Skip to comments.The West Should Call the "Russians" Bluff in the Ukraine.
Posted on 05/11/2014 8:51:53 PM PDT by dangus
Separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine are trumpeting landslide election results supporting secession: over 91% in Donetsk, unofficial capital of Donbas, the Ukranian Rust Belt. But a fair, accurate election was impossible in the midst of civil war, with polling stations established by a makeshift government, and no international observers willing to take part. Separatist gun men are stationed at government buildings, preventing Kiev-backed forces from retaking the buildings, but also belieing the feasibility that people are voting freely and fairly.
The Wall Street Journal reports one pro-separatist election official (Mikhail Somelenko) acknowledging little was done to keep people from voting more than once, but that it didn't matter since, he said, "everyone was voting yes."
Western government are angrily protesting the election as invalid, and of course it is. But what if it also does represent popular sentiment?
Just a month ago, press polls showed that separatist were in a clear minority. If those polls still represent the situation in the East, Ukraine risks nothing in allowing a fair, internationally monitored poll.
But while a minority of Donestk residents describe themselves as Russian, more tham 70% consider Russian their native language, and more than 90% speak primarily Russian in their own homes. In fact, as many people speak Russian in their own homes throughout Ukraine as speak Ukrainian. And yet, officially, Ukraine is a Ukrainian-only country, with no Russian institutes of higher education and only 5% of broadcast shows in the nation as a whole are presented in Russian. Russophone Ukrainians can plainly understand Ukrainian broadcasts, since the langauges are so similar, but it makes sense that people tend to follow the language spoken in their own homes.
And so the Russophone supermajority of Donetsk gets their news overwhelmingly from Russian sources and local sources now controlled by separatists. So, instead of their news sources focussing on the contrast between the largely non-violent Euromaidan protests in Kiev and the militialed separatist movement in the Donbas, the news is certainly focused on images like the unarmed pro-separatist who tried to stand in front of a column of tanks, like in Tienanman Square, but was shot down in cold blood before he even reached the center of the street.
Also, recently, a tribunal in Kiev failed to link Yanukovich to the snipers, whose murder of dozens of Euromaiden protesters led to the ouster of Yanukovich. Among Ukranian news sources, this is hailed as evidence that Putin must have been behind the snipers, perhaps even desiring Yanukovich's ouster as a pretext for invasion. According to Russophone news sources, this simply demonstrates the invalidity of Yanukovich's ouster.
Even the national Victory Day holiday has worsened situations: Back in WWII, an anti-Soviet faction led by Bander sided with the Nazis. Rejected by Hitler, the anti-Soviets tried to impress him by exterminating an entire Polish region's population. Since independence Ukraine has been eager to identify with the Russian defense against Hitler, but a substantial anti-Soviet majority has identified with the Nazi side. The new government has created much controversy by giving the Banderite "Svoboda" party key posts in the government including sports (which contains the Ukrainian equivalent to the ATF), justice, and Vice Prime Minister. And anyone thinking Svoboda merely praises the lesser of two evils, the party was founded as the "Socialist-Nationalist Party." Compare to the portmanteu, "Nazi" which stands for the "Nationalist-Socialist," Thus, when the Svoboda-backed government in Kiev moved against Russophones, the natural parallels to the Nazi-Russian conflict were most unfortunate for Kiev.
If I may break the fourth wall, I have had a few Freepers send me Ukrainian social-media news. Although their intention was to side with Kiev, much of the propaganda contained is devasting to the Kiev cause: "Russians" are portrayed as inherently inferior humans, having genetic predisposition to despotism. Such propaganda may work to shore up Western support, but it's very plausible that it alienates not only those who have recently chosen to identify themselves as Russian rather than Ukrainian, but also Russophone speakers in general.
Lastly, as justified as Ukraine may feel about cutting water, power and banking access off to Crimea, it needs to resist those urges. Its argument with Russia over Crimea is based on the assertion that Crimea is Ukrainian. That means that the Crimean people are Ukrainian. And that means they need to act like the Crimean people are victims of Russian aggression, so they cannot punish the Crimean people.
Is the very reason Ukraine needs a fair vote for Donbas secession is the very reason it might not get one: It's not so clear secession would lose. But if Dontesk votes to remain in Ukraine, Kiev will have the moral high road in routing out the separatists. If they vote to secede, Kiev needs to woo them back, not ignore their desires while trying to conquer them.
Demographic data and sources (via wikipedia)
According to July 2012 polling by RATING 55% of the surveyed adult residents over 18 years of age believed that their native language is rather Ukrainian, 40% - rather Russian, 1% - another language. 5% could not decide which language is their native one. Almost 80% of respondents stated they did not have any problems using their native language in 2011. 8% stated they had experienced difficulty in the execution (understanding) of official documents; mostly middle-aged and elderly people in South Ukraine and the Donets Basin.
