• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Ukraine - Superthread


Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
Hopefully, this won't lead to another dispute similar to the 2009 one between Ukraine and Russia which left Western European nations without gas.

Ukraine leader ignores Putin warning on EU path
By Richard Balmforth

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday re-affirmed his commitment to signing key agreements with the European Union, including on trade, despite a threat by Russia's Vladimir Putin of possible retaliatory measures.

Russia, the ex-Soviet republic's biggest trading partner, last week signaled growing alarm at Kiev's policy of European integration by conducting laborious extra customs checks on imports from Ukraine, causing delays at the border.

Though Russia ended the customs checks after a few days, Putin last Thursday added to fears in Kiev of a possible trade war by saying that a free trade deal between Ukraine and the EU might "squeeze out" Russian goods.

He warned that members of the Eurasian Customs Union linking Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan might have to take "protective measures" to defend their markets.

In an Independence Day speech on Saturday, Yanukovich, once regarded as being more Russia-friendly than his nationalist predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, pointedly ignored Putin's comments.

While pledging to deepen relations with Russia and other customs union members, he indicated that Kiev was committed to signing agreements on political association and free trade with the EU at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November.

"For Ukraine, association with the European Union must become an important stimulus for forming a modern European state," he declared.

"At the same time, we must preserve and continue deepening our relations (and) processes of integration with Russia, countries of the Eurasian community, other world leaders and new centers of economic development," he said.

Ukraine's economy relies heavily on exports of steel, coal, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals and grain. More than 60 percent of its exports go to other former Soviet republics, with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan the most important.

Ukrainian commentators see last week's customs checks as a warning shot by Moscow providing a foretaste of what can be expected if Ukraine opts for turning towards Europe and away from its former Soviet ally.

Yanukovich, backed by powerful and wealthy business figures who see greater prosperity in European markets, has resisted entreaties by Moscow to join the Customs Union - a move which would be incompatible with a free trade agreement with the EU.

But with Kiev still hopeful of securing a lower price for deliveries of costly Russian gas for the Ukrainian economy, Yanukovich needs to maintain good relations with Moscow.

He is sending his prime minister, Mykola Azarov, there on Monday to try to calm Russia's fears over Ukraine's moves towards Europe

In an Independence Day message of congratulations to Yanukovich, Putin on Saturday avoided any discord, expressing Russia's readiness to increase cooperation with Ukraine across the board.

It is far from a foregone conclusion that a political association agreement, including a free trade deal, will be signed in Vilnius in November even though Yanukovich wants it.

Many EU member states are disappointed at the pace of democratic reform in Ukraine since Yanukovich was elected in February 2010 and are pressing particularly for the release from jail of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his fiercest political adversary.

Tymoshenko was jailed in late 2011 for seven years for abuse of office after what the EU says was a politically-motivated trial.

(Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)
The Ukraine is in a difficult position, straddling the border between the Christian Civilization of Europe and the Orthadox Civiliation of Russia to use Samuel Huntington's terms. Perhaps the long term result might be the actual dismemberment of the Ukraine along the Dneiper River, with the western half becoming part of Europe while the eastern half becomes part of Russia.

Unless and until something like that happens, there will always be tension in the Ukraine as one half of the country is upset at the direction the other half wants to take (and the regional powers weigh in as well).

I don't think we've being paying enough attention to this situation.  I certainly haven't been hearing much about it. 

It seems that Ukraine is in the midst of a civil war in slow motion between the Moscow oriented horsemen-turned-coalminers on the east bank of the Dnieper, led by Yanukovych and the Western oriented farmers-turned-capitalists on the west bank.  The Orange Revolution / Civil War continues. (Or is it the Kulak War continues?)

Moscow has an emotional stake in this game.  Moscow's origins are as a Rus trading post among the Eastern Tribes at the edges of the Rus trading empire (kind of like York Factory).  The Rus are tightly connected to Sweden, Finland and Estonia - which share a common predilection with Ukraine for Blue and Gold as national colours. Moscow's ruling elements always considered themselves Rus, and have come to dominate the territory they call Russia.

But like many rulers in an effort to survive amongst their subjects they have essentially gone native.  They no longer share the same culture or value system as the people they claim to be.

The Dniepr represents the dividing line between the Rus heartland on the West Bank and the Steppes on the east bank.  For the Moscovites to lose the West Bank would leave them isolated from their "family" and adrift amongst people they don't really see as equals.

Short form, Moscow will fight for Kiev.  They may not be willing to put tanks on the street yet but they might if invited in after things turn violent.

There's another option ...

The EU offered Ukraine a bad deal, a half deal and the Ukrainians are calling their bluff by pursuing ties with Moscow.

Like it or not, Ukraine is a very Eastern European country with close and deep economic ties with Russia ... it really doesn't want to break many of those links.

This could just be another round in a process ...
Indeed it just could be a ploy....

But there is a demonstrated cultural divide across the Dniepr that defines Ukraine (u = beside, krai = edge, border - Link) and an equally well demonstrated division in polities and personalities.

Yes the border region demonstrates a degree of schizophrenia but does that extend to towns or individuals?  Are the individuals on the west bank more eastern or western in their outlook?  Are the towns?

I know that a Ukrainian politician has to walk a tight-rope between east and west to maintain a peaceful society that can prosper.  But equally that divide can be exploited by those that might not wish to see the Ukraine prosper, at least not independently.

