Feb. 27, 2014

The surging crisis in Ukraine is a dramatic example of how wars begin. Take arrogance, toxic nationalism, tribalism, moral outrage and profound miscalculation, mix thoroughly, and, voilà !, another great leap forward in the march of human folly.

Russia just mobilized its western regions armed forces, an inevitable response to the growing turmoil in Ukraine. Most westerners are unaware that Ukraine is the cradle of Russian civilization and, when properly run, one of the world’s great producers of grains.

Now that western Ukraine has fallen to anti-Russian, nationalist groups, Russia-oriented eastern Ukraine is also threatening to explode. This nation of 44 million is already de facto split into two parts. How Ukraine’s armed forces respond remains an important question. On Thursday their command vowed to resist any incursion by Russian troops, but loyalties remain uncertain.

Unrest and some violence have now erupted in Crimea. Though 80% ethnic Russian, this highly strategic peninsula was given by the Soviet leadership to the Soviet Ukrainian Republic in 1954. The result, some say, of a grandiose, drunken gesture by Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev, a former Ukraine party boss. Back then it mattered little.

Today, Khrushchev’s gift has become a poisoned chalice. On my last assignment in Crimea, it was clear that most of its people desired reunification with Russia.

Equally important, Sevastopol is Russia’s second most important naval base, and its gateway to the Mediterranean.

Adding complexity, Crimea’s remaining Muslim Tatar population is now calling for their own state independent of Russia. Crimea was once primarily Tatar, the descendants of the 13th century Golden Horde of primarily Kipchak Turkic nomads. The Khanate of Crimea lasted five hundred years until crushed by the expanding Russian Empire.

In the 1940’s, under Stalin’s orders, southern Russia’s Muslim peoples suffered a holocaust in which 3 million were murdered by NKVD secret police firing squads or from starvation and disease in the gulag.

Tatars who survived Stalin’s murderous reign, filtered back to Crimea, only to find their homes and land had been seized by ethnic Russians. Tatars remain a partly homeless internal refugee population calling for redress from the uncaring Russian state. Many Tatars want no part of Russia – like their fellow victims of Stalin, the Chechen.

For Russians, Crimea is not only the principal base of the Black Sea Fleet, the peninsula also was the scene of the epic 250-day siege siege of Sevastopol in 1941.

In a brutal battle for the port and rest of Crimea, the Germans employed monster 800mm and 600mm guns against Sevastopol’s forts that fired 6-7 ton shells that had been built to destroy France’s Maginot Line forts. Sailors of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet played a notable role in the defense. Sevastopol was rightly proclaimed a Hero City of the Soviet Union.

Sebastopol has been Russia’s gateway to the south since the days of Catherine the Great. Crimea is renowned for its sweet wines and the historic resort of Yalta where the doddering fool Franklin Roosevelt, surrounded by Soviet spies and hidden microphones, gave half of Europe to the gleeful Stalin.

Crimea was the epicenter of the 1853-1856 Crimean War in which Britain, France and Turkey combined to block Russian expansion into the Balkans. Most famous, of course, was the disastrous charge into the face of massed Russia guns of the British Light Brigade near Balaclava. Just to the south is a remarkable former Cold War Soviet submarine base hewn into a mountain large enough to hold six-eight u-boats.

The Cold War seems to be resuming, at least in Ukraine. Unrest is also brewing in neighboring Belarus, a nasty Stalinist dictatorship closely aligned with Moscow.

The West and Moscow are trading accusation of meddling in Ukraine. In truth, both are busy stirring the pot, a dangerous game that has brought NATO and Russia to the brink of armed confrontation. The neocon Undersecretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, said US has spent $5 billion promoting anti-Russian groups in Ukraine. Chances of a Ukrainian civil war are also rising.

