Ukraine 2014

Written by  //  November 2, 2014  //  Europe & EU, Russia  //  7 Comments

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David (Jones): Crisis in Ukraine: Splitting Ukraine could prove the best solution
vs
David Kilgour: Crisis in Ukraine: A lesson in Finnish history may be the key to a peaceful conclusion
(7 March)
Charlie Rose: Zbigniew Brzezinski on the unrest in the Ukraine. ( 19 February)

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Ukraine: Donetsk votes for new reality in country that does not exist
The election for the region’s prime minister has given hope to older generations that they will never again be part of Ukraine
With armed men in the polling station, no voter lists, and international observers coming from an organisation concocted the night before the vote, these were no normal elections.
But then the Donetsk People’s Republic is no normal country. It is no country at all, according to most of the world. But the vote for prime minister here and in neighbouring Luhansk region on Sunday was one more step towards creating a new reality on the ground and carving out a chunk of Ukraine that will no longer be controlled by Kiev. Moscow has already said it will recognise the results.
26 October
Pro-Europe parties secure big election win in Ukraine: exit poll

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed a sweeping victory for pro-Europe parties in an election on Sunday, saying the vote showed people backed his plan to end a separatist conflict, his pro-Western course and democratic reforms.
Poroshenko’s bloc took 23 percent of the votes cast for a field of 29 competing parties, just ahead of the party of his ally, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, according to an exit poll issued after voting stations closed in the ex-Soviet republic.
24 October
Ukraine voters to pass verdict on pro-Europe politics
(BBC) Sunday could be a big day for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. His nation will hold its first parliamentary elections since the Maydan protests and subsequent conflict with Russia. The Ukrainian businessman-turned-politician is expected to secure 30-35% of the vote, according to recent polls. There’s a good chance he could end up with a working majority in the Rada (the Ukrainian legislature).
The elections come at a moment of internal and external crisis for Ukraine. The fighting in the country’s east has been largely halted, but Russia has annexed Crimea despite Western outcry, and no one can be sure if or when the Kremlin will move to seize more Ukrainian territory.
The economy is collapsing, gas negotiations with Russia are still unsettled, and there is growing dissatisfaction with the scope and pace of reforms.
Balloting will be held across the territory of Ukraine, aside from separatist-controlled areas around Donetsk and Luhansk and the whole of Crimea.
The fact that the elections will take place at all is being called a victory for the country’s very imperfect democracy, however, and an endorsement of the decision to cast Ukraine’s fate with the West.
17 September
Ukraine: how to close the door on Putin
By Timothy Garton Ash
Europe can resolve this crisis and counter Russia’s aggression, but it needs a clear 10-year plan

