Putin’s Victorious Defeat

by craig on March 7, 2014 3:37 pm in Uncategorized

Just a month ago, Putin had one of his pet oligarchs, the firmly pro-Russian multi-billionaire Yanukovich, in power in Ukraine.  Putin had been to an awful lot of trouble to ensure that Yanukovich got elected.  It is undoubtedly true that the United States and its allies funded various pro-western groups in the Ukraine – my friend Ray McGovern, former senior CIA, put a figure of US$100 million on it, and he should know.  The resources Putin poured in to ensure Yanukovich’s election were more in kind than financial, but were not on too different a scale.

In earlier attempts to put Yanukovich in power, Putin had in 2004 helped organise massive electoral fraud, and Putin’s secret service had attempted to assassinate Victor Yushchenko.  The 2010 election of Yanukovich also involved a great deal of fraud.  Russia is an influential member of the OSCE, Ukraine is also a member and that organization is notably mealy-mouthed in pointing out the derelictions of its own members. Nonetheless its observation mission of the 2010 Presidential elections stated:

 “The presidential election met most OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections and consolidated progress achieved since 2004. The process was transparent and offered voters a genuine choice between candidates representing diverse political views. However, unsubstantiated allegations of large-scale electoral fraud negatively affected the election atmosphere and voter confidence in the process.”

That is about as close as the OSCE has ever come to accusing one of its own members of fraud.  International organisations have their obvious limitations.

Putin had put years of effort into getting the President of Ukraine which he wanted, and he had him.  Yanukovich attempted to steer an even-handed path between Russia and the West, while putting his main effort into acquiring an astonishing personal fortune.  Putin lost patience when Yanukovich appeared ready to sign an EU association agreement, and put extremely heavy pressure on Yanukovich over debt, energy supplies, and doubtless some deeply personal pressures too.  Yanukovich backed down from the EU Association agreement and signed a new trade deal with Russia, appearing on the path to Putin’s cherished new Eurasian customs union.

The west – and not only the west – of Ukraine erupted into popular protest.  The reason for this is perfectly simple. Income, lifestyle, education, health and social security for ordinary people are far better in western and central Europe than they are in Russia.  The standard of living for ordinary Polish people in Poland has caught up at a tremendous rate towards the rest of the EU.  I am not depending on statistics here – I have lived in Poland, travelled widely in Poland and speak Polish.  I was professionally involved in the process of Polish economic transformation.  There have been a large number of commenters on this blog this last few days who deny that the standard of living for ordinary people in Poland is better as a result of EU membership, and believe life for ordinary people is better in Russia than in the west.  I also of course speak Russian and have travelled widely in Russia.  Frankly, you have to be so ideologically blinkered to believe that, I have no concerns if such people leave this blog and never come back; they are incapable of independent thought anyway.

Undoubtedly pro-western groups financed by the US and others played a part in the anti-Yanukovich movement.  They may have had a catalytic role, but that cannot detract from the upswell of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who were not paid by the West, and drove Yanukovich from power. It is true that, when the situation became violent some very unpleasant nationalist, even fascist, groups came to the fore.  There is a great deal of extreme right wing thuggery in all the former Soviet Union – ask Uzbeks who live in Russia.  The current government in power in Kiev seem a diverse bunch, and seem to include some pleasant people and some very unpleasant people.  Elections this year will make things clearer.   It is also true that corruption is the norm among the Ukrainian political elite, across any nationalist or ideological divides.

In a very short space of time, Putin went from the triumph of killing off the EU Association agreement to the disaster of completely losing control of Kiev.  But for reasons including trade, infrastructure and debt, the new government was bound to come back to some relationship and accommodation with Putin eventually.  It just needed patience.

Instead of which, Putin decided to go for a macho seizure of the Crimea.  There is no doubt that the actions of surrounding military bases and government buildings by Russian forces, and controlling roads and borders, are illegal under international law.  There also appears little doubt that a large proportion of Crimea’s population would like union with Russia, though whether a genuine majority I am not sure.  I am sure under these circumstances of intimidation and military occupation, the referendum will show a massive majority.  Hitler pulled the same trick.

