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Ukraine: Geneva ‘deal’ not a good one, already falling apart

By: fairleft Friday April 18, 2014 5:19 pm

It’s _extremely_ early, but it looks like the Geneva ‘statement’ by the US/EU/’Ukraine’/Russia is not moving forward from words to actions. The building and square occupiers, the pro-referendum forces, have not moved, and Kiev has not made any conciliatory moves: no announcement of negotiations with the eastern rebels, or that there will actually be a referendum on federation.

I am not a fan of the deal anyway, which seems mainly directed at disempowering the eastern Ukraine ‘occupiers’ and thereby normalizing the coup government, which will be further normalized and legitimized if the May 25 general election goes through (without a simultaneous federation vote). All of this benefit to the coup side without any concrete requirements placed upon them.

But, if the only hope for an anti-Western-empire and pro-Ukraine win is that this ‘deal’ fails, then, as I said in paragraph one, there is definitely plenty of that kind of hope:

If we should leave our buildings then everyone should leave their buildings. [Oleksandr] Turchinov and [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk should also leave the buildings they occupied illegally.

Denis Pushilin, chair of the Donetsk People’s Republic

The commenter below also locks onto what matters in the second paragraph below. Where are the guarantees in the Geneva statement? Nowhere. There’s ‘talk’ of a referendum being prepared but no action. There’s no trust and there shouldn’t be any in an agreement without any specifics and no movement toward concrete negotiations and mutual trust. And yeah, it would be a sign of trust if representatives of the eastern Ukraine were invited to sit down as equals with coupsters and work out a _concrete_ agreement with specifics and a speedy _timetable_!

We watched [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov, we are quite happy with what he has said. But the Ukrainian side has interpreted the agreements in an absolutely different way.

It will not take long to disarm, to dismantle the barricades – but where are the guarantees? [The Kiev authorities] need to reach out to us. The talks of preparing a referendum – we still see no steps in this direction. We need to trust each other, for that we need to sit down at the negotiation table – but no one has so far invited us to talk.

Anatoly Khmelevoy of the local Communist Party (KPU) in Slavyansk

All of the following is very interesting. It is very good that Pushilin makes a point of disarming the National Guard, which the Kiev coupsters likely will claim is not an ‘illegal armed group’. (In fact, the ability to claim that ‘legality’ was likely/obviously the reason that that Svoboda and Right Sector infested group was created, and another reason the Geneva statement reads as it does.):

The self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic meanwhile said it will not follow the treaty’s calls until Kiev starts doing so. Speaking to Itar-Tass, the republic’s chair, Denis Pushilin, said that the Kiev authorities are “refusing to pull back the troops from the territory of the Donetsk Region, and in those conditions it is impossible to talk of compromise.”

Kiev “must vacate the seized buildings, disarm the illegal armed groups – the National Guard and the Right Sector – and free all the political prisoners,” Pushilin stressed. “After that, we will be ready for dialogue.”

However, speaking to journalists on Friday, the coup-imposed Ukrainian foreign minister said that Kiev activists do not have to quit Independence Square (Maidan) because it has been occupied “legally.”

Deshchytsa stressed that the amnesty law for eastern Ukrainian protesters, which Kiev says has already been tabled for a vote in the Ukrainian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada), will only be applied after “complete disarmament” of the protesters in the region and total vacation of administrative buildings.

So it’s a “you go first” deal from both Deschytsa and Pushilin. Good, because lack of trust will surely make Geneva a dead ‘statement’. Respect to the occupiers. Hold fast or the EU/IMF/US/NATO win.

P.S.: In much shorter form, this was originally a comment at moonofalabama.

East Ukraine: Regular folks hold off the warmongers!

By: fairleft Wednesday April 16, 2014 11:47 am

The mainstream media in the West, especially in Britain and the U.S., is unrelenting in its fantasy that the mass rebellion in eastern and southern Ukraine has been generated by an “outside agitator” named Vladimir Putin. But look at the photos! Hundreds of people in towns and thousands in bigger cities are out on the streets or dirt roads to confront and turn back the ‘invading’ soldiers of the unelected government. Regular folks, babushkas and skinny-armed teenagers, parents and their children, doing a good job of holding off war. All these folks are asking for is a referendum on federalization, and that ain’t no reason for either side to fight and kill.

