Ceasefire

"Natalia Antelava reports from both sides of the ceasefire line on whether the fighting has stopped and what hope there is for a lasting peace."

"What makes the ceasefire so fragile is that it's based on the premise Russia is neutral in this conflict"

The occupied territories will not be incorporated into Russia any time soon because of the huge cost of subsidising the LNR and DNR. According to some experts the figure could be over 10 billion dollars p.a. - and Putin is simply not prepared to pay this. Furthermore annexation of these territories would also aggravate the crisis in Russia's relations with the West to even greater depths.

On the other hand no Ukrainian politician will agree to prop up these separatist regions financially unless there are blue and yellow flags flying over their city halls..

As the weeks pass residents of Donbas are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. There are reports of elderly people  dying of hunger in the occupied territories. Even basic medicines are in desperately short supply.

'Segodnya' compares prices of basic foodstuffs in Donetsk and Mariupol - in Donetsk the price for a typical family food basket is currently about a third higher than in Mariupol.

The future for those living in separatist/Russian held territories looks very grim..
Does anyone seriously think further fighting will make things better?

Friday, April 03, 2015

Political drift in Donbas suits west but could force Putin's hand

Vitaly Portnikov writes about the current dangerous stalemate in the Donbas.
I have paraphrased what he says below:

The situation in the occupied part of the Donbas is drifting not to a frozen conflict but rather to a stalemate for the Russian leadership.

Talking to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Berlin recently Chancellor Angela Merkel once again stressed that the preparation for the local elections in the Donbas can begin once a full ceasefire has been established and only after the complete withdrawal of heavy weaponry has taken place.

Merkel is waiting for confirmation from the OSCE observers but it will be a long wait, because Moscow is unlikely to vacate the territories now under its control, not because it fears a Ukrainian offensive but because it could be preparing for one of its own. And even if this is not the case it wants to give the impression that it is, otherwise mercenaries could drift away from the occupied zone and leaders of the "People's Republics" could begin to quietly start negotiating with Kyiv, possibly even giving some ground, in the search for compromise.

Angela Merkel achieved her aims at the meeting in Minsk on February 11-12 - not a frozen conflict in the Donbass, but rather an end to fighting [almost], and the current stalemate.

For Ukraine, the removal from the occupied territories of the Russian troops and other armed gangs is paramount - only then can local elections be held and dialogue on the status of the territories and welfare payments/civil servants' salaries restarted.

For Russia, it is important for Ukraine to promptly restart payment of salaries and welfare payments etc. After this Puin wants a dialogue to be initiated on the status of the territories, and on changes to the Ukrainian constitution under which fresh elections could be held.

The two conflicting parties therefore have absolutely differing priorities on the sequence of what needs to happen  for resolution of the war.

Ukraine's goal is the restoration of the territorial integrity of the country. This objective can be achieved only when Russian troops and armed gangs are removed from the territory of Donbas and competitive free elections under reliable international supervision take place.

Russia's goal is the creation of a quasi-state on the occupied territory under its own control, and the transformation of Ukraine to a Bosnia-type state after the Dayton Accords, i.e. a shaky union of quasi-states. This can only be achieved if Russian troops and armed gangs remain in the Donbass, the "republics" conserved and elections  undertaken under the supervision of separatist leaders Zakharchenko, Plotnitsky and the Russian FSB.

The economic blockade of the occupied territories is pushing Putin to come to a decision whether to abandon his Donbas adventure or to consider a further large-scale offensive to disguise his defeat.

The goal of the West is primarily to ensure cessation of hostilities continues.

Merkel can afford not to rush local elections in the Donbas, and not press for any dialogue between Kyiv and representatives of the occupied territories on the implementation of points of the Minsk Agreement; her mission is to draw Putin into a bureaucratic morass. The foreign ministers of Normandy format will meet, calls to each of the leaders will be made, reports of the OSCE observers studied, the possibility of holding elections discussed. After this a law on special status passed, and so on.  Russia will insist that first the law is passed, then elections, then "let's meet again soon for further discussions, invite OSCE observers and on and on and on...

And all this time, month after month, the Russian economy will be sinking.

