The Great Game
It is important to give a great deal of attention to the powers at hand in the west and east and compare the situation in Ukraine to other movements/revolutions around the world. After all it was not that long ago when the Arab spring rocked the Middle East and saw the violent overthrow of rulers in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. In the case of Libya, NATO had lead a no-fly campaign and the US largely sponsored the rebels who eventually captured, tortured and violently killed Omar Gaddafi, leaving his dead body on the floor of a building where people would come and mock the deposed leader. These rebels were the freedom-fighters of the western news outlets. They had supposedly supported some kind of democracy, although it was not certain what kind. It’s arguable these revolutionaries were nothing more than Islamic fronts who deposed of a secular ruler with the help of Western money. Eventually the chicken’s hatched and on the anniversary of 9/11 we saw the absolutely despicable murder of the Ambassador of Libya as well as other, defenseless diplomats. This same money and support eventually struck down Mr. Mubarak in Egypt, causing a sensational revolution of what was reported to be freedom-loving democracy supporting college students and intellectuals – very far from the group that eventually took power and had the backing of the US – the Muslim Brotherhood headed by Morsi. It is not shocking to learn that the revolutionary government has since been banished once more and outlawed and put on trial for their mishandling of Egyptian affairs and the revolution. In each scenario we have had Western hands at play, and a more subtle and careful Eastern approach which verbally disapproved of outside meddling but nonetheless stayed out of the events.
The battle between the east and west was finally openly revealed to the world stage with Syria. Bashir Assad has been battling rebel Islamic groups in his country for a number of years now in what has become an open-armed rebellion against his rule. Originally the narrative in the west was the same, the usual references of democracy and liberty and cries of dictatorship. Assad was branded a dead man in the west, with Hillary Clinton openly stating it’s not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ Assad will be eventually overthrown. It went as far as Obama foolishly drawing a hypothetical ‘red line’ against Syria. After that red line was crossed the US had even begun talking up military invasion. This was all averted perhaps by one single power block other than the US left in the world in the likes of Russia & China. The Russians had finally flexed their political and diplomatic muscles and openly backed the Assad regime, stating that no military invasion of any kind will be tolerated. With the neutralizing effect in place, the Americans decided to back down resorting to threats, but the money still kept coming, funding what in a large porportion was discovered to be radical Islamic fronts. Press Secretary Carey during a typical press conference himself stated that only about 15-25% of the insurgency was “radicalized”, which in itself left many questions, predominately, how could the US support a movement that was a quarter radical and would have been branded as terrorists in typical US rhetoric during the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. Regardless of this, the US had other interests, and knit-picking the fine intricacies of US affairs was a moot point – on whom it bestows favor has favor, and whom it shuns shall be shunned, simply put. These examples are meant to show a brief history of US backed revolutions in the past few years which were also known to be democratic and independent, but turned out to be radical fronts supported by the west. Is this a war by proxy? Why keep spending money all over the world to topple leaders? Simply put, the tendency in US foreign policy is to use force to dispose of leaders hostile to US interests, and all of this can be tied down to the control of resources, geopolitical strategy, and power lust. US foreign policy has been imperialistic in nature. With a politically understandable invasion of Afghanistan, to a completely illegitimate invasion of Iraq, and threats against Iran, Syria and North Korea it is becoming a thing of nature to perceive that the US believes itself to be a uni-lateral superpower hellbent on forcing subjection to it’s national interests. It is my great belief that there is no benevolence in politics. Self-interest can be the only motive for actions taken by both the east and the west alike. I have only summarized all the overwhelming events that have befallen the Middle East and in no way want to simplify it to what I’ve explained here. There are many more factors, and I understand that. I’ve mentioned the important factors which apply to the situation in Ukraine.
The Spark That Lit The Barrel
And now the question of Ukraine is before us like never before. There is no real purpose to write extensive work on the history of Ukraine and all the preceding events which have happened on its territory. However it is important to look at recent history to draw our conclusions. We know that the beginning of the “EuroMaidan” camp was one predominant action – Yanakovich’s acceptance of a 15 billion dollar bailout from Russia instead of a previously expected European Agreement, the content of which has not been expressed publicly neither here nor in Russia or by the opposition. I suspect most of the opposition cannot point out the key aspects of the European Agreements, and I also do not expect Europe or the West to want it’s content to be widely presented either. However this one, visible and tangible action can be ascribed to the spark which began the first wave of protests. It cannot be doubted that Europe first and American second could not have been upset by this turn of events. A European Agreement was meant to further the sphere of influence of Ukraine into Western control. With a 15 billion dollar package from Russia, which comes with it’s own terms, this influence would be seriously limited. It is not to say that Ukrainians didn’t want the EU agreement, or that they didn’t know about it. It’s important to understand that there was ample support for the EU move within Ukraine. However, this support for further European influence is not shared equally throughout the country. And accepting a deal with Russia was also equally supported by a completely different segment of the population who prefer Russian influence over any Western/NATO bloc. This visible division has been blatantly ignored by Western media in an attempt to marginalize pro-Russian sentiments and make the appearance of one main pro-European movement in Ukraine. This couldn’t possibly be the case however as I will explain in just a bit.
