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Ukraine - Superthread

Edward Campbell

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Technoviking said:
ukraine-protests-map-k.jpg


Correlation isn't causation necessarily, but...


Maybe the problem is starting to solve itself:

    The Euroish North West separates and tries to join Europe; and

    The South and East, which Putin really wants for its Black Sea ports, allies itself with Russia.
 

CougarKing

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Cdn Blackshirt said:
I'm very worried what Putin will do here....

Very scary situation.


M.

You saying that Putin might conduct a "Georgia 2008-style" invasion of Ukraine? (probably after the Olympics?)

Could Eastern Ukraine be a future parallel to Georgia's former regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
 

Kirkhill

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S.M.A. said:
You saying that Putin might conduct "Georgia 2008-style" invasion of Ukraine? (probably after the Olympics?)

Could Eastern Ukraine be a future parallel to Georgia's former regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?

Perhaps Eastern Ukraine or perhaps limited support for the Crimea.

Washington Post
 

tomahawk6

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The Russian Army isn't in very good shape.They had a hard time with Georgia and would fail if they tried to invade Ukraine.Putin would be smart to just sit on the sidelines.
 

Kirkhill

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I don't know where to put this.  It applies to the situation in Ukraine but in my view it speaks volumes about the speakers.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who helped negotiate the deal agreement signed by Yanukovych and the opposition, said there was “no coup in Kiev,” and that parliament is acting legally. Yanukovych said in a statement published on his presidential website that he wouldn’t resign and deemed all of the new acts illegal.

The U.S. White House urged “the prompt formation of a broad, technocratic government of national unity” in Ukraine.

“The unshakeable principle guiding events must be that the people of Ukraine determine their own future,” the White House press secretary’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed his “gravest concern.” The opposition “was following the lead of ‘‘armed extremists and thugs whose actions pose a direct threat to the sovereignty and constitutional order in Ukraine,’’ Lavrov said, according to a statement.

The Russian can't understand that power doesn't reside in Leader and so doesn't recognize that the Executive serves only with the permission of the electorate.

The Whitehouse recognizes the "will of the people" but calls for a government of technocrats..... ???

The only position that I can recognize as "democratic" is that of the Poles which recognizes the supremacy of one body: Parliament.

Perhaps we should get the Poles to send missionaries to Canada to teach us the merits of the British system we have been gifted.

Stuff yer constitutions  >:D

PS - T6:  I hope you're right.
 

a_majoor

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Perhaps the idea that the Ukraine will be split down the Dneiper river isn't as far fetched or long term as I had thought:

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/02/21/apocalypse-soon-ukrainian-president-reportedly-flees-kiev/

Apocalypse soon: Ukrainian president reportedly flees Kiev
POSTED AT 6:37 PM ON FEBRUARY 21, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
   
The comment counts on our Ukraine threads make me think some readers have tuned out this story. Now’s the moment when you’ll want to tune in.

If what The Interpreter’s hearing is true, Yanukovych has left Kiev for the city of Kharkiv. Maybe that’s because he’s lost control of the capital or maybe, as the State Department claims, he’s gone to Kharkiv to, ahem, shore up support. Either way, though, there’s no scenario where the government simply abdicates and the opposition takes over. Russia won’t relinquish the country that easily. So either things are about to get even rougher in Kiev as Putin fills the power vacuum or Yanukovych is planning a new move. What does that mean? Naval War College prof John Schindler fears the worst:

Here’s the latest from a story highlighted by The Interpreter:

Tomorrow President Viktor Yanukovych will take part in a Congress of the “Ukrainian Front” which is being organised by the Kharkiv governor, Mikhail Dobkin.

Sources at Kharkiv airport told Hvilya that the aeroplane carrying Yanukovych will land in Kharkiv within half an hour.

Furthermore, our sources in the Presidential Administration reported that all of the most combat ready of the Berkut and army forces have been transferred to Kharkiv and the southeast.

There is, in theory, a deal between Yanukovych and the opposition to reform the government, but Russia’s apparently not interested and neither are the Euromaidan protesters. They want Yanukovych to resign; meanwhile, the woman he defeated for the presidency four years ago could be out of prison within the next few days and ready to help lead the opposition. All the makings of civil war are present, in other words, from powerful national sponsors to ethnic tensions between Russian descendants living in the country and native Ukrainians. Someone just needs to give the word, whether Yanukovych or his boss. And even if Yanukovych resigns, depriving Putin of his proxy, the word may still come down. That’s what “Little Russia” means to Moscow.