Because of the present cessation of hostilities, this stabilization will lead Russia nowhere except to a final irreversible collapse of their regime, which no one in the West now recognises as being capable of reasonable dialogue.

But in all of this there is one "but." Putin also understands what is happening. He does not have the money to supply the Donbas or moreover rebuild Donbas, and every day he has less and less. A frozen conflict would suit him only if Ukraine restarts payments to the occupied territories.

If Ukraine agreed to this Putin would then not need to start building a quasi-state at the expense of Ukaine and the West. If Russia and the separatists expanded the area under their control, Ukraine would continue to feed these newly occupied areas too, until eventually even Crimea would be reached.

Simply put, Putin will try to escape from the trap set by Western players and the Ukrainian leadership and not just sit by waiting for the deadly western sleeping pills to act.

The most important thing is not to allow him to wake up.

However Portnikov does not speculate on possible consequences for Russia in the event of restart of military attacks against Ukraine, e.g. an attempt to take Mariupol. Apart from major casualties for both warring parties, arming of Ukraine by the US and western powers becomes far more likely. Severe extra sanctions and exclusion from global banking arrangements could be imposed on Russia.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Three interesting videos

Three short videos from a recent prestigious Oxford University Debating Society debate: "Is Putin building an empire?" The presentations naturally focus on the Russian-Ukrainian war..

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Will Ukraine's contribution to WW2 victory over Fascism be recognised?

At the start of the year your blogger suggested "Western leaders should attend victory day parade in Kyiv, not Moscow"   and explained why this should happen.

Thankfully the chances that this will occur are increasing daily.

LA Times runs an important op-ed piece today co-authored by former US ambassadors to Ukraine entitled: "Kiev, not Moscow, should be the choice for marking V-E Day"

Ukraine's contribution to WW2 victory over Fascism may now be properly recognised.

p.s. President Putin met his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev on Monday in his first public meeting  since March 5. Putin had gone AWOL for 11 days with no explanation.

At their meeting before the assembled press, Putin appeared rather sheepish, made just a few insignificant comments.. no attempt to provide an explanation for his absence or to provide reassurance to his people that the levers of power are firmly in his grasp.

The contrast with Putin's portrayal of strong-leader directing operations in the two and a half hour propaganda film on seizure of Crimea broadcast over the weekend was most marked.

All rather odd..

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Merkel leads again

On January 6 this year I wrote : "Western leaders should attend victory day parade in Kyiv, not Moscow" .

My post had been prompted by the news that Downing Street had not commented at that time whether or not the British prime minister was planning to attend this year's 70th anniversary celebrations of allied victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow in May.

Today it was reported: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend an official ceremony in Moscow on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II due to tensions of the Ukraine crisis..."

In my blog I explained the reasons why Merkel as well as other European leaders should go to Kyiv rather than Moscow on that day...Proportionately more Ukrainians fought and died in World War 2 that Russians..Ukraine's enormous contribution to the defeat of Hitler's Third Reich, albeit as part of the Soviet effort,  should be finally properly recognised. [How much longer will so-called Ukraine experts continue to mislead with the claim that the Oranges...the're from the west of the country...Ukrainian nationalists...fought with the Nazis..."monolingual, culturally autonomous from other Slavic nations.." ]

I sincerely hope that president Poroshenko and Foreign Minister Klimkin, are doing their utmost to make this happen...and western leaders will be as principled as Frau Merkel..Who wants to shake hands with "a common criminal dressed up as a head of state".. that brazenly hands out state awards to one of his hired killers..? Who wants to shake hands with a liar who denied Russian forces had invaded Crimea, then a year later, out of pure vanity, cannot resist bragging they did...

Monday, March 09, 2015

Vanity gets the better of Putin

Putin could not resist...personal vanity got the better of him; he had to make sure everyone knows it was he, Putin the Magnificent, who won back Crimea for Russia - its citizens will now "bend the knee each time his tale is told" [for how long?]

"President Vladimir Putin has revealed the moment he says he gave the secret order for Russia's annexation of Crimea and described how Russian troops were ready to fight to rescue Ukraine's deposed, pro-Moscow president.

In a trailer shown Sunday for an upcoming documentary on state-run Rossiya-1 television called "Homeward bound", Putin openly discusses Moscow's controversial grabbing of Crimea a year ago.