(The Guardian) The European Union must develop a 10-year plan for Ukraine. This plan will also define what Europe itself will be a decade hence. In tribute to Europe’s pivotal politician, who has clearly led Europe’s evolving policy towards Ukraine, we might call it the Merkel plan. If it succeeds, a characteristically European version of liberal order will have prevailed over the conservative, nationalist recipe for permanent, violent disorder represented by Vladimir Putin. If it fails, Europe fails again.
Our plan should have three main prongs – military, political and economic – each of them with multiple components, all to be adapted as circumstances change. The US has its part to play, but in a supporting, not leading, role.
To have a plan, we Europeans must know what we are responding to. This is difficult, since Putin is in the erratic, hubristic mental state typical of your late-period autocrat. Nonetheless, my best guess is that what he currently aims to do is to keep southeastern Ukraine in such a state of turmoil, divided power and Russian influence that the country as a whole cannot consolidate its position as a sovereign, functioning state – let alone move closer to the EU and Nato. Crucial to this strategy is a porous Russian-Ukrainian frontier, through which Russian arms and agitators can move at will.
3 September
Confusion as Ukraine and Russia announce progress towards peace
(Reuters) – Ukraine said on Wednesday its president had agreed with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on steps towards a “ceasefire regime” in Kiev’s conflict with pro-Russian rebels, but the Kremlin denied any actual truce deal, sowing confusion on the eve of a NATO summit.
“The parties reached mutual understanding on the steps that will facilitate the establishment of peace,” said a statement by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s office, replacing an earlier statement that had spoken of a “permanent ceasefire”.
Putin’s spokesman said the leaders agreed on steps towards peace but not a ceasefire in the conflict, which has killed more than 2,600 people since April and provoked the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
1 September
Ukraine rebels seek ‘special status’, crisis talks to resume on Friday
(Reuters) – Pro-Russia separatists sat down for preliminary Ukraine peace talks on Monday due to resume later this week in the Belarusian capital Minsk, saying they would be prepared to stay part of Ukraine if they were granted “special status”.
The meeting of the so-called “contact group”, at which the rebels also said one of their key conditions would be for Kiev to immediately end its military offensive, ended without any details being announced but a promise to continue consultations.
The separatists issued their call as the Ukrainian military faced a run of reverses on the battlefield which Kiev has ascribed to support for the rebels from at least 1,600 Russian combat troops. Moscow denies its troops are in Ukraine.
27 August
The Silence of the BRICS
(Project Syndicate) If the West’s response to the crisis in Ukraine has been weak and misguided, the reaction of the world’s rising powers has been one of willful blindness. China, for example, has effectively endorsed Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine. That should have set off alarms bells in India, given China’s claims on large swathes of Indian sovereign territory, but there is no sign yet that anyone has noticed.
When the foundations of the global order are threatened, great powers must not adopt a policy of inaction and silence. For their part, emerging powers like India, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey must, at the very least, loudly and categorically defend the fundamental rules of the international system that has enabled them to grow and prosper. Otherwise, when world leaders finally do wake up and take action, they could find that they have stumbled into yet another global catastrophe.
26 August
Poroshenko to seek ceasefire plan after ‘very tough’ talks with Putin
(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised after late-night talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to work on an urgent ceasefire plan to defuse the separatist conflict in the east of his former Soviet republic.
The first negotiations between the two leaders since June were described by Putin as positive, but he said it was not for Russia to get into the details of truce terms between the Kiev government and two rebel eastern regions.
12 August
Russia sends big aid convoy to Ukraine, West sounds warnings
(Reuters) – A Russian convoy carrying food, water and other aid set off on Tuesday for eastern Ukraine, where government forces are closing in on pro-Russian rebels, but Kiev said it would not allow the vehicles to cross onto its territory. Kiev and Western governments warned Moscow against any attempt to turn the operation into a military intervention by stealth in a region facing a humanitarian crisis after four months of warfare.”This cargo will be reloaded onto other transport vehicles (at the border) by the Red Cross,” Ukrainian presidential aide Valery Chaly said.
David Jones: For MH17 victims, justice may never come
Precedent suggests acrimonious, inconclusive finger-pointing to no ultimate result.
(Embassy) There is hue and cry over who, what and when. Ottawa immediately called for a full investigation, bluntly using the tragedy to excoriate Moscow for Russia’s role in the war. The United Nations has fulminated and fibrillated to a fare-thee-well. This also is a meaningless, legalistic exercise.
Does anyone expect the shooters to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court? Or by juridical tribunals in any country losing citizens? … But any thought of bringing these individuals to justice is a waste. Anyone attempting to promote the possibility of justice is insulting the intelligence of readers. It simply will not happen.
10 August
Before the fear of war, fear of fracking in Ukraine
People in the embattled Donbass know the shale beneath their feet could be the real reason for conflict in their towns
(Al Jazeera) with pipes in their backyards or running right next to their homes, with their feet firmly on ground that stands over a vast shale deposit, they knew the struggle was not really over Ukraine itself. They were in the middle of a war about energy.
8 August
Christopher Granville: Neutralizing Ukraine
(Project Syndicate) Though no one imagines that a lasting cease-fire in Gaza will, in itself, produce a substantive breakthrough in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the United States and other concerned governments continue to work tirelessly to halt the fighting. Yet, when it comes to the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine, the relevant external powers – that is, the US, the European Union, and Russia – are not only failing to achieve a cease-fire; they are refusing to pursue a solution that, unlike in the case of Israel and Palestine, is there for the taking.
All that is needed is to introduce into the Ukrainian constitution a provision that significantly impedes membership in any military alliance, whether NATO or the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization of the Commonwealth of Independent States. For example, the decision to join such an alliance – or even to implement an agreement that allows a foreign country to base its troops on Ukrainian soil – could require the approval of a qualified majority of, say, two-thirds of voters or regional legislature.
This approach would be consistent with the principle, which US President Barack Obama highlighted when announcing the latest round of sanctions against Russia last month, that Ukraine must be permitted to “chart its own path.” Above all, it would help the people of Ukraine – divided between inherently antagonistic identities – to live together peacefully.
Of course, Ukraine’s position may change in the future, with cultural, demographic, and economic shifts producing the needed consensus to abandon neutrality. What is important is that the constitution requires a super-majority – rather than, say, the easily reversible “non-bloc” resolution that the Ukrainian parliament adopted in 2010 – to join a military alliance. In such a deeply divided country, joining NATO by a simple majority vote would merely exacerbate unrest, regardless of Russia’s involvement.
20 July
The Tragedy of MH17: Attack Could Mark Turning Point in Ukraine Conflict
The downing of MH 17 could go down in history as a turning point in the Ukraine conflict. If it does, it wouldn’t be the first time that a civil aviation disaster has had enormous political consequences.
Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov characterized the downing of the Malaysian airliner near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk as being the equivalent of an Eastern European 9/11. While this may not be the best comparison, the July 17 disaster certainly does mark an important turning point — for Russia and President Vladimir Putin, and for Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, inaugurated only two months ago. It also represents a watershed moment for the West, and the Europeans in particular, because it could force them to begin taking a more decisive approach in the Ukraine conflict.
Russia’s claims that this is a purely a regional conflict that does not concern the rest of the world can no longer be allowed to stand unchallenged.
The official investigations will continue for a long time, and it seems unlikely that all parties will recognize the conclusions reached by the experts. But it is already clear who the main suspects are in the downing of the airliner: the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine who had received substantial weaponry from Russia in recent weeks, and may have unintentionally struck a commercial airliner with a surface-to-air missile. They apparently believed it was a Ukrainian military aircraft.
Pro-Russian rebel leader says will hand over MH17 black boxes to investigators
(CS Monitor) Alexander Borodai denied that rebels had interfered with the crash site of the downed Malaysian passenger jet. Kiev alleges that Russia supplied sophisticated missiles to the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian emergency spokeswoman said the armed rebels had forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and did not tell them where the bodies were going. Ukrainian government officials, meanwhile, prepared a disaster crisis center in the government-held city of Kharkiv, expecting to receive the bodies, but those hopes appeared delayed or even dashed Sunday.
“The bodies will go nowhere until experts arrive,” Borodai said.
Ukraine says rebels blocking crash inquiry
Russia and separatists accused of trying to hide role in MH17’s downing, even as European monitors gain access to site.
Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from the crash site, said the separatists had established a 20sq/km safe zone where wreckage and many bodies are still lying uncovered in the open.
But with no safe corridor to the site from areas held by Ukraine, there were concerns about the safety of the monitors. …
Before the OSCE team arrived, our correspondent reported seeing men with clipboards walking around as the first bodies were put into body bags by uniformed men. It was not known who they reported to.
For more than 40 hours, the site was not cordoned off, and public buses were still using a road going through the crash area.
18 July
World leaders demand answers after airliner downed over Ukraine with 298 dead
(Reuters) The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine … Analysts say the response of Germany and other EU powers to the incident – possibly imposing more sanctions – could be crucial in deciding the next phase of the standoff with Moscow. … The U.N. Security Council called for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the downing of the plane and “appropriate accountability” for those responsible.
Ukraine rebels accused of hiding evidence of links to MH17 crash
Photos, said to show Buk missile battery near crash site on day Malaysia Airlines plane was downed, removed from websites
Russian separatist groups in eastern Ukraine are hastily covering up all links to the Buk missile battery suspected to have been used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, according to western-based defence and intelligence specialists.
As the US, Ukraine and other governments sought to determine who pressed the button, postings on a rebel social website boasting of having shot down what they claimed was an Antonov Ukrainian military plane have been taken down.
Photographs and video purportedly showing a Buk battery being moved in the rebel-held area between Snizhne and Torez close to the crash site in eastern Ukraine on Thursday have been removed from a separatist website. One picture was alleged to show a Buk vehicle with a missile in vertical launch mode beside a supermarket in the district of Torez.
Ukrainian intelligence has published a tape claimed to be a recording between rebels and Russian intelligence in which they realised there had been a catastrophic blunder. A Nato intelligence specialist quoted by the military analysts Janes said the recordings “show that the Russian ‘helpers’ realise that they now have an international incident on their hands – and they probably also gave the order for separatists to erase all evidence – including those internet postings.” Putin calls for Ukraine ceasefire — Russian president’s call for both sides to enter talks comes as Moscow and Kiev blame each other for the downing of flight MH17 ; Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: world demands answers from Russia ; MH17 crash: Ukraine releases alleged intercepts
27 June
Ukraine Signs Trade Deal with the European Union
(Foreign Policy) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a trade deal with the European Union, called the Association Agreement. … Russia, who has long opposed the pact, has warned that there will be “serious consequences” for Ukraine’s decision to sign.
Earlier in the week, Russia threatened it would suspend preferential tariffs if Ukraine went forward with the deal. It is also less likely to curb the flow of arms and supplies it has been providing to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement on Friday, blamed the months of unrest on Western leaders.
23 June
Russia’s Putin renounces right to send troops to Ukraine: Kremlin
(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin asked Russia’s upper house on Tuesday to revoke the right it had granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine in defense of Russian-speakers there, the Kremlin said in a statement. Putin’s spokesman said the Kremlin leader’s move was aimed at assisting fledgling peace talks, which began on Monday, to end the conflict.
23 June
Pro-Russian separatists agree to honour Ukraine ceasefire
Separatist leaders in Luhansk and Donetsk will observe ceasefire until Friday and release OSCE observers held captive
(The Guardian) The announcement came as the Russian and US presidents traded demands over the conflict. Russian president Vladimir Putin urged direct talks between the government and the rebels. President Barack Obama warned Putin that Moscow will face additional costs if it does not help ease the crisis…. In Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin underlined in his conversation with Obama that to normalise the situation in eastern Ukraine, it’s necessary to “effectively end fighting and start direct talks between the conflicting parties.”
… Obama urged Putin to use his personal influence with the separatists to promote peace and stability in Ukraine, stop backing the insurgents and halt the flow of arms across the border. Earnest said that while the US believes a diplomatic solution to the crisis is still possible, “Russia will face additional costs if we do not see concrete actions to de-escalate the situation.”
20 June
New battles as Ukraine says 300 separatists killed in fighting
16 June
Russia cuts off gas to Ukraine as Kiev orders border secured
(Reuters) Calling time on weeks of wrangling in talks over natural gas supplies, Russia said Kiev had missed a Monday morning deadline to repay $1.95 billion owed for previous purchases and announced Ukraine would now only get gas it has paid for in advance.
At the same time, Moscow insisted that Ukraine must let Russian gas flow across the country through international pipelines to Russia’s clients in the European Union – noting a temptation for Kiev to tap into those supplies in transit.
11 June
Yuri M. Zhukov The Economics Behind Eastern Ukraine’s Upheaval
(Foreign Affairs) Why did the insurgency reach fever pitch in Donbass but not in Ukraine’s other protest hotspots with large Russian-speaking populations, such as Kharkiv and Odessa?
… Donetsk is Ukraine’s most populous and heavily industrialized province. Donetsk and Luhansk regions account for a sixth of the country’s economic output and most of its metallurgy, heavy machinery, and coal. They export up to 70 percent of local products, and Russia is their single largest customer. With almost half of its workers holding industrial jobs, Donbass was hit hardest by the collapse of the Soviet Union and stands to suffer the most from any future trade agreement with the EU.
Indeed, this region — Ukraine’s rust belt — has been in constant decline since 1991. Over half of the local coal mines have shut down. Weak property rights have deterred new investment, and the area gradually devolved from a net tax contributor to a net receiver. … Opinion polls indicate that, for many years and to a far greater extent than in other parts of Ukraine, strong majorities in Donbass have seen Russia’s economic standard of living as superior to their own. The pattern of violence in Donbass reflects this economic profile. Data gathered from Ukrainian and international news agencies show disproportionately high levels of fighting in coal-mining districts. Even after adjusting for other factors (such as Russian language, policing, population density, terrain, roads, and spillover from neighboring towns), the size of the local mining labor force remains the strongest predictor of rebel activity.
6 June
Putin, Ukraine leader break crisis ice at D-Day event
(Reuters) – The leaders of Russia and Ukraine held their first talks on Friday since Moscow annexed Crimea, airing ways to end their four-month conflict in a brief encounter during commemorations in France of the World War Two D-Day landings.
French officials have been plotting for weeks to use the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings – a key event helping to end World War Two – to try to break the ice in the most serious European security crisis since the end of the Cold War.
President Hollande’s office said Putin and Poroshenko shook hands and agreed that detailed talks on a ceasefire between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine would begin within a few days.
Russia to propose UN resolution for Ukraine
Russia will put forward a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council today to establish humanitarian corridors in the eastern part of Ukraine to enable people to leave the war-torn areas, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Reuters (6/2), The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (6/2)  Al Jazeera (5/30)
26 May
Ukraine’s Poroshenko says separatists must lay down arms
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s next president, Petro Poroshenko, said on Monday he would not negotiate with armed separatists in the Russian-speaking east of his country but was open to dialogue with people there with grievances, provided they rejected violence. …
Questioned repeatedly about how he would bring peace to the east, where scores have been killed in clashes involving the Ukrainian army, Ukrainian militias and pro-Russian separatists, Poroshenko said Kiev would address genuine grievances and provide assurances on people’s rights there, including the use of the Russian language. … Poroshenko said he hoped to meet Russian leaders in the first half of June, adding that restoring stability in eastern Ukraine would require Moscow’s involvement.
25 May
Ukrainians back Poroshenko to find way out of crisisUkrainian businessman, politician and presidential candidate Poroshenko gestures to supporters at his election headquarters in Kiev
The size of his victory reflects in part Ukrainians rallying behind the frontrunner in the hope of ending a political vacuum that Russian President Vladimir Putin has exploited to annex the Crimea peninsula and offer solidarity, and maybe more, to rebels in the east who want to break with Kiev and accept Russian rule.
(Reuters) – Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate manufacturer, claimed the Ukrainian presidency with an emphatic election victory on Sunday, taking on a fraught mission to quell pro-Russian rebels and steer his fragile nation closer to the West.
A veteran survivor of Ukraine’s feuding political class who threw his weight and money behind the revolt that brought down his Moscow-backed predecessor three months ago, the burly 48-year-old won 55-percent in exit polls on a first round ballot marred by millions unable to vote in troubled eastern regions.
Results will not be announced until Monday, but runner-up Yulia Tymoshenko, on 13 percent, made clear she would concede, sparing the country a tense three weeks until a runoff round.
21 May
After Ukraine Elections, Market Will Love Russia Again
(Forbes) Poroshenko wants to make certain that Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty be maintained and that the pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern and southern regions be dealt with fiercely. But at the same time, he is attempting to strike some conciliatory notes toward Russia by insisting, for example, that a referendum on Ukraine joining NATO will not occur on his watch … Ukraine’s entrance into NATO is the line in the sand for Putin. This would lead to more political unrest between the West and Moscow.
Additionally, Poroshenko is only willing to sign an economic deal with the E.U. and will sidestep any defense relationship with them.
Ukraine’s ‘Chocolate King’ aims for top job
(CNN) Petro Poroshenko is already the “Chocolate King” of Ukraine, but he has his sights set higher: He wants to be president. … his wealth includes experience as well as money. He’s a former foreign minister and former chairman of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, and now a member of parliament, focusing on European integration.
Given the opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s election, political analyst Igor Popov has no doubt that Poroshenko will be elected president. He leads by a wide margin over his nearest rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in a field of more than 20 candidates.
Ukraine’s Poroshenko sets out vision
(FT) Pro-western billionaire candidate vows to get tough on pro-Russian rebels in east, but remains someone Putin is likely to be willing to negotiate with
20 May
Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov confronts rebellion
Rallies have been held in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in protest at pro-Russian separatism, at the instigation of Ukraine’s richest man.
(BBC) Steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov said “people are tired of living in fear and terror” and accused separatists of leading Ukraine towards “genocide”.
Hundreds of people attended a rally in Mr Akhmetov’s football stadium, while others blared car horns.