Either way I think it bears watching as another flashpoint - both for what it may mean for Russia (very little I believe) and what it may mean for Europe in general and the EU in particular (quite a lot due to the tottering economics and politics of that structure).
Actually it means a great deal for Russia. The Ukraine is an area rich in natural resources, which Russia can pillage to keep the tottering Russian economy afloat for a while longer. It is also the pathway to markets in Europe, which is the main source of Russia's income to date.

As well, it provides domestic and international legitimacy to Russia's claims to be a Regional and Great Power. If the Ukraine were to go to the EU, this would be a massive psychological blow to the Russian people.

So the Russians have a huge vested interest in keeping the Ukraine in the Russian orbit, while the West should be looking very carefully into how to extract the Ukraine from the Russian orbit into the Western one. Because of the historical and social history of the Ukraine on the borderland between two of Huntinton's "Civilizations", the ultimate answer may not be to have the Ukraine go from one to the other at all, but have "two" Ukraines, split along the Dnieper river (although this sort of solution would be very long term and not without severe difficulties of its own).
Fair comment Thuc - the Ukraine is a nice to have "hold" for the Muscovites but I don't know if I consider it critical at anything beyond the emotional level.

Is there anything that Russia can't do if it doesn't hold Ukraine?  It can communicate with Europe by going north around through Byelorussia and Poland, or through the Baltic.  It can't get out of the Baltic without permission. But equally it can't get out of the Black Sea without permission either.  There is nothing that Ukraine produces (to my knowledge) that Russia doesn't have or can't produce on its own. Conversely Ukraine, like the EU, appears to need Russian hydrocarbons.

If Russia fails to hold onto Ukraine's Crimea then that would be a problem for the Black Sea fleet - a source of immense national pride but limited strategic value - due to that permission thing.

If the Ukraine were to split along the Lower Dniepr that would leave Odessa in Ukrainian hands but the Crimea and the Sea of Azov to the Russians.

The Black Sea Nations would then be Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine with Turkey holding the lion's share of the coast - as well as the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles - and back to that permission thing.

I don't see Ukraine as anything other than an emotional issue - and as a result all the more dangerous a flashpoint.

Fighters motivated by the heart will hang in a lot longer than those motivated by the head..... as we are seeing in Syria with the rising dominance of the "fanatic" Islamists.

Thucydides said:
Actually it means a great deal for Russia. The Ukraine is an area rich in natural resources, which Russia can pillage to keep the tottering Russian economy afloat for a while longer...As well, it provides domestic and international legitimacy to Russia's claims to be a Regional and Great Power. If the Ukraine were to go to the EU, this would be a massive psychological blow to the Russian people....

Which is why we probably want to step carefully here. I look at Russia as a mortally sick but still formidable monster, one which becomes much more dangerous as it becomes more desperate. IMHO, Russians do not react well to "massive psychologicial blows", particularly when these are perceived as having been engineered by hostile, scheming foreigners--the same villains who wrecked the Good Old Days (or was that the "Gulag Days"..oh, well..) and brought in a "phony" democracy and bandit capitalism.

I doubt that it would be very hard for Putin to convince the average ignorant, nationalistic, xenophobic Russian man in the street that it was necessary to intervene in the Ukraine just as it was in Georgia and Chechniya.

The last two or three days in Ukraine have been interesting, and maybe even encouraging, but I am waiting for the backlash of the "Russian Ukraine" and its patons in Moscow.
It looks like the protesters may have forced a decision for the EU after all:


Ukraine leader intends to sign EU deal, diplomat says
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Diana Magnay, CNN
updated 11:12 AM EST, Thu December 12, 2013

Ukraine battle over barricades
EU diplomat: Yanukovych "assured me ... he does intend to sign" deal on closer ties
Vladimir Putin hopes "all political forces ... will manage to come to an agreement"
Opposition dismisses Yanukovych's call for negotiations
Protesters remain in Kiev square, paralyze center of capital

(CNN) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych intends to sign a deal on closer European Union ties, the bloc's top diplomat has said, after weeks of mass protests that have rattled the Eastern European country.

Ukrainian protesters, angry about the government's decision last month to spurn a free-trade agreement with the EU in favor of closer economic ties with Moscow, have stood their ground in Kiev's Independence Square, or Maidan, paralyzing the center of the capital.

They have remained there, undeterred by authorities' overnight crackdown early Wednesday in which police tore down barricades they had set up.
After meeting Yanukovych this week, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said he had assured her of his intent.

Ukraine: 'How did things get so bad?' Russia gas reliance key in Ukraine The economics of Ukraine protests

"He indicated he still wishes to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union," she told CNN in Kiev on Wednesday.

"From our perspective, we think that's good for this country. But the present crisis that's happening right now needs to be resolved."
A statement from the EU in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday quoting Ashton echoed this: "The President has assured me when I've met him that he does intend to sign the Association Agreement."

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov traveled to Brussels on Thursday, where he met Stefan Fule, European commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, an EU spokesman in Kiev said.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin briefly touched on the situation in the Ukraine in his State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday.

"I very much hope that all political forces of the country will manage to come to an agreement in the interest of the Ukrainian people and solve all the piles of problems," he said.

Opposition dismisses talks

Pressed by Europe and the United States, Yanukovych on Wednesday offered to meet opposition leaders to find a way out of a crisis that blew up last month when thousands poured into the streets of the capital, demanding his resignation.

"I invite representatives of all political forces, priests, public figures to hold the nationwide dialogue," he said in a statement on the official presidency website.

The statement also called on the opposition not to "choose the path of confrontation and ultimatums."

