I’m confused, can anyone help me?

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I’m confused, can anyone help me?

by Neil Clark

I’m confused. A few weeks ago we were told in the West that people occupying government buildings in Ukraine was a very good thing. These people, we were told by our political leaders and elite media commentators, were ‘pro-democracy protestors’.

The US government warned the Ukrainian authorities against using force against these ‘pro-democracy protestors’ even if, according to the pictures we saw, some of them were neo-Nazis who were throwing Molotov cocktails and other things at the police and smashing up statues and setting fire to buildings.

Now, just a few weeks later, we’re told that people occupying government buildings in Ukraine are not‘pro-democracy protestors’ but ‘terrorists’ or ‘militants’.

Why was the occupation of government buildings in Ukraine a very good thing in January, but it is a very bad thing in April? Why was the use of force by the authorities against protestors completely unacceptable in January, but acceptable now? I repeat: I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

read more at——http://rt.com/op-edge/west-leaders-ukraine-democracy-600/

Time to End the Cold War in Europe

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The rupture in relations between Russia and the West is discussed as if Crimea’s accession, Ukraine’s future and sanctions are the core problem. I would argue that these issues, while important, are ultimately secondary. The true cause is Moscow’s determination to change the rules that the West has imposed on it for the last 25 years. As Russia is unable and, in fact, unwilling to fit the western mold it no longer seeks to become part of the West.

By virtue of its geography, history and culture, Russia has continuously found itself in the thick of things and has challenged the post-Cold War order on behalf of all non-western countries.

The rupture with the West began in the 1990s with the rise of Asia, but it was overshadowed by the end of communism, which gave the West a powerful economic and moral boost. Let me analyze the factors that have led to the current crisis. More immediately, the rupture is due to the West’s refusal to end the Cold War de facto or de jure in the quarter century since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In that time, the West has consistently sought to expand its zone of military, economic and political influence through NATO and the EU.

Russian interests and objections were flatly ignored. Russia was treated like a defeated power, though we did not see ourselves as defeated. A softer version of the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on the country. There was no outright annexation of territory or formal reparations like Germany faced after World War I, but Russia was told in no uncertain terms that it would play a modest role in the world.
This policy was bound to engender a form of Weimar syndrome in a great nation whose dignity and interests had been trampled.

Russia’s political class was particularly irritated by the systematic deception, hypocrisy and broken promises. Western officials dismissed the very concept of spheres of influence as obsolete while steadily expanding their own “non-existent” sphere of influence. I know that many in the West believed or wanted to believe their words. But in Russia and the rest of the world, which lived by another set of rules, this glaring contradiction was met with nothing but derision and mistrust.

Moscow suggested that western organizations become pan-European by admitting Russia. Boris Yeltsin spoke of NATO membership for Russia. At the outset of his presidency, Vladimir Putin proposed radically closer ties with the EU but to no avail.

From Yeltsin to Medvedev, Russian proposals to sign a new treaty on European security or create a common human, economic and energy space from Vancouver to Vladivostok – the Union of Europe or Greater Europe – were invariably rejected.
These accords would have defined a new status quo and put an end to the battle to redraw spheres of influence. But the EU had to pretend that it was interested in expanding to Ukraine to prove to its members and the rest of the world that its project was still attractive and viable.
And there were even less noble motivations behind the EU’s Ukrainian offensive. Some Europeans and the forces that back them (I won’t mention names or countries to stay out of the war of recriminations) wanted to spite Moscow, to take revenge for past defeats and draw Russia into a crisis. They wanted to drain Russia’s foreign political capital. Russia has been riding a wave of skillful diplomacy and political will, allowing it to play an outsized role in international affairs relative to its economic power.

The victors of the Cold War were affronted by the way Moscow openly rejected some of the more recent western values and the newfound swagger of a country that was until recently humbly asking for handouts and guidance. They wanted to cut Russia down to size.
The West also wanted to frustrate Russia’s Eurasian designs, which allegedly consist of using the entirely non-threatening Customs Union and later the Eurasian Economic Union to restore the bulk of the former Russian or Soviet empire in a new, predominantly economic alliance in order to enhance the competitiveness of Russia and its partners in a global economy that is dividing into economic blocs.  According to this interpretation, Russia seeks to alleviate the Weimar syndrome afflicting Russian elites and the nation at large, which has been continuously aggravated by Western policy.