Separatist leaders have threatened to “nationalise” Mr Akhmetov’s assets. That will do it every time
Meanwhile, Russia has said its troops on Ukraine’s border are set to withdraw.
16 May
Ukraine crisis: UN sounds alarm on human rights in east
(BBC) The UN has warned of an “alarming deterioration” in human rights in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are fighting security forces.
It also found “serious problems” of harassment and persecution of ethnic Tatars in Crimea, the mainly ethnic Russian region Moscow annexed in March.
The UN’s conclusions are contained in a 37-page report, its second monthly assessment of the situation
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said in Geneva: “Those with influence on the armed groups responsible for much of the violence in eastern Ukraine [must] do their utmost to rein in these men who seem bent on tearing the country apart.”
The UN’s report details growing lawlessness in eastern and southern Ukraine:
In its response, Russia’s foreign ministry said the report lacked any semblance of objectivity, and accused its authors of following “political orders” to whitewash Ukraine’s new, pro-Western leaders.
14 May
What does this accomplish without the rebels at the table?
Ukraine crisis: Brokered talks open without rebels
(BBC) Talks to end the crisis in Ukraine have begun in Kiev, brokered by international monitors, but pro-Russian rebels are not represented.
Ukraine’s interim leaders and other public figures are at the talks, which are part of an OSCE roadmap plan.
13 May
Ukraine carve-up risks debt restructuring or default
(Emerging Markets) The splintering of Ukraine could have a big impact on the country’s bonds, according to an analyst who warns that debt might have to be reissued or even defaulted on if the country continues to lose regions to independence — or Russia.
Ukraine could be forced to restructure or reissue its debt if further devolution of its provinces takes place, according to a new report.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Vadim Khramov on Tuesday outlined a range of separation scenarios and their likely impact on the Ukrainian economy and its bonds.
In his base case, Ukraine is pressured into deep constitutional reform which leads to a more federal and decentralised Ukraine without formal separation. But he said full separation would pose a risk to IMF financing and — in the worst case — a default requiring “external and local debt restructuring with sizable haircuts to bond values”.
Son of US VP Joe Biden appointed to board of major Ukrainian gas company
Burisma Holdings was set up in 2002. Its licenses cover Ukraine’s three key hydrocarbon basins, including Dnieper-Donets (in eastern Ukraine), Carpathian (western) and Azov-Kuban (southern Ukraine).
The Biden board news came as Gazprom moved Ukraine to a prepaid gas delivery regime and sent Naftogaz, Ukraine’s gas champion, a $1.66 billion bill that is due June 2, or Moscow will halt supplies.
12 May
(Foreign Policy Brief) Ukraine called the two unofficial independence referendums organized by pro-Russia separatist groups in the east on Sunday “a farce.” According to the groups, citizens voted overwhelming for self-rule — 89 percent in Donetsk and 96 percent in Luhansk. In a statement, the Kremlin called the result “the will of the people” and expects it to be implemented.
8 May
Springtime Conflict Spells Winter Crisis for Ukraine
(IPS) – It’s springtime in Ukraine, but conflict and economic threats are bringing an early chill. During these months when the country normally stores up energy reserves for winter, access to natural gas may be Russia’s best weapon to influence Ukraine’s new government.
“Ukraine is heavily dependent on natural gas,” said Edward Chow, a senior fellow of the Energy and National Security Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Ukraine Separatists Defy Putin, Vow to Proceed With Independence Vote
(Foreign Policy Magazine) The news comes one day after Putin appeared to soften his stance, calling on separatists to delay the referendum and announcing a withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. According to analysts, however, the move could be little more than an attempt by the Russian president to avoid additional sanctions by distancing himself from the separatists.
30 April
Ukraine’s government has lost control of east, says acting president
Oleksandr Turchynov says security forces are unable to control situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions
(The Guardian) Ukraine’s acting president has admitted his government has practically lost control of the east of the country, with his security forces “helpless” to stop a rolling takeover by pro-Russia gunmen.
Oleksandr Turchynov said numerous Ukrainian military and security personnel had defected to the rebels, taking their arms with them. Using the language of defeat, he told a meeting of regional governors: “I will be frank. Today, security forces are unable to take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions quickly under control.”
His comments came after anti-Kiev militants seized a string of official buildings in the eastern city of Luhansk on Tuesday. Only the city’s police station remained under nominal central command.
Separatists storm prosecutor’s office
(FT) Pro-Russian activists intensify control over eastern Ukraine with view to holding May 11 referendum on creating ‘people’s republic’
Yanukovich accused of funding rebels
(FT) Acting prosecutor accuses ex-president of fleeing country with $32bn and says 15 banks are also being probed over funding separatist activities
28 April
‘Hurt Russia by helping Ukraine’
Tough economic sanctions would hurt Russia more than Europe, economist Georg Zachmann tells DW. He argues the EU should do more to support the Ukrainian economy.
26 April
Sanctions loom as observers held in east Ukraine
(AP) — As Western governments vowed to impose more sanctions against Russia and its supporters in eastern Ukraine, a group of foreign military observers remained in captivity Saturday accused of being NATO spies by a pro-Russian insurgency.
The German-led, eight-member team was traveling under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe when they were detained Friday..
Ban urges Ukraine, Russia to avoid violence, de-escalate tensions
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is pressing Ukraine and Russia to “refrain from violence.” The situation in Ukraine “could quickly spin out of control with consequences we cannot predict” if efforts aren’t made to de-escalate the situation, Ban says. DAWN Media Group (Pakistan)/Agence France-Presse (4/24), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (4/25), Reuters (4/25), BBC (4/25)
Ukraine crisis: West wants to ‘seize control’ – Russia
(BBC) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West of wanting to “seize” Ukraine, amid escalating rhetoric between Russia and the US.
The US says Russia has failed to live up to an agreement to end the crisis struck in Geneva last week.
American officials say Russia is behind unrest in eastern Ukrainian cities.
23 April
Everybody calm down. Peace is still possible in Ukraine.
By Chris Westdal, former Canadian ambassador to Kiev and to Moscow
(iPolitics) The urgent diplomatic task now is to help Ukrainians keep the peace, however shaken, and reach a deal together, a deal Donetsk will tell Moscow it can live with too — all while having an election, trying to launch fundamental reforms (with oligarchs still in powerful political roles), combatting the “cancer of corruption” and surviving a convulsing economy.
22 April
Eric Margolis: Amateur Hour in Ukraine
(Information Clearing House) Prince Bismarck would never have allowed Ukraine to boil over and set the United States, its appendage NATO, and Russia on a collision course. He would have been horrified to see Washington foolishly making enemies of Russia and China at the same time. Divide your enemies and set then against one another was the essence of Bismarck’s brilliantly effective diplomacy. Had Kaiser Wilhelm II retained Bismarck as his premier foreign policy advisor, Germany may have avoided blundering into the horrors of World War I.
Unfortunately for the author, his conclusion undermines part of his argument: “After the 1878 Congress of Berlin that Bismarck organized to sort out the great power’s conflicting claims to the volatile Balkans, the Iron Chancellor observed that no one had asked the locals involved their opinion.” Fast forward to today’s Ukraine where Bismarck’s wise advise still rings true.” Not sure the Balkans present a sterling example of long-term solutions. Nor would most African nations agree that  the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 to Divide Africa  did much for nation building in that continent.Africans were not invited or made privy to their decisions.”
Ukraine peace deal falters as rebels show no sign of surrender
(Reuters) – An international agreement to avert wider conflict in Ukraine was faltering on Monday, with pro-Moscow separatist gunmen showing no sign of surrendering government buildings they have seized.
U.S. and European officials say they will hold Moscow responsible and impose new economic sanctions if the separatists do not clear out of government buildings they have occupied across swathes of eastern Ukraine over the past two weeks. Washington, which signed last week’s accord in Geneva along with Moscow, Kiev and the European Union, said it would decide “in days” on additional sanctions if Russia does not take steps to implement the agreement.Biden warns on Ukraine as Russia dismisses sanctions threat
20 April
Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia
(NYT) For two weeks, the mysteriously well-armed, professional gunmen known as “green men” have seized Ukrainian government sites in town after town, igniting a brush fire of separatist unrest across eastern Ukraine. Strenuous denials from the Kremlin have closely followed each accusation by Ukrainian officials that the world was witnessing a stealthy invasion by Russian forces.
18 April
Deal reached to reduce tensions in eastern Ukraine
Ukraine, Russia, the EU and U.S. agreed on Thursday on a plan to de-escalate tensions and violence in eastern Ukraine. The plan, which calls for illegal militias to disband and disarm, grants amnesty to protesters and established monitors, is being rejected by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk who continue to occupy government buildings. BBC (4/17), BBC (4/18)
Ukraine crisis: Kerry says deal reached to ease tensions
Putin denies Russian special forces are in eastern Ukraine
The Ukranian Trilemma
(OpenCanada)The ongoing drama in Ukraine is rife with paradox. Russian special forces “liberated” Crimea without resistance and now uniformed gunmen who seem to be a mixture of locals and Russians have occupied key positions in the eastern region of Donbas, including police and municipal offices in Donestk, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Sentiments on the streets in these cities are split, but typically people seem to want looser relations with Kyiv and closer ties with Moscow.
Ukraine can be said to be facing three challenges. Democracy dictates bowing to the will of the people; nationalism dictates resisting Russia; the exigencies of proximity, trade, and finance dictate economic intercourse with both Russia and Western Europe.
15 April
Tanks roll as Ukraine troops retake airport amid casualties and growing fears of a civil war
(Bloomberg via National Post) Ukraine began a military-backed “anti-terrorist” operation to quash a pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern border region where militants have seized buildings as Russia’s Prime Minister said the country risks spiralling into civil war.
Armed troops today recaptured Kramatorsk airport in eastern Ukraine from pro-Russian militiamen amid reports of heavy gunfire and the downing of a fight jet.
13 April
Ukraine gives rebels deadline to disarm or face military operation
(Reuters) – Ukraine has given pro-Russian separatists a Monday morning deadline to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by its armed forces, raising the risk of a military confrontation with Moscow. … acting president Oleksander Turchinov gave rebels occupying state buildings until 0600 GMT to lay down their weapons.
Armed pro-Russian protesters seize city in eastern Ukraine
US announces Joe Biden will visit Kiev as unrest spreads, adding to fears that conflict could disrupt energy supplies across Europe
11 April
Ukraine looks to Europe for gas as Russia ups pressure
(Reuters) – Ukraine said on Friday it would turn to Europe for gas and won a promise of help from Brussels after Russia warned it could cut supplies over Kiev’s refusal to pay Moscow’s “political, uneconomic price” for supplies.
9 April
Separatists build barricades in east Ukraine, Kiev warns of force
(Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on Wednesday and called on President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use force to restore order.
But protesters were also engaged in talks to ease the standoff, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion, and lawmakers from eastern Ukraine proposed an amnesty for protesters to defuse tension.
8 April
Ukraine crisis: Nato warns Russia against further intervention
(BBC) “I urge Russia to step back and not escalate the situation in east Ukraine,” Mr Rasmussen said in Paris … He called on Russia to “pull back the tens of thousands of troops” it had massed on Ukraine’s borders and “engage in a genuine dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities”.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is setting up a special “Support Group for Ukraine” to co-ordinate assistance, an EU diplomatic source told BBC News.The group will consist of several dozen people and its work could be extended to cover fellow ex-Soviet states Georgia and Moldova, the source added.
Ukraine crisis: Is Russia ready to move into eastern Ukraine?
(BBC) With Nato assessments that there are some 40,000 Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border ready to move at a few hours’ notice, the heightening war of words between Moscow and Kiev raises a genuine prospect of conflict.
If Russia requires a pretext to move into eastern Ukraine, then many of the elements of that narrative are already in place.
6 April
Pro-Russia protesters seize Ukraine buildings, Kiev blames Putin
(Reuters) – Pro-Russian protesters seized state buildings in three east Ukrainian cities on Sunday, triggering accusations from the pro-European government in Kiev that President Vladimir Putin was orchestrating “separatist disorder”. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov vowed to restore order in eastern Ukraine without using violence and also accused Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, whose political base was in Donetsk, of conspiring with Putin to fuel tensions.
2 April
IMF director Lagarde: Ukraine needs to make tough reforms as part of loan conditions
Ukraine’s economy can’t make necessary reforms without a lifeline from the IMF or others in the international community, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde told Judy Woodruff in an interview in Washington, DC today. Corruption, bad monetary policy and other issues have limited Ukraine’s economy, and the current government crisis has disconnected the struggling nation from international financial markets.
But to qualify for aid, the IMF is requiring Ukraine to conform to strict qualifications.
25 March
West, Russia signal line drawn in Ukraine crisis thorough summary of the current status.
(Reuters) – Russia and the West drew a tentative line under the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday after U.S. President Barack Obama and his allies agreed to hold off on more damaging economic sanctions unless Moscow goes beyond the seizure of Crimea.
24 March
Obama, G7 leaders meet without Russia as Ukraine exits Crimea
(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama conferred with major industrialized allies in the Group of Seven on Monday on how to pressure Russia over its seizure of Crimea after Ukraine told its remaining troops to leave the region for their own safety. Acknowledging defeat, Ukraine pulls troops from Crimea
21 March
European Union signs landmark association agreement with Ukraine
(Reuters) – The European Union and Ukraine signed the core elements of a political association agreement on Friday, committing to the same deal former president Viktor Yanukovich rejected last November, a move which led to his overthrow.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, EU leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, and the leaders of the bloc’s 28 nations signed the core chapters of the Association Agreement on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.
The deal commits Ukraine and the EU to closer political and economic cooperation, although more substantial parts of the agreement concerning free trade will only be signed after Ukraine has held new presidential elections in May.
16 March
Crimea referendum: Voters ‘back Russia union’
(BBC) Some 95.5% of voters in Crimea have supported joining Russia in a disputed referendum, officials announce, after half the votes have been counted.
Many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum, and the EU and US condemned it as illegal. Crimea Vote Doesn’t Offer ‘No’ Option For Joining Russia On the ballot paper, voters were asked whether they would like Crimea to rejoin Russia.A second question asked whether Ukraine should return to its status under the 1992 constitution, which would give the region much greater autonomy.
12 March
U.S. Senate panel approves Ukraine bill with sanctions, IMF reforms
(Reuters) – A U.S. Senate panel approved legislation on Wednesday that would impose strict sanctions on Russians involved in Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, provide aid to the new government in Kiev, and implement reforms of the International Monetary Fund.
11 March
Ukraine’s Increasing Polarization and the Western Challenge
By Stratfor Eurasia analyst Eugene Chausovsky.
As the Ukraine crisis moves into the diplomatic realm, a major test of U.S. willingness and ability to truly stand up to Russia is emerging. Certainly, Washington has been quite vocal during the current Ukrainian crisis and has shown signs of getting further involved elsewhere in the region, such as in Poland and the Baltic states. But concrete action from the United States with sufficient backing from the Europeans will be the true test of how committed the West is to standing up to Moscow. Maneuvering around Ukraine’s deep divisions and Russian countermoves will be no easy task. But nothing short of concerted efforts by a united Western front will suffice to pull Ukraine and the rest of the borderlands toward the West.
Brett House: The West should forget about punishing Russia and do more to help Ukraine
(Quartz) Diplomatic isolation, asset freezes, and travel bans may be appropriate, but are unlikely to have much impact on Russia. Economic and financial sanctions that would actually bite aren’t credible. Russia does $100 billion in annual trade with Europe. One-third of European natural gas comes from Russia. The $3 billion in transit fees on that gas constitute Ukraine’s largest service export. And London’s banks house billions in oligarchs’ assets. Europe needs Russia and Vladimir Putin knows it. The solution? “Ukraine needs more time to reform its economy and put it on a sustainable path. The West should make its offer of aid more realistic.”
Ukraine: The Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Always Your Friend
By By Zoltán Grossman
(Information Clearing House) To progressives who have been celebrating the revolution in Ukraine: Be careful what you wish for. Ukraine now has the first European government in decades in which outright fascist parties have gained a significant role in the executive branch. In other European countries, far-right parties have won seats in the parliament, but not secured real power in the cabinet. Of course, not all Ukrainian revolutionaries are fascists or Nazis, as asserted in recent Russian propaganda. But it is equally wrong and irresponsible to assert that the presence of fascists and Nazis in the new government is merely Russian propaganda.
Putin weighs Ukraine talks but firm on Crimea
(Al Jazeera) Russia steps towards diplomacy but will not be moved on the fate of Crimea, which it insists has the right to secede.
Putin foe Khodorkovsky says Russia is lying about Ukraine
Former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, addressing thousands of people at the cradle of the uprising against Ukraine’s Moscow-backed leader, accused Russia on Sunday of being complicit in police violence against protesters.
9 March
Ukraine’s oligarchs: who are they – and which side are they on?
With two of them occupying key posts in the new government, the country’s richest men are key players in the unfolding crisis between Kiev and Moscow
7 March
Ukraine: Goodbye Cold War, hello globalised economy
The days of the ‘iron curtain’ are behind us; the West can’t intervene in Ukraine due to global economic dynamics.
(Al Jazeera) … If the sound of boots on the ground is still very real in Crimea, the Ukrainian conflict proved the incapacity of countries to engage in military conflict without being vulnerable to exogenous economic forces or having to suffer the consequences of capital flight and currency exchange rate fluctuations.
The reaction from oligarchs in Ukraine as well as the impact that the prospect of war had on both the Russian stock exchange and currency are solid proof that countries cannot operate bluntly as they did during the Cold War without closely monitoring global economic dynamics.
While the prospect of targeted economic sanctions such as asset freezing or visa restrictions had been inoffensive in Belarus and mostly inefficient in Syria, it has modified the forces on the exchequer in Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovich … fled because the powerful Ukrainian oligarchs turned their back on him in fear of economic sanctions from Europe that would have meant the end of their industrial empire and freedom of movement.
Ukraine crisis: Crimea parliament asks to join Russia
(BBC) The parliament said if its request was granted, Crimean citizens could give their view in a referendum on 16 March.
6 March
Chris Westdal: Kyiv has painted itself into a corner
(iPolitics) This crisis is not now (if it ever was) about trade. It will not be settled by sanctions, even if the West gets together on a credible threat of truly punishing sanctions — highly unlikely, given the massive collateral damage such an act would afflict on all the economies involved, including that of Ukraine.
On the crux of the issue — Ukrainian NATO membership — Putin has made two points. First, Russia controls Crimea, which will not join NATO. Indeed, it may in ten days vote to join Russia. And if Crimea does go through a democratic referendum, Putin will no doubt declare the 1994 Budapest Memorandum — which assured Ukraine of protection from threats or use of force against its territorial integrity and political independence in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons — to be moot.
Second, as Putin demonstrated by running up the Russian flag in Donetsk for a day and then running it down (point made without a shot fired), Russia is quite capable of destabilizing eastern Ukraine — and the Kremlin would not hesitate to do so if Ukraine were to join NATO. We’ve been warned.
5 March
How the Ukraine crisis ends
By Henry A. Kissinger