Following the timeline of revolutions and uprising which the west has backed in previous examples it quickly became a serious question as to where the initial Ukrainian protests began. The timing and occasion could not have been better to lead the charge against a pro-Russian president in the likes of Yanakovich. It is also important to note that what at first was a response to not taking the European deal quickly became a general movement of protesters each with their own reasons. And the most level-headed view regarding the ‘EuroMaidan’ protests is that they too, were mostly genuine, which saw people from all different walks of life come out to protest against the government. Changes needed to be made, this was evident. Eventually visible and widely known leaders like Klitschko became largely obsolete as more radical and militant opposition movements/leaders, such as the Right Sector, set up barricades and progressed the the conflict to hostilities. It took 3 months of well-sponsored protesting to eventually lead to a breaking point. A key factor in these events is the fact that the opposition had broken all their own truces and agreements with the government. Even after the president had made all the concessions asked for, including the return of the 2004 constitution, giving opposition leaders key positions in government and granting a pardon for all protesters arrested it was decided that nothing short of a complete removal of Yanakovich would be accepted by the militant elements of the opposition, who happened to control it. Using the truce and peace agreements made on February 24th, the opposition, which had no clear public figures made their charges against the presidential offices. The chaos that unfolded left about 100 dead revolutionaries and nearly 500 injured as well as deaths within the anti-riot units, some who had died from gunshot wounds. Much speculation is still surrounding this unexpected bloodshed which saw Yanakovich flee the capital for fear of his own safety. The democratically elected leader of a sovereign country was overthrown by freedom loving European minded democrats. This rather numbing contradiction cannot go unnoticed. In fact, this scenario of revolutionaries is very akin to the western-backed movements in other countries.
Is Ukraine the object?
It is becoming clear that Ukraine in itself is not the main object of interest for US national interest. What Ukraine can one day become is an asset to use against Russia in the Great Game. You can calculate western interest in Ukraine by the sheer amount of attention and narrative writing which is surrounding the events in Ukraine (what happened to the Venezuelan revolution happening at the same time?). It has become very important in this propaganda war to control the image of the revolution and to make it another “freedom movement”. My argument is that the objective is to use Ukraine as a front against Russia. What we have is an unprecedented move into the heart of Russian national conscience and history, revealing Kiev as a spiritual and physical capital of the Russian Empire and it’s Slavic bloodline. This is where Russian interest in Ukraine becomes aggravated and exponential. If the only way to keep out America and more importantly NATO from invading the borders of Russia, and hence creating a real threat to Russian national interests, they have no choice but to influence the situation in Ukraine for a positive outcome in Russia’s strategic national interest. Russia’s behavior in this regard is not only expected to be fully understood, but any serious political analytic could have predicted this to be an absolute. Had the West not become so involved in this revolution (as well as in 2004), Russia wouldn’t find the threat tangible. But with Western meddling in Ukraine, Russia now must also exert it’s own power to confront an increasing presence of non-friendly movements at it’s borders. This threat is quantified by the possible entry of Ukraine into NATO, an organization which was founded to fight against Soviet expansion, and has remained a military threat even after the Soviet Union fell apart. This threat is seriously taken in Russia and high on the national security agenda. If the Ukrainians allow this hostile threat to become a reality towards Russia, then what reaction can the West and Ukraine expect in return? The Ukrainians must ultimately take a realistic approach to their domestic and foreign policy and account the interests of Russia if their fragile new revolutionary government is to stand any chance of surviving.
The Fruits of LaborThe eventual result of having a revolution is usually internal conflict, either leading to civil war or purging of opposition as was the case in Russia & France respectfully. In weaker states with splintering elements, a revolution could in fact lead to disintegration as division becomes front and center like in Yugoslavia. What is certain is that instability and unrest is a product of revolution. Strong nations with capable and clear leadership can guide a country through this kind of trouble, a weaker state however will falter in the face of this forceful wave of self-determination, nationalism and political maneuvering. In the case of Ukraine a contingent from the Western part of Ukraine had taken over control from a president who was elected from the Eastern part of Ukraine. This subtle difference is in fact a piece of valuable information because this change in ‘power’ is simply a changing of who in the country run’s the show (east vs. west). With Western Ukraine forcing their will on the entire nation, we now have a first hand example of what unrepresented and illegitimate power grabs result in. Enter separation movements in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv, and all of Crimea. The South and Eastern blocks have openly declared their hostility to the new government in Kiev, marking it as illegitimate and without any authority to dictate laws or exert it’s control over the pro-Russian populations in those cities and regions. To create more stress in the fracture ripping through Southern Ukraine, Russia has taken a pro-active and decisive action by publicly displaying Russian troops stationed in Crimea throughout the cities and offering it’s support to the new breakaway government.
The Russian Spring
In fact, the realization that a nationalist government has currently taken over the government in Ukraine, there can be no calm or hope that they will relinquish power. Two laws which really stuck out for this new government were, 1.) Not allowing Russian for official documents and 2.) Eliminating a law which prohibited fascist propaganda. Before we can even discuss the reality of these two laws, the first question that must come to mind, especially from a legal perspective is, how can this government pass laws legitimately without any representation from opposition leaders? These laws, nationalistic in nature, have progressed the splinter in Ukrainian society.
This has lead to what is being referred to now as the “Russian Spring” or the push by ex-Soviet citizens to return their lands back under Russian rule or create much sharper pro-Russian positions within their respective countries. This Russian Spring has boiled over especially in the autonomous republic of Crimea where a referendum is underway to declare Crimea either independent or return it to Russia as was before 1954. This also was clear in Donetsk where massive pro-Russian rallies and protests even lead to deaths as clashes occurred between rivaling groups. The will of the people to self-determination is becoming one of the biggest challenges to the current powers in Kiev. Without any vote, or process behind law making, citizens in regions that elected Yanakovich cannot help but feel that Kiev is illegitimate and is progressively seeking to pass legislation against Russian populations in Ukraine while they still maintain power. The fear people have is that this power grab may not eventually transform into a stable and elected government but may in fact spiral further into a power block meant to level politicans from Western Ukraine over their rivaling east and south officials.
Recommended Reading: http://jackmatlock.com/2014/03/ukraine-the-price-of-internal-division/#more-629