Ukraine is flat broke. Kiev needs at least $35 billion in immediate loans. Russia has withdrawn its offer of $15 billion. Who wants to lend money to a bankrupt, chaotic Ukraine filled with restive, angry people?


copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014

This post is in: Balkans, Caucasus, Europe, History, Russia, Soviet Union, Ukraine

8 Responses to “THE ROAD TO WAR”

  1. I finally figured out why Russia really invaded Crimea. Offshore oil.
    I was unaware of the fact that Crimea had any. But apparently it does. If Ukraine further develops this resource it will take away from Russia’s power over Ukraine.
    I would not be surprised if Russia’s Gazprom has been doing some exploration and has found large reserves off the shore of Crimea, maybe even enough to go to war for. It is always about the money, always. Especially with Putin, who couldn’t really give a rat’s ass about the rights of some Russian speaking Ukrainians.

  2. solum temptare possumus says:

    I have a possible solution.
    Make Ukraine an Independent Free Trade State. All Russian goods can be bought/sold to Europe, free of tariff, within Ukraine. All European/Western goods can be bought/sold to Russia, free of tariff, within Ukraine. The Ukrainian people would be the middlemen/women. Their ‘commission’ would pay off their national debt over time, and ratchet downwards tensions; hopefully.
    As to the Vainakh Peoples: Chechens, Ingushsheti and Tatar, some form of homeland would stop the bloodshed. If mother Russia could get on side. Perhaps similar to western Canadian farmers, who owned the land, but not the mineral rights to whatever was found under the surface. A royalty scheme and employment to the locals would sweeten the pot.
    Maneat, oro, frigus et principes valeat – Please let cooler heads prevail
    ad iudicium

  3. Nathan Mayer Rothschild once said: “I care not what puppet is placed on
    the throne of England to rule the Empire, the man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.”
    The US government does not print any money. It borrows money from the privately owned Federal Reserve and the interest on that borrowed money vanishes into the pockets of private owners of the Fed and other central banks. If we were to do, what these private bankers do, we would be thrown in jail for counterfeiting and yet, that is what those bankers do with their fractional reserve banking.That is why Joe Public is taxed so high and that the clove between rich and poor is getting bigger all the time. And instead of putting our Monopoly game back in the box, after everybody is either bankrupt or in jail, we have another worldwar, which gets financed by the same players on both sides, so the taxpayers are then all on the hook for the repayment of that scam, win or lose. Ask Google to show you that very educational ‘moneymasters’ video. The best history lesson you can have. From it you will learn, how this ‘crisis’ in the Ukraine fits perfectly in the grand scheme of things.
    Watch and/or read ‘Brave new world’ by Aldous Huxley as well and get the feel of his dystopian worldview and remember, that this world will then be privately owned, which means the 99% will become permanent slaves, specially bred for the subservient roles like the eunuchs of the royal courts in the past. If you have dreams for your posterity and the preservation of your genealogy, you had better get very concerned. No, this is not a wild conspiracy theory but a very real possibility.

    • George Rizk says:

      When you see how our retailers deal with our uneducated low class public? They offer them credit to get in debt? They say buy this and that with no money down. Why are these creditors PUSHING their money on the consumers? Well, if they don’t loan money, they don’t earn interest. That simple.

      So, let’s take this micro to the macro stage. When the US needs money, they go to the fed to ISSUE a trillion dollars, and commit us citizen to repay that debt one day, AND WE ALSO HAVE TO PAY INTEREST BY TAXING THINGS. So what happened here is money people got richer, and their cash flow increases from the interest. Hence, the Feds do exactly what our retailers do to the consumers in our slums! Come and get furniture, and large screen TV with no money down! Except, in our case, the Feds urges reporters, and neocons to tell the public “hey let us start a war with such and such country”? Knowing that once we start a war, we will have to have several trillion dollars from the Feds.

      What is so astonishing to any one who learn about the Feds racket is why does our government agree to take a loan, and pay interest to a private gang rather than issuing our own money? At least we don’t have to pay interest to ourselves.

      If I go to Obama, and said how much do the fed charge us interest? He says 1%? So, I say, I will give you a trillion dollar at 0.5%? Do you think he will tell the Feds to take a hike?