The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
4 March
Steve Saideman: The Limits of Power: Crimea Edition
It has taken a few days, but various folks are now reminding us that this is not about Obama being weak. This is about the West having few options. …  No, Russia is not the Soviet Union, but the larger dynamic is the same: great power – which the U.S. still has – does not mean infinite capability.
That is to say that there are very few policy options on the table for the U.S. and NATO. How could they punish Russia? Given that Russia is a central player in so many dynamics, there is little it can be excluded from.  Europe is dependent on Russia for oil and gas, meaning their interdependence is uneven, with Russia probably having, in the short term at least, more of a hammer than the Europeans. The use of force is off the table because our interests in Ukraine, which are fairly modest, are not worth a war with Russia.
Indeed, this is one core dynamic that cannot be overlooked – that Russia cares far, far more about Ukraine than the U.S./Canada/NATO does.
One U.S. analyst comments: Western dependence on Russian energy is overstated. And the Russians need money from sales. Europe May have more supply options than Russia has alternative purchasers. It is still a matter of will. And Russia has more than the West.
UN’s Serry departs Crimea; Security Council at impasse over Ukraine
Robert Serry, the United Nations’ special envoy in Crimea, was forced to leave the region Wednesday after harassment by pro-Russian groups. Meanwhile, the Security Council hasn’t reached consensus about action on Ukraine, writes Thalif Deen. Experts are hoping that diplomacy outside of official forums will help, Deen writes. The Guardian (London) (3/5), Inter Press Service (3/5)
Neil Macdonald: The Ukraine crisis through the whimsy of international law
Money and hard power count, and that’s that
(CBC) Vladimir Putin’s proclaimed justification for invading Ukraine — protecting Russian-speaking “compatriots” in that country from some imagined violence — stinks of tribalism.
His rationale is essentially ethnic nationalism, something responsible for so much of the evil done throughout human history.
Stated motivation aside, though, what Putin is doing is really no different from what other world powers do: protecting what they regard as national self-interest.
And so far, he’s done it without bloodletting
U.S., EU threaten sanctions against Russia’s engagement in Crimea
EU and U.S. officials are seeing to mediate talks between Russia and the Ukraine government over Crimea while threatening sanctions. United Nations special envoy Robert Serry attempted to travel to the Crimea region to aid negotiations but was unable to secure a flight. BBC (3/3), ForeignPolicy.com/The Cable blog (3/3), ABC News/The Associated Press (3/3), Reuters (3/3)
The New Ukraine: Inside Kiev’s House of Cards
(Spiegel) In the days after Yanukovych’s fall, the Ukrainian president’s lavish lifestyle spurred outrage around the world. Now the provisional government is struggling to avoid the corruption and clientelism that plagued its predecessors.
Ukraine: there’s no way out unless the west understands its past mistakes
(The Guardian) Western leaders mostly paint the whole dispute as totally one-sided: it is all Russia’s fault. But the Crimea crisis is directly related to the misguided steps taken after the Soviet Union’s fall
2 March
Ukraine crisis: G7 jointly condemns Russia, halts G8 prep
Ukraine mobilizes for war as world leaders threaten to isolate Russia economically
(CBC) Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission released a joint statement agreeing to “suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G8 Summit until the environment comes back where the G8 is able to have meaningful discussion.”
Finance ministers from the G7 pledged to throw a financial lifeline to Ukraine as long as the new government in Kyiv agreed to pursue economic reforms sought by the International Monetary Fund.
1 March

Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda
By Timothy Snyder
(New York review of Books) From Moscow to London to New York, the Ukrainian revolution has been seen through a haze of propaganda. Russian leaders and the Russian press have insisted that Ukrainian protesters were right-wing extremists and then that their victory was a coup. Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, used the same clichés after a visit with the Russian president at Sochi. After his regime was overturned, he maintained he had been ousted by “right-wing thugs,” a claim echoed by the armed men who seized control of airports and government buildings in the southern Ukrainian district of Crimea on Friday
Interestingly, the message from authoritarian regimes in Moscow and Kiev was not so different from some of what was written during the uprising in the English-speaking world, especially in publications of the far left and the far right. From Lyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review through Ron Paul’s newsletter through The Nation and The Guardian, the story was essentially the same: little of the factual history of the protests, but instead a play on the idea of a nationalist, fascist, or even Nazi coup d’état. …
Whatever course the Russian intervention may take, it is not an attempt to stop a fascist coup, since nothing of the kind has taken place. What has taken place is a popular revolution, with all of the messiness, confusion, and opposition that entails. The young leaders of the Maidan, some of them radical leftists, have risked their lives to oppose a regime that represented, at an extreme, the inequalities that we criticize at home. They have an experience of revolution that we do not. Part of that experience, unfortunately, is that Westerners are provincial, gullible, and reactionary. (1 March)