According to a 2004 public opinion poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, the number of people using Russian language in their homes considerably exceeds the number of those who declared Russian as their native language in the census. According to the survey, Russian is used at home by 4346% of the population of the country (in other words a similar proportion to Ukrainian) and Russophones make a majority of the population in Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine:
Autonomous Republic of Crimea 97% of the population
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast 72%
Donetsk Oblast 93%
Zaporizhia Oblast 81%
Luhansk Oblast 89%
Mykolaiv Oblast 66%
Odessa Oblast 85%
Kharkiv Oblast 74%
Russian language dominates in informal communication in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev. It is also used by a sizeable linguistic minority (4-5% of the total population) in Central and Western Ukraine. 83% of Ukrainians responding to a 2008 Gallup poll preferred to use Russian instead of Ukrainian to take the survey.
The language question, the results of recent research in 2012, RATING (25 May 2012)
"Portrait of Yushchenko and Yanukovych electorates". Analitik (in Russian). Retrieved March 7, 2007.
"Byurkhovetskiy: Klichko - ne sornyak i ne buryan, i emu nuzhno vyrasti". Korrespondent (in Russian). Retrieved March 7, 2007.
"In Ukraine there are more Russian language speakers than Ukrainian ones". Evraziyskaya panorama (in Russian). Retrieved March 7, 2007.
Gradirovski, Sergei; Neli Esipova (1 August 2008). "Russian Language Enjoying a Boost in Post-Soviet States". Retrieved 2 May 2014.
Russia’s Putin is having trouble taking what he wants from Ukraine, and BLM’s Feudal Lord Reid is having trouble taking what he wants from Nevada, New Mexico and TEXAS - - - - - .
Causes one to think, doesn’t it?
What is the World coming to if people here in 2014 STILL refuse to be shot like cattle? And yet we can send a rocket to the Moon - - - -. Sigh.
The problem with this scenario is that I don’t believe it was Russia that was bluffing.
Obama thought he could cause trouble for Putin, after putin made him look like an idiot over Syria, and started throwing BIG money at the most radical groups in Ukraine to destabilize the country.
I don’t think they had ANY plan for what actually came next, and they sure as hell didn’t expect Putin to react as fast as he did, moving on Crimea within hours of the coup.
Just since I wrote this, I came across a Pew survey whoch showed overwhelming majorities of Ukrainians, includig Russophones, do not Ukraine to split up. The poll did show, however, that Crimeans, however, by an overwhelming majority (better than 5-1) wanted to secede.
Even if the results are falsified, they still stand as a rebuke to the assumption in the West the Ukrainian state was healthy and able to resist the disintegrative fissures tearing it apart.
And those fissures cannot be overcome by Kiev’s use of force against pro-Russia rebels. And Russia doesn’t have to move in a brigade. The Maidan regime is doing all its dirty work for it.
As for Western politicians and the press, none are so blind as those who refuse to see what is right in front of them.
I wonder what percentage of voters stayed home.
The Pew poll is suspect. People tell pollsters what they want to hear and they give the pollsters the answers they think the pollsters want to hear. In the answers from east Ukraine, you may be hearing confirmation bias at work. On the other hand, there is no doubt Crimeans wanted to rejoin Russia. If there was any doubt, the huge crowds that showed up in Sevastopol on President Putin’s visit there on the Victory Day dispelled it.
Ukraine will split into east and west. Putin has little choice left and no one will oppose him with force.
Turnout was supposedly 75%, but as the election official noted, there could be double-voting. The fascinating new information is that by 88%-4%, Crimeans say Ukraine should accept the Crimean vote.
I don't like what is happening in the partition of Ukraine, but I don't have any desire to go to war to stop it. And I'm beginning to understand how the Brits and French felt in the 1930s about defending Czechoslovakia from Hitler's demand for partition.
Not true. You’re describing is “raising the stakes.” A bluff is intended to force you to fold without meeting the bet. When you fold, you never know if the guy was bluffing. When you call, all betting is over, and hands are shown.
The Saker has some interesting observations about Sunday’s vote which are hard to argue with:
“Actually, that last point is true: the people of the Donbass did have to vote under the barrel of a gun except, of course, that that gun was held by the various various Ukrainian death squads. One such unit called the “Dniper special battalion” played a particularly vicious and ugly role in the shooting of unarmed civilians both in Mariupol and in Slaviansk. So yes, the people of the Donbass did vote in a de-facto war zone, “under the barrel of a gun”, there was terror all around the polling stations, but it was Ukrainian terror. In Slaviansk people literally voted at the sound of gunfire and even mortar fire.”
“And the people of the Donbass were not deterred - they did vote and they voted in favor of sovereignty.”
“Elections, of course, can be faked. But not when the participation is very hight and with figures in the 75%-100% range, not place where almost every person has a phone with a video of photo camera, not in an elections where people are more than happy to wait for hours in line to vote and not in an election were the ballot count is public and each ballot in counted three times. The western corporate media can make all the claims it wants, but, just as with Crimea, this is a lost battle and the propaganda machine will have to throw in the towel pretty soon. If they persist in explaining it all away with Russian agents, GRU Spetsnaz infiltrators or “terrorists” they will just further ridicule themselves.”