How serious it it? This serious:

Russia is prepared to fight a war over the Ukrainian territory of Crimea to protect the ethnic Russian population and its military base there, a senior government official has told the FT.

“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war,” the official said. “They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia.” In August 2008, Russian troops invaded Georgia after the Georgian military launched a surprise attack on the separatist region of South Ossetia in an effort to establish its dominance over the republic…

However, many government officials say in private that Ukraine falls inside Russia’s sphere of influence. “We will not allow Europe and the US to take Ukraine from us. The states of the former Soviet Union, we are one family,” said a foreign policy official. “They think Russia is still as weak as in the early 1990s but we are not.”

The speaker of the Crimean parliament has already said it’s possible the region would turn to Russia for “protection” if the country fractures. That’s likely to be one of the first flashpoints. What better way to celebrate a successful Olympics than with a big irredentist blowout on the peninsula?

If Russian tanks roll, how does the EU answer? While you mull that over, follow The Interpreter’s liveblog for updates.
 

tomahawk6

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The potential for civil war is quite good as well as continued Russian meddling.Hopefully the nationalists will prevail.
 

Edward Campbell

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Kirkhill said:
I don't know where to put this.  It applies to the situation in Ukraine but in my view it speaks volumes about the speakers.

The Russian can't understand that power doesn't reside in Leader and so doesn't recognize that the Executive serves only with the permission of the electorate.

The Whitehouse recognizes the "will of the people" but calls for a government of technocrats..... ???

The only position that I can recognize as "democratic" is that of the Poles which recognizes the supremacy of one body: Parliament.

Perhaps we should get the Poles to send missionaries to Canada to teach us the merits of the British system we have been gifted.

Stuff yer constitutions  >:D

PS - T6:  I hope you're right.


Slightly  :eek:ff topic: but ...

It is the rise of the "technocrats" that worries me, and others (see e.g Philip Coggan, The Last Vote, The Threats to Western Democracy, London 2013). The most obvious, and most powerful technocratic institution that intrudes, sometimes massively, into the machinery of government is the central bank. But it's not the only one. Consider, for example, sundry human rights commissions and tribunals and so on ~ many, and "one is too many" in this case, with judicial powers. Too many democratic government are willing, even eager to delegate powers ~ most of which in my opinion ought not to be delegated or even delegatable (if that's a word) ~ to (as they are called in the UK) quasi autonomous non-governmental organizations. Many (most?) people, being ill informed, believe that some non-governmental agency is, inherently, more trustworthy than a team of elected politicians: what errant nonsense! What puerile rubbish! Most of these quasi autonomous bodies are staffed by failed politicians or ex political back-room boys ~ the "hacks, flacks and bagmen" ~ and quasi is the operative word, many of these bodies are nothing more than thinly disguised special (often partisan political) interest groups.

By the way: I have no better answer to making monetary policy than an independent, apolitical central bank.

Other independent bodies with considerable powers include law societies or bar associations and the like which regulate the legal profession, which is fair enough, but which, also, vet and, in many cases, have considerable power over judicial appointments.
 

The Bread Guy

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tomahawk6 said:
The potential for civil war is quite good as well as continued Russian meddling.Hopefully the nationalists will prevail.
And the Russians are already setting up interesting messaging via their Foreign Ministry Twitter account ....
Nazis comeback? MT @Yaro_RT Not only Lenin toppled in Ukraine. Red army soldiers died combating Nazis are targets too
BhJMrteCMAAsMJe.jpg
 

Edward Campbell

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Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from The Economist is an article which guesses that Putin's Russia may, for the moment, sit on the sidelines:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2014/02/ukraines-new-dawn
thumb_the-economist-salary-increase-ranking.png

Ukraine's new dawn
Shots called, now what?

Feb 22nd 2014

AT FIRST sight it seems utterly confusing. Even as the outside world was digesting the deal between the Ukrainian regime and the protesters, and the unexpectedly helpful role of Russia in the European Union’s mediation efforts, everything changed.

President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, Kiev, for an unknown destination. The riot police and other security guards vanished from the streets. Protesters who only hours earlier had been dodging sniper bullets found themselves guarding the presidential palace and other government buildings.

Now big questions are burning holes on policymakers’ desks.

First, what happened to Mr Yanukovych? The most likely explanation is that he simply lost his nerve. He had promised Vladimir Putin that he would deal with the protesters, as part-price of the deal to salvage the Ukrainian economy with loans and cheap gas, rather than accepting the EU’s reform-for-cash deal. He was willing to dip his hands in blood. But not deep enough. Faced with the protesters’ resistance, and the splintering of his own camp, he broke and fled.

One reason is that the deal brokered by the EU involved early presidential elections. That would be a fatal blow to his presidential authority. Whatever Ukrainians think about the EU, history, language and economic reform, the detestation of Mr Yanukovych’s authoritarian, corrupt and incompetent rule is all but universal. He was able to win the last presidential election only as a result of the spectacular failure of the country’s previous “Orange” rulers. As the likely loser in December (or earlier) he would be a lame-duck president.

Already, on the day of the talks, Mr Yanukovych had lost his parliamentary majority. His grip on the country was slipping. His Russian allies had signalled their desire for a deal, not a showdown. Even a substantial and resilient figure would have quailed in such a situation. For a man of notoriously limited mental and emotional resources, it must have seemed overwhelming.

The second question is why the security forces stood down with such remarkable speed and comprehensiveness, within 45 minutes of the deal being signed. Was that a gesture of goodwill by the regime? Was it because the power ministries scented Mr Yanukovych’s exit and feared retribution from the protesters? Or is it part of a “Plan B” from the Yanukovych camp? Their top man may be gone, but their huge financial interests remain. Their ties with Russia are deep. They may have decided that the best thing for now is to retreat in the hope that the opposition will be unable to control its radical fringe. For now, Ukrainians and the West want change more than stability. But looting and mayhem in Kiev and elsewhere might change that, making it possible for elements of the old regime (and their Russian friends) to stage a comeback.

The third question is: Who runs the country now? A BBC correspondent said on Saturday morning that “power is lying on the street in Kiev—the question is who will pick it up”. That is a bit of an exaggeration. Parliament is in charge. That is better than nothing, though Ukraine’s Rada is a motley crew: many legislators have struggled to dispel the suspicion that their political careers have been an extension of their business interests. 

An interim government will be formed imminently, with some “babysitting” from the EU (a special envoy is likely to be nominated soon, and more foreign ministers and other bigwigs will be packing their bags for Kiev). America has signalled that it will support emergency IMF intervention.

But keeping Ukraine afloat will be a major task. Will the Russian bail-out package, which had been drip-feeding cash to the Yanukovych regime, now be withdrawn? What will the gas price be? The West will find that supporting a large, heavily indebted country in the throes of a chaotic political transformation is a costly business (though far less costly, it should be noted, than dealing with that country’s disintegration and civil war). Will the EU now have the guts to say clearly that when Ukraine reaches the right standards, it has a real chance and choice of membership?

And what of the oligarchs? People such as Rinat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk have made clear their distaste for Mr Yanukovych’s sticky-fingered approach and for his failed crackdown, and for Russia’s asset grabs. But what do they want now? Presumably they and the old regime’s cronies will now be haggling over who gets what in the new order. And what about Yulia Timoshenko, a politician whose erratic and idiosyncratic rule is responsible for much of the mess that Ukraine is now in? In struggles over billions of dollars, clean outcomes are unlikely.

Equally uncertain is how the protesters will cope with the messy tedium of normal democratic politics. Once you have gained a taste for adrenaline-flavoured simplicity, it can become addictive. Ukraine needs a decade of hard work on reform to recover the chances squandered in the past 25 years, building the institutions, habits and attitudes needed for honest, lawful government. That will require patience and expertise, not courage and barricades.

A further question is Russia’s role. Many have blamed Russia for escalating the crisis, forcing Mr Yanukovych into a corner, and insisting on seeing Ukraine’s future as a zero-sum game, in which any integration with the EU means a defeat for Russia’s geopolitical interests.

So why did Russia back off? The swaggering bombast of recent days has vanished. It sent to the talks one of the few figures in Russian public life likely to be acceptable to the protesters and the West—the human-rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. He came as a witness, not as a participant to the deal reached on Friday; Russia says through diplomatic channels that though it is not a party to that agreement, it will not sabotage it. The Kremlin seems to have stood down its separatists in Crimea, a stronghold of Russian interests (and home to a large Russian naval base). Does it prize Ukrainian territorial integrity more than the chance to meddle?

One explanation is that Mr Putin, not for the first time, misread the situation. The Orange Revolution of 2004-5 was sparked by Mr Yanukovych’s election-rigging—enthusiastically supported and advised by Russia. Perhaps the Kremlin had been fooled by its own propaganda, in which the protesters were merely a unrepresentative bunch of Western-financed anarchists and fascists. Perhaps it was worried by the prospect of chaos in its largest European neighbour. In the event of collapse or upheaval, refugees would be heading north as well as west.

Perhaps too it was impressed by the West’s belated but impressive intervention. As the crisis deepened, America stepped up its engagement notably, with lengthy phone calls from Vice-President Joe Biden to Mr Yanukovch, and from President Barack Obama to Mr Putin. The three EU foreign ministers, Radek Sikorski of Poland, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and Laurent Fabius of France, were Europe's diplomatic equivalent to a carrier battle group of the US Navy. Mr Putin may have realised that the outside world was blaming him, not the West, for meddling in Ukraine. At the very least it was time for a tactical retreat.

But what will Russia do now? Most likely it will sit on the sidelines for a while. It can leave the West to try to manage the deal it has brokered. It will take years before Ukraine’s economy and public administration are strong enough to withstand Kremlin mischief. That gives plenty of time. Some would say that even the presence of the sensible and sympathetic Mr Lukin as a witness to the deal has established something of a precedent for formal Russian involvement in Ukrainian domestic affairs.

These are troubling questions and it would be naïve to say that the future looks sunny. Yet it is worth noting that the outlook this weekend is hugely brighter than at any time for months. Mr Yanukovych, one of the worst European leaders in decades, is down. Russia, at least for now, is out. We don't know who is in. But it might even be possible to argue that the high tide of the Putinist revanche was reached in Kiev last week, and that it is now in retreat.


Those are all good questions. I share The Economist's view that the situation is hopeful.

 

Edward Campbell

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And the Financial Times is reporting that the EU is preparing to loan "billions" of euros to Ukraine.
 

Retired AF Guy

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The revolution captured on camera:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2565995/In-pictures-week-shook-Ukraine-Dramatic-photographs-chronicle-days-violent-clashes-ousting-president.html
 

Edward Campbell

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The German Foreign Ministry is Tweeting that "Chllr #Merkel spoke to Pres. #Putin today. Both leaders agree, that the territorial integrity of #Ukraine must be preserved."

That may be the right aim, but I'm guessing that it could provoke a civil war. An early partition, on the line separating the pro Euro-Yellow from pro Russian-Blue on the map the Technoviking posted, might be the better course of action.
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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S.M.A. said:
You saying that Putin might conduct a "Georgia 2008-style" invasion of Ukraine? (probably after the Olympics?)

Could Eastern Ukraine be a future parallel to Georgia's former regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?

I think it's probable Putin is formulating a plan to stage a situation in Southeastern Ukraine in which a new Russian-aligned entity attempts to declare its own autonomy and immediately requests Russian assistance.  For all intents and purposes I think if he can establish any kind of justification and backing for this new Russian-aligned state, he would not hesitate to do it.


M.
 

CougarKing

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Despite divisions seething within the Ukrainian military, it has largely kept out of the current political crisis gripping the country.

Defense News

NATO Praises Ukraine Army for Staying Out of Crisis
Feb. 23, 2014 - 04:27PM  |  By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

(...)- EDITED

Ukraine’s army on Saturday ruled out any involvement in the country’s unfolding crisis, after the police pledged support to the people following deadly violence in anti-government protests.

“Ukraine is a close partner to NATO and NATO is a friend of the Ukrainian people,” Rasmussen said. “We look forward to continue cooperation with Ukraine based on the NATO-Ukraine Charter,” established after the end of the Cold War.

(...)

-END EXCERPT-
 

a_majoor

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A look at some of the tactics used to defeat the riot police and allow the protestors to achieve a win (for now) Several embedded videos as well.

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/a292fc7a40c2

The Medieval—and Highly Effective—Tactics of the Ukrainian Protests
Military-style methods help Euromaidan overwhelm state forces
Robert Beckhusen in War is Boring

Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement is in control of the capital. The autocratic and ostrich-raising Pres. Viktor Yanukovych has fled Kiev, and the Ukrainian parliament has voted him out of power.

For now, it’s a dramatic victory for the protesters, who have sought closer ties with the European Union and an end to the corruption represented by Yanukovych. It’s especially stunning considering the protesters had—on several occasions—seemed close to defeat.

But to understand why the protests succeeded in toppling Yanukovych, it’s worth taking a glance at its strategies and military-style tactics. The protesters not only built a broad and inclusive coalition, but innovated where it mattered most: on the streets.

Really, it turned medieval.

Protesters shot fireworks with makeshift launchers. In combination with throwing stones and using slingshots, they overwhelmed disoriented Berkut special forces units, who were pelted with flying objects as fireworks exploded around them.

Protesters wore military helmets and carried makeshift—or captured—shields. Wooden boards were used to protect their lower legs from shrapnel the police taped to exploding stun grenades.

Among the array of homemade weapons, some were perhaps a little too ambitious. A crude trebuchet—a type of medieval catapult which uses a counterweight to fling objects—was overrun and dismantled.

To shield themselves from the onslaught, the police special forces units known as Berkut adopted distinct tetsudo formations. This packed shield formation was used by the Roman Empire, developed to shield infantry units from arrows. The first line holds its shields forward, with each preceding line holding their shields towards the sky.

The problem with this tactic? It makes you much slower.


Euromaidan kitchen on Dec. 15, 2013. Joe Luis Orihuela/Flickr photo
Euromaidan’s long tail
But behind the barricades, there were thousands of people working together to support the front lines. It’s an important lesson that logistics is what ultimately wins battles.

While the demonstrators at the barricades skewed younger, older Maidan activists ferried supplies and filled sandbags.

Others staffed portable kitchens set up at the main encampment at Kiev’s Independence Square. When there was ample snow on the ground, they shoveled it into bags to bolster the barricades up to 10 feet high.

These jobs were not only necessary, they also provided a sense of purpose for demonstrators, who through age, health or disability couldn’t risk the fast and brutal nature of street fighting.

The protesters helped recruit women into street-fighting groups through a female-led women’s brigade. The brigade also schooled hundreds of female volunteers in self-defense and riot tactics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwf9EjesvtM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3Q9SbBxbRo
All of this added up to enable the demonstrators to resist stronger, better trained and better equipped riot police.

In one of the more stunning scenes on Feb. 18, a 15-ton BTR-80 armored vehicle drove directly towards the Maidan barricades when it was set ablaze by dozens of Molotov cocktails.

Workshops could quickly produce large numbers of Molotovs around the clock. Activists tore stones and bricks from the pavement and passed them to the barricades.

A triage centers—and a morgue—set up in the Hotel Ukraine treated the wounded and housed the dead.

Protesters armed with clubs were able to surround and capture isolated police units, stealing their shields and equipment. When the police resorted to killing demonstrators with sniper fire, the protesters used walls of burning tires to block out the snipers’ scopes.


Barricades in Kiev on Dec. 15, 2013. Jose Luis Orihuela/Flickr photo
And they have a broad coalition
There are important lessons here for democratic movements facing down authoritarian regimes.

For one, get people involved. Make sure participants have a purpose. Use several tactics at once, and combine them for an overwhelming advantage. Force the authorities to respond to your tactics, rather than the reverse.

The protesters were also inclusive, which helped bolster their numbers. But this remains controversial.

In addition to the two main—and moderate—opposition parties and thousands of unaffiliated activists, the protests included far-right nationalists associated with the extreme right-wing Svoboda party and the fighting units known as the Right Sector.

The result was an awkward non-aggression pact between left and right.

According to Anton Shekhovtsov, a researcher at University College London who specializes in Eastern European far right movements, one reason for the truce is necessity. The main target was Yanukovych. The other reason? Once Yanukovych is gone, the far right parties will have a harder time finding new recruits.

The protests are “among other things, a national revolution against the Kremlin’s imperialism and a nationalist uprising against Russia’s destructive influence on Ukraine,” he blogged.

That’s helping fuel the far right.

“Those who separate these two issues or crack down on the Ukrainian far right without recognizing the urgent need for national independence will never be successful in their attempts to neutralize the far right,” he added. “Moreover, they can make the situation worse.”

But if there’s anything that tipped the balance, at least for now, it’s the protesters’ willingness to fight. “I’m ready to fight for my human rights and my country, and the better life of my country,” a women’s brigade fighter told Al Jazeera. “Even to death.”

Sign up for a daily War is Boring email update here. Subscribe to WIB’s RSS feed here and follow the main page here.
 

Journeyman

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Thucydides said:
There are important lessons here for democratic movements facing down authoritarian regimes.
But don't forget that non-democratic movements are likely also taking notes.  As a personal PD session, give some thought to how you would counter these same tactics (notwithstanding the real situation unfolding in "Independence Square.")

.....and/or, how you would improve upon the rioters' TT&Ps
 

tomahawk6

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People are touring the Yanukovych estate and are shocked by what they see.

http://news.yahoo.com/documents-ukraine-leader-39-home-detail-spending-193927272.html?vp=1
 
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