However, opposition leaders have dismissed the offer of talks, insisting that Yanukovych must quit for favoring ties with Russia over the EU.
In a statement on her website, Yanukovych's jailed chief political opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, urged Ukrainians to "stand up," and she repeated previous opposition calls for early elections.

U.S. 'disgust' at crackdown

Kiev's handling of the pro-EU protests has been met with stern responses from the European Union and United States.

Police moved into the main protest camp early Wednesday, using chainsaws to tear down the barriers, which had been manned by pro-Western demonstrators. Clashes led to reports of injuries on both sides.

"The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in ... Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a prepared statement.

"This response is neither acceptable, nor does it befit a democracy."

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that "all options" were under consideration in Ukraine, including sanctions.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "deeply concerned" about the Ukraine government's decision to send in riot police against peaceful protesters.

Thousands of demonstrators have been camped out for days in Independence Square. They also continue to occupy Kiev's City Hall.

The scenes of protest are reminiscent of the uprising that swept Yanukovych from office as prime minister nine years ago during the Orange Revolution.

East vs. West

Ukraine is split between pro-European regions in the west of the country and a more Russia-oriented east.

Protesters say an EU agreement would open borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion. They accuse Yanukovych of preparing to take the country into a Moscow-led customs union.

Moscow has leverage that may have affected Yanukovych's decision last month to backpedal on the EU talks because Russia supplies Ukraine with natural gas.

The EU is also pressuring Yanukovych to free Tymoshenko, who has languished in jail for two years after being convicted of abuse of power in 2011. The EU and other critics decried the verdict as a sham.

The Orange Revolution that swept Yanukovych from office in 2004 also brought the pro-Western Tymoshenko to power.

At the rallies in Independence Square, protesters have carried her picture.
The situation is getting worse in the Ukraine. The Russians have essentially bribed the Ukrainian leadership to turn away from the West, how the West reacts will be critical in how the Ukrainian people proceed (the shameful actions of the then new Obama administration ignoring the "Green revolution" in Iran and allowing the hard liners to win when at little cost they could have derailed a serious foreign policy threat should be something to keep in mind):


How We Can Help Ukraine
The brave men and women at the barricades in Kiev are fighting for freedom and rule of law.
By Robert Zubrin

As the new year begins, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are manning barricades in the central square of Kiev, continuing their month-long demonstrations demanding a path towards freedom from the corrupt Yanukovych dictatorship. Imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has called upon the West to support the Ukrainian people by freezing the out-of-country bank accounts that Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies use to sock away their loot.

It’s a good idea. Sanctions of that sort won’t harm the Ukrainian people at all, but will hit the regime’s ruling criminals right where it will hurt them the most. Vladimir Putin might be interested in pursuing his adviser Alexander Dugin’s dream of constructing a fascist “Eurasian Union” stretching from the Rhine to Vladivostok and from the Arctic to the Persian Gulf, but Yanukovych and his pals are in it for the money. They just scored $15 billion filched from the Russian people’s National Welfare Fund, courtesy of Mr. Putin’s Duginite geopolitical delusions, but it will do them little good if there is no place where they can safely stash the cash.

A number of European leaders have voiced support for the sanctions plan. The question is, will the Obama administration join them in striking a forceful blow for human dignity and liberty?
This is a time when America should shine. But there is cause to doubt that it will. The reason is that in the midst of this crisis, the president has chosen to appoint as White House counsel Mr. John Podesta, a man whose brother, Anthony Podesta, is a high-level paid agent of the Yanukovych regime.

I know it sounds incredible, but there is no doubt about it whatsoever. According to Reuters, Anthony Podesta’s lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, has received over $900,000 in payments from the regime, using its European Center for a Modern Ukraine front organization as an intermediary. Other top Washington lobbyists are also serving the regime, including, to be nonpartisan about the matter, former Romney adviser Vin Weber. But Weber’s lack of principle is a private matter. Podesta has a direct connection to the president of the United States.

Americans need to wake up. The events unfolding in Ukraine right now are of global historic importance. The stakes are not just whether Ukraine will have a free-trade agreement with the European Union or the proposed Eurasian Union.  That is a substantial matter — Ukraine would do well to have free trade with Europe (as would Russia!) — but, as was the case with tea taxes in our own revolution, it is mainly a trigger. The real issue is whether a people has a government that reports to them, that rules in accordance with laws enacted with their consent, and that thus dignifies them with the rights and honors of citizenship, or whether human beings are to be subject to governments owned by oligarchical cliques, who use their misappropriated power to degrade and prey upon the ruled.

The Yanukovych regime is a mafia, which regularly threatens, imprisons, murders, or disappears political opponents as well as those whose possessions it covets. Dugin’s project is even worse: He envisions the creation of a Eurasian bloc, including not only the republics of the former Soviet Union, but also Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Iran, united under the iron heel of a new totalitarian “fourth political theory” to oppose the West. According to Dugin, who bases most of his allegedly novel synthesis of Communism and Fascism on the geopolitical, legal, philosophical, and occult ideas of Nazi theorists Karl Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, Carl Schmitt, and Arthur Moeller van der Bruck, such a “Eurasist” continental block is needed to defeat the nefarious influence of the secret “Atlantic Order,” or “Atlantis” — the global mercantile maritime/cosmopolitan conspiracy whose liberal ideas have supposedly subverted traditional hierarchy-based landed societies since ancient times. “Liberalism,” says Dugin — meaning the whole Western consensus — “is an absolute evil. . . . Only a global crusade against the U.S., the West, globalization, and their political-ideological expression, liberalism, is capable of becoming an adequate response. . . . The American empire should be destroyed.”

