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?

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  • Phil

    “There is no mention on the stopwar.org.uk website. Do you have any idea why?”

    Tariq Ali is on holiday. Tony Benn is unwell. Comrade inspector from the met says NO. All actions postponed.

  • Clark

    Please people stop being ironic or whatever. There is no tone of voice in text communication. Please just state the facts.

  • Phil

    Just in

    “The coalition of a handful of old trots re-emphasise the revolutionary necessity for countering reactionary counter revolutionary types by adopting temporary revolutionary restrategisation. Comrade inspector from the met has passed on the unequivocal assesment PISS OFF.”

    “Comrade Clark has rumbled the ironists and, playing the sincere liberal concern card, is asking them politely to desist. So all is not lost. But we, your clear thinking and fearless leaders, are planning an emergency meeting in which we will democratically decide that our demo must await Ali. How could we imagine otherwise? Keep this channel open. Both good comrades for himself. Run for the Chilterns.”

  • doug scorgie

    Uzbek in the UK
    28 Feb, 2014 – 12:42 pm

    “Kremlin is denying that armed men occupying Crimean airports have anything to do with Russian armed forces, and at the same time Russia is calling all security servicemen in Crimea to join Russian army and issuing them Russian passports.”

    “Now, just for information. Ethnic Russians living in Central Asia (and elsewhere except when Russian government needs to annex territory) have to wait for an average of 3 years to get permission of settlement in Russia (not even citizenship).”

    True Uzbek but who started this crisis?

    I will answer. It was the EU, UK, and USA.

    The USA is now doing the same now in Venezuela.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-26392262

  • Resident Dissident

    All those concerned about fascism in the Ukraine will no doubt be not at all concerned by the visit of Zhirinovsky to the Crimea – as he is the right sort of fascist.

  • Clark

    Phil, was I merely “a useful idiot” when I demonstrated against the invasion of Iraq?

    Habbabkuk?

    Resident Dissident?

    Is anyone prepared to discuss honestly with me?

  • Resident Dissident

    “True Uzbek but who started this crisis?

    I will answer. It was the EU, UK, and USA.”

    Of course it has nothing whatsoever to do with a Russian backed autocratic kleptocrat being in charge. That nice Mr Putin never ever meddles in the affairs of his neighbours.

    Not sure what you are on Mr Scourge but it must be good.

  • Clark

    doug scorgie, would you think it right to say that the EU, UK and USA precipitated the crisis in Ukraine with a financial offer, but that it was Russia that permitted it to develop by supporting corrupt misrule over a long time?

  • doug scorgie

    Angrysoba
    28 Feb, 2014 – 1:25 pm
    John Goss, that is a) Paul Craig Roberts, on b) Global Research, citing c) Russia Today.

    That’s three strikes against the claim “reliable source”.

    Neo-Nazis and far-right protesters in Ukraine

    https://libcom.org/news/neo-nazis-far-right-protesters-ukraine-23012014

    Ukraine: far-right extremists at core of ‘democracy’ protest

    http://www.channel4.com/news/kiev-svoboda-far-right-protests-right-sector-riot-police

    Ukraine: Neo-Nazi Militia Leader Threatens ‘Civil War’

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/177113#.UxHE_pvivzA

    I could go on.

  • Resident Dissident

    Clark

    I think you will find I was responding to the provocation from Scourge. But yes I think you will find that your perfectly respectable pacifist position of opposing all violent interventions on others sovereign territory in all circumstances (which is not one that I share – but on that I am being honest) was used by those who pretended to share your position, but are now truly revealed as the dishonest rogues they always were.

  • Resident Dissident

    Doug Scorgie

    Just Google far right and Russia – I think you will find that Mr Putin has his own rather long running and more significant fascist problem that he needs to deal with, should he want to, before worrying about that in other countries.

  • Clark

    I want to know where all the paramilitary riot gear in Ukraine has come from. Someone has prepared for these demonstrations.

    I find Doug Scorgie’s links above convincing. It was in US interests to precipitate a violent spearhead amid legitimate civil protest, and they seem to have achieved that by supporting the violent right wing. The situation looks similar to that in Syria, and before that, Libya.

    I also find the personal testimony from Uzbek in the UK and Phil’s friend in Kiev convincing. Ordinary people want change, and are prepared to fight for it with broken cobblestones.