Putin recounts an all-night meeting with security services chiefs to discuss how to extricate deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, who had fled a pro-Western street revolt in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

"We ended at about seven in the morning," Putin says. "When we were parting, I said to my colleagues: we must start working on returning Crimea to Russia."

'Put' na Rodinu' video clip, with Putin here

This would support the case that Putin and a small coterie made a snap decision to do the dirty deed. Putin's admission also casts serious doubt on the Crimean pseudo-referendum. Voters were given no 'status quo ante' option at all - Putin had decided on their behalf to return the peninsula back to Russia.

Putin is saying: "Stick international law up your a*** I don't care", to world leaders who were shocked and dismayed by his actions in Crimea..

p.s Check out this 20 minute video interview with Fiona Hill, Director of the Centre on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, discussing her book, 'Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin'. Brilliant analysis..Because Putin and just a tiny band of loyal trustees make all of the critical decisions in Russia, it makes prediction of their next moves very difficult, she says.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Step closer to west arming Ukraine

Dr Jonathan Eyal from the British Royal United Service Institute, in a well-reasoned recent piece of analysis, forecasts:

"..sooner rather than later, the US and its allies will start supplying weapons to the Ukrainian military. This will not be because anyone believes that Ukraine can defeat Russia; instead, there is the belief that, if the costs of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine start to rise, Moscow may be deterred from attempting to do the same elsewhere.....the aim will be to embroil Russia in a prolonged confrontation which it cannot sustain, and from which it cannot easily extricate itself."

The US Congress has now officially urged President Obama "to quickly approve additional efforts to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereign territory, including through the transfer of lethal, defensive weapons systems to the Ukrainian military." 

Importantly, the Congressmen proposed: "We should not wait until Russian troops and their separatist proxies take Mariupol or Kharkiv before we act to bolster the Ukrainian government’s ability to deter and defend against further aggression."

Dr Eyal, in the conclusion to his article, predicts: "What we are likely to see is the advent of two proxy wars in Europe: one played out in Ukraine largely at the West’s initiation, and one played out with both NATO and the EU, largely at Russia’s instigation. In the long term, the Russians are likely to lose both confrontations, as they have lost all previous ones, and for the same reason: they cannot match military with economic power. In the short term, however, the proxy confrontations will condemn Europe to years of serious tensions."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why did Yanukovych flee Updated..

In my previous blog I noted that by early February 2014 a decision had been made in the Kremlin to dismember parts of Ukraine, even if Yanukovych had put down the Euromaidan and remained in power.

This was revealed in a recently leaked policy note or document which caused a stir in many newspapers and elsewhere several days ago.

Some independent Russian commentators have suggested such a document could have been produced by any one of several important Russian think tanks who were all gradually coming to the same conclusion - make a grab for Ukrainian sovereign territory.

Other commentators e.g from have their own opinions too:

I think this suggestion is the most likely:

"[Yanukovych]..might have decided to flee right at that time because the Russian representative [at a last minute meeting of western and Russian intermediaries] failed to put his signature next to the European ones. He may have interpreted Russia’s failure to sign the agreement as a signal that Russia didn’t believe the agreement would work out (which is exactly how Lukin and other Russian diplomats later explained their failure to sign the agreement). He thought that Russia no longer supported him in the Kyiv standoff, that Moscow had sold him out and now had its own plans unrelated to extending his presidential powers.
Having lost his only external ally, Yanukovych caved in and fled."

According to a "Guardian" piece from September 2013 "The Kremlin...warned Ukraine that if the country goes ahead with a planned [Association] agreement on free trade with the EU, it faces inevitable financial catastrophe and possibly the collapse of the state."

One of Putin's closest aides, Sergey Glazyev, said at the time, "Ukrainian authorities make a huge mistake if they think that the Russian reaction will become neutral in a few years from now. This will not happen."

 "...if Ukraine signed the agreement, Russia would consider the bilateral treaty that delineates the countries' borders to be void."

Yanukovych was under constant, massive pressure at that time from the Russian authorities not to sign the Association Agreement deal with the EU, and declined to do so late November 2013.

During the Euromaidan which followed he must have felt he was doing all he possibly could to appease Putin. ..

