« New Athenaeum Post- NonFiction Showcase: Prison Journey, a Memoir by Brigadier FB Ali | Main | "Orange Crush?" What's next? Moscow? »

22 February 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Russia has huge economic leverage over the Ukraine. Short to medium term nothing can change that.

Putin will try to keep it whole and to have someone he can work with in control.

The "west" is now enthusiastic that Tymoshenko has been released from jail. They forget that she was in jail for a gas-deal that favored Russia.

Putin could well go with her instead of the despised "doormat" Yanukovich.


Any signs of RA units massing/re-deploying? Maskirovka in play?


Countdown to when Russia seizes the Crimea again?

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

In response to a question you raised on the previous thread on this subject. If it were possible to engineer a clean break, then undoing the creation of a unified Ukraine by Stalin would clearly be the least worst option.

A difficulty is that divisions in Ukraine overlap in complicated ways. I have a ‘worm’s eye view’ of this, through various odd family links.

A few years back, someone I have known for many years married a woman from Lviv in the Western Ukraine – a focal point of the current unrest. Her own background is complex. On her mother's side, her grandfather was a kulak, who went out into the street in Smolensk shortly after the German invasion, and was never seen again. His daughter ended up living in a hole in the ground across the river from Stalingrad, making shells. It was a relative in the NKVD, if I recall right, who suggested to her after the end of the war that as Smolensk was rubble, she might go to Lviv, which was intact.

There she met and married a Ukrainian railwayman – railwaymen were a working class elite in the old Soviet Union – who had a close relative who had been in the SS Galicia Division.

Most of the time, my old friend’s wife is a fervent Ukrainian nationalist. When however she wants to put forward, vehemently, the exact opposite point of view to the one she argued with equal vehemence the previous day, she will tell you that it is a Russian woman’s prerogative to change her mind. And after a few drinks on New Year’s Eve, she will sing you the Red Army soldiers sang.

It was necessary for my friend and his new wife to go Kiev to get her immigration paperwork sorted out – and as I had been involved in this, my wife and I flew out.

Time and again, she would waiters and waitresses, and others, in Ukrainian. On every occasion, without exception, they responded in Russian.

There is, however, absolutely no reason whatsoever to infer from this that people in Kiev – at once the starting point of Russian civilisation and the most ‘European’ of cities in the old Russian Empire – have any desire to be back under the control of Moscow.

Likewise, the notion that Yanukovich is a pawn of Putin is BS. The Eastern Ukrainian oligarchs, of whom he is a representative, have their own interests and concerns – and in addition, the available evidence she suggests that Yanukovich and Putin can’t stand each other.

What characterises the prim and sanctimonious academic elites which increasingly dominate both in the U.S. and the West in general is an absolute disinterest in the human experience of others. And if one suggests to them that they might attempt to come to grips with a catastrophic chain of events which turned Ukrainian, or Russian, or indeed German teenagers into mass murderers – they would probable faint and reach for the sal volatile.

In the first volume of her memoirs, Nadezhda Mandelstam, widow of the poet Osip Mandelstam, who paid for his life for his extraordinary poem denouncing Stalin, remarked on ‘the way we have scurried to and fro in the twentieth century, trapped between Hitler and Stalin!’ There is also a quote from her, which I cannot at the moment trace, which is something like: if you give a teenager a gun and tell him he is right to kill people, he is capable of anything.

People in the United States who want to turn the history of Eastern Europe into simple morality plays of good versus evil are, in my view, deeply dangerous, and dangerous in particular because of their patent lack of any genuine moral sense. Increasingly it seems to me, moreover, that of the ‘tribe’ of the prim and sanctimonious who have our destinies in their hands, Barack Obama is a natural leader.


"Any signs of RA units massing/re-deploying?"

Why should they?? Ukr armed forces have just demonstrated that they are useless against citizen militias, which are forming in the East. If the East wants to go, neither the Ukr armed forces nor the western neo-nazis can stop 'em and the RA has no need to lift a finger.


Is there any chance that the Russians and Russian aligned Ukrainians might simply try to split the Ukraine into it's western aligned Ukrainian speaking and eastern aligned Russian speaking parts? From the Russian perspective, they'd keep the Crimean Peninsula and access to the Black Sea that's strategically vital. They can then leave the Western portion for Europe to deal with as it will.

Alba Etie

BHO and Leader Putin were on the phone one hour yesterday - regarding Ukraine . Wonder what was said .





Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

"People in the United States who want to turn the history of Eastern Europe into simple morality plays of good versus evil are, in my view, deeply dangerous, and dangerous in particular because of their patent lack of any genuine moral sense."

Is this not equally true - or perhaps even more so - about EU.