So now Putin can stride the stage as the macho guy who outfoxed the west and used his military to win Crimea for Mother Russia.  But it is an extremely hollow victory.  He has gained Crimea, but lost the other 95% of the Ukraine, over which one month ago he exercised a massive political influence.

The western powers will not bring any really effective sanctions that would harm the financial interests of the interconnected super-rich, be they Russian oligarchs or City bankers.  But they will now do what they were not prepared to do before, provide enough resources to make Ukraine politically free of Russia.  The EU has already agreed to match the US$19 billion in guarantees Putin had promised to Yanukovich. Before the annexation of Crimea the EU was not prepared to do that.

The Crimea was the only ethnic Russian majority province in Ukraine.  Donetsk does not have an ethnic Russian majority, only a Russian speaking majority – just like Cardiff has an English speaking majority.  The difference is key to understand the situation, and largely ignored by the mainstream media.  Without Crimea, the chances of the pro-Putin forces in the rest of Ukraine ever mustering an electoral majority are extremely slim.  Putin has gained Crimea and lost Ukraine – has he really won?

The real tragedy, of course, is that Ukraine’s relationships are viewed as a zero-sum game.  Russia has huge interests in common with Europe.  I hope to see Ukraine a member of the EU in the next decade, and Putin has made that vastly more likely than it was a month ago.  But why does that have to preclude a close economic relationship with Russia?  The EU should not operate as a barrier against the rest of the world, but as a zone of complete freedom within and ever-expanding freedom to  and from without.  And European Union will never be complete until Russia, one of the greatest of European cultures, is a member.

 

 

 

 

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238 Comments

  1. Chernobyl leaves a metallic taste for the Ukrainian people.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/08/ukraine-crisis-russia-nuclear-idUSL6N0M50B820140308

    “(Reuters) – Rosatom, Russia’s state energy corporation, said on Saturday it would resume nuclear fuel shipments to Europe via Ukraine after Kiev lifted a ban imposed during anti-government protests earlier this year on transporting the hazardous material.

    The ban was introduced on Jan. 28 by the government of now-deposed President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled the country last month after a popular uprising.

    Rosatom said the ban ended on Thursday and the first rail shipment of nuclear fuel in 2014 via Ukraine to eastern Europe was expected next week.”

    Why would shipments be allowed after the fall of Yanukovich? It would seem to be an element of negotiation, instead of a ‘gimme’.

  2. Uzbek in the UK

    8 Mar, 2014 - 7:19 pm

    Karel

    What makes you think that I am in disgise? You need to follow my posts o this blog. You will find hundreds. I was sick to my stomach when putin offered karimov support after he brutally executed hundreds of people most of whom were unarmed and many of whom were women and children. Karimov still had blood on his hands when he met putin in kremlin. This for me and many my compatriots was a sign of that russia inder putin is our emenemy. We have been living under russian boot for over 150 years but 2005 was a moment of truth. Brutality of one mad man was suported by another mad man. Realpolitik may be? But it does not change the fact that because of putin karimov is still on his throne instead of ICC

  3. Uzbek in the UK

    8 Mar, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    Mad lefties are at their best. Remind me when group of mad letfies like Ben visited Moscow in 1937 and prised stalin’s acheivent while 12000 a day were being arrested and sent to gulag. History teaches this people nothing. Enemy of their enemy is their friend. Mad western lefties style

  4. Uzbek in the UK

    8 Mar, 2014 - 7:27 pm

    Nobody yet responded to my question.

    How 15000 gunmen appeared in Crimea overnight? Comon mad letfies? Use your conspiracy theories. Explain this to me.

  5. Uzbek in the UK

    8 Mar, 2014 - 8:05 pm

    John Goss

    the fact remains that it was puton who supported karimov after andijan massacre. Not nato not us not even devil but putin. Full stop.

    what you wester lefties seem to miss complitley out of the picture is that while you curse your governments for this and that you do not give a toss about the facts that in many ways because of russia over 50 million people in central asia are traped. They are rulld by dictatorships with no hope of change. And when by chance change comes you start prading putin and russian chauvinism.