How Crimea Peninsula differs from the rest of UkraineCrimea map
(Global News) The Crimean peninsula, the main flashpoint in Ukraine’s crisis, is a pro-Russia part of Ukraine separated from the rest of the country geographically, historically and politically. It also hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine has accused Russia of invading it. Here’s some key information about the region: The Crimean Peninsula juts into the Black Sea, all but an island except for a narrow strip of land in the north connecting it to the mainland. On its eastern shore, a finger of land reaches out almost to Russia. It’s best known in the West as the site of the 1945 Yalta Conference, where Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sealed the postwar division of Europe.
It only became part of Ukraine when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula to his native land in 1954. This hardly mattered until the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 and Crimea ended up in an independent Ukraine. Despite that, nearly 60 per cent of its population of 2 million identify themselves as Russians.
The 1991 fall of the Soviet Union also brought the return of the Crimean Tatars, the native hosts of the land that fell to Russia under Catherine the Great in the 18th century. They were brutally deported in 1944 under Stalin. The Crimean Tatars, who now make up about 12 per cent of its population, have sided with the anti-Yanukovych protesters in Kyiv who drove his government from power.
To understand Crimea, take a look back at its complicated history
(WaPost) Crimea’s situation is, as with many things in Ukraine’s political crisis, compounded by a complicated history. For most in America and Western Europe, however, that history is likely obscure — wasn’t there a war or something there? Let’s take a look back.  [Reminder: The Crimean War of 1853-1856]
28 February
Armed Men Occupy Two Airports in Ukraine’s Crimea
(WSJ) The events in Crimea raised the possibility of the de facto partition of the country, posing the most formidable threat yet to Ukraine’s fledgling government’s efforts to establish authority over the country. For the U.S. and Europe, which appeared only days ago to have succeeded in foiling Moscow’s efforts to pull Ukraine closer, the moves Friday presaged a potentially unstable and violent future for a country whose new government has sought closer ties—and tens of billions of dollars in financial aid—from the West.
On Friday, a bill submitted before Russia’s parliament called for easing the process for foreign territories to become part of Russia and for Ukrainian nationals to gain Russian citizenship. Russia also said its consulate in Crimea would begin offering Russian passports to former members of Ukraine’s recently disbanded riot police who were seen as Mr. Yanukovych’s praetorian guard.
27 February
Ukraine warns Russia after gunmen seize Crimea parliament
(Reuters) – Armed men seized the parliament in Ukraine’s Crimea region on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, alarming Kiev’s new rulers, who warned Moscow not to move troops beyond the confines of its navy base on the peninsula.
Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new leadership in Kiev since President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted at the weekend and provides a base for Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Its regional parliament, meeting in another part of the building that was apparently still occupied by the gunmen, voted to stage a referendum on “sovereignty” for Crimea.
Although Moscow says it will not intervene by force, its rhetoric since the removal of its ally Yanukovich has echoed the runup to its invasion of Georgia in 2008, when it sent its troops to protect two self-declared independent regions and then recognised them as independent states.
Gwynne Dyer: Ukraine After the Revolution
From a Ukrainian point of view, the priority is not to throw their revolution away again like they did after the Orange Revolution 10 years ago. But from everybody else’s point of view, the priority now is to avoid an irreparable breach between Russia and the West. One Cold War was enough.
Confronting Moscow directly over this sort of thing would be a mistake, and could lead us all down the path that ends in a new Cold War. Russians, for historical reasons, do not see themselves as “outsiders” in Ukraine (although most Ukrainians do), and they will react very badly to attempts to exclude them entirely.
The better and safer path is to support the Ukrainians with trade and aid, but leave it to them to deal with Russian interference in their politics. They are perfectly capable of doing this for themselves, and they can also prosper without joining either the European Union or NATO. But they do need a whopping great loan, right now.
26 February
Vladimir Putin Orders Test Of Combat Readiness Of Troops In Central, Western Russia: Report
(AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered massive exercises involving most military units in western Russia amid tensions in Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said …that the exercise will be held near Russian borders, including the border with Ukraine. He also said, according to Russian news reports, that his ministry will take steps to strengthen security of the facilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, without elaborating.
25 February
Ukraine leader warns of separatism threat amid fears over Crimea
(The Guardian) Comments come after Russian official says Moscow will act in event of heightened tensions and military movements at port
Ukraine tensions mount in pro-Russian Crimea
(Thomson Reuters via CBC) Dozens of pro-Russian protesters rallied Tuesday in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea against “the bandits” in Kyiv who are trying to form a new government — with some even speaking of secession. A lawmaker from Russia stoked their passions further by promising them that Russia will protect them.
As a Russian flag flew Tuesday in front of the city council building in Sevastopol — a key Crimean port where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based — an armoured Russian personnel carrier and two trucks full of troops made a rare appearance on the streets of the city.
Ukraine wants fugitive president to face Hague court
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s parliament voted on Tuesday to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovich to the International Criminal Court, while his acting successor expressed concern about “signs of separatism” in Russian-speaking Crimea.
Much of the Stratfor analysis is similar – or identical – to what is available elsewhere. However, this point is not so widely considered.
Ukraine Turns From Revolution to Recovery | Stratfor
The Germans have suggested that the International Monetary Fund handle Ukraine’s economic problem. The IMF’s approach to such problems is best compared to surgery without anesthesia. The patient may survive and be better for it, but the agony will be intense. In return for any bailout, the IMF will demand a restructuring of Ukraine’s finances. Given Ukraine’s finances, that restructuring would be dramatic. And the consequences could well lead to yet another round of protests.
The Russians have agreed to this, likely chuckling. Either parliament will reject the IMF plan and ask Russia to assume the burden immediately, or it will turn to Russia after experiencing the pain. There is a reason the Russians have been so relaxed about events in Ukraine. They understand that between the debt, natural gas and tariffs on Ukrainian exports to Russia, Ukraine has extremely powerful constraints. Under the worst circumstances Ukraine would move into the Western camp an economic cripple. Under the best, Ukraine would recognize its fate and turn to Russia.
23 February
U.S.-EU Ready to Help Cash-Strapped Ukraine as President Ousted
(Bloomberg) The U.S., Europe and the U.K. said they stand ready to help Ukraine following its president’s ouster, days after Standard & Poor’s said the former Soviet republic risks default.
Western nations scramble to contain fallout of Ukraine crisis
EU leaders worry about country fracturing into pro and anti-Russian factions in aftermath of Viktor Yanukovych’s ousting
(The Guardian) Western governments are scrambling to contain the fallout from Ukraine’s weekend revolution, pledging money, support and possible EU membership, while anxiously eyeing the response of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, whose protege has been ousted.
Seemingly the biggest loser in the three-month drama’s denouement, the Kremlin has the potential to create the most mischief because of Ukraine’s pro-Russian affinities in the east and south, and its dependence on Russian energy supplies.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy.
European integration ‘priority’ for Ukraine
Acting President Turchinov says Russia must recognise Ukraine’s “European choice” as Moscow recalls its ambassador.
(Al Jazeera) Oleksander Turchinov, Ukraine’s acting president, has said that his country is ready for talks with Russia to try to improve relations, but made clear that Kiev’s European integration would be a priority.
Turchinov said that Ukraine’s new leadership was ready to put Kiev-Moscow relations on a “new, equal and good-neighbourly footing that recognises and takes into account Ukraine’s European choice.
Russia’s Putin faces tough choices over Ukraine
(Reuters) President Viktor Yanukovich’s loss of power deprives Putin of an ally vital to his hopes of keeping Ukraine, the cradle of Russian civilization, in what he sees as Russia’s orbit.
His hopes of building a huge trading bloc, grouping as many former Soviet republics as possible to challenge the economic might of China and the United States, could be in tatters.
But making a stand over Ukraine, or getting drawn into a new bidding war with the European Union to win sway over the cash-strapped country, would be risky.
Moscow can ill-afford to improve the $15 billion financial bailout package it offered in December. But more forceful measures, such as taking over mainly Russian-speaking areas of eastern Ukraine, would risk triggering a more serious conflict.
Russia feels double-crossed over Ukraine – but what will Putin do?
(The Guardian) What will Vladimir Putin do now? The Russian president is under intensifying western pressure not to act rashly in Ukraine following the toppling of Russia’s ally, Viktor Yanukovich, and the opposition’s triumphal clean sweep. But there is no doubting the depth of anger in Moscow over what it sees as the double-cross in Kiev – nor the visceral fear in European capitals that Russia could react militarily.
Speaking for a highly nervous EU, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, telephoned Putin on Sunday to try to make sure nothing untoward was planned. Whether she got the reassurance she wanted was unclear. Few details of their conversation were released, other than that the two agreed Ukraine’s stability and “territorial integrity” must be safeguarded. This worthy sentiment could mean, or be used to justify, any number of things, both good and bad.
Unable to address him directly, Susan Rice, the US national security adviser, used a TV interview to warn Putin it would be a “grave mistake” for Russia to intervene militarily. “It’s not in the interests of Ukraine or of Russia or of Europe or the United States to see a country split.” But like Barack Obama last week, she conceded Putin viewed Ukraine in terms of old cold war rivalries, which she called a “pretty dated perspective”
Freed opposition leader rallies protesters after president flees Kyiv
(CBC) Hours after her release from prison, former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko appeared before an ecstatic throng at the protester encampment in Ukraine’s capital Saturday, praising the demonstrators killed in violence this week and urging the protesters to keep occupying the square.
Guardian Live updates: Tymoshenko freed as Ukrainian president denounces coup
21 February
Ukraine peace deal signed, opens way for early election
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s opposition leaders signed an EU-mediated peace pact with President Viktor Yanukovich on Friday, winning a raft of concessions in a delicate deal to end violence that killed at least 77 people and turned the capital into a battle zone.
By nightfall, opposition leaders who signed the deal were addressing peaceful crowds from a stage in Independence Square, which for the past 48 hours had become an inferno of blazing barricades, where protesters were shot dead by police snipers.
If it holds, the deal – hammered out with the mediation efforts of the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland – would mark a victory for Europe in a tug-of-war with Moscow for influence in the divided ex-Soviet state of 46 million people.
Ukraine’s parliament move could pave way for freeing jailed Tymoshenko
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s parliament on Friday voted for amendments in the criminal code which could pave the way for the release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The amendments would decriminalize aspects of the criminal code relevant to her prosecution and set Ukrainian law in line with European Union legislation, her supporters said.
Ukraine peace agreement acts as a precarious first step
A peace agreement brokered by the EU and Russia calls for a transitional government to be established in Ukraine and a referendum to be held in September on a new constitution. President Viktor Yanukovych will stay in power until the election. The deal was met with criticism by some protesters interviewed by The Washington Post. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (2/21), Inter Press Service (2/21)  “In another move that sparked a roar of approval from protesters barricaded in the center of Kiev, the lawmakers also approved, by a veto-proof margin, a change in Ukrainian law that could lead to the release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.”
Ukraine, as viewed from Moscow
(BBC) Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine are not part of an attempt to expand Russia’s empire westwards. He is simply trying to reduce the chaos caused by the massive incompetence of Ukraine’s ruling elite, writes Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.
After bloodiest day in Kiev, EU tries to broker peace
(Reuters) – European Union ministers sought to broker a political settlement in Ukraine after gun battles between police and anti-government protesters brought the death toll to 75 in two days of the worst violence in the country since Soviet times.
Three hours of fierce fighting in Kiev’s Independence Square, which was recaptured by the protesters, left the bodies of over 20 civilians strewn on the ground, a short distance from where President Viktor Yanukovich was meeting the EU delegation.
The ministers, from Germany, France and Poland, embarked on “a night of difficult negotiations” with Yanukovich and the opposition, said EU officials, who hoped a plan for an interim government and early elections could bring peace.
19 February
Jeremy Kinsman: How the West – and Vladimir Putin – failed Ukraine
Ukraine’s challenges run deeper than most former Soviet satellites, the road ahead won’t be easy
Talking About a Civil War
(Slate) While a Czechoslovakia — or worse, Yugoslavia – style split appears unlikely, it’s clear that a Rubicon of some sort was crossed yesterday. This government has entirely lost legitimacy – probably permanently — with a large segment of the population. European sanctions, combined with Russia’s financial lifeline, may only harden Yanukovych’s position. It’s not clear yet if we’re entering a revolutionary situation or a prelude to deepening “Belarus-style autocratic rule,” but either way, it seems unlikely to resolve itself without more bloodshed.
Protesters in Lviv Raise the Stakes in Ukraine’s Crisis | Stratfor
As the standoff in Independence Square continues in Kiev, the western part of Ukraine has added a more serious element to the country’s internal struggle. On Wednesday, several administration buildings were taken over by protesters in the west, including in Khmelnytskyi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Uzhhorod and Ternopil. Meanwhile, demonstrators from an opposition group called People’s Rada in Lviv, the largest and most important city in the west, said on Wednesday that they want to declare independence from Ukraine.
Though the declaration may be little more than symbolic, it presents an important new dynamic to the political evolution in Ukraine and also underscores Lviv’s traditional significance to the country. Indeed, Lviv’s history — both as a hub for national movements and for its distinction from the eastern part of the country as a truly European city — has been crucial in the history of Ukraine. But Lviv’s own evolution is a complicated one influenced by numerous powers, all of which play a large part in shaping Lviv’s opposition to the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and its latest attempt to break free of this rule.
18 February
Ukraine riot police move in on Kiev protesters after 14 die
(Reuters) The riot police moved in hours after Moscow gave Ukraine $2 billion in aid which it had been holding back to demand decisive action to crush the protests.
11 February
Stuck between the West and Putin, Yanukovych’s moment of truth has arrived
(Globe & Mail)  Even those who feel that the president will try to compromise say that this is a dangerous moment: To a large extent, any “compromise” would certainly drive Mr. Yanukovych and his party out of office, so the prospect for civil conflict remains high.
9 February
Can Germany help divided Ukraine find a middle ground?
A more assertive Germany may prove best positioned to secure Russian cooperation and help Ukraine accommodate both East and West.
(CSM) While Russia is engaging in a bidding game, Europe – including Germany – has been blamed for blundering into the conflict, and for not acting definitively enough when the crisis erupted. Joerg Forbrig, an Eastern Europe expert at the German Marshall Fund of the US in Berlin, says the EU set out demands for reform without enough incentive, while Russians dangled financial assistance. “I do think that the West has a pretty big share [of blame] in the lead-up to the rejection of the association agreement,” he says.
One reason why Europe hasn’t been decisive on Ukraine is because it isn’t sure whether Ukraine even belongs in the EU. The 28-member bloc has been distracted by its own internal economic woes and a sense of “enlargement” fatigue. Russia has also loomed over Europe’s so-called “Eastern Partnership” dealings with post-Soviet states like Belarus, Armenia, and Ukraine.
This may explain the exasperation that surfaced in an intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and her envoy in Kiev. The White House has blamed Russia for leaking the recording.
7 February
David (Jones)Uprising in Ukraine: Canada and the U.S. have no reason to intervene
vs.
David (Kilgour)Uprising in Ukraine: Western nations must heed the cries for help
4 February
Timothy Snyder: Don’t Let Putin Grab Ukraine
Russia’s dream of a Eurasian Union, with a puppet regime in Ukraine, will lead to more violence.
(NYT Opinion) For the time being, the Olympic Games at Sochi might constrain Russian policy, since Mr. Putin has little interest in looking like an imperialist aggressor while playing host to the world. Before and during the Games, it would be worthwhile watching for three signs of escalation: If Russian propaganda insists that the Ukrainian opposition are Nazis and anti-Semites (such manipulative exploitation of the memory of World War II is already underway); if terrorist attacks in Russia during the Olympic Games are blamed on Ukrainian nationalists; and, finally, if Russian forces ostensibly in southwestern Russia to secure the Games are assembled not to the east of Sochi but to the west — along the Ukrainian border.
2 February
9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask
Why does Russia care so much about Ukraine?
(WaPost) There are the surface reasons. The cultural connections are indeed deep, and Putin can’t not want to remain close to a country with so much shared history and so many Russians. The country, a source of food and a transit hub for Russian energy exports, is economically and strategically important to Russia. Putin is thought to personally care a great deal about the Eurasian Trade Union and sees it as his legacy.
And then there are the deeper reasons. Ukraine makes or breaks Russia’s self-image as a great power, which has fared poorly since the fall of the Berlin Wall. As Tufts political scientist Dan Drezner put it in Foreign Policy, “For all of Putin’s Middle East diplomacy, Ukraine is far more important to his great power ambitions. One of the very first sentences you’re taught to say in Foreign Policy Community College is, ‘Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.’ ”
Even if Putin can’t bring Ukraine in, he’d like to keep it out of the European Union, which he sees as an extension of a century-old Western conspiracy against Russia …  some security experts tend to emphasize Ukraine’s importance to Russia as a defensive buffer.
Ban urges Ukrainian government to ease tensions
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met this past weekend with the Ukrainian foreign minister and opposition leaders, asking “both sides to show patience and more flexibility seeking a way out of the crisis and ensure the peaceful future for the country.” U.S. and EU officials expressed concern over alleged abductions and violence while preparing aid packages for the country. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (2/2), Voice of Russia (2/1)
Ukraine frees tortured activist as president returns to work
(Reuters) – The Ukrainian government bowed to intense Western pressure on Sunday to let an opposition activist fly abroad for treatment after his abduction, torture and then attempted arrest by police outraged critics of President Viktor Yanukovich.
30 January