Both Russian statesmen and experts warned that the effort to draw Ukraine into the Western sphere of influence with the Association Agreement (and the looming prospect of NATO membership) would only spell hardship and loss of life in Ukraine, especially since Russian resistance was guaranteed. But Russia’s warnings were ignored. The West wanted to maintain the momentum of recent decades, even if it meant using Ukrainians like gun fodder in yet another geopolitical battle.

Again, the rupture with the West is the result of an unresolved post-Cold War world and the existence of disputed territories in the heart of Europe, primarily in Ukraine but also in Moldova and the South Caucasus countries. These open wounds are extremely susceptible to infection.

Russia has always considered Ukraine – even an independent Ukraine – to be an inalienable part of its historical space, the cradle of the Russian state and Russian culture. A considerable number of Ukrainians feel historic ties with Russia. And in more than 20 years since the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine has not formed the stable elite that was invested in national development.

Most Ukrainians were fed up with the pervasive theft, corruption, poverty and despair in the country. So when Europe came with its empty offer of association, Ukrainians wanted to believe what they were promised, all the more so since the Russian model and development level are much less attractive.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych played the same game as all of his predecessors – extorting Europe and Russia for more handouts in exchange for taking steps in a “pro-Russian” or “pro-European” direction. This time Russia made the more generous offer, so he carted off the EU. Humiliated and angry Ukrainians descended on Maidan. Well-prepared militants joined them. And the rest is history. The political crisis ended in a massacre. Ukraine became even less manageable and the collapse of the economy accelerated.

The intensity and ferocious propaganda of the broader conflict surrounding Ukraine can be explained by the impasse in which all of its participants find themselves. The European Union, in its current ideological and institutional framework, is unable to overcome the profound crisis of the Euro project. The crisis afflicting the United States is different in nature but equally stark. Russia, for its part, has been unable to formulate a development strategy or national idea in the six years after the recovery period.

Ukraine has been languishing under an inefficient bureaucracy, corruption, divided and unpatriotic elites, a shrinking population and declining human capital, rendering the country unable to promote national development or even defend its long-awaited sovereignty.

All sides appear eager to find an external enemy, or some kind of an impulse from outside the crisis, whether they are aware of it or not. In 2012-2013, Western propaganda, fed by the bitter experience of the past 20 years, grew increasingly negative and all-encompassing. It reached a fever pitch during the Sochi Olympics, creating the unmistakable impression among many high-level observers that the West was steering itself for a new round of deterrence and a return to Cold War patterns. Under these circumstances, Russia concluded it had nothing to lose, which may speak to traditional Russian idiosyncrasies regarding external threats.

Russia geared up, and the results so far have been positive. Russia seized the initiative with Crimea and hasn’t let it go. Moscow has not recognized the Ukrainian leadership propelled to power by the coup and may not recognize future elections if they are held, as they almost inevitably will be, in lawless conditions and under threat from the armed far right. The upper house of the Russian parliament has also authorized President Putin to send troops into Ukraine if large-scale violence breaks out.

This time Moscow appears determined not to retreat until it achieves its goal. I hope and assume that Moscow’s aims extend beyond reunification – however inspiring – with Crimea and perhaps other regions that are temporarily propping up the legitimacy of the authorities in Kiev. Russia’s main goal is to put an end to the unfinished Cold War that the West has continued waging de facto. The best case scenario would include a peace treaty on favorable terms. At minimum, Russia will have to make it impossible or prohibitively expensive for the West to unilaterally extend its sphere of influence into regions that Moscow considers vital to its national security.

Moscow wants to preserve a united, federative Ukraine (albeit without Crimea) if possible. Only this arrangement will maintain the formal integrity of the state with its linguistic, cultural and economic distinctions, but Ukraine as a full-fledged state will be a distant historical memory.

I’m not sure that Ukraine is viable even in its current, Crimea-less, borders. The country is ruled by the same incompetent and irresponsible elite. Judging by the current presidential frontrunners, this is unlikely to change. But the disintegration of Ukraine, especially by force, poses major risks and costs to all Ukrainians, Russians and other Europeans. Ukraine is home to 15 major power units, scores of hazardous production facilities and critical infrastructure that is worn-out and vulnerable.