    How many of you give a toss about Muslims in Chechnya or Dagestan or Uzbekisyan? Or only those Muslims who denied freedom by us diserve care of western lefties?

  6. halibaba
    Thanks for telling me about prosperity increasing by the day in those faraway places. Sadly, this elusive phenomenon seems to evade me. In my neighbourhood, Lyon 1er arrondissement,I do not personelly know anyone recently visited by Abundantia. Even Lakshmi is nowhere to be seen. Many shops are closed, some for ever, even an estate agent up the hill collapsed about 2 months ago. If such parasitic entities, like estate agents, go under then their host is either already dead or dying. I am convinced that the economy in the new Ukraine, just like in Poland, the Slumberland of Craig, will soon tic better to the satisfaction of their citizens. The government there has already some exciting ideas for a kick off, like halving the pensions.
    http://rt.com/news/ukraine-austerity-pensions-halved-174/

  7. Are we to expect that you will also take the Chinese Government to task for supporting this Tatar busting move by the Crimean parliament.

    That they supported the move to a referendum counts as heavy as the actions of Putin.

    That said I can’t for the heck of it understand why the likes of Hague and Obama are supporting the rightwing fascists who think that ‘Russia is not that strong’.
    It is no surprise to me that a CDU/CSU Merkel would support these thugs, after all, the sheepskin wearing fascists are still apparent and active in Germany.

  8. “Nobody yet responded to my question.

    How 15000 gunmen appeared in Crimea overnight? Comon mad letfies? Use your conspiracy theories. Explain this to me.”

    I don’t think there is any conspiracy. It’s reasonable to assume that there were more than 15,000 guns in Crimea, considering surveys have shown there are more than 3 million guns in private hands in Ukraine. It’s reasonable to assume there were more than 15,000 men.

    What was your theory then?

  9. Mark Golding,

    You said:-

    “I say again remember the Arab dressed SAS forces in Iraq found planting explosives many of which ripped the fragile limbs of children now orphaned and in constant pain both mentally and physically.”

    And SAS in South Africa was the same story. The world is that kind of place.

    CB

  10. Uzbek in the UK

    9 Mar, 2014 - 1:30 am

    Fred

    I realise that you might not have served in the army (like I did) and have no knowledge of the difference between hunting gun and machine gun. Please show me stats that confirms of 3 million (or even 100.000) machine guns in private hands in Ukraine?

    Gunmen in Crimea are in full military uniform with machine guns and transported in military vehicles. In fact they are much better armed than Ukrainian military in Crimea or elsewhere and to some extend better armed than some of the russian military. I see it as presence of elite russian forces in Crimea. I realise of course that western lefties do not see any of this.

  11. Uzbek in the UK

    9 Mar, 2014 - 1:39 am

    Karel

    Any more reliable source that RT please? Putin’s propaganda as a source? Really? By the way have you heard of Margarita Simonyan’s promotion to the chief editor of Russian International Information Agency. She is 33 years old, little young for such a job, do not you think?

    Why do not I provide CNN or SKY as a source on Russian intervention to Crimea? Would these sources be reliable too?

    Also, nobody bothered to comment on the resignation of US based news presenter.

  12. Uzbek in the UK

    9 Mar, 2014 - 1:43 am

    John Goss

    Why in some cases you stress importance of international law and in others (when for instance it concerns sovereignty of Ukraine – UN member) you are little overlooking its existence?

  13. Uzbek in the UK

    9 Mar, 2014 - 1:56 am

    John Goss

    Democratic advances in putin’s russia? Are you serious mate? Indeed western lefties are easily manipulated by putin’s propoganda.

    I have been in Russia many times under both presidents. In the last 5 years any sort of criticism does not exist. In fact Russian media looks more and more like Uzbek, with everything there (at the top) is perfect and only minor issues are emphasised. In fact immigration was the biggest concern (until events in Ukraine), but unlike in the UK Russian media on the immigration subject is clearly racist. Despite dozens of immigrants (mostly Uzbeks and Tadjik) being killed in Russia every months, media reports on this subject is non existent. However; let immigrant commit an offence or crime and every newspaper and every news channel emphasise danger of immigration and calls to expel cerntal asians. Some go as far as call central asian Shurka (offensive address of central asians by Russians dating back from soviet times).