This is absolutely beautiful:

When Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents.

One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: ‘You are the army, you must protect the people.’

We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,’ is the soldier’s reply.

Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbors, in case the soldiers start a military operation.

Just like you and me, the townspeople’s only weapon is an ability to speak and persuade. And the facts are on their side: there is no reason to be killing each other. With words they have successfully persuaded most of the regime’s soldiers that they should not fire their weapons, that whatever the cause is that they are fighting for, it is not worth it.

That’s a beautiful thing to see a few days before Easter.

But are you allowed to see it in the West?

Look, I’m not a big fan of RT, it’s a government operation and Russia is at least as corrupt (in the usual ways) as the average capitalist country, but if you want to get a sense of hope this Easter season, you have to look at the photos of what is going on in east Ukraine. Look at these peaceful but passionate persuaders at work. Look at the tank stopped by some peacemakers.

Peace seems to be happening despite the best efforts of the warmongers in Washington, Kiev, London, Warsaw and in most of the newspaper and television boardrooms of the Western world. But they won’t stop, the media and the corporate-owned politicians won’t stop demonizing Russia and pushing the temporary leaders of Ukraine to fight and kill their country’s citizens. I advise all firebaggers to get out into the comment sections of the media to argue for peace and reconciliation. Here’s a sample if you want one, under some Putin is a demon tale by a guy named Angus at the now neoconservative Guardian:

Angus, no. Pull yourself out of the hallucinogenic ‘demon Putin’ narrative and look at the d#mn photos coming out of East Ukraine. The townspeople scold the young soldiers, remind them that there is no reason to fight, and the soldiers put down their arms! This is what is happening now in these days leading up to Easter. No Russians, no Pravy Sektor, no Princess Tymoshenko to muck up the truth. Look!

The real narrative is the need for a referendum on federalization, as you’ve recognized, and that is the message all in eastern and southern Ukraine agree on. that’s all the East is asking for. Instead of war. So instead of drawing red lines in the sand, for wars on Russia and east Ukraine that don’t have soldiers to fight them, what the West needs to do is pressure the coup regime to allow a reworking of the nation of Ukraine that will move it away from civil war and toward mutual trust.

NY Times vs RT at Kramatorsk: Mob of militants or local citizens?

By: fairleft Tuesday April 15, 2014 12:04 pm
Three soldiers guard a cement roadblock.

What’s happening in Ukraine? Depends on which reporters you ask.

New York Times: ”Ukraine Military Clashes With Pro-Russia Militants in East

RT: “Those who don’t lay arms, will be destroyed – Ukrainian military op commander

The Ukraine military finally swung into action and took over a military airbase in eastern Ukraine near Kramatorsk. RT chose to emphasize a statement by the general leading the operation:

A Ukrainian general leading the operation against protesters in the east of the country has warned that activists who refuse to lay down their arms will be ‘destroyed.’

‘They must be warned that if they do not lay down their arms, they will be destroyed,’ General Vasily Krutov, first deputy head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) told reporters, as cited by AFP.

While NYT preferred a more traditional gung ho “storming” lead:

The Ukrainian military stormed an airport 25 miles north of this city on Tuesday, beginning what the president called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of the country.

RT: “protesters,” “activists”
NYT: “pro-Russian militants”

Both publications also reported on a confrontation between Krutov and a crowd at the base:

NYT:

At length the commander of the Ukranian operation, Gen. Vasily Krutov, approached the crowd of about 500 gathered behind a barbed wire fence to urge the militants to disperse, to little or no effect. As he was walking away he was roughed up, people in the crowd said, shoved hard enough that his hat fell off.

The situation, described by local reporters as a ‘mob scene,’ persisted throughout the afternoon …

RT:

On Tuesday evening, Krutov, who personally supervised the operation in Kramatorsk, appeared before local residents gathered on the airfield. According to RIA Novosti, the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] official attempted to explain to them that the military had arrived at the site to protect them from ‘terrorists.’ However, the crowd responded shouting they were ‘peaceful citizens.’ The activists then pushed Krutov several times, but were stopped by special forces troops who fired warning shots into the air.