Moscow hopes that the existing external threat can compel Ukraine to take tough measures against bureaucracy, the offshore aristocracy and idle anti-liberal and liberal elites who have failed to chart a viable course for the country.

Some Russian elites probably have a maximalist agenda of reuniting with the bigger part of Ukraine in one form or another. I think this will remain unrealistic and prohibitively expensive until Russia becomes a wealthy, efficient state with an attractive society that a majority of Ukrainians would like to join. For the time being, it is enough to have Crimea, to see the end of the Cold War in Europe and to finally launch a new round of reforms at home, including liberalized conditions for small and medium business, independent courts that will protect private property, a war on corruption, investment in youth and education, and an emphasis on improving Russia’s human capital, which largely determines a country’s competitiveness. This is the best way to use the added legitimacy the Russian leadership gained from Crimea and to bolster the argument that Russia needs to resist “hostile forces in the West.”

This scenario will ensure Russia’s de facto dominance in east and southeast Ukraine and semi-autonomy for the country’s west. But it will be possible only when Moscow, Berlin and the EU realize that a zero-sum game is counterproductive and cease their efforts to unilaterally absorb Kiev in their spheres of influence.

On the contrary, they should work together to save Ukraine, turning it into an opportunity for greater cooperation instead of a bone of contention. This would be a humane mission. The elites of the contested countries will no longer be able to play on the contradictions between Russia and the West, alternating between “pro-Russian” and “pro-Western” lines, or to plunder and humiliate their nations. They will finally have to do the hard work of national development.

As long as the West and Russia continue to trade insults and threats, my dream of a Union of Europe that can end the Cold War and lay the foundation for the merger of European soft power and technology with Russia’s resources, political will and hard power will remain just that – a dream. Integration with Europe would prevent Russia from growing more alienated from its maternal, European civilization. This would benefit Russia as well as the European Union, which needs a new development goal to overcome the internal crisis dooming it to the status of a third-rate world power. It will be good for the world as well, creating a third pillar alongside China and the United States that will make the world much more stable.

Maybe the upheaval in Ukraine – which is far from over and almost sure to take new dramatic turns – will sober everyone up. It is clear that Russia has given up any hope of joining the West in the foreseeable future. But it has not decided whether to move in an anti-Western or anti-European direction either.
One thing is for sure: it would be a tragedy if Russia does not use the crisis in relations with the West, which Moscow more or less actively sought, to pursue serious reforms that will speed up its development and create a promising outlook for the nation and its people. It would be no less tragic if Russia’s enthusiasm over Crimea diverts the country from the task of developing the economy of Siberia and the Russian Far East as part of Russia’s long-stalled economic turn to Asia, which is already ten years late.

Russia already failed to use the 2008-2009 crisis to launch reforms. Let’s hope we take advantage of the current surge of patriotic feeling and popularity for national leaders, and avoid acting again like Aesop’s mountain in labor that brought forth a mouse.

 

Sergei Karaganov is the Dean, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University – Higher School of Economics; Honorary Chairman of the Presidium, Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (CFDP)

source—-http://valdaiclub.com/near_abroad/68080.html

Why a militarily powerful Russia is good for the world

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by March 25, 2014 Ajay Kamalakaran, RBTH

source–http://rbth.com/blogs/2014/03/25/why_a_militarily_powerful_russia_is_good_for_the_world_35361.html

What the situation in Ukraine has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt is that America and its NATO allies can no longer flex their military might and muscle and act like global bullies.

Before writing this column, I would like to clarify that I am a peacenik who believes that it is in the best interests of humankind for world leaders to cooperate and concentrate on areas of convergence. When push comes to shove, leaders with different political views and values can work together. The greatest example of this is the G20, a grouping that was formed when the global economy looked extremely fragile. So, economically if the “big boys” can come together, then they should be able to politically as well.

The recent events in Ukraine have led to media frenzy and sharp statements from Western politicians drumming up rhetoric. I don’t want to even dignify what a former US Secretary of State said with a response. The fact is that Russian troops have shown a tremendous degree of professionalism and the operation in Crimea has been bloodless. Not a single shot was fired over the course of the events and there has been a sense of calmness in the peninsula.