“Furthermore, this referendum puts the junta in Kiev in a terrible situation: not only did its repressive machine not succeed in taking a single city under control (not even surrounded Slaviansk!) but now everybody on the junta’s side will have to admit to himself that this is a lost battle. Even if the Ukie “special” (i.e., terror) forces were replaced by real combat units who could easily take many cities under control, this would not resolve the issue of what to do next. Think about it: so you finally “got”, say, Slaviansk, you murdered part of the population and terrorized the other. What now? What do you do next? Short of putting the equivalent of an SS battalion in each city of the Donbass there is no way of keeping everybody terrorized and accounted for. The longer you stay the worse things will look for you. So what is the point?”
The point is things do not look good for the Maidan regime. Its that bad. And the Saker continues:
“Will Banderastan have to shrink to the size of the Lvov and Ivano-Frankovsk regions to open their eyes to the fact that more than anything else it is their own crazy self-defeating policies which are destroying the country which for 22 years used to be the Ukraine?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
Which brings us right back to his opening points:
“The exact results of the referendum in the Donbass are still unknown, but the following three facts are undeniable:
1) Participation was extremely high.
2) The yes vote won by a landslide.
3) The neo-Nazi junta tried hard, but failed to disrupt the vote.”
All of which is indisputably true. Both Kiev and the West are out of touch with reality. No one in eastern Ukraine wants to live under Kiev’s rule. We are witnessing the breakup of Ukraine. Ironically enough, without Russian involvement. But the West won’t bring itself to acknowledge the Maidan regime is presiding over an increasingly fictional Ukraine that has no real basis for unified statehood. And that is where matters more or less stand today.
... And don’t be too understanding of Neville Chamberlain. By the time Hitler invaded the Sudenland, he had bombed the German diet, declared himself dictator, and had rounded up Jews for the concentration camps.
A land war with Russia on their home turf is just what we need. /s
Russia doesn’t bluff.
Ain’t our business.
We’re 17 tril in the hole in case you didn’t notice.
Our military is stretched thin.
The situation in Ukraine is far less of a threat to national security than is the current occupant of the WH.
...So unbelievable it tests ones patience to be polite.
Who counted the votes?
Who were the non beaten up, non kidnapped, non shot, non murdered, pro Ukrainian poll watchers?
If eastern Ukraine becomes an independent country aligned with Russia, does it change at all the strategic balance of power in Europe?
No, it does not. If the eastern Ukies want to be with Russia, that is none of our business. The West has no place choosing sides in a civil war.
Which we are doing anyway.
91% sounds like a high figure. But even if its exaggerated, there is no doubt most people in Donetsk and Lugansk want another kind of future.
If they want state sovereignty, who are we to stand in their way? Ironically enough, the same thing used to be said about the Soviet Union. Ukraine must be kept in it by force. We saw that was nonsensical.
Just as it today’s position eastern Ukraine must be kept in the country by force even if a majority of its people want to leave. No country can be held together if people have different visions of what they want. Lvov and Ivano-Frankovsk have a different view of what Ukraine should be from Donetsk and Lugansk.
In a rational world, that would lead to a negotiated divorce. Which will happen only when every one finally realizes its impossible to preserve the status quo ante at all costs.
And if it’s such a big deal why isn’t the EU taking care of it? Oh that’s right, they’re in Brussels levying crippling taxes to cure climate change, and fining brits for not properly sorting their waste bins. Silly me.
He wanted Crimea, he took Crimea. If he wanted Southeast Ukraine I believe he'd have taken that, too. It looks like he's playing along now waiting until just the right moment to split the US and EU apart.
People need get past the Stalin BS and think through what having a Russian Metternich playing a major role in Europe means.
We're not ever going to be the sort of ally Europeans want when it comes to putting stability above all else but Russia will be more than happy to join that sort of agreement. The US, OTOH, can't be trusted to not recognize whichever mob they think they can manipulate rather than standing by the existing government. They might recognize a band of thugs in Poland and other East European States just like they recognized the thugs in Kiev and you better believe countries are taking note of that fact just like they're taking notes on what Putin does.
It's all about Europeans once again being afraid of rebellions and coups. Such things are an attractive tool until they blowup in your face and the Kiev coup has definitely not worked out the way the EU expected their golden kiddies in Kiev to work out.
Having arrangements define the boundaries of various countries influence with Russia as a partner in halting this sort of thing (from the mob takeover to however this ends) in the future is a very tempting idea to the nations of Europe.
Not everyone in Europe is so blind they don't see the problems that are brewing from decades of Muzzie immigration. Nor are they stupid enough to bank on the US changing the way we cater to Muzzies anytime soon.
A good post, Rashputin :-)