    You just need to go to Russia once, to compare it with your own country. Easy to support spoon fed propaganda, not that easy to open your eyes and see things more clearly.

  14. Uzbek in the UK

    9 Mar, 2014 - 1:59 am

    Sorry, forgot of Dmitriy Medvedev presidency. But do not blame my memory. Most Russians found his presidency somewhat funny. Everyone knew who was behind the wheel at that time.

    So I have been in Russia many times, under all presidents (which were 3 including puppet one).

  15. Uzbek in the UK

    9 Mar, 2014 - 2:00 am

    And John Goss still makes claims to support democratic advances in Russia.

    Bloody joke.

  16. @Uzbeck

    People in Uniforms riding round in military vehicles are called SOLDIERS, I would have thought someone who has been in the army would have known that.

    There are 7 million military arms in Ukraine. Please stop wasting my time by changing your story.

    You can read all about it here http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/ukraine, there are plenty of guns in Ukraine which answers your question without any silly conspiracy theories like yours.

  17. “Also, nobody bothered to comment on the resignation of US based news presenter.”

    The floozy flounced.

    How’s that for a comment.

  18. Uzbek in disguise
    To your
    “Any more reliable source that RT please? Putin’s propaganda as a source? Really? By the way have you heard of Margarita Simonyan’s promotion to the chief editor of Russian International Information Agency. She is 33 years old, little young for such a job, do not you think?”
    I say no, because you are the one who provides the “reliable sources” on this blog. Why do you ask me stupid questions about Margarita Simonyan? I have never heard of her but suppose that she is pretty, which is a sufficient qualification for most jobs anywhere in the world.

    I am convinced that you are an impostor as you seem to be more concerned about Ukraine than Afghanistan. Why do we never hear from you about the number of Uzbeks killed or maimed every week in Afghanistan? And about the families there destroyed by war waged by the puppet masters of the “reliable sources” of information, like CNN. From your chameleonic behaviour I would guess that you belong to the same tribe as the now famous noodle-nudel-Nudelman-Nuland.

  19. Putin went from the triumph of killing off the EU Association agreement to the disaster of completely losing control of Kiev. But for reasons including trade, infrastructure and debt, the new government was bound to come back to some relationship and accommodation with Putin eventually. It just needed patience.

    Rubbish.

    Putin overplayed and he knew it, so he withdrew and consolidated – and fast. He had to. Had he hung about, the US-backed blue-and-yellows would have been out in force in the Crimea with their rifles on their backs, and there would have been big trouble in the peninsula of a kind that hasn’t yet occurred.

    Putin learnt. He’s not an in-bred posh FCO Brit. Don’t underestimate the KGB.

    Instead of which, Putin decided to go for a macho seizure of the Crimea.

    And if he hadn’t, he would have lost it. Don’t you think that US interests would have pushed ahead, with the strategic aim of watching the Russian fleet leave and eventually getting their own military there, as they have done in the Baltic states?

    So now Putin can stride the stage as the macho guy who outfoxed the west and used his military to win Crimea for Mother Russia.

    You go to metaphor here, but your take is mistaken. Putin isn’t striding the stage. Those who are striding the stage are those such as Hague, Kerry and Ashton.

    You will probably tell me to get back to Russia. I hope not.

    The following bit you get right:

    The western powers will not bring any really effective sanctions that would harm the financial interests of the interconnected super-rich, be they Russian oligarchs or City bankers.

    But then we get this, which is again rubbish:

    The Crimea was the only ethnic Russian majority province in Ukraine. Donetsk does not have an ethnic Russian majority, only a Russian speaking majority – just like Cardiff has an English speaking majority.

    Quit with Brit analogies. The Ukrainian identity merges into the Russian in a way that the Welsh doesn’t merge into the English. Ask about the pronunciation of ‘g’ on your travels.

    Everybody likes to say that the mainstream media doesn’t mention something. Sometimes they are even right. What the MSM has said little about is the role of the Ukrainian secret police, the SBU, in the Kiev massacre which paved the way for the putsch.