But when he heard in early February that Putin was planning to ditch him and move into Ukraine, this was the last straw...He decided his time was up; he had to flee.

Update - Just read about the terrible assassination of Boris Nemtsov...a most charismatic man and true friend of Ukraine. What dreadful news.

Say a prayer for him.

We should never forget there are many fine Russians too....

Now maybe even more people across the globe will come to their senses and realise the direction in which Putin is leading his country.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is the leaked 'Novaya Gazeta' Kremlin policy note genuine?

The Polish PISM site provides excellent, sober analysis [in English] of the sensational leaked Kremlin policy note recently published in 'Novaya Gazeta', and elsewhere. 

They claim "...the note provides a rather daring (if cynical) plan for stoking fake secession in Ukraine for the sake of subsequent takeover of the Eastern and Southern regions by Russia. This would be all started at the time when Yanukovych was formally still the president of Ukraine." [my highlight]

"After the Sochi Olympics Bohoslovska suggested there will be an attempt by Russia to 'nibble off' portions of Ukraine, particularly Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts, and maybe Crimea. Kharkiv would be a big problem because although the local strongmen, Mayor Gennady Kernes and Regional State Administration head Mykhaylo Dobkin would be co-operative if such a turn of events were to occur, the local population, in particular, young students could react unpredictably.  This scenario is being organised by Putin adviser Vladislav Surkov.."

1hr 33/34 min and onward into this video

[Surkov, is one of Putin's closest and most trusted aides. He was recently accused of organising the Euromaidan killings... Bohoslovska is from Kharkiv]

Bohoslovska was commenting on an incredibly eerily prescient interview with Andrey Illarionov, a former economic adviser to Putin, on in which he also predicted the course of events that took place after Yanukovych's flight..

The conclusion must be that most of Ukraine's upper political echelons, which included Bohoslovska, must have been very well aware that  invasion by Russia was very probable, and that they were aware of this at least three weeks before Yanukovych's absolutely unpredicted and unexpected flight from office . 

Bohoslovska's  predictions of what she called a 'war between Russia and Ukraine' are markedly similar to the ideas expressed in the policy note, so confirming the leaked policy note is most likely genuine - thus debunking Russia’s claims that the uprisings in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine were a response to a "coup d’etat" organised by "US sponsored fascist/Banderite puppets" in order to topple a legitimately elected president.

p.s. All of this may explain why Yanukovych decided to abandon his office...He must have realised 'the game was up' and that Putin would not be his saviour. Yanukovych started making plans for evacuation soon after these interviews took place, the policy note written and Russia's aggressive actions toward Ukraine approved.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The 'spetsoperatsiya' of Putin's life

If you have a spare half hour do listen to this Brookings Institute podcast:  [If nothing else then from about 41 minutes onward in particular.]

"Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (and abroad)

With recent events in Ukraine and beyond, many policymakers and foreign policy analysts are asking what motivates Russian President Vladimir Putin. What shapes his policy decisions and how he views the outside world?   Most importantly, officials in Washington and European capitals are left asking what Putin wants and how far is he willing to go. The great lesson of the outbreak of World War I in 1914 was the danger of misreading the statements, actions, and intentions of the adversary. Today, Vladimir Putin has become the greatest challenge to European security and the global world order in decades. Russia’s 8,000 nuclear weapons underscore the huge risks of not understanding who Putin is and what his aspirations are for himself and the people of Russia.

On February 18, the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings hosted a discussion with Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy, authors of the new and expanded edition of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. The authors explored Putin’s motivations and methods and dispelled potentially dangerous misconceptions about Putin."

Putin is a KGB operator through and through. He knows all about planning an operation. He has plans of action, but included in them are also alternative contingency plans to deal with problems is things do not work out quite as expected; he is therefore very difficult to predict.

Since coming to power he has created a unique system fusing intelligence with politics and the military and security branches of power. In the current Russian/Ukrainian hybrid war this system has come into its own.

This hybrid war is the operation of Putin's life...and he is relishing in it...loving it....

Also from about 1 hour 00 minutes onward into the podcast ..a brilliant, brutal description of how Putin views the rest of the western world and the relationship between the greater and lesser countries of the western world - whether they are truly sovereign or not. If you understand this, Putin [and Russians] become easier to read..