It is to this dark program, which threatens not only the prospects for freedom in Ukraine and Russia, but the peace of the world, that Yanukovych has sold “his” country. It is against this program that the brave demonstrators in the Maidan are taking their stand.

They deserve America’s support. And, in such a crisis, America deserves a political leadership that does not include people who are taking silver from the other side.

— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy and the author of Energy Victory. The paperback edition of his latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, has just been published by Encounter Books.
More on the situation ion the Ukraine. As the Pro Russian side seems to have effectively won this round, their attempts to suppress the pro Western half of the Ukraine suggests that a prolonged period of instability is going to begin on Europe's borderlands:


Yanukovych is Courting Disaster in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Victor Yanukovich is stuck between a rock and a hard place. How he responds to the latest violence could fatally deepen rifts in an already divided country.

Published on January 19, 2014
Pitched battles continue to rage in central Kiev after clashes erupted today between police and protestors. Gutted police vehicles burn and dozens have been injured after a huge protest against new government abuses and overreach turned violent.

The spark for this new wave of popular anger against the government was the Ukrainian parliament’s unceremonious adoption of a set of laws whose goal is to smother the anti-government protests that first emerged in November. Their effect may be the complete disintegration of the last 23 years worth of hard-fought democratic progress. As the Kyiv Post’s Katya Gorshchinskaya put it, “Welcome to the new police state. We call it Little Russia.”

And it is growing Russian influence—and the Ukrainian government’s attendant turn away from Western values—that triggered the start of protests in late November. When President Viktor Yanukovych declined to sign a long-planned Association Agreement with the European Union and opted instead for Russian money and suzerainty, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to streets around the country and pleaded for him to reconsider.  Instead of engaging in a dialogue with the protesters, Mr. Yanukovych has entrenched himself and chosen Putin’s methods for dispersing pesky disturbances.

The list of new crimes enumerated in the documents that some Ukrainians are calling “The Law on Dictatorship” is long and targets all segments of Ukraine’s protesting population. For example, participants in the collective driving protest movement “AutoMaidan” now face a two-year suspension of their licenses and confiscation of their vehicles for driving a car that “moves in a column of more than five.”

The new laws also take a page from recent Putin initiatives and target civil society organizations. Now NGOs that receive foreign funding must register as “foreign agents” within three months or be dissolved. They will also have to pay an 18% income tax and submit to a strict reporting regime. Those that are branded as “extremist” will be closed.

Defamation has been re-criminalized and “extremist activity”—which is poorly and broadly defined—can be punished by large fines and up to three years in prison. Online media outlets that have flourished throughout the protests will now have to contend with requirements to register themselves as “information agencies” and a very real possibility that the state will order internet providers to block their websites.

Those who have stood on Kiev’s central Independence Square for the last two months are threatened with 15 days in prison for wearing masks or helmets that are similar to those worn by law enforcement. Bullhorns are also banned. Additional prison sentences have been established for erecting tents or stages without permission from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

By their nature, protests are an attention-seeking instrument and the Ukrainian protests have been the focus of much media interest. But Mr. Yanukovych is counting on the silent portion of the country to support him in quelling dissent, quieting the bothersome protests and returning Ukraine to some semblance of stability (95 percent of Ukrainians have called the country’s political situation “unstable” or “explosive”). His gamble is well-founded. Polling from late December shows that while 43% of Ukrainians do want to join the European Union now (13 points higher than any other option), fully 50% of Ukrainians do not support the Kiev protests. That latter statistic marks a turnaround in Ukraine’s tolerance for the protest—only weeks prior a majority had supported them. More significantly, only 31% of Ukrainians believe that the outcome of the protests will be positive for Ukraine.

Today’s violent protests may only strengthen ordinary Ukrainians’ desire to see an end to the bedlam. Many are only too happy to trade freedoms that they rarely use for peace and quiet. Cognizant that, in a nation where stability sells, events like today’s do not acquit the opposition forces well, the movement’s leaders have called on protestors to refrain from violence. They warn that many of the angry young men in the street are provocateurs paid by Yanukovych’s party to create chaos and turn the tide of public opinion fully against the protest movement.

But Mr. Yanukovych must also be careful in determining his next steps. Were he to aggressively enforce the new legislations or authorize brutality towards the protestors, he is courting the danger of swinging public opinion against him and seeing larger, angrier and more energized crowds emerge. As was demonstrated twice over the past weeks, the use of violence towards the protestors in Kiev has had a maximizing effect on the size and scope of the protesting crowds. Further violence or police crackdowns on protest activities will only exacerbate the situation.

Internal politics also complicate Yanukovych’s options. A large percentage of Ukrainians hold Mr. Yanukovych personally responsible for solving the current political crisis, but his choosing one side over the other will polarize this already divided country more than it has been before. Yanukovych’s political base is in eastern Ukraine, where the majority speak Russian and identify strongly with Russia. Only 17 percent of eastern Ukrainians approve of the protest movement and would be only too happy to see their president quash it in whatever manner he deems necessary. Meanwhile, 80 percent of citizens in the western and more European-leaning part of the country approve of the protest movement and disapprove of the president’s recent decisions. They did not vote for him and will not support him.