NYT: It’s a “mob scene,” and Krutov simply wants “militants” to disperse, but is “roughed up” and victimized, shoved so hard “his hat fell off.” The reporter reports all of this second-hand, he apparently wasn’t there.
RT: Tells what the crowd said, that they are “peaceful citizens” and not “terrorists.” Apparently a first-hand account.

RT:

According to activists, four people were killed and two others injured on Tuesday as troops seized an airfield in the city of Kramatorsk, which had earlier been controlled by protesters.

NYT:

Russian news media, citing members of the armed opposition to Kiev, reported that several members of a pro-Russian militia had been injured at the airfield in firefights with the Ukrainian military. Later, Russian news media reported four fatalities in the vicinity of the airport.

RT: Straightforward: says four people were killed and two injured, “according to activists.”

NYT: Buries the lead (four people allegedly killed), and apparently the reporter decided not to ask at the scene about deaths and injuries. Instead he chose to watch or read the Russian news media (that most NYT readers, he knows, will consider unreliable), which cited “members of the armed opposition to Kiev.”

Ukraine, Right Sector ban all incorrect-thinking judges and officials

By: fairleft Tuesday April 8, 2014 6:44 am
The Klov Palace, shown behind tall metal gates, is home to the Ukrainian Supreme Court

“Lustration” protests at the Ukrainian Supreme Court sought to oust the judges and other officials.

Eastern Ukraine is upset with the coup government in Kiev, but why? I mean, aside from threats to the Russian language, banning of Russian television and radio, non-competitiveness and technical incompatibility of what eastern Ukraine makes with EU-aligned products, the overthrow of the democratic government that the region voted for overwhelmingly, and the planned IMF/EU-imposed austerity that will devastate the region?

Well, here’s another reason you may have missed while looking at disinformation. The explicitly neo-Nazi Right Sector on Monday blocked Ukraine’s Supreme Court and …

… led out the judges one by one shouting ‘Lustration.’ Some of the judges were shoved, punched and spat upon. The nationalists demanded early adoption of lustration legislation that would ban former allies of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from getting government jobs.

Lustration means banning for political sympathies or affiliations. So the new government will oust from public office and the courts anyone associated with or sympathetic to the government elected in 2010 and 2012 Instead, the election losers in 2010 and 2012, plus the Right Sector (which has never won an election) will choose 100% of judges and federal and local officials. Well, that’s a great way to foster reconciliation between the Russia-leaning and EU-leaning halves of the country. NOT. And note that Right Sector is not demanding a new law or policy, it is just demanding that the new (illegitimate) government carry out in an uncompromising fashion a law Kiev has already passed.

More on the incident from RT:

Several hundred protesters picketed a planned session of the Supreme Court in Kiev on Monday in a call for the removal of senior judges.

A few judges, who were in the building before the attack, were led out by the activists shouting ‘Lustration!’

The protesters are demanding to adopt lustration legislation, which implies that people connected to a former regime may not get office with the new authorities. The far right activists are concerned about the fact that the judicial authorities may grant almost 150 ousted officials with powers, despite their relationship to the ousted president.

Another report, sympathetic to the coup government, writes:

Several hundred protesters picketed a planned session of the Supreme Court in Kiev on Monday in a call for the removal of senior judges.

The crowd gathered outside the courthouse gates and prevented staff from entering.

Among new laws passed recently by Ukraine’s new government, the country’s judges will now be subject to performance reviews and lustration, a process of removing corrupt officials from office.

Some protesters outside the court on Monday held signs reading: ‘Without lustration, corruption will continue,’ and, ‘It is not for you to judge us.’ A sign also read, ‘We support honest courts.’