    This looks very bad for the ordinary people of Ukraine. Both routes presented to them are corrupted.

  • OldMark

    Several commentators here have pointed out, quite correctly, that Russia is ignoring the agreement reached in 1994 that affirms the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia seems in fact to be busy creating ‘facts on the ground’ that may soon make that agreement a dead letter.

    We’ve been here before; even UNSC resolutions can be rendered redundant if powerful forces decide they are best consigned to the dustbin:

    From UNSC 1244 on the status of Kosovo-

    ‘Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2’

  • Clark

    Resident dissident, I see no provocation from Doug Scorgie. In respect for me, please spell his name correctly. If you see provocation, PLEASE do not respond with counter-provocation. Do you consider that a reasonable request? As out there in the world, so here on this blog. Escalation can serve only violent ends, a breakdown of meaningful discussion. Do you accept this?

  • Mary

    ‘I want to know where all the paramilitary riot gear in Ukraine has come from. Someone has prepared for these demonstrations.

    I find Doug Scorgie’s links above convincing. It was in US interests to precipitate a violent spearhead amid legitimate civil protest, and they seem to have achieved that by supporting the violent right wing. The situation looks similar to that in Syria, and before that, Libya.’

    It seems that Mr Omidyar was involved Clark. Certainly Ms Nuland and her $5billion.

    http://pando.com/2014/02/28/pierre-omidyar-co-funded-ukraine-revolution-groups-with-us-government-documents-show/

    We will never know. I am going outside to plant a tree. Some displacement activity!

  • Resident Dissident

    Clark

    Might I kindly suggest that you stop being so one sided in your judgements – if someone wishes to blame everything that has happened in the Ukraine on fascists provoked by the EU and US perhaps you might wish to see that as the original provocation and target that as well as those who respond. I think that you should note that DS’s provocation came after a long stream of posters providing evidence as to why there was a lot more than fascists behind the removal of the previous Ukraine regime – whose points DS continually fails to address.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I have already asked Doug Scorgie for a response. I shall post an updated version, with emphasis:

    “Doug Scorgie, would you think it right to say that the EU, UK and USA precipitated the crisis in Ukraine with a financial offer and political support for the far righr, but that it was Russia that permitted it to develop by supporting corrupt misrule over a long time?”

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I reiterate, I see no “provocation” from Doug Scorgie. I see one side of an argument from him, and I see one side of an argument from you. If arguing on just one side is a provocation, then you are equally guilty.

  • OldMark

    ‘Makes the “infantile and bungled” meddling of the west look subtle and professional’.

    The ‘West’ certainly deploys far superior PR in support of ‘regime change’ when compared to the clunky efforts of Russia. If Putin has his version of the NED, it must be a cheapskates version-

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=National_Endowment_for_Democracy

    ‘This looks very bad for the ordinary people of Ukraine. Both routes presented to them are corrupted.’

    Clark- I’d second that prognostication.

  • Resident Dissident

    Clark

    Provocation is usually in the eye of its target and/or the intent of the giver – which will be why you do not always see it. Pointless discussing further.

  • Resident Dissident

    Doug Scorgie

    Nice to know you know how to Google – tried my earlier suggestion yet?

    I get my inspiration from lots of places including the splendid Shiraz Socialist. Don’t you think he has a point?

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I offer to meet you and protest Russian action in Ukraine at the Russian Embassy, if you consider that appropriate.

    No, I think the spoof piece on shirazsocialist.wordpress.com misses a very important point. The utter failure of the demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq to affect our so-called democracies caused the entire movement to be dispirited. It lead to apathy, and this sort of spoof just makes that matter worse.

    This, from you, also seems provocative:

    Nice to know you know how to Google – tried my earlier suggestion yet?

  • Resident Dissident

    Clark

    “This, from you, also seems provocative:

    “Nice to know you know how to Google – tried my earlier suggestion yet?”

    and

    “Nice to know where you get your inspiration from” – wasn’t?

    I am not a turn the other cheek liberal, I’m afraid.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, yes I suppose that was provocative of Doug Scorgie.

    Doug, I ask you to desist too. Please.

    I know nothing about that blog.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, you wrote:

    I am not a turn the other cheek liberal, I’m afraid.

    Just how far do you think hostility in argument should escalate? I’d rather you allied with me in reducing tensions. As out there in the world, so here on this blog.

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