Russia does not want a destabilised Ukraine, as it clearly against Moscow’s best interests, but American interference in the former Soviet republic is part of a long-drawn out policy to weaken its Cold War rival. With Ukraine, the American government is clearly testing the waters to see how far it can provoke Russia.
Let’s hypothetically imagine a situation where Moscow encourages, supports, sponsors and arms an anti-American puppet regime in Mexico. Would America just sit still? Has the United States kept its hands off Latin American countries? Does America follow international law in its own neighbourhood or in some other part of the world? Wasn’t the conflict in Iraq in the 21st century a clear case of a country being invaded under bogus pretences for a regime change?

Russia’s diplomatic power has risen over the last few years and the country has done more than its part to stop bloodshed. Moscow managed to stop an American bombing of Syria and prevented wars in places like Iran. The West knows its limits now and wouldn’t dare to risk a military confrontation with Moscow on the lines of the Crimean War. It also minimises the risk of a NATO misadventure in a third country.

Territorial integrity

The West has rallied around Kiev’s “new government” and called on Russia to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Without taking a stand on this issue, some questions arise: Why do the Kosovars have the right to independence from Serbia? Why don’t the people of Abkhazia have the same right? Why is it okay to partition Sudan and create a new country of South Sudan? Why was the creation of East Timor fair? If international law is set in stone, why is it applicable only for one set of countries and not for another? Where does one draw the line between genuine democratic rights and violations of international law? These are very difficult questions to answer.

The world needs peace, development and a protected natural environment. World leaders bear the responsibility of working for all of the above. But as long as the West tries to extend American hegemony across the world, the prospects of world peace look very dim. The re-emergence of Russia as a military power will go a long way in ensuring that the world is a much less violent place.
What the situation is Ukraine has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt is that America and its NATO allies can no longer flex their military might and muscle and act like global bullies. The biggest danger to world peace since the fall of the Soviet Union has come from America and its allies. While these countries need to be respected for their freedom of press, democracy and work ethic, their foreign policies are tremendously flawed. It is simply against civilized values to create a bloody war to overthrow a leader (and many a time, a democratically elected one) just so that a puppet regime can serve your interests. If NATO was clearly concerned about democracy and human rights, then it wouldn’t go easy on regimes like Saudi Arabia, where human rights violations are a well-accepted norm. There is no concern for democracy in a country like Pakistan, a non-NATO ally of the US, where the army really calls the shots. The West backed the apartheid regime in South Africa for decades and policy-makers seem to have such a disliking for Russia that they are even ready to have a government of neo-Nazi ultranationalists in Kiev. Coincidentally, a staunch Western ally, Estonia recently said that the snipers in Kiev were very much a product of the nationalists and not sponsored by Viktor Yanukovych.

Save Ukraine!


Save Ukraine!

by PETRO Nicolai N

It is all too easy to interpret the results of the Crimean referendum as a rejection of Ukraine. Given the large voter turnout, it appears that the vast majority of ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and even Crimean Tatars voted for secession. But it is probably more appropriate to view it as a rejection of the current government in Kiev, which Crimeans of all stripes view as having been imposed illegitimately by the Maidan protesters.

Their response is the product of fear and anger. They are fearful of the ultimate intentions of those whom they deem usurpers and what they might do with the unchecked power they now wield. They are angry at the betrayal by the previous government, led by Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions, which has left them at the mercy of these people.

The new government in Kiev needs to accept the fact that Crimea is lost, however painful and difficult that will be.

READ MORE AT—–http://valdaiclub.com/near_abroad/67560.html

CRIMEA’S RUSSIAN JOURNEY-REALISTIC, RATIONAL, LOGICAL, LEGITIMATE

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CRIMEA’S RUSSIAN JOURNEY-REALISTIC, RATIONAL, LOGICAL, LEGITIMATE

The present turmoil in world politics regarding Ukrainian crisis may or may not be resolved very soon but world need to accept Crimea’s Russian journey is justified and logical in all sense.
Crimea had been with Russia for about 200 years since the time of Catherine the Great. During the time of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (who himself was a Ukrainian) made it join to Ukraine in 1964 and surely without approval or referendum of the Crimean population.

