Ukraine

 

In 2010 President Yanukovych was elected President of Ukraine. International observers did not claim the election  was unfair. As an Eastern Ukrainian with sympathies for Russia in 2014 the President rejected the draft EU Association Agreement and opted for closer ties with Russia. This was highly contentious in western Ukraine and led to protests. Some think the EU and the US encouraged the protesters, leading to the resignation of a President who could no longer keep control. His replacement led Ukraine to an  EU tie up. Russia sent in troops to Crimea, took control with no resistance and held a referendum. They claimed 97% support for their takeover on an 83% turnout. There were  no western  observers or audit of this result, and the two choices did not include the old status quo. Subsequent independent opinion polls have shown a high level of support for the results of the referendum anyway, just as independent polls before the annexation showed majority support for closer links with Russia.

Western policy has failed towards Ukraine. The UN did on a majority vote condemn the Russian actions and called for the restoration of Crimea to Ukraine, The Western powers rightly did not seek to claim Crimea back by military intervention. To this day they have said Crimea should be returned but have ruled out military involvement. It would kill too many people, and it would be difficult to impose Kiev and EU rule on many people of Russian origin in Crimea who prefer Russian rule.

All this is topical again because some other parts of Eastern Ukraine  are in revolt against Kiev rule and have sympathies for Russia. Russian troops have been massed on the frontiers. The West led by President Biden has told Russia not to invade and has threatened penal sanctions were they to do so. What is clearly needed is a political solution in Eastern Ukraine that works for its people. The eastern voters  have little  chance of winning an countrywide  election in Ukraine any  more, unlike 2010, because their numbers have ben reduced by the loss of Crimea.

Ukraine is the political battleground between EU and Russian influences in Eastern Europe. The EU and US misjudged the situation badly in Crimea when they pressed the EU  Association Agreement against the wishes of the then President and lost a  part of the country. They need to be careful not to misjudge again.

39 Comments

  1. John McDonald
    January 7, 2022

    Sir John I think you are giving the typical Western one side view which ignores History, the USSR/Soviet Union.
    Crimea was part of Russia until a President of the USSR , who was a Ukrainian transferred/gave it to Ukraine.
    A political gesture as it made no real difference to the USSR. Crimea is made up of 98% ethnic Russians.
    Now Ukraine is made up of ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians (mostly in the East of Ukraine). They don’t get on too well with animosity routed back to the 2nd World War. The Kiev Government supports Nazis Groups and banned the use of the Russian language. Not a good move if a large percentage of your population is Russian and about 16 million Russians killed by Nazis Germany in the WW2.
    We should not forget that the West/NATO promised the last President of the USSR that NATO would not
    move into the newly independent Eastern European Countries previously in the USSR.
    When Putin made this point recently the response was you did not get it in writing.
    It is another example of Western double standards. One can imagine if Cuba tried to get the Americans out of their base in Cuba.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 7, 2022

      Well said John.

    2. Mark
      January 8, 2022

      The previous history is even more complex, with ethnic cleansing of Tatarstan once it was subsumed into the Russian empire having long been a thorn in its side. The Kievan Rus is in some sense a 10th century antecedent to Russia. Over the centuries parts of the Ukraine have been colonised by Vikings, Swedes, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austrian-Hungarian empire, as well as invasions or Turkic peoples and even the ancient Greeks. It has remained largely Russian dominated since Catherine the Great.

      1. Mitchel
        January 10, 2022

        Tartarstan (with it’s capital,Kazan)and the Crimean Khanate are/were two different things.Many Tartars left the Crimea post Catherine the Great because their main economic activity which had been slave raiding and trading was shut down.

  2. Adams
    January 7, 2022

    Ukraine is joining NATO. Russia do not like that because WMD would be minutes away from Moscow . Very understandable
    Washington had a fit when Russian missiles were heading to Cuba !
    What is our interest in Ukraine .How many British people even know where it is
    Why is the UK going to fund the Ukrainian navy
    ?

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 8, 2022

      It would appear to be a continuation of the incessant provocation of Russia, which elicits – understandably – counter-threats from Russia.

      Our customary rulers then tell us that we need them to protect us from the Russians.

      It used to work better when Russia was rather a closed society under brutal authoritarian collectivists, and the excuse could be used that they were protecting us from being subject to such tyranny.

      However, under Putin, it is a somewhat libertarian capitalist place, with a flat tax and so on, as favoured by the likes of Farage, and the commies are now the downtrodden opposition.

      So it apparently never was about ideology, but simply relative power and maintenance of the local status quo.

      1. Mitchel
        January 8, 2022

        It has always been about geopolitics-Russia’s vast Eurasian span threatens the traditional western control of trade routes between Europe and Asia.The UK(and then the USA) has been trying to either get control of-or break up-Russia for c200 years.And failed miserably every time.The current Russia-China tie up puts the western elite’s commercial interests in mortal peril-new trade corridors are being developed at a rapid pace-such as the Eurasian land bridge and the Northern Sea Route.

        It is interesting that the Queen wears the Vladimir tiara(with it’s Romanov provenance) on extra-special formal occasions (like meeting the Pope).Is she(or her courtiers through her)trying to make a claim?!

      2. Mark
        January 8, 2022

        I think the Provokatsya has been coming thick and fast from Putin, who has been issuing some visceral threats, well analysed at the Desk-russie website. He perceives considerable Western weakness, and is attempting to exploit that towards much enlarged objectives such as the disbanding of NATO and the development of a Sino-Russian axis.

  3. Zorro
    January 7, 2022

    Thanks for that balanced and considered interpretation of the current situation in Ukraine. Cool heads and not hot heads are needed to get an equitable solution. It is clear that Russia would have little interest or benefit in invading Ukraine. It quite rightly, however, as would we, wants secure borders and NATO and the Western Alliance does itself no favours with its continual posturing against Russia in the eyes of discerning commentators.

    Zorro

    1. Dennis
      January 7, 2022

      +1

    2. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 7, 2022

      It’s a credit to the European Union that it has maintained peace despite the best efforts of NATO to destroy it.

      reply The EU was not helpful in the Balkans

      1. Billy Elliot
        January 8, 2022

        You are both now mixing up and forgetting things.
        Most of the EU countries are in NATO. Some are very close to it even though not members (Sweden, Finland).
        EU is for economical sanctions and as Sir John pointed out in the Balkans it was pretty much zero – UN was as useless as well.

        OT but due to fact that NATO is the real peace guarantor in Europe I always find talks/plans/speculations about EU army rather pointless.

        1. alan jutson
          January 8, 2022

          Without the USA NATO would be useless too.

          Rather too many people forget that fact, including the EU Leaders who do not really want to pay for it in the first place.

          1. Billy Elliott
            January 9, 2022

            That is true. I would not though say that EU Leaders have forgotten that. There just isn’t any mechanism to make sure mebers allocate 2 % of their annualy budget to defence.

            I was more pointing out that NATO is the cornerstone of EU defence.

      2. hefner
        January 8, 2022

        ‚ÄėThe EU was not helpful in the Balkans‚Äô: whoah, I couldn‚Äôt see exactly: was it a dead cat or a red herring trying to bounce?

        1. Nottingham Lad Himself
          January 8, 2022

          That silly European Union, without even an army to send in and help…

        2. Mitchel
          January 8, 2022

          To be fair Germany,hoodwinked by Croatia,was instrumental in the breakup of Yugoslavia.I think the Germans have probably learned a lesson however.

        3. Peter2
          January 9, 2022

          Just say you disagree hef.
          It’s much better than what you have said.

    3. Mark
      January 8, 2022

      Russia has three interests in the Eastern Ukraine: the ethnic Russians who live there, the Donbass coalfields and associated industry, and a secure land route to Crimea. They might also wish to run the Odessa naval base from sovereign territory, since it has rather better facilities than Sevastopol.

  4. Dennis
    January 7, 2022

    That post is good JR, a reasonable view of the situation. You wrote ‘Russian troops have been massed on the frontiers. ‘ I have read for many weeks that they are 200 kms from the border – has that eally changed?

    I think Putin should warn the US not to invade Mexico or Canada and keep saying it as we get the other side repeatedly.
    If the US was in the same position as Russia / Crimea naval base you can be sure the US would have done the same.

  5. glen cullen
    January 7, 2022

    Russia invades South Ossetia Georgia under the pretence of protecting the Russian speaking population; the world does nothing.
    Russia invades the Crimea Ukraine under the pretence of protecting the Russian speaking population; the world does nothing.
    Russia invades Eastern Ukraine under the pretence of protecting the Russian speaking population; the world does nothing.
    Can anybody else see history repeating itself with the deployments and appeasement in Europe late 1930s

    1. mickc
      January 7, 2022

      No, because no “Guarantee to Poland” has been given by any Western Power…and most certainly should not be given.

      1. glen cullen
        January 8, 2022

        That ‚ÄúGuarantee to Poland‚ÄĚ came after years of appeasement ‚Ķ..Austria & Czechoslovakia

    2. Mitchel
      January 8, 2022

      Re Abkhazia and S Ossetia (where the people are not Georgians-the former are Turkic,the latter of Iranian origin)utter rubbish!Georgia invaded them,after they broke away ,killing a number of peacekeepers,and provoking a Russian response.

      The EU and OSCE accept this version.NATO which is nothing more than a neo-con mouthpiece these days continues with the BIG LIE.

      Apart from the Russian Federation,as principal successor state,the UN should not have admitted the ex-Soviet republics until their borders were clarified-many of these were regions of the USSR not nation states.

  6. Will in Hampshire
    January 7, 2022

    “What is clearly needed is a political solution in Eastern Ukraine that works for its people. The eastern voters have little chance of winning an countrywide election in Ukraine any more, unlike 2010, because their numbers have ben reduced by the loss of Crimea.”

    Why don’t they just leave and live in Russia? It sounds as though they’d be more welcome there.

    1. Micky Taking
      January 7, 2022

      sounds similar to ‘why don’t the Scots in England go and live over the border?’

  7. Mike Wilson
    January 7, 2022

    I realise it is rash to pass comment on another country’s affairs.

    It seems probable that without Russia as an ally in WW2, the Allies would not have won. Russia, so I have read, left a million men dead in Crimea Рat a time when the whole of the Ukraine was in the USSR. It’s not surprising they think of it as theirs.

  8. formula57
    January 7, 2022

    Two points immediately arise, being: –

    – let us hope Ben Wallace knows that Ukraine is a far away country of which we know little – and so there must be an absolute prohibition on U.K. troops pulling others’ chestnuts out of the fire. If Mr Wallace does not know this or is in any doubt, let him be replaced soonest.

    – are you not sick with worry, as I suppose I could even become myself, that Messrs. Putin and Biden seem to be getting on with sorting matters out whilst bypassing the Evil Empire, with Mr. Putin apparently putting dents in E.E. cohesion as French foreign minister Le Drian expresses it?

    Is it not past time that reality was conformed to such that even our own Foreign Office acknowledged that Crimea is part of Russia?

  9. forthurst
    January 7, 2022

    Ukraine was subsumed into the Bolshevik empire after an unsuccessful war of independence following the
    Bolshevik coup d’etat. Lazar Kaganovitch who was born in Ukraine was charged with instituting a genocide known as the Holodomor in which upwards of 10 million Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death by removing their grain supplies and sealing their borders. Ukrainians are a similar people to the Russians but unfortunately the results of rule under the Bolsheviks, who according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were not of Russian heritage, has created a deep enmity between those who identify as Ukrainian and those who identify as Russian.

    1. Mitchel
      January 8, 2022

      “That book” of Solzhenitsyn’s has still not been published in English.Too incendiary!

      Western Ukraine(Galicia) only came into the USSR at the end of WWII.It had been part of the first,early medieval Russian state but ,after that fragmented and was subject to Mongol suzerainty,passed through the successive hands of Lithuania,Poland,Habsburg Austria,a few short-lived entities around 1917-1920,Poland ,USSR,Nazi Germany and then the USSR again.

      If you had been born in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk in 1900 and survived until 1992,you would have lived in six different states during your lifetime.

    2. Mark
      January 8, 2022

      It was detectable even in Soviet times when I visited Kiev. People proved to be more friendly if I spoke German rather than Russian, at least if they were not the official minders from the KGB.

  10. Paul Cuthbertson
    January 7, 2022

    With the UN, the EU, NATO and “Biden’s US” interfering in Ukraine what could possibly go wrong!!!!!

  11. Mark B
    January 8, 2022

    Good morning

    Ukraine is the soft underbelly of the Russian Bear, and given past historical events regarding its neighbours across all its massive border, it is not surprising that they are sensitive to large foreign powers so close to them.

    The areas that are in dispute have a large ethnic Russian population and do not want to be part of Ukraine. It would be better for Eastern Ukraine to hold a referendum and possibly ceded that land to Russia with an agreement that they will never station troops there. Otherwise this is an ongoing sore that will never heal and could eventually get far, far worse in the future.

    1. Mitchel
      January 8, 2022

      Likewise the South,those coastal cities,like Odessa,were founded by Catherine the Great and Prince Potemkin on land seized back from either the Ottoman Empire or the Khanate of Crimea.

  12. alan jutson
    January 8, 2022

    Politicians playing power politics again, rest assured it will end in tears for those directly affected if it ever escalates and turns into action.

  13. Bryan James
    January 8, 2022

    Ukraine is the political battleground between EU and Russian influences in Eastern Europe.

    One created by the West, and especially the interferring EU.

    We can all recall the time when certain members of the EUP were creating friction and urging for a Russian Spring – similar to the one Egypt experienced.
    One very notable libdem MEP was at the heart of the trouble stirring!

    I don’t see Russia as the bad guy in any of this — They have made it clear they will not tolerate NATO on its doorstep, but the West keep fighting this, as though democracy is the knight in white fighting a dragon. But when you look at it, Russia is a lot more stable and honest than what we NOW have in the west.

    The West and particularly the EU should learn to mind its own business.

  14. Pauline Baxter
    January 8, 2022

    Thank you for filling in a bit of background info. about Ukraine.
    But surely the main issue is that U.K. has no reason to involve itself.
    Hasn’t Biden, via NATO already dragged us in?
    There is no need since NATO membership does not commit us to every NATO military adventure.
    Since we are STILL, LITERALLY, tied to the E.U. for power supplies and E.U. are dependent on Russian Gas.
    It is rather a typical, international, —- — err, mess!

  15. Original Richard
    January 8, 2022

    Not only should we not interfere in Ukraine we should realise that in the long-term we will be wanting Russia to be on our side against the far bigger enemy, China.

    1. Nick
      January 9, 2022

      China isn’t our enemy.
      Unless, of course, the US Administration and the lobbyists of the military contractors succeed in turning it into one (Lockheed Martin, Raytheon etc).

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