Archive for March, 2014

Ukraine Has No Legitimate Claim to Crimea
March 13, 2014

What is the basis of the “west” insisting that Crimea is an integral part of the Ukraine? The peninsula has no historical association with any country known as The Ukraine (which only came into existence in 1991) and ethnic Ukrainians have never compromised anything like a majority of it’s population. (About 24% today which is probably the highest it has ever been). On the other hand the Crimean connection with Russia dates back over two hundred years to the time of Catherine the Great and it has a majority ethnic Russian population.

The basis of Ukraine’s claim to Crimea seems to be that the Crimean Oblast was transferred from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khruschev in 1954. There are, however, a number of problematic things regarding this “gift”:

1. The people living in Crimea were not consulted in any way, shape or form.
2. The people of Russia were not consulted.
3. The transfer was subsequently tested in the Soviet Supreme Court and found to be unconstitutional.
4. It was not a transfer from one state to another but between two Republics of the Soviet Union.
Was this a reasonable basis for it being made part of a new independent Ukraine?
5. Sevastopol was not part of the Crimean Oblast but was administered directly from Moscow. Accordingly, it was never transferred.

Unfortunately, for the people of Crimea the early 90’s saw the Soviet Union presided over by the drunken lackey of the west Boris Yeltsin who was primarily concerned with breaking up the Union and distributing it’s assets to private individuals. Crimea should not have been permitted to go to the Ukraine but Yeltsin was more interested in appeasing the “west” than looking after the interests of Russia or Russians. The people of Crimea were left hanging out to dry.

The entire history of the peninsula from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the present time has been one of its residents demonstrating time and time again that they are not a natural part of the Ukraine and do not feel at home there. And while they have managed to secure some level of autonomy through struggle this has always been under threat from the Ukrainian government if not simply revoked. In 1995, for example, the Ukrainian parliament passed The Law of Ukraine on the Status of Crimea which simply abolished the Constitution of 1992 adopted by the Crimean Parliament (and which had been operational for three years) and the Crimean Presidency. Accept this or face our guns were the options given the Crimeans.

This Sunday the people of Crimea are being given an opportunity to state their view on what they wish their future to be. One option is to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Another is for greater autonomy within the Ukraine by reinstating the 1992 Constitution. The Ukrainian government and it’s western backers have stated that they will not accept the result of this referendum. Why is this? Should Crimea rejoin Russia will the Ukraine be losing some integral part of it’s territory that it has enjoyed for hundreds of years? No. Crimea only became part of the Ukrainian State in living memory, with the breakup of the Soviet Union (against the stated wishes of it’s people) in 1992. There is no historic legitimate basis of a Ukrainian claim to Crimea. Should the people of Crimea choose greater autonomy under the 1992 Crimea Constitution which was torn from them why should they not have this?

The conflict in Crimea is not an outcome of Russian irredentism as some would have us believe. It is because the people of the peninsula have been forced into a country the majority do not feel part of. Neither the ruling circles in the Ukraine nor it’s western backers have been willing to recognise their legitimate aspirations. The hypocrisy in this is outstanding. We are constantly told that it would be wrong to force a million protestants into a united Ireland but the British government has never had a problem with a million ethnic Russians being forced into the Ukraine against their will. Unfortunately, what determines the position of imperialist powers is their geo-political interests not the rights or wrongs of any particular situation. The “west” wants strategically important Crimea in the Ukraine and the Ukraine in NATO in pursuit of its global hegemony. How the people of Crimea may feel is not important to it.

Sam Lord     11 March 2014

Discussion on this and other related issues at Politicalworld.org’s Ukraine forum

 

 

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Ukraine and Russia – Past and Future
March 7, 2014

If you want to understand Ukraine properly, an understanding of the Kievan Rus is necessary. Russia as an entity stems from the Kieven Rus which was an empire which stretched from the Black Sea and further to the Arctic. Kiev was a civilized city when Moscow was a backwater and St. Petersburg was a bog. Kiev is the birthplace of the modern Russian state. It is also the birthplace of the Orthodox Church and the three languages Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian. If you read only the history of the Lavra Percherska itself, you get an idea of why there is a strange relationship between Russians and Ukrainians. Russians have, believe it or not, an inferiority complex vis a vis Ukraine because of the whole “culture” thing stemming from the Kievan Rus.

Last Saturday, a friend was at home with her parents in Kharkov and she was shocked when 30 coachloads of Russian agitators were bussed into Kharkov from Belgorod in the neighbouring Russian Krasnodar province. They surrounded the Lenin statue in Kharkov’s Ploshody Svoboda (Freedom Square) and were drinking beer and vodka all day. Eventually they became very aggressive and hurled abuse and then bottles and bricks and so on at passing Ukrainians, men, women and children.

All Ukrainians in Kharkov speak Russian. ALL of them. And all of them are Ukrainian who do NOT want Russian in their country wearing uniforms. The Kremlin lie that these Russian speakers are in fear of their lives is bullshit. As my friend said to me, “you speak English but you certainly don’t feel English, do you?” And that is the point. Russian is spoken in a great many ex-Soviet republics by non-Russians. Sure, there are Russians in Ukraine, particularly in the east, but they are certainly not under threat from anyone. Even the Ukrainian nationalists in the west of Ukraine realize that many of their fellow Ukrainians are married to Russians in the east. The vast and overwhelming majority in mainland Ukraine (ex-Crimea) want to maintain Ukraine as a unitary state. This is true even in Donetsk. Even Rinat Atmekhov wants the Russians out and he used to “own” Yanukovich.

So it is against such a backdrop that Ukraine should be assessed in my opinion. The first thing the new government elected on May 25th should do is to veer away from any language legislation which downgrades Russian in any way. In fact, it should go the great lengths to stress all Ukrainians have equal rights and enshrine this inclusiveness in the constitution. The new foreign minister could help by visiting Russia first after his appointment and mending fences with Putin, Mededev, Lavrov etc. and assuring them that at this point in time, Ukraine will not join EU but will not be forced into any other “customs union” either. He/she must stress that unique nature of the bond with Russia and a willingness to strengthen that bond informally.

Ukraine must also sign an association agreement with the EU which gives it the same status as Switzerland and Norway, if it can. The foreign policy balancing act must be brought into a determination to pursue independence in its decision-making as a sovereign state.

Reforms are badly needed and reform of the police, the legal system and corruption laws are needed immediately. If it can hit the ground running in the summer, Ukraine could have a bright future. We are a long way away form the summer right now, though.

Slim Buddha   7th March 2014

More discussions on Ukraine politics and economy at Politicalworld.org

 

 

 

 

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