Western politicians and media continue to conveniently delude themselves. The Ukrainian crisis is not just about some disgruntled separatists in a far corner of the country. It is a 'spetsoperatsiya' inspired by, organised, funded and controlled by Putin an a handful of his colleagues. It is replete with 'maskirovka', lies, false trails, misleading its core is the absolute need not to reveal its true aims. However, it is most reasonable to assume these are entirely destructive - to destabilise Ukraine, trash its institutions and turn it into a failed state.. Having encouraged Ukraine to join the western club, western nations now have an absolute obligation to prevent Putin accomplish his aims..

p.s. If you like listening to podcasts...then check out this... in which the brilliant Peter Pomarantsev explains why he may be Ukrainian too..

Monday, February 16, 2015

Time for SWIFT attack

"At present, they [corrupt Russian elites] control their accounts in Western banks anonymously through a chain of front firms, which are impossible to trace. But their operations are completely dependent on SWIFT for operation. All of current money-laundering and anonymization schemes are dependent on SWIFT. Other such operations simply do not exist at present, and new ones can not be developed in a month. Nor in six months, either. And it is not clear that they would be possible at all.
When disconnected from SWIFT, the [corrupt elite] will either have to give up control over their anonymous assets or assume a high risk of losing their anonymity." [Source]
A 'SWIFT attack' would be an an ideal highly targetted weapon with which to attack Putin and his cronies..

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

British Foreign Secretary speaks openly of 'Russian agression'

Here is a portion:
"In recent weeks Russia has aggravated the effects of its initial incursion by stepping up the military support it provides to its proxies. It has transferred hundred of heavy weapons, including rocket launchers, heavy artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles, and it maintains hundreds of regular soldiers, including Special Forces, in Ukraine, as well as command and control elements, air defence systems, UAVs, and electronic warfare systems. The Russian Army is also the source of ex-regulars, who resign their posts to fight in Donbas as “volunteers”. The recent escalation in fighting would not be possible without the military support and strategic direction that Russia provides.
In these circumstances it is vital that all those countries who have a stake in the rules-based international system remain clear and united against Russian aggression..."
.."we share a clear understanding that while there is no military solution to this conflict, we could not allow the Ukrainian armed forces to collapse..."  Sounds like a coded warning this..
But also a carrot: "...we will only agree to a relaxation of the pressure when we see clear evidence of changed Russian behaviour and a systematic compliance with Russia’s obligations under the original Minsk agreement."

Monday, February 09, 2015

Huge explosion in Donetsk tonight

A huge explosion ripped through Donetsk tonight. Videos of the blast here

It was probably an ammuntion dump blowing up.

Bur locals joke that it was freshly delivered Russian humanitarian 'tushonka' [dodgy canned stewed meat popular in Ukraine and Russia..] that had exploded...

There are some claims an ammo dump was hit by Ukrainian artillery...and a significant number of heavy weaponry also destroyed. Destruction is probably so great that a major attack on Ukrainian-held territory could be halted or at least seriously delayed.

p.s If you watch Russian television newsreels and analysis you would certainly receive the impression that chances of any ceasefire soon are very slim. The vilification and anti-Ukrainian and anti-West invective is off the scale..Moscow is gripped by madness worthy of Pyongyang....the nation is being prepared for the worst..

Tonight's 'earthquake' in Donetsk is perhaps the first bit of luck Ukies have had for quite a while.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Putin flipped?...or just playing the hard man

Following Putin's absurd claims yesterday [see previous blog] Brian Whitmore, in this absolutely must-read rferl article, ponders whether the Russian president is still capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

Whitmore concludes:
Nutty statements from Russian officials are so commonplace that we almost don't even notice them all anymore. 

But we seem to be crossing a threshold and getting close to a very dangerous point. When you build up a make-believe world and surround yourself with only people who reinforce it -- there comes a point where you cannot distinguish reality and fantasy. 

And if Putin really believes his own hype, then we're in a very frightening place, indeed..

But then again, [as Peter Pomarantsev recently noted in the 'FT'] maybe there is reason to this madness (or the rumours of it)... What if Mr Putin’s show of derangement was a front, coolly calculated to intimidate the west? What if he wanted them to fear the random acts of recklessness that might follow if he were provoked?

