Why Should Ukraine Not Split? 357


There had never been an Ukrainian nation state until the last twenty five years.  The boundaries of the old Soviet Socialist Republics were never intended to define nation states, and indeed were in part designed to guard against forming potentially dangerous cohesive units.  The Ukrainians are a nation and f they wish are certainly entitled to a state, but that its borders must be those defined, and changed several times, by the Soviet Union for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic is not axiomatic.

It is not true that there is a general desire for secession for Ukraine on the linguistic and broadly West East split.  It is true that key political attitudes do correlate closely to the linguistic split, with Russian speakers identifying with the ousted government, and favouring closer ties with Russian over closer ties with the West, while Ukrainian speakers overwhelmingly favour EU integration.  But that does not translate into a general desire by the Russian speakers to secede from a Ukraine that goes the other way.  The key to this is that two thirds of Russian speaking Ukrainian nationals view themselves as ethnically Ukrainian, not Russian.  Only a third of Russian speakers, a sixth of the general population, regard themselves as ethnically Russian.  It does appear to be true that among those who view themselves as ethnically Russian, there is a significant desire for union with Russia, and that there is probably a majority in some Eastern provinces for that idea, probably including Crimea.  But the area involved is far smaller than the linguistically Russian area.

Ethnicity is of course a less tangible concept than linguistic identity, and has little claim to objective reality, particularly in an area with such turbulent history of population movement.  But it is futile to pretend it has no part in the idea of a nation state, and is best regarded as a cultural concept of self-identification.

The historical legacy is extremely complex.  Kievan Rus was essential to the construction of Russian identity, but for Russia to claim Kiev on that basis would be like France claiming Scandinavia because that is where the Normans came from.  Kievan Rus was destroyed and or displaced by what historical shorthand calls the Mongal hordes, almost a millennium ago.  Ukrainian history is fascinating, the major part of it having been at various times under Horde, Lithuanian, Polish, Krim Tartar, Galician, Cossack Federation, Russian and Soviet rule.

Still just within living memory, one in seven Ukrainians, including almost the entire intellectual and cultural elite, was murdered by Stalin.  An appalling genocide.  Like Katyn a hundred times over.  That is the poisonous root of the extreme right nationalism that has rightly been identified as a dangerous element in the current revolution.  Pro-western writers have largely overlooked the fascists and left wing critics have largely overlooked Stalin.  His brutal massacre and ethnic cleansing of the Krim Tartar is also relevant – many were forcibly deported to Uzbekistan, and I have heard the stories direct.

Having served in the British Embassy in Poland shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I regard as blinkered those who deny that membership of the European Union would be a massive advantage to Ukraine.  In 1994 there was very little difference in the standard of living in both countries – I saw it myself. The difference is now enormous, and that really means in the standard of living of ordinary working people.  Poland’s relationship with, and eventual membership of, the European Union has undoubtedly been a key factor.  Those who wish Ukraine instead to be linked to the raw commodity export economy of Putin’s Russia are no true friends of the working people. Ukraine’s accidental boundaries include, of course, the great formerly Polish city of Lvov.

Ukraine is an accidental state and its future will be much brighter if it is a willing union.  It needs not just Presidential and Parliamentary elections, but also a federal constitution and a referendum on whether any of its provinces would prefer to join Russia.  That can give an agreed way forward to which Russia might also subscribe, and defuse the current crisis.  It would suit the long term interest of both the Ukraine and the West.  I fear however that the politicians will be too macho to see it.

 

 

 


357 thoughts on “Why Should Ukraine Not Split?

1 10 11 12
  • Ben

    Someone; The loose affiliation amongst groups reminds me of Occupy and some of the splintered objectives that made them less effective. My feeling is that all this will not end well (civl war)

  • Ben

    “”I appeal to our military, who are now on the peninsula of Crimea , I support them and thank for the fact that they adequately fulfill the responsibilities. I want to reassure the civilian population of the ARC, which does not support separatist slogans and recruited agents provocateurs. situation on the peninsula in the near future should be normalized, “- said in a televised address on Friday evening” (Turchinov)

    http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http://www.segodnya.ua/politics/pnews/turchinov-poobeshchal-chto-situaciya-v-krymu-budet-normalizovana-v-blizhayshee-vremya-499683.html&usg=ALkJrhhChC7pufjrZvAEQ9mWNxewZ9T8Kg

  • Resident Dissident

    There isn’t a market for gas in the Ukraine – Gazprom is the sole supplier. I would have thought that giving a price cut of 33% when your fellow kleptocrat in power and then increasing it by 50% when he isn’t tells us all we need to know about Putin’s meddling in the affairs of another sovereign nature.