    • solum temptare possumus says:

      While I harbour no doubts that Nathan Mayer did say that famous quote, it is anecdotal. Nothing written has survived that we know of. It was quoted by someone to whom the quote was supposedly said to.
      Being the genius with finance that he was, he no doubt would have helped in the formation of the Bank of England. Anecdotal on my part of course, since he was only 17 in 1694 when parliament passed the Bank of England Act.
      “An Act for granting to theire Majesties severall Rates and Duties upon Tunnage of Shipps and Vessells and upon Beere Ale and other Liquors for secureing certaine Recompenses and Advantages in the said Act mentioned to such Persons as shall voluntarily advance the sūme of Fifteene hundred thousand pounds towards the carrying on the War against France.
      Any guesses to whom the reference in the Act states ‘to such Persons’?
      Money rules. Fractional banking rules as a form of legal ‘white collar crime’; envied by all who know it’s intricacies.
      Species (gold, silver, copper coinage) became paper for ease of carrying by the people; only to become ‘Fiat’ money over the centuries. Now we have plastic bills. Oooh…..shiny, new!
      Intermediary towards the electronic chip placed somewhere within our persons.
      I’m bored. Think I’ll see what’s on television….no maybe I’ll play a game on my Xbox. So many choices; gosh I can’t decide.
      Quoque, Pablum, (a Canadian copia) pro Missis
      ad iudicium

      • solum temptare possumus says:

        Further to this,
        In 1977, the Bank set up a wholly owned subsidiary called Bank of England Nominees Limited (BOEN), a private limited company, with two of its hundred £1 shares issued. According to its Memorandum & Articles of Association, its objectives are:- “To act as Nominee or agent or attorney either solely or jointly with others, for any person or persons, partnership, company, corporation, government, state, organisation, sovereign, province, authority, or public body, or any group or association of them….” Bank of England Nominees Limited was granted an exemption by Edmund Dell, Secretary of State for Trade, from the disclosure requirements under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976, because, “it was considered undesirable that the disclosure requirements should apply to certain categories of shareholders.” The Bank of England is also protected by its Royal Charter status, and the Official Secrets Act.
        How convenient. They are exempt, protected by Royal Charter AND the Official Secrets Act.
        ad iudicium

  4. If in fact, the U.S. spent $5 billion to promote anti-Russian groups, I can assure you that it was not needed, except if that money was spent in Crimea. From my trips to Ukraine I can safely say that the anti-Russian sentiment is thriving in central and western Ukraine. Ukrainians are well aware of the 7 million people that were starved to death under Stalin, and the Ukrainians blame all Russians for that atrocity. Also, it is well known that during the Soviet Union’s reign, where there were many small wars, Ukrainians were the ones that were sent to the front lines first, and the Ukrainians remember that. The disdain that Russians have for Ukrainians escapes my understanding. When I was in Russia I found Russian men beligerant and Russian women social and accommodating. In Ukraine I found that the men there were helpful to this western foreigner in a way that I did not find in Russia. Shortly before writing this, I heard that the Russian parliament just gave Putin the right to use the military to intervene in Ukraine. This is a huge mistake on their and Putin’s part. Ukrainians are truly peace loving, but they have a stronger military than Georgia did when Russia invaded Georgia. The leaders of Ukraine’s military are largely pro-Ukrainian and will not tollerate a Russian invasion of Ukrainian land. I do not see this turning into a world war, but if Russia plans to invade Ukraine they had best be prepared to see the war come to their doorstep, because if they think that Chechens or Georgians are a terrorist problem, just wait until they see a pissed off Ukrainian with some serious military strength, and experience in the small wars that they were thrown into when they were part of the Soviet Union. Also, there is a large population of ex-patriot Ukrainians around the world, some with huge financial resources. You can count on those ex-pats throwing those financial resources against Russia if Russia invades.

  5. Add Canada to those priming the guns and fanning the flames. America’s little lap dog Prime minister Stephen Harper sent a delegation to the Ukraine Ukraine made up of tory bootlickers and Pro Western Ukrainian Nationalists. He kept all Liberal members off for the most trite reason and would not take the New Democrats because “They haven’t picked a side.” Harpers American masters will be very happy.

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