Viktor Yanukovych is thus stuck between a rock and a hard place. He needs Russian money and low gas prices—and the political influence that comes along with it—to keep Ukraine’s struggling economy afloat and his supporters in eastern Ukraine satisfied. But the visceral anger shown by many other of Ukraine’s citizens at his original decision to reject the European Union, last week’s move against basic civil liberties, and ever-rising levels of corruption may create an irreparable rift in the fabric of an already divided country.

Hannah Thoburn is a Eurasia analyst based in Washington, DC whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic and The National Interest.
Assuming things do go south in the Ukraine, there is little doubt that the Russians will become embroiled in it, and a civil war raging on the doorstep of Europe isn't likely to make for economic stability in the EUZone either...


Ukrainian Policeman Shot Dead as Foreign Mediation Urged

By Daryna Krasnolutska, Ott Ummelas and Volodymyr Verbyany January 24, 2014
A Ukrainian policeman was shot dead in the capital as violence resumed after the premier and the opposition called for foreign mediation to stem the unrest.

A 27-year-old police officer was found shortly before midnight in Kiev with a gunshot would to the head, the Interior Ministry said on its website. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said yesterday that he’s speaking to Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, while opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged an international presence at talks that have so far failed to quell the anti-government protests.

President Viktor Yanukovych is struggling to stem rallies against his November snub of a European Union cooperation deal, with police crackdowns fanning people’s anger. Four days of clashes left as many as six dead and 1,250 injured as laws to stem the protests took effect and police got special powers to quell the demonstrations. Opposition politicians have been frustrated in their demands for snap elections.

“The situation in Ukraine is very explosive,” billionaire ex-Economy Minister Petro Poroshenko, who backs the protest movement, said yesterday from Davos, Switzerland. “If the government behaves as if nothing is happening in the country, it will considerably complicate the search for a way out.”

The yield on government bonds due 2023 rose 19 basis points yesterday to 9.559 percent, advancing for a fifth straight day. The hryvnia was 0.1 percent higher at 8.435 per dollar, having declined by 0.7 percent in the previous session.

New Clashes

Clashes resumed shortly after 10 p.m. near parliament as protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks and police responded with rubber bullets and stun grenades. The Interior Ministry said witnesses heard shots and saw two people running away before the policeman’s body was discovered.

Azarov said Switzerland’s tradition of neutrality makes it a candidate to assist in negotiations with the opposition, who want snap elections and the repeal of the anti-protest laws. Klitschko said in a statement that Yanukovych wasn’t using “common sense” during their talks.

“Top Swiss officials haven’t made any comments that could be considered biased,” Azarov said yesterday in Davos. “Switzerland is a neutral country that currently chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. OSCE help is very important in resolving of the conflict.”

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said by e-mail that Burkhalter offered Azarov the OSCE’s “support and expertise” to search for ways out of the crisis.

Building Seizures

While this week’s escalation in the protest movement occurred in Kiev, the focus has now switched to the regions as buildings of governors picked by Yanukovych were taken over by activists in the western cities of Lviv, Ternopil, Rivne, Lutsk, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytskyi.

Activists also targeted administrative offices in at least five more of the nation’s 24 regions, smashing their way in when police offered resistance, Ukrainian 5 TV reported. Police detained 58 protesters in the Cherkasy region for attempting a takeover, the Interior Ministry said.

European Union justice chief Viviane Reding warned of the risk of civil war, CNBC reported.

As the unrest spread, Yanukovych made personnel changes. He named Andriy Klyuyev as head of his administration, promoting the Security Council chief protesters have called on to resign after demonstrators were injured in 2012 clashes with police.

Yanukovych Exit

Even so, the president ceded some ground, promising a cabinet shuffle and changes to the anti-rally bill at an emergency parliament session called for Jan. 28. Klitschko told reporters later that protesters won’t be satisfied until the president resigns.

Parliament will also consider a no-confidence motion against the government next week, Svoboda party head Oleh Tyahnybok said Jan. 23 after hours of talks with Yanukovych. Crowds on Independence Square raged at the lack of concessions won by opposition politicians, whistling as Tyahnybok spoke.

As part of a deal struck two days ago, three of the 103 activists who’ve been detained were freed yesterday morning. It’s unclear when crisis negotiations will resume, Natalia Lysova, spokeswoman for jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko’s party, said yesterday by phone.

“I don’t see talks leading to anything -- it’s been tried so many times,” said Ivan, a 20-year-old in an army helmet who’s been at Independence Square for a month and who declined to give his last name. “We’ll achieve something once the president resigns.”

Ministry Occupied

Demonstrators seized the Agriculture Ministry building near their tent camp yesterday to shelter from temperatures of minus 18 degrees Celsius (zero Fahrenheit) and set up a first-aid point, Interfax reported.

The protests that have gripped Kiev since last year escalated this week with the first deaths. Police are investigating the discovery Jan. 22 of two bodies with gunshot wounds. Live ammunition caused the deaths, the Interior Ministry said Jan. 23, denying its officers fired the bullets.

The opposition says five people have died, including one who fell off a colonnade after being beaten and another who was identified by his relatives after police found a body outside Kiev with signs of torture. A thousand people have been injured, while an instigator of car protests that targeted officials’ homes is missing, activists say. About 250 policemen have sought medical help, the Interior Ministry said.

EU officials, who’ve said they may reassess their relations with Ukraine after the violence, are seeking to broker a peace deal in Kiev. Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule met Yanukovych and opposition yesterday, while Catherine Ashton, the bloc’s foreign-policy chief, is due. Jan. 30-31.

