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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/14/14

Ukraine and Its Border Problems

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Czechoslovakia peacefully broke up into two nation-states after the fall of the USSR. This might be the best solution for a number of countries around the world with post-colonialist borders. But when their governments and/or big outside powers desire turf control more than democratic rights, the borders are "sanctified," which appears to be the case with Ukraine.

Of course, there are good reasons to preserve and respect many national borders. Germany is Germany, Italy is Italy, and France is France, despite overlap regions like the Savoie and Alsace regions of France which were once Italian and German respectively. Whatever anomalies exist, the people and the governments have learned to live with them. And it isn't always wise to support splitting a country. Look at South Sudan right now, not that the situation it recently came from was any better and arguably worse. Wise decisions on national borders neither treat them as sacred nor change them casually. In the Ukraine crisis, the challenge is to resolve the conflict in the interests of Ukrainians, eastern and western, not provoke them by invoking the sacredness of national borders that have little or no basis.

The Obama administration's response to Ukraine's political turmoil is to blame it all on Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia--if only Russia were "nice," everyone in Ukraine would be happy in the fantasy world promoted by the US national security state.

A coup made in the US (with the help of an EU provocation)

The big divide between eastern and western parts of Ukraine in the recent conflict came on the heels of a trade agreement with Ukraine proposed by the European Union (EU). Stephen Cohen, in a "Democracy Now!"interview, said the EU wanted an exclusive trade agreement which would freeze out Russia. Of all people, Henry Kissinger was also critical of the EU's trade proposals and negotiations with Ukraine. Given the close economic relations between Ukraine and Russia, the EU proposal was unnecessarily provocative and even stupid. Ukraine is currently on the brink of bankruptcy, owing some $200 billion with about $15 billion of debt servicing due in the coming year. Early in the crisis, the EU offered Ukraine a paltry $600 or $700 million in aid, while Russia offered $15 billion. No contest, you'd think, but pro-western, anti-Russian protesters didn't care.

Short of breaking up, the best solution for Ukraine might be to keep it intact as a neutral state between Russia and western power blocs. This reasonable prospect was contained in the February 21 agreement hammered out by France, Germany, Poland, and Russia. The democratically elected president of Ukraine, Yanukovych, signed onto the agreement even though it stripped him of much power and proposed presidential elections in May, well before his term should have ended. The US, of course, was opposed to the February 21 agreement. (That's what Victoria Nuland's "f*ck the EU" amounted to in her early February phone call to the US ambassador in Ukraine.) And what did the pro-EU Ukrainian protesters in the Maidan think of the February 21 agreement? By the time it was presented, the Maidan protest had dwindled to the hard core, which unfortunately included an excessive number of fascist-leaning right wingers. They were adamantly opposed to the agreement and booed down Vitali Klitschko, the moderate politician who, despite his pro-EU orientation, advocated resolving the crisis by acceptance of the February 21 agreement. The right wing had the backing of the US and they prevailed. Within hours Yanukovych fled for his life, following a phony "impeachment" proceeding in the parliament surrounded by right-wing protesters at the time. According to some accounts, the right wingers controlled which members of parliament went into and out of the building.

Rapid recognition by the US of a new government following a coup is good evidence that the US had a hand in it, a suspicion strengthened in Ukraine by Nuland's phone call where she essentially dictated that "Yats" (Arseny Yatseniuk) should be prime minister and Klitschko should stay out of the new government. And that's exactly how it turned out. Cheerleading from the US for the bomb-throwing protesters was relentless, including Nuland going to Kiev and passing out cookies to the protesters (how touching!), an inflammatory statement by Obama in Mexico City just before the coup, Senator John McCain standing in the Maidan shoulder to shoulder with the right wing/fascist Svoboda thugs who are now represented in the coup government, and in and a visit by CIA chief John Brennan a few weeks after the coup. Yatseniuk himself may feel uncomfortably pressured by the Svoboda gang, which has control of several ministries, and his right wing president Turchynov, to take even further military action against the eastern protesters, foolishly branded "terrorists" by the coup government, when all indications are that a crack down will just foment more rebellion.

The US success installing Yatseniuk means that western banks owning Ukraine can breath a bit easier, since Yatseniuk has said he will impose the expected austerity on Ukraine to pay back loans needed to avoid national bankruptcy. Despite the wealth of evidence for US meddling, neocons, R2Pers, and the MSM are loath to admit it publicly and quick to castigate the meddling charge as a silly conspiracy theory, which is the smokescreen conspirators always use to hide their own conspiracies. The vitriol from the US side continues, as if it's just all Russia's fault. Obama and his national security team talk disrespectfully to Russia as they would to a lesser country. Sanctions are being piled on, as if Russia's interests are all economic in this crisis. They aren't. They are also strategic and center on national security.

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I am a retired physics professor. I have been concerned about the Palestinian-Israeli situation for years and have authored a number of op ed pieces on the subject, often in response to other pieces giving a distorted picture of the Middle (more...)

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