Ukraine-master675 Protesters remained in Independence Square in Kiev on Thursday, as Ukraine’s president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, took a sick leave of unknown length. Some skeptics questioned his motives.

Maxim Shipenkov/European Pressphoto Agency

Ukraine’s President Takes Sick Leave; Crisis Talks Stalled
Mr. Yanukovych went on leave without signing into law a bill repealing the harsh restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly that were enacted earlier this month. The repeal was passed by Parliament on Tuesday with support from the pro-government Party of Regions, a significant concession to the opposition but one that means little unless the president signs it.

28 January
Ukraine PM and cabinet quit; anti-protest measures repealed
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his entire cabinet resigned Tuesday as the country’s parliament met in an extraordinary assembly to consider proposals to end months of violent protests across the country.
27 January
MPs discuss what steps Canada can take to help stabilize Ukraine’s political crisis (CBC video)
‘Prepared to Die’: The Right Wing’s Role in Ukrainian Protests
(Spiegel) Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich appears bent on crushing the protest movement but the opposition won’t go quietly. A right-wing nationalist party is seeking to benefit from the growing violence and has begun warning of a civil war. … [not] even a man with political horizons as limited as Yanukovich can have wanted what is now happening in Ukraine. The stage has now been set for civil war, and the hatred between pro-Europeans and friends of Russia has turned bloody
25 January
On the march in Kiev — The protests turn nasty and violent, but the president is not giving ground
(The Economist) The clashes reveal an alarming radicalisation on both sides of the barricades. In recent days the momentum has belonged to a group called the Right Sector, a motley confederation of football hooligans and far-right nationalists. They have shown their own nastiness by lobbing petrol bombs at police and, in a rough display of revolutionary justice, parading around people detained under suspicion of acting as pro-regime provocateurs. Yet even more striking were the numbers of middle-class Ukrainians, who did not wish to go to the front lines of battles with police, but prepared stones for others, while grandmothers offered tea and sandwiches, plus milk to counter the sting of tear gas.
Western leaders strongly condemned both the repressive laws and the violence. America’s State Department has introduced visa sanctions against some Ukrainian officials and the EU budget commissioner plans to probe their bank accounts. Nikolai Azarov, Ukraine’s prime minister, was cold-shouldered at the World Economic Forum—after delegates observed a moment of silence for those killed in Kiev.
Yet although Mr Yanukovych is a politician who makes up for a lack of cunning with clumsy brutishness, Ukraine is no Belarus. It is linguistically, culturally and politically split between a Russian-speaking east and a nationalist, pro-European west, joined by Kiev, where Mr Yanukovych’s Party of Regions commands little respect or authority. It also has a pluralistic media controlled by a diverse group of powerful magnates who have no interest in splitting the country or in seeing Mr Yanukovych strengthen his economic grip.
7 January
Oksana Bashuk Hepburn*: Ukraine-Russia deal is bad for Canada
(Ottawa Citizen) … it spells danger for the West; especially for Canada. Here’s why.
Above all, the deal advances the idea of Russian world empire. To this end, it strangles Ukraine’s sovereignty by, among other things, integrating the military establishment with its own and acquiring a further foothold on the Kerch peninsula. Like Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia, occupied by Russia in 2008, Kerch is a prized piece of geography. It provides Russia with greater access to the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and beyond. The deal is a de facto replay of the 1939 Russian invasion of Western Ukraine, then under Poland. So far, only the tanks are missing.
Also, the deal allocates $4 billion to rejuvenating Ukraine’s shipbuilding industry. Alarms should be ringing on Parliament Hill. Russia makes no secret of coveting Canada’s Arctic waters.
In the former USSR, Ukraine ranked among the world’s top five shipbuilders. Besides oil tankers — Russia claims to be ordering these — the shipyards around Kerch manufacture defence vessels: the world’s largest aircraft carrier; anti-nuclear research explorers capable of unprecedented depths; and the world’s best icebreakers. At one time, Port Churchill in Manitoba showed an interest in them.
*Oksana Bashuk Hepburn was the president of U*CAN Ukraine Canada Relations Inc., which brokered interests, including shipbuilding, between the countries. She is an opinion writer.