    The fact that Macky thinks that this is all fair really just demonstrates my point that some here really do have illusions about Putin. He should also note than the kleptocrats election was criticised as being highly flawed at the time – and I’m afraid he never received an electoral mandate for throwing his political rivals into prison, the use of death squads or his gross corruption – so the parallel between the situation in the Ukraine and the Occupy movement really is otiose in the extreme.

  • Ben

    There must be an ocular disease on the circuit. The ability to see shades of grey is lacking.

    Black and White is all they see. Must be related to color-blindness.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Russia’s relationship to Ukraine in fact looks similar in structure to the West’s relationship to the former Iraq; a powerful foreign government wielding unjustifiable power over the corrupt government of a weaker country, followed by military domination. The differences are in magnitude and detail; the overall structures seem similar to me.”

    You are right the differences are in magnitude and detail – that is why they don’t appear at all similar to me.

  • Macky

    ResDes; “There isn’t a market for gas in the Ukraine – Gazprom is the sole supplier. I would have thought that giving a price cut of 33% when your fellow kleptocrat in power and then increasing it by 50% when he isn’t tells us all we need to know about Putin’s meddling in the affairs of another sovereign nature.”

    I would have thought that providing gas at a subsidized rate, and then at least expecting the market rate when a former friendly Buyer, opens their arms to the Seller’s deadly rivals, is not that unexpected or unreasonable

    ResDes: “The fact that Macky thinks that this is all fair really just demonstrates my point that some here really do have illusions about Putin.”

    No, I didn’t say anything about it being “fair”; I just pointed out that such tactics seem to be part & parcel of modern international relationships, especially those involving powerful States.

    ResDes: “He should also note than the kleptocrats election was criticised as being highly flawed at the time – and I’m afraid he never received an electoral mandate for throwing his political rivals into prison, the use of death squads or his gross corruption – so the parallel between the situation in the Ukraine and the Occupy movement really is otiose in the extreme.”

    Again I made no claim or remarks, one way or another regarding electoral mandates; I would like you to provide backup to your claim that the election“was criticised as being highly flawed at the time”, as this is in direct(link below)contrast to “An legitimately-elected (said by all international monitors)”; moreover according to news reports, there was an agreement to hold new presidential elections in December, plus a return to the 2004 Constitution, as well as the release of Julia Tymoshenko from prison.

    Again please provide backup to “throwing his political rivals into prison, the use of death squads”; yes I mentioned the often cited rationale given by the protestors as being corruption, which is actually one of two commonly cited reasons, the other being the rejection of the poor EU offer, relative to the better Russian offer, nothing about Death Squads !

    Re OM, again I wasn’t making a scenario to scenario comparison with the Occupy Movement, after all that was a non-violent approach ! Instead I couldn’t help wondering if the people who support the Ukraine violent protestors, who are quite specific as to one of the main reasons that they are protesting, ie corruption, also supported the OM who were also protesting mostly against the 1% who are robbing the rest ? I also pointed out that our politicians here in the UK are mostly crooks, so would they support a violent overthrow of Parliament here also; not that it could be allowed to happen, goodness the right to gather in a Public place to peacefully protest is virtually outlawed now ! Any takers to ease my wondering ?! 🙂

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37803.htm#idc-cover

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, 8:54 pm;

    that is why they don’t appear at all similar to me.

    Really? Russian forces entering Ukraine doesn’t appear remotely similar to US/UK forces entering Iraq to you?

  • mark golding

    Viktor Yanukovych is of course past tense and all that remains is his prosecution for crimes against humanity and money laundering together with his son Oleksandr Yanukovych and 16 other people linked to Ukraine’s former government.

    Putin is shrewd enough to know the former Ukraine president lacks balls having ‘bolted’ from duty and dropped the bag, something Assad and even Gaddafi could not be accused of.

    I myself believe Putin commands the situation in Ukraine, financially and military, has protected his friends in Crimea and secured his armed assets including Sevastopo, the leased Russian naval base strategically as important as Diego Garcia is to the American fleet. Certainly Putin will not order Russian forces to intervene elsewhere in Ukraine or interfere in the sell-out of Ukraine to IMF loans and EU markets now sold-out and destitute.

    Threats of eliminating Russia’s membership in G8 and G20, removing Russia’s membership in the WTO or cancelling British/US visas to members of the Russian Government and Ruling Party Parliament members and their families are, well, just vacant threats.

    My only concern is terrorism in Crimea from the leader of Sayfullakh Shishani’s jamaat, a Chechen native named as Mohammed Khorasani. Funded by Bandar-Bush under the auspices of Jabhat al-Nusra his brigade may indeed be tasked with inciting ethnic conflict in the East and simferapol thus taking Russia’s eye off the ball in Syria. This perceived threat I believe is well known to Putin’s security forces.

