By Recalcitrant Hippy
The Ukraine crisis started on Nov. 21, 2013, On February 12, 2015 we have a cease fire agreement. President Viktor Yanukovych had refused to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union which included the same austerity measures that have nearly destroyed Greece. It was not in Ukraine's best interest and Moscow was proposing a deal that was. Given the historic relationship between the two countries, the decision to choose Moscow's deal seems obvious. Thousands, who had hoped to join Europe, descended on Kiev's Independence Square. It was a peaceful and spontaneous protest dubbed the EuroMaidan, that went on for several days. There were no altercations. They sang nationalistic songs chanting that Ukraine was really European. Kiev received a much needed financial bailout from Russia totalling 15 billion US dollars. Moscow wrote off billions of dollars of unpaid gas debt. This story should have died at the end of that first news cycle but there was a subtext already in play.
As soon as the bailout was announced, senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham denounced Yanukovych for denying the democratic rights of the protesters to join Europe? They said it was a Russian plan to reclaim the country and start rebuilding the USSR? They called for the people to rise up against the government and told them the American people would support them. The Right Sector and the Slaboda, recognized neo-nazi terrorist groups according to both American and European watch lists, appeared on the Maidan in number. They were masked, carrying Molotov cocktails, axes and guns. Under Yanukovych's orders, the police showed heroic restraint night after night.Their shields were repeatedly whipped by chains. Petrol bombs thrown behind their lines sent many to hospital with severe burns.
Officers who were isolated by the mob were brutally beaten. McCain exploded when people suggested that these were rioters. He championed them as fighting for democracy against despotic regime; although Ukraine was actually a democracy and elections would have happened in less than 2 years. Yanukovych could easily have been replaced by someone more favourable to the European Alliance. But something else was at stake. McCain turned up on the Maidan, cheering on the violence. He made contact with the leadership of Right Sector and the other neo-Nazi groups involved.
He told them America would help them in their cause. Victoria Nuland, American Deputy Secretary of State for Europe, turned up in Kiev with cookies and words of support for the rioters. Both of their actions were a direct violation of international law and the conventions of diplomacy. Before leaving the country, Nuland was caught in a telephone conversation with the American Ambassador to the Ukraine. They were discussing the State Departments choice of Arseny Yatsenyuk for Prime Minister in the interim government. Yanukovych was still in Kiev, still president and he was negotiating with Right Sector to restore order.
Even the United States refuses to recognize regimes that take power in this manner. If two Soviet era officials, had turned up at a Martin Luther King rally to offer him Moscow's support; well... it's easy to imagine what the Americans would have thought about that; most likely the same thoughts Ukrainians and Russians had while watching it actually happening in their backyard, and with neo-nazis.
After Snipers assassinated several people including police on the Maidan, Yanukovych struck a power sharing deal with Right Sector to end the violence.
That night he learned that they were coming to kill him instead of keeping their word. He fled the country. In unprecedented scenes of violence, the neo-nazi groups seized the parliament, physically beating and ejecting members from the house. Many officials were terrorized, threatened and forced to sign false statements. The police department was disbanded and some of them were assassinated. The United States pronounced the Right Sector under Arseny Yatsenyuk, the legitimate government of Ukraine. No investigations were ever carried out.
Fast forward and Petro Poroshenko has become President. He declares that Russian is no longer an official language, despite a third of the population, mostly in the Donbass, all being Russian speaking. Right after the coup, the neo-Nazi groups had sent militia into the Donbass destroying vital infra structure, dragging people from their homes, threatening and terrorizing the population. The people resisted and conflicts began to turn ugly. People were dying. Armoured vehicles from the Russian military base in Sevastopol blocked all of the entrances to the city to protect it, after local authorities refused to recognize the new Ukrainian government and appointed a new head of the city.
Attempts at attacking the city were pitiful and fruitless. Kiev offered to hold national elections so that the Donbass could elect its own representatives to his government and he restored the status of the Russian language. He had promised to go to the Donbass but he never went. The people felt betrayed and decided to hold a referendum before the elections. The Crimea decided to ask if they could join Russia. The rest of the region voted to stay in Ukraine and resolve the situation by negotiating a Federation within the country.
Russia agreed to repatriate Crimea. Much of the population are Russian and it has been the site of one of the most important ports for the Russian navy since 1783. Ah... a prize worthy of deception and corruption to attain, perhaps? Those Ukrainians remaining, from the old Ukrainian army, at the time the regions began defending their territory, were unceremoniously disarmed and escorted out of the region.
Anyone who wished to leave with all of their belongings was allowed to do so and many did, some to Russia, some to Ukraine. A humiliating defeat for Kiev and its supporters. Then they began bombing the Donbass and blaming Russia for invading Ukraine.
The lies and the carnage have gone on for 14 months. The Americans continue to spearhead rhetoric without any evidence to support their allegations and without contributing towards a solution in any meaningful way. The Russians have been coy but they certainly have some involvement, the stakes are too high not to. The Europeans bear the brunt of the sanctions. They are also the ones who live under constant threat of another war on their soil. The Americans have so far given the Ukrainians barely 5 million dollars worth of flack jackets, first aid kits and ration packs. Now that a deal is at hand Congress suddenly approves 3 billion dollars in military aid.
The US has a long history of both regime change and of torpedoing peace deals. The Normandy 4 have accomplished the near-impossible and we have a formula that might help bring an end to this conflict. The Americans have no stake in this fight; so why am I waiting to see what they will do? Secretary John Kerry said that the US may roll back sanctions if the agreement is enacted, no mention of curbing arms shipments though. There are many things the Americans say they may do. I was amazed at how little information remains on the search engines. I had to use stories that I wrote at the time for some of these details. All that is left is the vilainization of Vladimir Putin and the ever more vitriolic rhetoric. Never forget what happened people; confronting the truth of how this all began is where the key to a lasting solution is.
The Recalcitrant Hippy
President Emmanuel Macron has called NATO "brain dead", claiming it should focus on real threats and reinvent itself. To what point is this the case?