7 Comments on "Ukraine 2014"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson February 1, 2014 at 2:00 am · Reply

    Nick’s Gleanings
    President Putin must have been dismayed recently when the unrest in neighbouring Ukraine spread to the Eastern part of that country. For that’s where most of the 18% of the country’s population that are ethnic Russians live, and where support for President Yanukovich & his plans for a closer relationship with Russia rather than the EU is strongest. His nightmare scenario now may well be the occurrence of a terrorist incident during the Sochi Games that would encourage the Ukrainian demonstrators & reduce his ability to support Yanukovich.

  2. Diana Thebaud Nicholson February 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm · Reply

    Nick’s Gleanings
    To put the Ukrainian situation in perspective one only needs to compare the current level, & growth since the breakup of the Soviet Union, of its per capita GDP with that of neighbouring Poland. There it had been US$4,726 in 1991 but by 2013 had grown to US$10,570 (85% of the global average), i.e. by 123% (a compound annual growth rate of 3.73%). During that same period in the Ukraine it went from US$2,094 to US$2,641 (up 26%, a meagre 1.06%), 17% of the global average), & for the last five years has been flat. It is also worth noting that, while its “dirty” traditional ‘heavy industry’ is located in its largely ethnic Russian Eastern part, Kyiv/Kiev, the focal point of the anti-regime feelings, is the country’s hi-tech & educational centre, & that many of the demonstrators there are ethnic Russians in knowledge-based employment. .

  3. Diana Thebaud Nicholson February 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm · Reply

    Nick’s Gleanings
    One issue that has received little, if any, attention in the media is that the West-East split in the Ukraine is not just ethnic and/or linguistic, but, far more importantly, also economic & psychological. For the Kiyv is the nation’s education-, & twenty-first century knowledge-based industrial centre, while coal mines drive the economy in the Eastern part of the country. They directly employ 500,000 (unionized) workers, and that are mostly state-owned, unprofitable & heavily subsidized5. And it grates on the coal miners, who in heavy industry’s heyday were a privileged class that looked down with disdain upon their compatriots in the Western part of the country as dumb farmers, that today’s knowledge-based economy has bypassed them & they now must survive at the sufferance of those whom they once despised6. Thus it is small wonder that the demonstrating crowds in much of the Western Ukraine contained a fair sprinkling of Russian speakers who had joined the 21st century economy.

  4. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 3, 2014 at 3:11 am · Reply

    One European observer with much experience related to Russia comments on Timothy Snyrder’s “The Haze of Prpaganda”:
    A literally fantastic piece! What a scriptwriter Hollywood lost when he went to Yale.
    Some of Snyder’s “facts” are right, most conclusions not. He simplifies matters to a point of confusion. It would take too much effort and time to go through everything here.
    It is a very American opinion by a very American scholar directed to the American public. It also has some contact with the reality of Ukraine. .

  5. A European Friend of Wednesday Night March 21, 2014 at 9:28 am · Reply

    Outside Russia herself very few seem to understand how seriously the loss of Ukraine has been felt there. Putin could not possibly [watch] from the sidelines the activities of the US and EU in Kiev. The occupation of Crimea and re-uniting it with the Motherland was a swift and showy counter-move, but at the same time an inexpensive and risk-free conjuring trick to focus the eyes of the world away from a humiliating Russian defeat.
    The return of the Crimea to Russia is a fait accompli. The West has no effective counter-measures to employ. The claim, that this has been an unusual act of re-drawing frontiers, is a bit one-sided interpretation. Almost all of Europe was re-arranged after 1990. The former Yugoslavia is an example of how people urge to live with their kin. Not surprisingly, Russians want to belong to Russia just as others do not.
    The Russian occupation was illegal, but so is the “government” in Kiev until free monitored elections.
    The US and EU partly incited the uprising in Kiev. But I support that, if it leads to democratic process . I did so also when oppressed peoples under American sponsored Latin dictators were rising against the tyrants. Ukrainians should have a right to a freely elected government and an honest one to boot, if possible. So should the Russians of Crimea, not to speak about the Tatars.
    This enigma will not be solved by reciprocal sanctions. As I wrote when all this started: Die Muti and Putin must sort this out.
    17 March
    Polls have closed and the result was declared 1 hour and 7 minutes after it by a Russian state television station. The result: 93% in favor of joining Russia.
    Putin ought to be ashamed! In the good old days under Soviet rule results were known before polls closed and those in favor with whatever was voted about was at least 113%.
    On the other hand: This result probably reflects the true feelings of the Russian majority on Crimea. I am in favor of listening to the people and let them choose their governments. In Ukraine they voted for Yanukovych, but the result did not suit US or the losers so the crook was sent packing. Now the people have spoken again and Victoria Nuland cannot do anything about it. I am now waiting for Putin to let the people of Chetchenya and Ingushetia et al. to vote for whom they want to govern them.
    It will be a long wait, I am afraid.

  6. Wednesday Nighters April 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm · Reply

    — I have an idea (actually I’ve been nursing it for quite awhile!) I wonder if it would work.
    NATO should decide immediately (and inform Russia) that if a single Russian armed forces member enters the Ukraine the following will happen.
    All NATO ports (North America and Europe) will be immediately closed to all Russian registered, owned or rented shipping. Vessels will be allowed to discharge passengers and off load all prepaid merchandise-cargo. But nothing more. No cargo can be sold, no supplies – water food and fuel – can be purchased, no crew can go ashore (unless genuinely ill) and the vessels must immediately move to beyond the three mile limit.
    I may be mistaken but I think this would be very effective and hurt more than just the oligarchs! Ron

    — It looks more and more obvious that Putin is going to “annex” the Eastern parts of Ukraine under Mother Russia in one way or another. The Ukranian “government” which is not by the people nor for the people has no means to stop him. The West is not going to war over Ukraine and the Russian oligarchs can do quite well without their American Express cards. (Actually most of those cards are from off-shore banks and not affected by any “sanctions” anyway).
    The moment of truth is getting closer for the West. No more idle, stupid threats. Draw a line, which is realistic and viable. Then hold it at any cost. Or give up. Putin is calling the cards now. If we haven’t got any, admit it and count our losses. TB

    — It is more or less as you put it below. I belong to those who believe that Russia will push as far as it can go without too serious consequences. The Swedes are in no “historical” danger, nor do they believe that anyone would ever attack them. They were saved from both world wars.
    Finns are also basically very peace-loving despite their reputation as fierce fighters. We just want to be left alone. But if attacked will put up a desperate fight whether the odds are on our side or not. Fighting the Soviet Union alone in 1939 was hardly rational, but paid off.
    What worries me is Russia having a leader with a mission. All through history these chaps with grandiose ideas have brought misery and disaster with them.
    We know that one Finn is worth 20 Russians. What we worry about are the 21st, 22nd, 23rd etc. Russians. TB

    — The basic fact, to me, is the degree of seriousness of the Russian threat in 2014. Sure, the Romanov eagle graces many of these flags we saw on display from Crimea , to remind one and all of the long-term tradition of expansionism. No one doubts that they can take some more of Ukraina, while the US and the EU will, in retaliation , deprive more of the Russian elite of their American Express credit cards. If the West is genuinely worried about other forays, the reasonably serious thing to do is to station American troops as a tripwire (as in South Korea) along the NATO perimeter. With such a policy in place, Finland and Sweden , if they took the threat seriously, would wish to reconsider NATO membership. The Swedes could probably get away with staying out by encouraging the Finns to join.AD

    — I rather doubt that sanctions of any kind will work now. As for shipping, the existence of flags of convenience makes it extremely difficult to trace ownership of vessels, and loading papers about their cargoes’ provenance are exceptionally easy to falsify or make opaque as to ultimate origin. Putin seems resolved to bear whatever economic costs, or to make others bear them, that are required in order to realize his geopolitical aims in Eastern Europe.
    As to rail and air cargo, Russia really imports a lot more from the West than it exports. So a complete trade embargo is what would be necessary, and economic interests especially in Germany are unlikely to allow such a policy as this, to be adopted. And what if Russia were to retaliate by, for example, suspending landing rights from Western airlines for civilian flights? This would inconvenience many more European businessmen than it would Russians.
    What would have a chance of working would be an abrupt cessation of foreign direct investment in Russia, 75% of which comes from Europe; yet again, it is unlikely that heavily committed German interests would allow this. If the EU were to adopt such a policy, then Germany would observe it, so the struggle over this would be fought out in the Brussels bureaucracy.
    But not anytime soon, since elections to the European Parliament fall on May 25, upon which the appointment of a new President of European Commission is likely to depend, with the renovation of the Commission through new political appointments to head all the Directorates General (including but not limited to Energy) to follow, with all the intra-EU political bargaining perhaps not fully resolved until end of summer. RMC

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