It is often stated that just after the soviet era was over , Crimea did not join Russia and choose to remain part of Ukraine, but the ethnic , cultural and economic issues of the region remained unresolved.The recent uprising of ultra-nationalist, Nazi oriented movements in Ukraine made the matter more and more complicated as the movement was anti-russian and russophobic in all the senses.Various posters,slogans,interview by the post coup forces and official of Ukraine are the ample proof of that.They even cancelled the regional official language status of ethnic Russian population.This indicates that the present authority of Kiev is not interested in preserving the multi-ethnic heritage of Ukraine.The east Ukraine is wealthy and industrial with sizeable russian population,but Crimea is almost Russia with it’s overwhelming Russian population.The threat of ethnic cleansing,unrest in kiev,seize of power by the extremists made the situation hell and Crimea had no option but to take a decisive step.If USA can attack/invade Afghanistan for few thousands people died in 9/11 MASSACRE IN 2011,then Russia has every right to protect it’s millions of compatriots and ethnic Russian population in Ukraine especially in Crimea. Russian authority responded to the situation appropriately.

The one eyed version of western media do not want to see and interpret the truth in proper light. Their version of Russian forces flooding the peninsula is not far from falsehood. Russian navy was permitted by Ukrainian govt to retain upto 25,000 troops and of course out side of the base they were not allowed to move without consultation with the Ukrainian govt.The pictures posted by various western and American media organization about Russian troop movements were false or distorted versions of other pictures from different regions. The western media applauded illegitimate, militant govt of Ukraine but never failed to question the legitimacy of Crimean authority.In addition ,act of Russia did not/does not resemble to invasion as no gunshot was fired from Russian side.
Vladimir Putin rightly pointed out Crimean situation is close to Kosovo situation.The disintegration of Yugoslavia did not follow any constitution or law of the land ,instead most of the parts organized referendum and seceded with western and American assistance.The arrogance,attitude,hatred,violence of present Ukrainian authority could have started ethnic assault if Russia did not take steps. If peoples’ wish is to be respected then it will be mature to accept the choice of Crimean people.The recent example of south sudan also resembles Crimean referendum.Only west,usa,canda,japan and Australia talked against referendum but largest populous countries of asia,Africa,south America supported and did not oppose Russian and Crimean move.Those who want to tell the world that the referendum was held at gunpoint are equally giving misinformation and distorting facts as there were international observers from various countries across the globe and they neither saw any major violence nor they experienced any sort of violation of electoral processes. If voice of people speaks the last word, then west,usa and their media should not avoid to see the cheer, joy and jubilance of Crimean population who extensively expressed their feelings through celebration both after referendum and accession to Russian federation.

The Crimean move is also strategically important for Russia for balance of power of in Europe because NATO aggression and expansion in eastern Europe and post soviet space endangered Russian security.This is not only threat to Russian federation but also threat to ethnic Russian population as under NATO/eu they would face more persecution.The situation of Russians in Baltic states clearly indicates the fear to be legitimate and obvious as many Russians do not enjoy citizenship and lingual rights in those parts of Europe.The another cause is purely economical as it has been stated in previous articles published in this blogsite and news/analysis in various media that Ukraine would be the worst sufferer in case of EU agreement.The eastern part of Ukraine to suffer most as most industries of Ukraine is over there.
The Language of USA and western leaders are horrific as they want to talk to Russia with language of threat,sanction.They are willfully disregarding the interests of Russia and Russians in the name of protecting territorial integrity of Ukraine though we know very well that western and American intervention in various parts of the world including Iraq,iran,Afghanistan,Africa,latin America throughout the decades,never united nations except ruining and dividing.So their actions in this regard is surely without any ground.

Last but not the least Crimea and Sevastopol are very close to Russian heart so their return to Russian fold was/is inevitable. If east and west Germany can unite to form unified German state by popular demand, if the idea of re-unification of north and south Korea is supported by various states, then west and united states should support both Russia and Crimea with open heart. Russia after all is not going to annex whole eastern Ukraine or American Alaska(which was previously Russian colony and after that sold by Russian tsar to usa at almost throwaway price).If Russia and west come to an mature agreement then that will be great for all the conflicting sides though reversing Russia-Crimea deal is impossible and out of question.

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