Sitting at Independence Square next to an old metal barrel with burning firewood, Oleksandr, a 54-year-old electrician from Kamyanets-Podilsky in western Ukraine who declined to give his last name, urged a negotiated end to the crisis.

“I don’t think opposition leaders should change what they’re doing -- it’s better to reach our goals through peaceful talks,” he said. “We’re all humans, we’re all Ukrainians, even though there are good and bad people on both sides.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net; Ott Ummelas in Kiev at oummelas@bloomberg.net; Volodymyr Verbyany in Kiev at vverbyany1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

The Russians occupying the Ukraine to the East bank of the Dneiper River formalizes the existing "civilizational" divisions, crossing the Dneiper is really an invasion of Europe, using force to apply "Slavic" or Orthadox" civilizational values on a "European" population.

Edit to add this interesting piece, which compares the situation in the Ukraine with the "Social Wars" fought by the Res Publica Roma against its allied states in Italy:


Ukraine and the “Social War”
January 24 at 11:27 am

For three years, beginning in 91 B.C., the Roman Republic was convulsed by the “Social War” – the war between Rome and its “Socii” (allies).  These Allies were semi-independent states on the Italian peninsula which had treaty relationships with Rome, under which Rome granted them a large degree of  (indeed, almost total) autonomy in their local affairs, in return for their promise to provide Rome with soldiers when needed.  Many of these treaties had been in place for hundreds of years.

Two things make this war of particular interest.  The first is how brutal and bloody it was.  The Allies knew how to fight just like, and as well as, the Romans; they had formed the bulk of the Roman army for many, many years, and they understood all too well the many secrets of the mighty Roman military machine.  So the war matched two armies that were basically carbon copies of one another, and the slaughter was prodigious because no one could gain the upper hand.

But even more astonishing, the Allies’ demand was simple — they were not fighting to throw off Roman domination and the yoke of the foreign power, they were fighting to get into, and under the umbrella of, Rome.  They wanted full Roman citizenship – to which they believed they were entitled, given the services they had performed for Rome in helping it to conquer the entire Mediterranean basin.  Fighting to get in, rather than to get out; maybe I’m just not that well-informed, but I can’t think of another war like it in history.

[And after three years of more-or-less stalemated military action, the allies largely prevailed and they became part of Rome, eligible for electing Rome's officers and legislators, and for the land and other benefits distributed to Roman citizens]

I have long thought that it is the crowning achievement, in a way, of the Roman Republic – that people wanted so much to become Roman citizens that they would die in the cause.

I thought of this when reading about the terrible events in Ukraine, which have too many earmarks of a catastrophe waiting to happen.  The “rebels” in the streets of Kiev want in, also – to “Europe,” and all that entails.  And though there are many things about the way Europe governs itself and manages its affairs that one can be critical of, it is something of a tribute to its current incarnation that it means as much as it does to the demonstrators.
I have a bad feeling that Ukraine is going to get much worse before it gets better.  Oh and add another dimension to this.  While the article mentioned that Ukraine needed Russian gas and oil, nowhere did it say that at any time Russia can cut off petroleum exports like they did in 2006. 
When you reach the stage where 43% of the population is adamant about a position (must join the EU) and are apparently willing to act in support of that position, or at least not oppose those so acting, the fact that 50% of the population would prefer it all just went away is irrelevant.

Northern Ireland, the American Revolution, even Quebec separatism, were all sustained with much lower levels of support.

Ukraine is back to its unfortunate historic geopolitical situation - the wildlands between competing tribes.  (Poland and Lithuania have shared much of that same dynamic).
There is no easy solution here.  Russia has for years been flooding the Eastern parts of the Ukraine with Russian émigrés to further protect and justify its strategic hold on the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.  Don't forget that the Russian Black Sea Fleet home ports are in the Ukraine.  Russia has some very serious Strategic interests here.
Robert0288 said:
I have a bad feeling that Ukraine is going to get much worse before it gets better.  Oh and add another dimension to this.  While the article mentioned that Ukraine needed Russian gas and oil, nowhere did it say that at any time Russia can cut off petroleum exports like they did in 2006.

Things are a bit different now. Fracking is a demonstrated and mature technology. While the Greens may have a large influence on European politics, even they are not going to coonvince Europeans to freeze in the dark if an alternative exists (and Europe has "frackable" reserves of natural gas). Giant new gas fields off the coasts of Cyprus and Israel are being developed even now, and the United States can export NG as well. I rather doubt the Europeans would say "no" to a pipeline that delivered Albertan oil to the East Coast for export either. 

Some of these developments were actually in response to the last round of Russian thuggishness, but as most people know, oil and gas are fungable commodities, and people will go to where they can get their energy fix. Breaking the monopoly has the secondary effect of reducing one of the largest sources of cash flow to the Russian State, and hampers any number of initiatives that Putin and co. would like to take.
Seems the Ukrainian military is just as divided as the country. The Ukraine seems to be divided between those in the western part of the country (as in west of the Dnepr river which cuts the country in half) who support moving closer to the EU, while those in the industrial east have traditionally been closer to Russia. 

The article's writer below seems to say that the Ukrainian enlisted soldiers seem to support the west, while the officers seem to support the east/Russia/Yanukovych.

Defense News

Analysts: Army Loyalties Divided On Ukraine Protests
Feb. 3, 2014 - 03:24PM  |  By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS

KIEV — Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is unlikely to move the army against protesters despite opposition warnings about an imminent intervention — mainly because the loyalty of rank-and-file soldiers could be in doubt, analysts said.

“The core of the army is made up of young people who grew up in an independent Ukraine,” said Valentyn Badrak, director of the Research Centre for the Army, Demilitarisation and Disarmament in Kiev.

“They are members of a younger generation that feels very close to the aspirations of the Maidan,” or Independence Square in the center of Kiev, the epicenter of Ukraine’s protest movement, Badrak told AFP.

“The high command is made up mostly of officers and generals who grew up in Soviet times and they have a certain discipline, they are ready to obey any order,” he said.

But lower ranks “feel the financial and social difficulties” in Ukraine, he said.

The opposition has been warning for weeks that Yanukovych could be preparing to impose emergency rule by calling the army into the streets, prompting international concern.

The prospect appeared to become more concrete last Friday when the army asked Yanukovych to take “urgent measures” to end a two-month crisis that has claimed at least four lives and left parts of central Kiev looking like a war zone.

The 63-year-old president has battled protests sparked by his decision to ditch key economic and political agreements with the European Union.

The pro-EU protest movement has turned into an all-out drive to oust Yanukovych.

'In a pitiful state'

Since the country’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union, the army has always remained neutral.

The military remained above the fray during the pro-democracy 2004 “Orange Revolution” which brought pro-Western opposition leaders to power in a confrontation over an election that was fraudulently won by Yanukovych.

Badrak said imposing emergency rule “will be virtually impossible” because of low morale in a country in which military spending has been a low priority.

“The army is in a pitiful state. An officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel earns as much as a cashier at a supermarket” — or around €300 ($405) a month, he said.

“And spending keeps going down,” he said.

Sergiy Zgurets, another military expert, said the army’s call on Yanukovych was only “a show of loyalty” to the president.

In fact “the military is divided,” he said.

The Ukrainian military’s chief-of-staff, General Volodymyr Zamana, struck a more conciliatory tone on Saturday saying that “no one has the right to use the armed forces to limit the rights of citizens.”

Defence Minister Pavlo Lebedev also said that “a crushing majority of 87 percent” of the army supported Yanukovych — a statement that points to at least some dissent.

“That means 13 percent of the army do not support hardline methods and military action to end the protests,” former Defence Minister Anatoliy Grytsenko, who is now an opposition politician, told AFP.

“Even taking into account the pressure from the ‘tsar,’ this is a good result,” he said.

Grytsenko also said that a telegram has been going round army units asking them to pledge loyalty to Yanukovych.

“I know that despite the difficulty of the situation there are honest officers in the armed forces who are not signing it.

“I also know of some cases in which the high command is sacking them.”
Somehow I just can't imagine the Ukraine being an EU member despite the amount of support for it in the western part of the country and among Ukrainian youth. Unless the country splits.


'Time is on our side', says EU in showdown over Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - If there is a consistent message the European Union has tried to send since Ukraine rejected a trade deal last November in favor of stronger ties with Moscow, it is that it does not want to end up in a tug-of-war with Russia.

But whether the EU likes it or not, that is precisely what has come to pass and the future of Ukraine - its 46 million people and its faltering economy - hangs in the balance.

In a speech to a security conference in Munich last weekend, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy laid out the nature of the struggle in simple terms.

The EU, he said, had offered Ukraine a free trade and association agreement to help it build bridges with its neighbors to the west. That offer still stood, as long as the conditions agreed between Kiev and Brussels were met.

"Some people think Europeans are naive, that we prefer carrots to sticks," Van Rompuy told the conference, whose delegates included Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a leader of Ukraine's opposition movement.

"Now I am not saying that we cannot sometimes play our hand more strongly. But surely it is a bad idea to let foul play undercut the very values that constitute our power of attraction in the first place - a power of attraction that brought down the Berlin Wall," he said.

"Our biggest carrot is our way of life; our biggest stick: a closed door."


The targets of Van Rompuy's words, without being named, were Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who sparked the crisis by abruptly turning his back on an EU free trade deal and throwing his lot in with Moscow.

Yanukovich's security forces have cracked down on pro-EU demonstrators - at least five protesters have been killed - while Russia has enticed Kiev away from the EU with the promise of $15 billion in cheap loans and cut-price gas.

Some diplomats expected the EU to wash its hands and walk away. It cannot match Russia's inducements on either the financial or energy-security front. Instead, it appears to be playing a long game.

After EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was quoted as saying Brussels and Washington were working on assistance for Kiev, EU officials were quick to say there was no new plan apart from the promise of financial help that Brussels had held out if it signed the trade agreement.

Even without the impact of the last four years of financial crisis, EU leaders are not about to open their coffers and disburse huge sums to Ukraine. It was hard enough to do so for Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

And, dependent on Russian energy themselves, EU member states cannot hope to provide Kiev with the gas it needs, especially as much of it flows to them via Ukraine.

What Europe has to offer is more conceptual: rule of law, democratic accountability, civil liberties and long-term trade and investment, as long as certain objectives are met.

Next to the sugar rush of money and cheap gas, it may not seem particularly attractive, especially given the costs Ukraine faces if it is ever to meet EU standards on judicial, industrial and environmental reform.

But as Van Rompuy pointed out, the course of history is not decided in a matter of weeks or months. The Berlin Wall may have collapsed almost overnight and the Soviet Union crumbled quickly, but those moments were years in the making.

"Sometimes in the heat of events, in the stream of declarations and tweets, we lose sight of the time factor," he told the Munich conference.

"We frantically look at hours and days, forgetting the years and decades. We lose sight of slow evolutions, of subtle trends. Subtler than the 'decline of the West' or the 'rise of the Rest'."

Moscow views Ukraine as a heartland of Russian culture and identity, a country that should never have left the Soviet Union. Russia remains Ukraine's biggest trading partner.

Putin wants Ukraine to join his Eurasian Union, a new economic and trade bloc he hopes will some day rival the EU. In that regard, he sees Brussels' overtures to Kiev as a threat.

In an arm-wrestle with the EU, Russia has the muscle. But in a long-run contest involving a way of life and integration with the global economy, the EU hopes it has a persuasive case - and one it says is not to the detriment of Russia.

"The offer is still there," Van Rompuy said of the agreement Yanukovich rejected last year. "We know time is on our side. The future of Ukraine belongs with the European Union."

(Editing by Mike Peacock)
Sigh. So much for her being a diplomat if she can't contain herself... 

Agence-France Presse via the Times of India

'F*** THE EU' | Americans red-faced over top diplomat's leaked phone call

By:  Agence France-Presse
February 7, 2014 7:22 PM

KIEV - The United States tried to contain fallout Friday from a leaked phone conversation in which a top diplomat uses the "f-word" regarding the European Union's handling of the crisis in Ukraine.

The embarrassing diplomatic incident comes as Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych was due to hold crisis talks with Russian counterpart and ally Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Washington and Brussels have engaged in a diplomatic standoff with Kiev and Moscow over mass protests that erupted in Ukraine in November when Yanukovych rejected a pact with the EU in favour of closer ties with former Soviet master Russia.

But the leaked phone call appears to reveal US frustration with the EU over the handling of the long-running crisis.

Washington's new top diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, apologized Thursday for her comments.

"F*** the EU," Nuland says in what appeared to be a recent phone call with US ambassador to Kiev, Geoff Pyatt, which was somehow intercepted and uploaded onto YouTube accompanied by Russian captions.

'New low in Russian tradecraft'

The US State Department was left fuming after the leak, pointing the finger at Russia for allegedly bugging the diplomats' phones.

"Certainly we think this is a new low in Russian tradecraft," said spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who did not dispute the authenticity of the call.

In the recording, which went viral after being re-posted by an aide to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Nuland and Pyatt discuss frankly which opposition figures should go into the new Ukrainian government.

"That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, frig the EU," Nuland says, in apparent frustration at policy differences.

The conversation appeared to have been held shortly after Yanukovych accepted his pro-Russian government's resignation on January 28.

Nuland, currently in Kiev, is expected to speak with the media later Friday.

State Department spokeswoman Psaki said Nuland had already apologised to her counterparts in Brussels, who refused to be drawn into the controversy on Friday.

"The EU is engaged in helping the people of Ukraine through the current political crisis. We don't comment on leaked alleged telephone conversations," said a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, refusing further comment.

Russia also had no official reaction to the call while the aide who posted it, Dmitry Loskutov, said that he was browsing the Internet when he saw it on his "friend's feed in a social network."

The leak came as diplomatic tensions over Ukraine flared between the two former Cold War foes, with Putin's economic adviser Sergei Glazyev accusing Washington of funding the protesters and even supplying them with ammunition.

"According to our information, American sources spend $20 million a week on financing the opposition and rebels, including on weapons," Glazyev, a hawkish advisor viewed as the Kremlin pointman on Ukraine told the Ukrainian edition of Kommersant newspaper shortly before the leak went viral.

Time ticking for Ukraine's economy

In Russia's Black Sea city of Sochi, Yanukovych was expected to discuss a critical bailout deal for his crisis-hit country.

In December, Putin promised Yanukovych the $15 billion bailout but said last week the financing would not be released in full until the formation of a new government in Kiev.

Only $3 billion has so far been transferred to Ukraine.

Yanukovych flew to Sochi shortly after naming his close ally Sergiy Arbuzov as acting prime minister and is likely to try to convince Moscow that the government is still committed to the terms of the bailout.

Meanwhile a prominent Ukrainian activist who was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead last month said he believed Russian special forces were behind the ordeal.

Dmytro Bulatov, who was dumped in a forest outside Kiev in late January, said his captors were most interested in his alleged connections to the United States.

"I told them that the American ambassador had given me $50,000," said Bulatov, the organiser of protest group Automaidan. "It was so scary, it was so painful that I asked them to kill me. I lied because I could not stand the pain."

"I had a thought that they were Russian special forces" because of the way they spoke and "professionally" inflicted wounds, he said in a press-conference in Vilnius.
S.M.A. said:
Seems the Ukrainian military is just as divided as the country. The Ukraine seems to be divided between those in the western part of the country (as in west of the Dnepr river which cuts the country in half) who support moving closer to the EU, while those in the industrial east have traditionally been closer to Russia. 

The article's writer below seems to say that the Ukrainian enlisted soldiers seem to support the west, while the officers seem to support the east/Russia/Yanukovych.

Defense News

I think this is an inherent danger in the armies of authoritarian states (as distinct from the police and security services, which are usually more politically reliable). It gets worse in conscripted armies (although the Ukrainian Army recently moved to an all volunteer force). The officer class are probably politically indoctrinated and reliable, but the lower NCOs and privates are probably less so., and may actively identify with the protestors.

This probably explains why most authoritarian states have some kind of intermediate or heavy gendarmerie force that can counterbalance the Army if needed. (Think of the SS, or the KGB ground forces)

IIRC , during the Solidarity crisis in Poland, the Communist govt relied wholly on the police because the conscript Army was unreliable.