    Shots were fired from the Hotel Ukraine, not by the ordinary police. Snipers killed ‘protestors’, bystanding women and children and policemen.

    Of course disinformation is now well aflow. I reckon both the KGB and western interests hold shares in the SBU – the documented connections between SBU officials and ‘oligarchs’ (i.e. big figures in organised crime) tend to support that – and that they have cooperated in shaping events.

    Meanwhile certain Brits must be drooling all down their club ties as they egg NATO on to buy more, more, more weapons. The fuckers sound like Paddy cunting Ashdown!

    Maybe I should get back to Russia for swearing in church?

  20. A case of you can take the diplomat out of the Foreign Office but you can’t take the Foreign Office out of the diplomat?

    For all the idiotic, embarrassing Brit line that Putin is a hot-headed foreigner trying to prove something, his actions since the putsch have made strategic sense. He is a very capable guy. Sorry. And no I don’t support him any more than I support the rulers or owners of any other country. I just recognise true stuff; that’s all.

    Those who think I’ve got an interesting take might like to take a look at Putin’s use of Nikolai Berdyayev, Vladimir Solovyov and Ivan Ilyin. I’m not saying that to underline how he’s oh so well-read, or any of that crap. I’m talking about the management of the brand called Russia and its state centred on the Moscow Kremlin. Exceptionalism. The ‘most spiritual nation’. A multi-ethnic entity based on a national one. That’s how the brand is managed. I keep saying it, but don’t underestimate the KGB.

    The Brit Robert Cooper may have “strategist” written in the title of his Wikipedia page, a document which also includes a description of how he is “serving” as a “special adviser” and how he is highly “acclaimed”. He’s even written a book with “postmodern” in the title. But he’s small fry in the upstairs department in comparison.

    He’s just a posh boy putting a bit of Brit spin on some crock of old shite put out by Thomas Nichols thousands of miles away in Harvard (but just around the corner from Vauxhall Cross, Thames House and Chatham House, or am I getting my geography wrong? :-) ). I mean imagine if a Brit official did something else.

    The London Olympics – the double-decker bus – the ‘queen’ – the warship in the Thames. Laugh! From Cool Britannia to … er … er … a small voice saying please NATO, oh please NATO, buy more weapons, woncha? Must be difficult for them to sit down when there’s a US hand up their arse making their lips move.

  21. So unemployment in Poland is just a statistic and nothing to do with “ordinary” people’s “standard of living”? And the same goes for mass emigration as guestworkers to do shit work in Britain and elsewhere? I notice that you stop short of saying social security is better in Poland now than under the old regime. It obviously isn’t, otherwise people wouldn’t go abroad to clean floors.

  22. Uzbek is challenged as to effective communique. But it’s just language skills or reading comprehension. I think there is some pathology going on. Folks remember him as being reasonable. Don’t know what kind of PTSD, if any, is involved. Better to just humor or ingore.

  23. it’s not just language skills.

  24. Craig, what planet are you now living on? The USA and EU are erecting a Nazi fascist Regime on Ukrainian Territory to ironically expand their own Soviet EU. You cannot seriously expect people to keep trusting you if you are going to keep selling this utopian EU angle.

    http://tarpley.net/usa-and-eu-are-erecting-a-nazi-regime-on-ukrainian-territory/

  25. I just can’t believe how people who seem proud to see themselves as “subversives” or “truth-seekers” in their approach to The US or UK governments, then turn around and worship Putin as some kind of hero who can do no wrong. Ok, Putin is no friend of The US or The UK but he’s also no friend of subversives or truth-seekers. He’s a thug and a gangster and a killer of the worst kind and absolutely no respecter of humanity. He’s not on your side and would eat you for breakfast. Try living in Russia and being a subversive truth-seeker (or even just a bit gay).

    What does Putin want in Ukraine, though? If he’s content with taking the Crimea back for Russia and leaving the rest of the mess for The West to deal with then it looks like he may just get that. He keeps his Black Sea bases and looks good to the nationalists at home. What’s the geo-political significance of the rest of Ukraine? I’m not sure, but they’ll have to come back to Russia for their gas pretty soon and Putin’s probably milked Yanukovich for a good personal cut of those siphoned billions already. So it looks like the west has the bigger, more immediate and more expensive headache and time, for the moment, is on Putin’s side.

  26. Putin is no angel but his moves in this context are defensive and necessarily reactionary to the illegal forces trying to de stabilisise Ukraine as they’ve done in Syria, Libya…the list goes on and on. If Putin does nothing, Russia will be next.

    It’s hardly rocket science but it’s something all the intelligent geo politics writers and historians are pointing out. I had thought Craig Murray was one of those but apparently not . Either that or he’s had to come to some sort of ‘arrangement’ with his blogging/divulging of information. If so I understand

  27. Chris Jones:

    You still don’t get it. It’s not an either/ or thing – either Putin is right or The West must be/ if we want to criticize The West then we must support Putin. It’s not about choosing sides – being a neo-con or a free-thinking lefty. It’s about seeing things for what they are and calling a spade a spade.

  28. Craig, I agree with much of what you’ve written, but there is one question that continues to disturb me: Is the EU to support a Government, installed as a result of a coup, that contains members of a party described by the World Jewish Congress as neo Nazi?

    You say elections will somehow clear all this up. But, if the extreme right IS the de facto power on the street, then why should they accept the results of that election if it doesn’t suit them?

    This is a very dangerous moment for mainstream politics. We’d better be careful who we support, and why.

  29. David H . That’s the general point I was making although there are two polarities here in this particular case in that there is an obvious attacker and a defender-the attacker being elements of the western powers

  30. Uzbek in the UK

    12 Mar, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Ben

    I am sure you are aware that it was KGB’s favourite tactic to blame someone is a sycophant or have some kind of psychological problems and lock them in the asylum. That is how they shut dissidents in 60th 70 and 80th. One more proof of that you are in fact MAD leftie.

    Do you actually have any proof of me having PTSD? Or have my posts just annoyed you enough that you are now trying to make other believe that my opinion (and facts) are not to be listened? What a cheap MAD leftie tactic.

  31. Uzbek in the UK

    12 Mar, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    Karel,

    I think that the imposter here is you. While I have been posting comments on this blog for many years I have never seen anything from you until recently. Not sure if you are paid or just hooked on KGB propaganda, or have been made redundant and hate Tories, or something else but it is obvious that your strongest argument against me is to blame me that I am imposter. How convenient. Just like Ben, trying to make sure that I am not to be listened and taken seriously.

    This particular thread is about Putin’s aggression and Russian chauvinism in Ukraine. Why would you expect me to comment about Afghanistan here? I have commented about Afghanistan a LOT in other threads (that were about Afghanistan). Bother to read and then make you cheap imposturous conclusions.

  32. Uzbek in the UK

    12 Mar, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    Fred

    @Uzbeck

    People in Uniforms riding round in military vehicles are called SOLDIERS, I would have thought someone who has been in the army would have known that.

    They are called soldiers, exactly. That is what I was talking about. There have not been any claims of Ukrainian military taking sides with Russia, except some assassins from Berkut but there are no 15.000 Berkut in whole Ukraine. So, conclusion is if (one uses his brain and not blinded by KGB propaganda) that there are 15.000 elite Russian military personal in Ukraine.

    And also, why do you keep pointing to 7 million guns when this refers to the military gun possession. And as mentioned above there have been no claims from any of the Ukrainian military commanders siding with Russians, nor there was any claim of individual soldiers siding with Russian occupants.

  33. An informative and insightful post by Craig. What a pity it is that the usual fugnuggets, one absent, cannot show respect for his greater experience, knowledge and political nous.

    Has anyone seen Oliver Stone’s “Talk Radio” yet? It’s a film about this blog.

  34. Peace Optimist

    13 Mar, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    The West can and should help Ukraine ease ethnic tensions and thus bring peace by promoting compromise in a polarized society!
    While the world cannot directly alter Putin’s course of action, it can help promote democratic laws that would provide equal civil rights to both the Ukrainian & Russian-speaking halves of this country. With ethnic issues taken off the table, Putin would lose his pretext for military intervention.
    The Yanukovich’s regime is over, but the past continues to haunt the present: the same radical Ukrainian nationalists he used to mobilize Russian-speaking voters, are now drafting a Minority Languages law.
    For the past 20 years, Kiev has failed to address the language question adequately. Russian-speakers, who account for half the population, refuse to be treated as 2nd-class citizens, demand equal opportunities in higher education and language of communication with authorities. The West needs to clearly demand the application of democratic principles and equality in languages for all Ukrainian citizens. This would go a long way toward soothing discontent and quelling separatist impulses.
    A related source of social instability are radical nationalists with automatic weapons looted from military arsenals. The US and EU should not support extremists who have been terrorizing citizens, local authorities, members of parliament, and even the new appointed government. The fact that they are capable fighters, who played an important role in the overthrow of Yanukovich, does not excuse their use of intimidation or attempts of vigilante justice.
    Political stability is impossible if one half of a divided society dominates and humiliates the other half. Granting all Ukrainian citizens equal rights – no matter which language they speak in this country at the heart of Europe – would deprive Putin of the arguments used to justify the invasion of Crimea.
    Please, consider supporting linked petitions to the Obama administration http://wh.gov/lyzG0 & http://wh.gov/lVCyM

  35. Saw this earlier, about lenta.ru being pushed around for interviewing Andriy Tarasenko of the Right Sector. 39 employees have quit Lenta.ru over this already.

    http://en.rsf.org/russia-lenta-ru-website-is-latest-13-03-2014,45996.html

    This is the actual interview with Tarasenko, translated into Russian
    http://lenta.ru/articles/2014/03/10/pravysektor/

    I read it, this guy seems moderate to me compared to Russia’s Zhirinovsky (who dreams of Russian soldiers washing their boots in the Indian ocean one day!). Says their only enemies are “those who deny the existence of Ukraine, Ukrainians or the Ukrainian language”. He is proud to be a Ukrainian nationalist, denies that Ukrainian nationalism has any elements of chauvinism or fascism. Says Ukrainian nationalism can be understood in the context of the struggle against imperialist policies of the Kremlin. I think that’s right, Ukraine is not an ‘accidental state’. It is no accident that over the last 300+ years the history of Ukraine has been a history of struggle to restore itself and reclaim its origin.

    Ben – duly noted. Mark G – sorry, don’t know what possessed me.

  36. @Jemand Your quote of:

    “An informative and insightful post by Craig. What a pity it is that the usual fugnuggets, one absent, cannot show respect for his greater experience, knowledge and political nous”

    ……Your leader is always right of course Jemand. Come comrades, let’s clear away these awful fugnuggets who dare have a different opinion to our great leader.

    This piece by Paul Craig Roberts sums up the real situation in the Ukraine very well indeed:

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37939.htm

    A quote from it:

    “The Western presstitute media will dramatize the Russian response to sanctions and demonize Russia, while ignoring who started the fight, thereby helping Washington prepare Americans for war. As neither side can afford to lose the war, nuclear weapons will be used. There will be no winners”

  37. Chris Jones, I’ve disagreed with Craig before but not in the manner that the anti-West cadres here sometimes do.

    I have no firm compass bearing on this Ukraine matter as there appears to be many overlapping agendas by competing actors, as is often the case. I appreciate Craig’s opinion but am less inclined to be so critical of Russia’s actions in light of the geopolitical implications of the definite pro-Western drift that the country has experienced over the last decade. Not because I am anti-West, but because I don’t expect Russia to cede control of assets to rivals and enemies.

    I enjoy reading PCR, but on this occasion I think Craig has a clearer perspective.

  38. Jemand – Most credible commentators now know that the EU is not really a force for good and is not about a body of nation states-the EU wants to abolish sovereignty and create a super state with centralised banking control. For Craig Murray to not recognise this, to compare Putin to Hitler and to not acknowledge that the violent coup d’etat of Kiev has no democratic value but was still aided,funded and supported by the corporate media, the US and EU elements is very disappointing. And no mention of IMF claws either? At the very best this is unbalanced and irresponsible. It is his blog of course but it seems that he gives very little credit to his readers in this regards- it would be very sad if this was intentional

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