Others brandished flags of the nationalist Right Sector movement, which played a prominent role in the protests that culminated in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

It is of course rank b.s. to say replacing sympathizers and loyalists of plutocrat Yanukovych with sympathizers and loyalists of plutocrats Tymoshenko or Poroshenko will make Ukraine’s courts any less corrupt. Talk about missing the real problem: THE PLUTOCRATS! It’s also revealing that this ‘news’ article refers to “the nationalist Right Sector movement.” But what is nationalist about ethnic prejudice? Ukraine is a nation of multiple nationalities, primarily Ukrainian and Russian, and Right Sector is a Ukrainian ethnic chauvinist movement. That’s not nationalism in my book, and in fact that kind of thinking has probably already destroyed the nation of Ukraine.

New big Ukraine lie: “Russia amassing troops at the border!!”

By: fairleft Tuesday April 1, 2014 1:32 pm

First it was “Russia invades Crimea!!” and now it’s “Russia amassing troops at Ukraine border!!” No evidence for either, but if you question the neo-Stalinist line you will be ridiculed as a Putinbot and/or a gullible fool for Soviet, I mean Russian, propaganda.

A lego soldier minifig

Meanwhile in Russia, on the Ukrainian border …

Nonetheless, let’s look at what facts there are. Here’s Britain’s Telegraph, a vociferously right-wing publication, but even they come up empty on Russian troops on the border:

But the Russian invasion force – if it is here – is very well camouflaged. As the fog lifted, murky shapes were revealed as trees, houses and old Lada cars. No tanks emerged from the gloom, no suspicious flights of helicopters passed overhead, and no green painted trucks rumbled down the roads.

In a 200 mile trip along the border region, the only Russian armour on display in this flat landscape was of a much older vintage, and stood on plinths in town squares.

The U.S.-empire-friendly New York Times also tried to find a build up and couldn’t:

But in and around Belgorod, which sits a scant 40 miles from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and a likely target in case of an invasion, any increased military presence is largely kept out of the public eye. In a region that appears far from being on the brink of war, life continues as normal here, and many residents [dismiss] reports of a buildup as rumors set to discredit Russia.

… ‘Show me the tanks first, show me anything here that proves all this, and then we can talk about an invasion,’ said Pyotr Kudryavtsev, a retiree walking away from the tracks near the Vesyolaya Lopan station south of Belgorod, where scores of military vehicles were filmed being unloaded on March 12. Mr. Kudryavtsev, like other locals interviewed, denied this, saying that the heavy tracks in the mud close to the rails belonged to construction vehicles.

And that “scores of military vehicles” in the video sprung on the local villager? A lie. The video shows six trucks, two jeeps and a half-dozen listless troops.

Finally, here is the other leader of the pro-war troops, the Wall Street Journal, saying in so many words that the U.S. doesn’t have a single photo showing a build up of troops near the Ukraine border:

Military officials said [Russian] camouflaging has further complicated U.S. efforts to assess the size and scope of the military forces being put in place.

‘They have moved into concealed positions,’ said a senior military official.

The official said concealment could be aimed at obscuring images taken by American spy satellites.

Once again, where are the Russian troops massed on the Ukraine border? 50,000 men and the state-of-the-art U.S. spy satellites can’t provide the public a single image? If they had one I’m sure they’d somehow manage to leak it and let us see it.

[See also the evidence provided in Comments 6 and 7 below. Thanks for reminding me, tuezday.]

Yeah, I know, it would be nice to ignore the media’s surreal Ukraine anti-reality show as just meaningless ranting. The ‘powers that be’ can’t really be trumping a mush of fact-free b.s. into a new cold war, can they? But every day the mainstream media in stunning unity keeps on shouting through its megaphone about the big BIG threat that Russia is to Ukraine and, heck, all of Eastern Europe! And I’m pretty darn sure their readers and viewers are tired of it, so they aren’t demanding this obsessive Russia-phobic coverage …

Crimea: So, no evidence of a Russian invasion means ‘no invasion’?

By: fairleft Thursday March 27, 2014 2:18 am

(Note: I continue to examine the Ukraine/Crimea issue for two reasons: (1) we’re at the founding of a new cold war with all the bloated military expenditures that implies, and (2) this is the media’s worst big lie deviance from reality since the WMD b.s. of 2002-2003.)