  • Evgueni

    I spoke on the phone to a friend in Illichevsk today. We spoke in Russian, as we always do. He was amused about the neo-nazis-in-control angle, this is a nonsense as far as he is concerned – propagated by Russian media. Trouble is, many in Ukraine’s south and east prefer Russian TV channels and are exposed to a constant stream of lies. Not sure if this is at all clear to you guys – the biggest bone of contention in the Ukraine is the status of the Russian language. Eastern and southern regions of Ukraine were largely supportive of events in Kiev but were angered when the interim government proposed to reverse the law that gives the Russian language equal status with Ukrainian. This was a big mistake. There were other mistakes, such as not including representatives from the eastern and southern regions in the new government. They are reverse pedalling now but it doesn’t look good.

    I skyped another friend, she told me her ethnically Russian husband, originally from the Ural, had seriously contemplated joining the protesters on the Maidan. But people are divided, she has fallen out with her own mother over Russia’s military intervention. My friends are both saying that they are loosing friendships over this. It is very sad because this is the result of an information war, nothing more. The Euromaidan’s main demand is a complete change of government, through early elections. Some fascists!

  • Evgueni

    I disagree, Ben. Бред сивой кобылы.

    Noun
    бред си́вой кобы́лы (bred sívoj kobýly) m inan (lit., delirium of a grey mare)

    1.(colloquial) hogwash, bullshit

  • Ben

    Evgueni: Respectfully I suggest that those who have a finger on the pulse like you and Uzbek, provide rationale and substantiation of some sort for your perspective. We can’t learn anything probative in links to opinions or so-called hard news, and we find it helpful when reasons for alternate views are provided. Your phone conversation was helpful. More of that please.

    It’s not helpful just to make cat-calls and issue name cards to those you don’t see eye-to-eye with.

  • Jemand

    Maybe a war needs to happen. Irreconcilable differences lead to escalating acts of primitive aggression and the probability of war is highest when its outcome is most uncertain.

  • angrysoba

    So, Russia has now sent in troops as well as Zhironovsky, an actual fascist, and the Night Wolves biker gang. But no doubt it is still the Ukrainians who objected to their kleptocratic Moscow puppet leader who are the bad guys. But yeah, as Evgeni says that seems like an incredibly irresponsible move downgrading the Russian language from its official status.

  • Clark

    Jemand 7:16 am

    the probability of war is highest when its outcome is most uncertain.

    That seems to make sense at first. But war is also most likely when one side has overwhelming advantage. Maybe this idea suggests a way of subdividing and classifying conflicts.

  • Clark

    Oh, not too bad, I suppose. My personal life is no better and gives me a lot of misery. Thank you for asking, too.

    Things got really horrible on this blog for a while. Craig was hardly ever posting. Sides formed amongst the commenters, and rationality seemed almost completely submerged to me. Jon, the remaining moderator quit. Insult wars dominated. No one could criticise US actions or claims of US covert actions without being labelled a supporter of Putin, and the other side couldn’t post their views without being called JTRIG trolls or whatever.

    Then a few weeks ago Craig started posting regularly again. He stopped for a bit, then resumed, and so did moderation but no identity was given for the moderator(s). Rapid deletions occurred for a day or so; some people complained about it and others approved. The comment wars subsided and deletions became few and sporadic. It’s all been a bit mad.

    Good to see you back.

  • angrysoba

    Thanks for the welcome back. Sorry to hear things are not going too well on a personal level. As for the comments wars and bickering, I think, unfortunately that it goes with the territory of political argument. And the labelling thing tends to go both ways too. I’ll try to behave as best I can. 😉

  • Clark

    I wrote:

    the other side couldn’t post their views without being called JTRIG trolls or whatever.

    They were just called trolls until Snowden’s GCHQ slide-show about JTRIG was published a week or two ago. Since then, that ‘side’ of this blog’s arguments seems to think that JTRIG is the only such operation, though I’m sure there must be many by now.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    It’s seriously worrying to have to agree with Macky, but I do rather agree with him when he writes

    “I would have thought that providing gas at a subsidized rate, and then at least expecting the market rate when a former friendly Buyer, opens their arms to the Seller’s deadly rivals, is not that unexpected or unreasonable”.

    Selling gas to a country at below market rates is certainly pleasant for the country concerned but ssen in purely economic terms I’m not sure that the seller is under any obligation to continue selling at the discounted price for ever and a day.

    Nobody has yet responded to my question about whether the price of gas asked by Russia from Ukraine (without the discount)is higher than the price Russia asks from its Western buyers.

  • Steve

    There was a Ukrainian national state from 1917-21, with some changes of regime and control, and much instability, but a form of independence nevertheless.

1 10 11 12

Comments are closed.