How much responsibility does EU and specially the EU troika of UK, Germany, and France bear for what is happening in Ukraine?

The almost certain outcome of the events in Kiev; that is the de facto or de jur partition of Ukraine; in what way does it server US or EU?

Will not EU and US have to essentially support Western Ukraine as a dependency - like Kosovo or Bosnia-Hercegovina - indefinitely?

Or until Russia kicks them out in a few more years?

Wrecking other countries with nothing positive to offer - like in Syria and in Libya - seems to be the most that US and EU can achieve; in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree with you.

I think that already has happened; Ukraine has fractured - de facto - and very likely Crimea will revert to Russia - again de facto.

scott s.


I think it shows that the nation-state system which was created after the Thirty-Years War to solve problems in Central Europe and then imposed on the rest of the world, is losing relevancy and the loss of legitimacy gives rise to tribalism and other political relationships.


My guess is that Putin is about to give the E.U. a very bloody nose shortly and offer America the same.

How long would it take for Russian armoured units to get to Kiev?

Could Russia enforce a No Fly zone over Ukraine?

Is the EU prepared for a massive influx of refugees from the Eastern Ukraine as they flee from Eastern Ukraine Russian supported militias?

This whole situation reminds me of the Wests total impotence when Hitler dealt with Czeckoslovakia and Poland. How many EU armoured divisions are sitting on the Polish border? What is to stop Russia splitting the country on the line of the Dnieper?



This showed up in my feed after reading your comment. The question on partition seems to have moved from "If" to "How". It also seems to increase the odds of conflict.

Allen Thomson

@Babak Presumably, in that case, post-separation Ukraine gets Odessa Oblast with, of course, the Port of Odessa while Russia gets Crimea with Sevastopol, no? Both keep access to the Black Sea for their respective purposes.

The Twisted Genius


Remember that the Crimea was part of Russia proper until Krushchev gifted it to the Ukraine in 1954. Then the Supreme Council of Russia ruled in 1992 that the Crimean region had been delivered to Ukraine illegitimately. The borders in that part of the world have been in flux for centuries, including quite recently.



What is striking about Kiev is that medieval arts of war have been transformed into modern urban protest. The demonstrators wanted to be killed but maintain control of the Freedom Square. They succeeded. This takes money, training and a cause worth dying for.

I agree that at best Ukraine will be split apart like Serbia and Russia will be mollified by taking control of Crimea. Still, true believer NGOs are pushing assertive and dangerous anti-Russian and anti-Iranian policies from Syria to the Balkans.

I was raised with the justifications for not intervening within the Warsaw Pact nations during the Hungarian Uprising and Prague Spring. The reasons for avoiding a nuclear war with the USSR are just as valid today as then.

I must repeat David Habakkuk’s post: “The policies adopted by the Americans and Europeans towards Iran, Syria, and Ukraine seem to involve the worst of all possible worlds: a patent lack of concern with the physical suffering they inflict, combined with a complete absence of cold Machiavellian calculation about likely consequences.”

different clue

Maybe they'd rather not physically seize it if they can retain unrestricted naval basing and full access without physical posession? If so, perhaps countdown would only begin if Ukraine tried making any changes to current basing rights and access. Russia would then have all kinds of economic leverage to reverse Ukraine's decision, such as suddenly stopping all flow of gas without any prior warning in late Fall. "You want gas? We want access".

The Twisted Genius


I've seen reports that regional leaders in both the East and West Ukraine are already making noises about a partition of some sort, even if it's a federation in which the East can make a separate agreement with Moscow. If I were in Putin's place, I'd be thinking about that as a first move. Assure the East Ukraine that economic assistance will be provided and that military assistance to maintain order and security is standing by if needed (think Abkazia and South Ossetia). Don't cross the border unless it becomes necessary. Tell Western Ukraine that Russian economic assistance will not be forthcoming as long as bandits are in control. Then see how the R2P harpies, the EU and the "bandits" in Kiev react. The goal is to avoid a complete descent into complete chaos in the region and to maintain a firm control of the Crimea.


David Habakkuk--

"Hope Against Hope". I first read it over 30 years ago, and it's always stuck with me as one of the greatest and most moving things written about the individual and totalitarianism.

In that book, she also made the statement, to paraphrase, that under Stalin and his crimes, she and the Russian people had lost their sense of awe.

I won't insult anyone by pretending that life in the US bears much resemblance to life under Stalin, but only to say that given the descent of the US since 2000 in terms of the deterioration of civil liberties and the now institutionalized lawlessness of the financial elites, among other things, that nothing whatsoever that our government presently does surprises me. I no longer am awed by the evil at work.


Crimean history is quite complicated. It is important to Russia due to the Black Sea Fleet being based there [Sevastopol]. It may well revert to Russia.