Caricature of Putin in a santa hat, holding a sack of gifts labelled US Defense Budget After Crimea

US propaganda is spinning Crimea into a boost for the military-industrial complex.

If you’re an avid observer of Western imperial propaganda and in that context a ‘news’ consumer still waiting for solid evidence that Russia “invaded” Crimea a couple weeks ago, then, as Nora at MoA (original source here) says, this from the mipmam (mass imperial propaganda masquerading as media) is just priceless:

U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.

… U.S. officials haven’t determined how Russia hid its military plans from U.S. eavesdropping equipment that picks up digital and electronic communications.

… Images showed what U.S. officials described as typical military movements at Russian bases in Crimea.

Looking back, some U.S. officials now suspect Russia might have been trickling more highly trained units into Crimea in small numbers. But U.S. intelligence analysts didn’t pick up any such indications before the takeover, officials briefed on the intelligence-gathering effort say.

So, okay, the most sophisticated spying technology in the world found ABSOLUTELY ZERO evidence that Russia was planning or carrying out an invasion of Crimea. On the now tiny island we call reality-based land this might indicate THERE WAS NO INVASION (STUPID!).

But NO, honoring the evidence would’ve meant abandoning the Big-Lie-Putin-bashing “Russia INVADES Crimea” meme you’ve seen plastered everywhere. So the propaganda show must go on and veer from reality. And it successfully did so.

Those defending the meme also ask, “What about those scary ‘Russian-speaking’ (90% of Crimeans speak Russian as their first language) military dudes in Crimea with no insignia on their uniforms?” Well, if you were a Crimea-posted former member of the Ukraine armed forces who’d decided on loyalty to the new state of Crimea, you would have a nice uniform but wouldn’t have any insignia to wear, right? (Note that Ukraine posts its soldiers in their home regions whenever possible, so most of its military folks in Crimea were Crimean.) So the facts as we know them perfectly match the following possibility, that Crimean self-defense forces were the ‘mysterious’ armed men who occupied key facilities in Crimea just after it declared independence:

The Crimean popular army made up of locals and former Ukrainian armed forces braces for possible impact with right-wing radicals making their way toward the region. … They team up with members of the disbanded Berkut security forces and other units loyal to the Crimean government. Just the past week has seen officers resigning en masse to join up with this people’s army.

And finally, considering that it already had nearly 20,000 troops legally in Crimea under a longstanding agreement with Ukraine, what possible motivation would Russia have for “invading” Crimea? Mass defections from the Crimea-based Ukraine military, 20,000 Russian (mostly naval) servicemen ready to go, Crimean police completely on the side of the new Crimean government … there was no reason on earth to “invade.”

In sum, the entire “invasion” scenario was invented from absolutely nothing to serve as a Russia-bashing and Putin-demonizing BIG LIE. And now this complete poppycock has become ‘truth’ in the West, and the reality-based have to hold their tongues and go along or be ridiculed.

Finally, and unfortunately, this B.S. is important, because on an immediate level it is being used by the U.S. and President Obama to push European countries already in deep austerity to boost military spending, on the ridiculous premise that Russia has suddenly become a crazed demonic entity intent on world empire. And eventually, casting Russia in the enemy role has the potential to generate budget-busting U.S. defense expenditures, especially when the neocon Republicans inevitably return to power. You know, that military-industrial complex problem we have.

Several days ago I proposed a more reasonable way of seeing through the mipmam’s Crimea hysteria. This is the most reality-based way to look at what actually occurred:

Ukraine: hopeful signs versus the neocons

By: fairleft Monday March 17, 2014 10:30 am

While President Obama announces meaningless sanctions (they had been telegraphed for weeks so those targeted had plenty of time to protect assets), b at moonofalabama reports U.S./Russian progress toward crisis resolution through a new constitution that creates a devolved, federated Ukraine guaranteeing minority and language rights. B found a source that presents what looks like a rough draft agreement generated for a proposed Ukraine Support Group (the EU, U.S., and Russia). (The proposal is also discussed by Pepe Escobar in Asia Times.) In the imperfect English of the bilingual draft, the following is the second on its to-do list:

2. Convene without delay, by a decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Constitutional Assembly with equal representation of all Ukrainian regions in order to draft a new federal constitution that would provide for the following:
- Enshrine the principles of rule of law, protection of human rights and all national minorities, freedom of speech and activities of political parties and mass media, as well as other principles underlying Ukraine’s political system as a democratic federation state possessing sovereignty and neutral military and political status;
- Russian along with Ukrainian will be given a state language status while other languages will be given a status in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
- Regions will independently elect their legislative and executive bodies through a direct vote and have wide authority, reflecting the cultural and historic specificity of each to them, with regard to economy and finance, social sphere, language, education, [and] external interregional relations, while ensuring protection of national minorities living in each of the federation constituent entities; …

Item 4 on the list reads:

4. The right of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to determine its future, following the free expression of the will of its population during the referendum of 16 March 2014, shall be recognized and respected.

As b notes, Secretary of State John Kerry is now attempting to make the above parameters look like new U.S. suggestions. According to the State Department, Kerry

urged Russia “to support efforts by Ukrainians across the spectrum to address power sharing and decentralization through a constitutional reform process that is broadly inclusive and protects the rights of minorities,” including ethnic Russians, Russian speakers and others in the former Soviet republic …

However, in fact (as I’ve noted before) the devolution/federation idea was first suggested publicly by Putin adviser for Ukrainian affairs Sergei Glazyev in early February:

he suggested that a form of federalism be introduced to give regions substantial powers – including over their budgets and even international relations.

Citing the example of Greenland, which enjoys substantial autonomy from Denmark and unlike the Danish state is not part of the European Union, he said western and eastern Ukraine could have different economic relations with the EU and Russia.

‘Today, economic, cultural and human ties between the regions of eastern and western Ukraine are less than the links between southeastern Ukraine and Russia and between the western regions and the EU,’ Glazyev said …

The same general approach was also suggested by well-known Russian academic Sergei Karaganov on March 6. And, contradicting the hype that Eastern Ukraine wants to unite with Russia, the people of its largest city a few days ago marched for federalization of Ukraine. In any case, who cares who gets credit for this sensible approach, let’s just hope it goes through.

But, I’m not optimistic. Standing in the way are neocons like Victoria Nuland within the U.S. government and the allies and underlings they helped bring to power in Kiev. There’s a good chance those forces will be able to scuttle the (almost too reasonable, almost too good to come true) move toward federation and a new constitution. They may succeed in part because the proposed solution is a complex process that likely has exploitable weak links, but also because the process (as you can see in provision ’2′) requires the cooperation of Ukraine’s parliament. That’s an institution very recently under the effective command of baseball bat wielding neo-Nazi thugs, not the most receptive place for a resolution that would dash big Ukrainian nationalist dreams.

And, overriding everything is the Syria factor: Kerry in his fumbling way may try for an economically peaceful settlement to the crisis, but after being frustrated last year in Syria the neocons inside and outside of the U.S. government are in a crude, hysterical, war-like mood. Well, at least that’s the impression I get from the war propaganda and anti-Russia paranoia spewing from every orifice of the corporate mass media these days.

Ukraine bans Russian television & other real Ukraine news

By: fairleft Thursday March 13, 2014 3:20 am

With apologies to the great news video site, The Real News

1. OSCE slams Ukraine ban on all Russian TV channels

“I repeat my call to the authorities not to initiate these repressive measures,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said. “Banning programming without a legal basis is a form of censorship; national security concerns should not be used at the expense of media freedom.” …

More than half of Ukraine’s population speaks Russian regularly and one third say it’s their native tongue. In Crimea over 90 percent of the population uses Russian on an everyday basis.

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists also attacked the move:

“We call on Ukrainian authorities to allow Russian television channels to broadcast in the country and to ensure that the citizens of Ukraine have a plurality of information sources available,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Ukrainian people should be able to choose for themselves what information and opinion to access. Restricting access would escalate, not alleviate, the current tensions.”