There is a game of bluff and double-bluff going on here.

My uncle, whose was born and raised in Tsarist Russia always told me that Russians always like to play the hard man...and they treat any sign of weakness with great disdain. He lived through deportation to Siberia and I believe knew Russian psyche pretty well. He always told me if you talk tough and refuse to be cowed, or refuse to give way when bullied by Russians, they will back down. On several occasion this saved his life and the life of his family members . A lesson for western leaders perhaps?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lies Putin loves to believe

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin sensationally claimed that Ukraine's army is a NATO proxy whose geopolitical aim is to constrain Russia.

This is what he said :

"This is not the army, per se, this is a foreign proxy, in this case a foreign NATO legion, which, of course, doesn't pursue the objective of national interests of Ukraine.

"They have entirely different goals, and they are tied with the achievement of the geopolitical goals of containing Russia, which absolutely does not fall in place with the national interests of the Ukrainian people."

"We often say: the Ukrainian army, the Ukrainian army. But in fact, who's fighting there? Indeed, there are, in part, official units of armed forces, but for the most part it's the so-called 'volunteer nationalist battalions,'" Putin added.
[Translation from link above...not mine]

Watch Putin uttering these words, at the link here

Looking at his demeanour and not absolutely convincing delivery I am not sure he fully believes everything he is saying..[just my opinion - I think he may have just been trying to 'rubbish' the Ukrainian fighters..but said more than he intended to say.]

Some commentators suggest Putin's assertions may be a pretext to admit the presence of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, but as a peacemaking force protecting the interests of Ukrainians themselves.

But his strategists and advisers, in the words of a Townes van Zandt song,  'tell him lives he loves to believe'.. making it all ok. The lies will become ever more incredible..and dangerous.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Putin will continue to wage war on Ukraine

'Moscow Times' states the obvious when it declares:

 "Putin Is in No Hurry to Resolve Ukraine Crisis...

"Continued fighting gives Putin leverage with Europe that he hopes to corral into forcing Kiev to accept Russia's demands for a "constitutional reform." Any settlement ends this leverage.."

As this noteworthy article [in English] from Gorshenin Institute claims recent statements by key Putin advisers following Kyiv's blockade of separatist-held territories indicate Russian expansion into Ukraine will continue, possibly the start of a major war..

Reminds me of a bleak and famous quote, repeated by Gleb Pavlovsky, a former close adviser of Putin, at the end of a BBC television documentary on the Russia's war on Ukraine  last year:

"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time"

Events over the last few days prove Putin wants to push demarcation lines further west of the ones denoted in the Minsk Agreements. As I have mentioned previously he and Foreign Minister Lavrov are also demanding recognition of the November 2 DNR and LNR 'elections' by Ukraine and the Europeans . The latter is utterly unacceptable- hence the breakdown of the Astana talks and the escalation of violence.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How Putin invented war in Ukraine

Listen to this January 17, 2015 Real Clear Radio Hour podcast:

 "Putin's Circus"

in which Peter Pomerantsev, British TV producer and author of "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia", describes Vladimir Putin’s approach to propaganda and authoritarian rule.

If nothing else at least listen to the last 7 or 8 minutes, i.e. 20 minutes 30 seconds onward into the podcast,  from the link here.

Pomarantsev explains how bellicose propaganda has become reality in Eastern Ukraine, how a disinformation-driven reason for war was invented and the danger this poses to world peace.

What a tragedy such cynical manipulation, a war driven by misinformation, has already cost thousands of lives and billions and billions of dollars of physical damage. It is quite possible a humanitarian catastrophe awaits....I pray it does not.

Friday, January 16, 2015

USA and UK will stand up to Russia's aggression in Ukraine

The Prime Minister and US President today wrote an article for the Times about shared security and prosperity of the UK and the USA.
"...we will continue to stand up to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. If we allow such fundamental breaches of international law to go unchecked, we will all suffer from the instability that would follow. Our strong and united response has sent an unmistakable message that the international community will not stand by as Russia attempts to destabilise Ukraine.
We will continue working in lockstep and putting pressure on Russia to resolve the crisis diplomatically. At the same time we will keep supporting Ukraine as it works to fulfil the economic and democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.
Security and prosperity go hand in hand. By confronting the terrorists who threaten us, standing together against Russia’s aggressive acts and continuing our efforts to advance our economic growth, we will continue to advance the security and prosperity that our people deserve."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ukraine isolating LNR and DNR even further

Ukraine is cutting off those citizens who are living in the so-called LNR and DPR-controlled areas from the rest of Ukraine. After a decision made by Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, from this week, a special permit issued by the Ukrainian authorities will be required for entry and/or exit from the ATO area.

Initially, seven crossing points have been designated. A pass can be applied for, by adults only, in four cities held by Ukrainian forces - Starobilsk, Debaltseve, Velyka Novosilka, and Mariupol.

How residents currently living inside the ATO zone can obtain a pass is unclear. Apparently they have to go to the nearest Ukrainian-held checkpoint and hand over necessary documents for processing. They then have to return to that checkpoint after a matter of days to pick up their [by no means guaranteed] 'propusk' - a life-threatening and potentially deadly journey as events in Volnovakha showed. [One of the aims of attacking the checkpoint in Volnovakha was to deter further movement of citizens between the ATO zone and Ukraine proper.]

According to Article 33 of the Ukrainian Constitution, everyone who resides in the territory of Ukraine is guaranteed freedom of movement, freedom of residence, and the right to freely leave the territory of Ukraine.

p.s. This from the the brilliant Vladimir Socor:

"During the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) year-end meeting in Basel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared, “The Minsk [armistice] agreements presuppose a certain sequence of implementing actions.”

Lavrov listed the serial order as: recognition by Kyiv of the November 2 elections in “DPR-LPR,” enactment of a Ukrainian law on special status for those areas, re-establishment of economic links by Kyiv with those two “republics,” and a political dialogue between Kyiv and the two “republics’ ” leaders. When Kyiv will have taken all those steps, the matter of monitoring the Ukraine-Russia border can come up for discussion; but Kyiv will have to discuss it with the two “republics’ ” authorities [they and Russia control the Ukrainian side of the Ukraine-Russia border across a 400-kilometer sector]. (Interfax, December 5)."

Lavrov's presupposings has no basis in reality, as any casual reading of the Minsk Protocol and follow-up Memorandum shows. The November 2 elections were recognised by no-one, including why on earth should the Kyiv government recognise then as a starting point for armistice? But Putin does not want this does he? He wants further destabilisation as revenge for being a two-time loser in Ukraine - once in 2004 and once in 2014.

But as they say in Ukraine, if you are plotting revenge, then dig two graves first..

p.p.s. Drop everything and read this Here is a bit:

...Russia can end its current isolation and embark on the path of reform only as the result of a large-scale civil conflict, a major military defeat of Russia's armed forces or else a fundamental economic collapse. The "Ukrainization" of Russian politics has devoured this country's future.
Even if the warring parties reach a truce in eastern Ukraine, that will not change the state of Russian society. According to Russia's current rhetoric, the West is incapable of offering any response that would warrant restoring a dialogue with it. That leaves no option but for the West to go away, to disappear.
But before that, Moscow demands that the West repent for its centuries of anti-Russian policy — starting with the fall of Byzantium and ending with its alleged role in organizing the coup d'etat in Kiev. The Kremlin and Russia's new post-Crimean society will accept nothing less.
What's more, the new social contract contains no provision for ending the conflict with Kiev. That means Ukraine should simply disappear along with the West. In fact, Putin's rhetoric over the last six months clearly lacks even a single reasonable stance that the Kremlin could take with regard to the West...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

European Parliament Joint Motion for a Resolution on Ukraine

European Parliament Joint Motion for a Resolution on Ukraine Draft 13.01.2015

"in case of any further Russian actions destabilising Ukraine, invites the European Council to take up further restrictive measures and broaden their scope, by covering the nuclear sector and by limiting the ability of Russian entities to conduct international financial transactions"

Does this mean blocking Russian access to the SWIFT international banking transaction system as proposed by the UK government several months ago?

Some other interesting stuff in the motion too...e.g. reminder "that there are now no objections, including legal restrictions, for Member States to  provide defensive arms to Ukraine, which could be based on a "lend-lease" like arrangement"

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Putin intends to take more of Ukraine

"Russia definitely has once again turned up the heat and increases its efforts to control even larger parts of Ukraine, willing to conquer those in a brutal and way which is against international law and against all its promises to at least calm down the situation or even better withdraw its forces from Ukraine." [Source - the excellent Conflict Reporter"Making sense of the latest Russian offensives in eastern Ukraine" ]

Why are mainstream western media not reporting this?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Western leaders should attend victory day parade in Kyiv, not Moscow

It has recently been reported in the press that Downing Street is yet to comment whether or not the British prime minister is planning to attend this year's 70th anniversary celebrations of allied victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow in May.

Many of my Ukrainian forebears fought in the Soviet Army. Ukraine's contribution to the defeat of Hitler's Germany was enormous, as was the suffering inflicted on Ukraine's population during World War 2. As eminent historian Timothy Snyder recently noted:

"World War II on the eastern front was fought chiefly in what was then Soviet Ukraine and Soviet Belarus, not in Soviet Russia. Five percent of Russia was occupied by the Germans; all of Ukraine was occupied by the Germans. Apart from the Jews, whose suffering was by far the worst, the main victims of Nazi policies were not Russians but Ukrainians and Belarusians. There was no Russian army fighting in World War II, but rather a Soviet Red Army. Its soldiers were disproportionately Ukrainian, since it took so many losses in Ukraine and recruited from the local population."

In view of the on-going Russian-Ukrainian war and the international outrage President Putin's aggression has caused, the British prime minister should only attend such an event in Moscow on the condition that Ukraine's President is also invited, and Ukraine's enormous contribution to the defeat of Hitler's Third Reich properly recognised.

The prime minister should discuss and co-ordinate his action in this matter with Chancellor Angela Merkel when they meet in a few days time. Perhaps in light of the comments above they should both attend analogous celebrations in Kyiv instead of in Moscow?

Friday, January 02, 2015

West must not sell Ukraine down the river

Please read this:

A Ukraine-Russia peace deal: Crimea must have a cost

from the excellent Mark Galleotti

Will Putin repeat Yanukovych's mistakes?

Vitaliy Portnikov makes some observations on the recent demonstration in Manezhnaya Square in Moscow following the guilty verdict on of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

He compares this demonstration to those that took place during the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko. None of them were particularly well attended and many Russians, and Ukrainians, are, and were sceptical about their efficacy, failing to understand that the protesters in both countries were first and foremost demonstrating against the cynical use of the legal system to try and 'break the back' of possible political foes.

"It is clear that Navalny is on trial for political reasons, that his brother is a victim of crude hostage taking. The people who came out to the streets in Moscow, where just trying to protect the rule of law. And the number of Ukrainians who came out to the Maidan at first was even smaller."

Portnikov recalls that until Berkut riot police tried to clear the Maidan of students just over a year ago the majority of activists in Ukraine, and virtually all politicians believed that 'the moment was lost' and protests would fizzle out.

One of the future leaders of the Maidan, following Yanukovych's non signing of the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement at Vilnius, told Portnikov that after Vilnius: "no revolutionary situation in Ukraine exists and is not expected". But just a few days later, after the mass beating of students, the streets were filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Portnikov concludes: "Putin is politically much more shrewd than Yanukovych - at the end of the day he is not criminal thug but a 'Chekist', and will avoid adding fuel to the fire of protests. He mobilizes society by pressing on the chauvinistic pedal.

If Yanukovych had signed to an association agreement in Vilnius, even if he had not tried to disperse the protesters and promised to continue the policy of drawing closer to Europe, if he had entered negotiations with the opposition and offered to share power at the first stages of the Maidan, he would still have been president - and the country would be rolling into the abyss. But Yanukovych was a greedy idiot and a puppet. There is no-one behind Putin, but this does not mean that sooner or later he will not make the same mistake."

p.s. At the New Year's 'Celebration' in central Donetsk yesterday: Almost 100 of the city's 800,000 population attended - looking forward to 2015 under Russian occupation. About 40,000 attended a similar event in Kyiv.
Just saying....