Crimea is now an autonomous parliamentary republic, within Ukraine,[6] which is governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. The capital and administrative seat of the republic's government is the city of Simferopol, located in the center of the peninsula. Crimea's area is 26,200 square kilometres (10,100 sq mi) and its population was 1,973,185 as of 2007. Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority who in 2001 made up 12.1% of the population,[9] formed in Crimea in the late Middle Ages, after the Crimean Khanate had come into existence. The Crimean Tatars were forcibly expelled to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin's government. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Crimean Tatars began to return to the region.[10] According to the 2001 Ukrainian population census 58.5% of the population of Crimea were ethnic Russians and 24.4% were ethnic Ukrainians.[11]


Crimean Khanate, or Khanate of Crimea (Crimean Tatar: Qırım Hanlığı, قريم خانلغى‎ or Qırım Yurtu, قريم يورتى; Russian: Крымское ханство - Krymskoye khanstvo; Ukrainian: Кримське ханство - Kryms'ke khanstvo; Polish: Chanat Krymski; Turkish: Kırım Yurdu or Kırım Hanlığı), was a state ruled by Crimean Tatars from 1441 to 1783. Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Toqa Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan. This khanate was by far the longest-lived of the Turkic khanates that succeeded the empire of the Golden Horde.[1]

Golden Horde = Altin Ordu in Turkish. Ordu means army in Turkish and the word Urdu [language of Pakistan] also derives from this word, in my understanding.

Also, In my high school history classes, I remember reading about WWI in Galicia and Ottoman army participation in battles there, as part of the alliance with Kaiser's Germany. What made this confusing is that there is also a Spanish province, called Galicia!

William R. Cumming

TTG! Where was NK born?


Mr. Kodlu, very interesting information about the forgotten Galicia front during WW I. My late father was a Staff Officer in above mentioned 15th Corps of the Turkish Army during early 70's, based in Izmit. As I looked it up, I found out that one of the Corp's regiments was 72nd Infantry Regiment, which my father commanded for 3 years as I remember, some of the best times I ever had as a child playing around the base all day.

Because of my father's position I and my brother were often taken to the US-NATO base in Karamursel, which was my first contact with American culture, as we made friends easily with our American counterparts. That world had awed and amazed me, as it still does.


walrus wrote: 'How long would it take for Russian armoured units to get to Kiev?"

I would be asking, if I were Russian, just how long will it take before they can LEAVE Kiev? And how many soldiers?

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

If I gave the impression that I was suggesting that I thought that this shambles was the work of Americans rather than Europeans, this was sloppy – I most certainly don’t. What I was trying to make was a point about the mentality of the ‘R2P’ crowd, not about responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine.

It may be that one should be cautious about prejudging the question of whether the outcome in the Ukraine is certain. It is worth at least reflecting on the possibility that there could be considerations that make the position of the nationalists stronger than it might look, at least in the short term. It seems likely that the Eastern Ukrainian oligarchs do not want a rush to partition, which would be extremely damaging to their business interests. There also appears to be a good deal of sympathy for ideas of European integration among younger people in the East. And, a critical factor at present, Yanukovich inspires confidence and loyalty among hardly anyone.

As to your point that the US and EU seem rather good at ‘wrecking other countries with nothing positive to offer’, I largely agree with you. The only very small silver lining I can offer is that there is an increasing grassroots awareness of the foolish of our foreign policy elite in this country. This was the driving force behind the Commons vote against intervention in Syria.

Reverting to the Ukraine, if a split is averted and the pro-Europeans come to power in Kiev, they are then going to have to face the same problems with the terms proposed by the EU which were critical in persuading Yanukovich to refuse them and make a deal with Putin. What is still inadequately appreciated in the West is that Yanukovich quite clearly was looking for an agreement with the EU rather than one with Russia – the terms offered were simply too onerous.

It may be that better terms would be offered to leaders whom the EU and the US find more congenial. If they are not substantially better, such leaders may in turn find themselves the object of the bitterness and resentment felt by so many Ukrainians at the condition of their country and what is liable to be an accelerating economic collapse, whoever is in power.

For the background to Yanukovich’s rejection of the EU offer, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/19/uk-ukraine-russia-deal-idUKBRE9BI0E320131219 and also http://darussophile.com/2013/11/ukraines-turn-to-the-east/

William R. Cumming

Scott S.!

IMO the nation-state system was designed to control in part violence between religions and religious sects.

Perhaps emigration to the Western Hemisphere also a factor of decline in Europe's inter-state and intra-state violence in last 400 years.

From the suppression of the Hugenots to the Holocaust religion minimised at least to some degree as Causus Belli but perhaps I am wrong.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

August 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Blog powered by Typepad