For anyone familiar with the language policies of former President Victor Yushenko, none of the anti-Russian-language policies should come as a surprise. All so unnecessary, when the real enemy isn’t a language but the corrupt oligarchs who use cultural and linguistic issues to keep natural allies divided.

2. What Russia wants

Always keep in mind that the following utopia is the ultimate ‘evil’ that your billions of U.S. tax dollars fight against:

We should belatedly begin work towards the common goal of an Alliance of Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, in which people and trade would flow freely. We should merge the soft power of Europe with hard power and resources of Russia, as prominent Europeans and Mr Putin have often proposed.

The writer, well-known academic Sergei Karaganov, also mentions what I’ve talked about before, the obvious though admittedly somewhat unusual solution to the Ukraine crisis:

The outline of a compromise is clear. A federal structure for Ukrainian institutions – and a switch to a parliamentary system in place of a presidential one – would enable the people of each region to make their own choices over language and cultural allegiance. Ownership and control of the gas transportation system should be shared between Ukraine and its neighbors. The country should be allowed to participate both in Russia’s customs union and the EU association deal.

3. Ukraine’s shadow on Central Asia & US involvement in the coup

An excellent piece on what the U.S.-instigated coup in Ukraine means for Russia in central Asia, but more intriguing are veteran Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar‘s comments on the evidence Russia has submitted to the UN Security Council about the coup:

Russia is increasingly left with no choice but to ‘declassify’ the privileged information in its possession regarding the western intelligence operation that forced the power grab in Kiev.

It is extraordinary that Russia has handed over to the UN Security Council the information with the request to hold an impartial international investigation. … it has become imperative to expose the US narrative to be sheer baloney.

Clearly, Poland and Lithuania would not have ventured into the operation to train extremists to overthrow Yanukovich without getting the green signal from Washington. …

This is deadly serious stuff because it casts President Barack Obama in an altogether new light as a ‘cold warrior’ himself, whereas the American official propaganda would have us believe that the president is a helpless statesman largely acting under domestic political compulsions.

What emerges on balance is that there is no way the US-Russia tattered ties can be mended during the remaining period of Obama’s presidency. Equally, there is no way Russia is going to let down its guard about the US intelligence activities in its ‘near abroad’.

4. China’s perspective: The West’s fiasco in Ukraine

The Ukrainian people do not get the democracy or prosperity the West promises. Instead, all they can see in their beloved country now is political confusion and economic depression.

The West itself also becomes a loser as the fiasco in Ukraine will surely erode its credibility.

For the rest of the world, once again, people see another great country torn apart because of a clumsy and selfish West that boasts too many lofty ideals but always comes up short of practical solutions.

But the world does not need to be too pessimistic. The game in Ukraine is far from over. The international community still has the opportunity to salvage the country by working together.

Major powers should set their animosity aside and start working for a compromise. The Ukrainians should abandon their political infighting and work to restore law and order in their country as soon as possible.

5. U.S. ‘media’ decides not to report ‘Maidan snipers hired by opposition’ story

Are they media or propaganda services? David Peterson writes:

Conspicuous by their silence are of course the establishment staples such as the New York Times and Washington Post, the network news channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and over cable, Fox News, CNN (the one CNN item listed below derives from the website), MSNBC, and Bloomberg), and a litany of others. A stunning example not only of non-coverage of an important revelation (the truth of which requires verification, of course). But of suppression of an important revelation, plain and simple.

More about the story here.

6. Former head of Ukraine security service: Kiev snipers shot from building controlled by Maidan forces

Shots that killed both civilians and police officers were fired from the Philharmonic Hall building in Ukraine’s capital, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine Aleksandr Yakimenko told Russia 1 channel. The building was under full control of the opposition and particularly the so-called Commandant of Maidan self-defense Andrey Parubiy who after the coup was appointed as the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Yakimenko added.

7. Moscow requests EU probe into Maidan snipers

Russia … at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe meeting held in Stockholm has … suggested investigating the issue of unknown snipers shooting both protesters and the police indiscriminately – … the topic of the recently leaked phone conversation between the EU’s Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet …”