Ukraine: A Personal View

Anyone expecting an armchair strategist’s take on the fighting in Ukraine should look elsewhere. This is a very personal attempt to explain how I believe we arrived at war between Russia and Ukraine.

This is a litany of lies, mistakes, personal failings, and geopolitical manoeuvrings.

HISTORY AND RUSSIA

Perhaps the only time Russia enjoyed near-unequivocal support in the West was when the Grand Armée was driven out in 1812. Even then, the West celebrated, not because we’d come to love Russians, but because we feared Napoleon.

After that, as England sought to extend her holdings in India she increasingly came into contact with Tsarist Russia pushing south, in what became known as ‘The Great Game’.

So hostile was the West to Russia – and so rehabilitated had France become – that Britain and France could even ally themselves with Ottoman Turkey against Russia in the Crimean War 1853 -1856.

An alliance of Protestants, Catholics and Muslims against Orthodox Russia. At a time when Muslim Turks were still enslaving Christian Europeans, including Russians.

Still, The Charge of the Light Brigade was a stirring distraction.

In 1904 / 05 there was a brief war between Russia and Japan, which saw Japan victorious, with British support.

Though when it became obvious that Kaiser Bill was shaping for a fight, and he’d roped in old Franz Joseph, then Russia proved a necessary eastern ally against Imperial Germany and the Hapsburg Empire.

That war over, and Russia now Communist, the Western powers and Japan invaded, but Lenin remained in power.

With Communism secured the Soviet Union became the enemy, admired in the West only by deluded leftists.

The role of ‘principal threat’ was temporarily usurped in the 1930s by Nazi Germany. Even so, had Germany focused its aggression exclusively on central and eastern Europe and invaded the USSR, it’s unlikely the West would have intervened.

Following WWII we entered the Cold War, and a series of proxy conflicts and situations from Korea to Cuba to Vietnam to Chile to . . . (pick any one from dozens).

Something often forgotten from this period is that the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ came about because the USA had placed ICBMs in Turkey, which bordered the USSR. Kennedy and Khrushchev eventually agreed to remove their missiles from both Turkey and Cuba.

The US military at this time contained a number of senior officers who sincerely believed that a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union was the best form of ‘defence’.

They looked almost comical when Stanley Kubrick gave them roles in Dr Strangelove. Though some of them were almost too off-the-wall to caricature.

USAF General Curtis LeMay, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force from 1961 to 1965. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 to support a friendly regime, giving the USA its chance to arm fanatics and boost opium production. The kind of thought-through strategic decision-making – like supporting Iran against Iraq – all too common in recent US foreign policy decisions.

As US allies skinned alive Russian conscripts and took Afghanistan back to the Middle Ages the USA claimed another victory for democracy and progress.

A further Western dividend was that the Afghanistan debacle contributed directly to the disintegration of the Soviet Union between 1988 and 1991.

This encouraged NATO, a Cold War alliance set up to defend Western Europe from Warsaw Pact aggression, to move eastwards!

Though as Noam Chomsky reminded us a few days ago:

Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Bush and Baker lied to Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. The USA, EU and NATO have been lying to Russia – and to the rest of us – ever since.

UKRAINE INDEPENDENCE 1

Before moving on to more recent events mention must be made of the Ukrainian Famine, or Holodomor, in which 3 – 4 million Ukrainians died during Stalin’s forced collectivisation of agriculture in 1932-33.

There was definitely an anti-Ukrainian aspect to the project, but Stalin wasn’t really fussed who he killed. This article suggests ‘that about 20 million died in labour camps, forced collectivisation, famine and executions.’

The demise of the Soviet Union saw an attempt at a reconfigured federation of sovereign states. A kind of east European EU. This was aired by Gorbachev at the Communist Party Congress of July 1990.

Ukraine supported joining the Union if she had first achieved independence.

This prompted a last-ditch attempt by hard-line Communists to save the Soviet Union through the attempted coup of August 19, 1991; which led to the Ukrainian parliament agreeing a Declaration of Independence on August 24, 1991.

Boris Yeltsin (left, holding paper) thwarts the attempted coup. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

Ukraine became independent in December 1991 following a referendum on the August Declaration. In a turnout of 84.18% some 92.3% voted to approve the Declaration of Independence drawn up a few months earlier. Roughly 55% of ethnic Russians voted for independence. Though turnout was lower in Russian-speaking areas.

Immediately following the vote both Boris Yeltsin (President of Russia) and Gorbachev congratulated Ukraine on voting for independence . . . as a first step towards a reconfigured federation along with Russia, Belarus, and some Central Asian republics.

The independence vote was able to paper over a crack that would soon become evident because it satisfied moderate Ukrainian nationalists without alarming ethnic Russians and Russian speakers.

But there were elements in the West looking to exploit divisions.

UKRAINE INDEPENDENCE 2

I suggest you find time to read this account of Ukrainian politics in the period of the October 2010 presidential (run-off) election and the 2012 parliamentary election. These saw victories for Russia-leaning Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions.

Though these elections also revealed that the ‘crack’ I just referred to had now become a chasm. Ukraine was divided. Geographically divided.

Click to open enlarged in separate tab

The ostensible trigger for the subsequent violence seems to have been President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign – or his delay in signing – an EU association agreement in November 2013.

The protests against Yanukovych soon began. With Western media focusing almost exclusively on anti-Yanukovych events in Kyiv, thereby creating the impression that the whole country was against the president.

This was obviously not true. Given that he had been democratically elected not long before there was widespread support for Yanukovych. But this support was mainly outside of Kyiv, and went largely unreported by the Western media.

Regime change was effected by the USA and NATO on February 22, 2014 when Viktor Yanukovych was forced to leave Ukraine.

This set in train a number of events, not least Russian military occupation of Crimea and the secession from Ukraine of territory in the east. Here’s a useful timeline for events in that period.

And there was violence elsewhere. In May 2014, dozens of Yanukovych supporters were killed in largely Russophone Odesa / Odessa by far right thugs, many of whom had travelled south as football fans.

Oliver Stone’s documentary, Ukraine on Fire, gives excellent insights into this period.

HUNTER BIDEN ON THE MAKE

In April 2014 Hunter Biden, the current US president’s younger son, joined the board of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest oil and gas company. This was at a time when Burisma and its founder Mykola Zlochevsky were under investigation for corruption in a number of jurisdictions. Including England.

Apart from being the son of the then vice-president it’s difficult to know what use Hunter Biden was to Burisma.

The younger Biden was trading on his father’s name to further enrich himself through companies in Russia and China.

Then, as the brown stuff started moving towards the fan with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin looking into Burisma, Biden Senior stepped in to protect his son by insisting that Shokin be sacked. Which he was, to be replaced by a man with no legal background.

The whole business stinks. There are even allegations that President Biden himself  benefitted financially from his son’s business dealings. Which would be fitting in a way, because Hunter Biden would have struggled to get a job as a janitor if he wasn’t his father’s son.

Knowledge of nefarious dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere was widespread before the 2020 US Presidential election, but all was confirmed with the emergence of Hunter Biden’s laptop.

UPDATE 14.04.2022: After reading this fascinating article by Azra Dale it’s only right that I suggest that Mykola Zlochevsky was a front man for Ihor Kolomoisky, who seems to have a penchant for using puppets. Among them the current president of Ukraine and the son of the US President.

HUNTER BIDEN’S LAPTOP 1

In April 2019 Hunter Biden left a laptop to be repaired in Wilmington, Delaware. He was said to be in an ‘inebriated’ state when he called at John Paul Mac Isaac’s repair shop. He never went back to collect the laptop.

Eventually Isaac investigated the laptop’s hard drive. He found incriminating e-mails relating to Hunter Biden’s business dealings that traded on his father’s name and influence, also videos of the younger Biden’s drug taking and cavorting with prostitutes.

The news of the laptop was broken by the New York Post in October 2020, weeks before the Presidential election. And was immediately and unanimously rejected by the liberal media, Big Tech, FBI and CIA as ‘Russian disinformation’.

Twitter took down accounts daring to link to the New York Post story. Twitter even locked the account of the New York Post itself. (Reminder: the NYP is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in America.)

This closing of ranks, this denial of the truth, put Joe Biden in the White House.

Today, with Biden’s presidency in tatters, the midterm elections already lost, the liberal media has decided the laptop story was true after all. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, they’re all admitting what’s been known for a long time – the Bidens may have more than a few skeletons in the closet.

And the worst may be yet to come. It’s claimed there’s 450 GB of deleted material. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are thought to be two other laptops (Hunter was a very careless boy); one is said to be safe with the FBI, but the other is believed to be in the hands of . . . Russian drug dealers with whom Hunter Biden partied!

HUNTER BIDEN’S LAPTOP 2

The message from the Hunter Biden laptop saga is one I am becoming increasingly familiar with. And it’s worrying.

The Woke left has persuaded itself that those ranged against it are evil. Not just wrong. Not just misinformed. But evil. That being so, then the Righteous are justified in saying and doing anything to combat this ‘evil’.

This took a new twist just this week when former Congressman Joe Walsh fabricated a statement about Ukraine and attributed it to Fox TV host Tucker Carlson, a bête noire of the left. This was relayed by thousands on Reddit, Twitter and other platforms.

When it was pointed out to Walsh that Carlson had not said what had been attributed to him, his response was, ‘No, but it’s the kind of thing he might have said’.

Thanks to the repackaged Marxism of identity politics we are in a post-reality world where ‘truth’ is whatever those who scream loudest say it is.

Which brings us back to Ukraine.

A PLEA FOR HONESTY

The USA, the EU, and NATO broke promises to Russia and made promises to Ukraine that Russia regarded as threats to her own security.

Then, to further promote Western interests, a democratically-elected leader was ousted in 2014 in yet another US-engineered regime change, with the muscle provided by, among others, Nazi militias, which now seem to be part of the Ukrainian army.

Fighters of an Azov unit with some of their flags. Is that the NATO flag on the left? Click to open enlarged in separate tab

This is what President Putin talks of when he refers to ‘denazification’. He’s not making it up.

And through their interference these Western agencies irreparably fractured an already divided country.

And further corrupted an already corrupt country. With the Biden family playing its role.

So let’s have no more black and white interpretations from Western politicians, no more propaganda masquerading as news from an already discredited Western media.

Let’s hear no more talk of every civilian casualty being a ‘war crime’, or even ‘genocide’! Because when a government arms its civilians those civilians risk being viewed as combatants. And please, let’s see fewer staged photographs using teddy bears.

To give a more balanced picture, let’s hear of the Russian PoWs being killed in cold blood. Let’s be told the role played by Ukrainian Nazis in Mariupol and other cities. And the ‘volunteers’ fighting for Ukraine.

As with Hunter Biden’s laptop, the truth will out eventually. Let’s make a start tomorrow.

GOOD v EVIL? WHICH IS WHICH?

The war in Ukraine is presented as a struggle between Western liberal democracy and something evil. The truth is more complicated.

We in the West are now surveiled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by CCTV, by our mobile phones, and by gizmos answering to stupid names like ‘Siri’ and ‘Alexa’.

What we are allowed to say online, what we are allowed to read, is determined by the brainwashed underlings of billionaire nerds in Silicon Valley. And their ‘fact-checkers’.

We are expected to line up like sheep to be injected with untested vaccines because of a virus developed under mysterious circumstances in a Chinese laboratory. Politicians like that demented woman in New Zealand have used this virus to put us all under house arrest and close down whole countries.

We must accept that women have penises and men have cervixes. To deny this will bring down the wrath of those who preach freedom and practise tyranny. Fanatics who have political support from Corruption Bay to the Oval Office.

We are being pushed towards a cashless society – ‘cos only crooks need cash, innit!’. The true motivation was revealed not so long ago by Pierre Trudeau’s little boy when he froze the bank accounts of those who dared oppose him.

Trudeau gives the game way. Click to open enlarged in separate tab

That was a warning in 300-feet-high flashing neon letters with an accompanying wall of sound.

Our children are being taught that they’re evil because they’re White. Leftists and liberals support this demonisation of a race oblivious to the historical precedents. Justified, they argue, because Whites are ‘privileged’.

The Nazis said the same thing about the Jews – ‘too much money, too much influence’. Hardly surprising that anti-Semitism is back in vogue with the Left and we see the Comrades marching in step with the Jihadists.

Because both wish to destroy Western civilisation. Partly through undermining from within, partly through unlimited immigration from without.

The reality is that never before have individual and national liberties been under such threat as they are today in the Western – particularly the Anglophone – world. Because never before have those seeking to take away our freedoms possessed such power.

If I was a Russian I’d do everything I could to keep my country free of this repacked-for-the-twenty-first-century Marxism.

Especially after hearing Joe Biden demand regime change in my country. Does Sleepy Joe think Russia is a banana republic in the Caribbean!

FINAL THOUGHTS, FEARS

I wish I hadn’t felt the need to write this, but I believe Russia has been forced into a conflict she would have preferred to avoid.

Due to its history, Russia is understandably suspicious of the West. And the West has lived down to Russia’s expectations time after time. But still, it needn’t have come to this . . .

Not if the USA and NATO had kept the promise made to Mikhail Gorbachev.

Not if the USA and NATO hadn’t removed a democratically-elected President of Ukraine.

Not if the USA and NATO hadn’t encouraged Nazis and gangsters in Ukraine.

My real worry now is that there are in the USA and NATO people not a lot different to those ridiculed by Kubrick in Dr Strangelove – maniacs wanting full-scale war with Russia.

I hope I’m wrong. Or, if I’m right, then I hope to God they can be slapped down.

P.S. I have been critical of the USA for a reason. That’s because I think the USA is still the greatest country on Earth, and the best hope for mankind.

But the USA is in a bad place right now. Liars, hypocrites, and the seriously unhinged are calling the shots. They increasingly control the government, the media, and the education system. Thankfully, decent people are fighting back.

That fightback must intensify and win its first major victory in November’s midterm elections. Because if the USA can’t be saved from itself then we’re all fucked.

♦ end ♦

 

© Royston Jones 2022


76 thoughts on “Ukraine: A Personal View

  1. Big Gee

    An excellent bit of accurate, historical research and analysis Jac.

    So good in fact that you got a mention in the G&O Show video cast in the latest Big Gee’s Blog post that got published today.

    For interested parties: click HERE

  2. David Robins

    US market zealotry is selective. Federal government ownership adds up to 27% of US land, including huge chunks of the west. This rises to 80% in Nevada, which is effectively a colony of Washington DC.

    Nebraska prides itself on a 100% publicly-owned electricity supply (co-operative, municipal, or state). It’s been that way since 1946. In “socialist” Wales, the market share is probably close to 0% and for over 20 years Western Power Distribution was (surprise, surprise) owned by a US company.

    Privatisation is for the US to talk about and others to do.

    1. David Smith

      Interesting piece of information. I suppose it’s further to my point about an enormous MIC being ‘freedom’ but universal healthcare being a step on the way to pogroms.

      1. David Robins

        Defence and healthcare are both argued to be about keeping people OK. One is a very traditional role for the State, the other is a newcomer. So, it’s always easier to resist, or roll back, the more recent innovations. Biological warfare though is an overlap.

    1. It’s an excellent piece. And worrying. The conclusion I came to is that USA / NATO is fighting a proxy war. And the more likely it looks that Ukraine will lose then the more likely it will be that USA / NATO will get directly involved.

      1. Daiiroko

        Jac.
        I have found your current ‘Ukraine’ article marginally surprising and ‘disappointedly’ very disturbing!
        There is no denying your opening discourse demonstrates your outstanding investigative powers, with its introductory disclaimer! And then, the avalanche (70+) of ‘supportive posts’ (equally researched) from your small group of fawning disciples! A group that really owe you for the opportunity to express their equally ditsorted interprations of the current ‘scene’.
        I think it not unreasonable to conclude that the central message/theme of both, of the current Ukraine ‘problem’ originates/is the responsibility of the USA/NATO…..Incredible!
        Reading your/their contributions I was left concluding that your claim to be a CYNIC was a frontline understatement. I would say a SICK, SAD HUMANOID.
        The pages of both components of the article virtually ignores completely the carnage, genocide that is currently real life in Ukraine. The total and complete responsibility of the Russian War Machine.
        That your ‘UKRAINE’ article can ignore the misery of millions of Ukrainians for you to articulate your sick ‘cynical’ personal view on life is a nauseating public disgrace.
        Your Retirement (enjoy) might restore some dignity to your efforts as a thoughtful but sick humanoid.!
        Peace and light……from Alltwen.

        1. You used the word “genocide”, so I won’t bother replying. Though I will give this advice – stop believing the BBC.

    2. Brychan

      That article states that “there were never any Russian troops in the Donbass before 23-24 February 2022.” This is clearly not true. There was extensive ‘special forces’ of Russian military in Donbas., critically subverting any native route to autonomy. This was clearly demonstrated with the shooting down of civil airliner MH17.

      Three Russians did it, Igor Girkin (colonel FSB), Sergei Dubinsky (military intelligence officer) and Oleg Pulatov (lieutenant colonel) along with a Ukrainian, Leonid Kharchenko.

      The Buk missile system used had been delivered from Russia in the preceding weeks. The evidence provided to the court in the Netherlands (from where the flight had originated) were from ‘wire taps’ and captured witnesses of these four individuals admitting to the action and their safe haven status in Russia.

      Debate can be made about whether MH17 was the target rather than Ukraine military planes, but these Russian special forces were definitely present and embedded in Donbas on Ukraine territory at the time, in 2014, operating military equipment delivered from Russia.

  3. Thank you so much Jac for sharing your personal view on the highly toxic situation in Ukraine with it’s past and current very complicated reality, most of which has been and is being buried by the legacy media.

    In one of my blogs, I compiled a number of videos and articles regarding Zelensky and Hunter Biden’s common connection to Ukrainian+ oligarch Ihor (Igor) Kolomoysky who has had his dirty paws in all sorts of dodgy things including Burisma and funding the Nazi Azov Battalion: “What do Volodymyr Zelensky and Hunter Biden have in common?” https://bit.ly/3NZ00NV

    With regard to the devastating MH17 disaster, I came across this most interesting and disturbing short clip of Kolomoysky being asked about it: “Sorry about the MH17 – but it is a trifle” https://bit.ly/3JrmqnF

        1. David Lloyd

          I’m
          Organising a get together next year for people from that time if yr interested let me know best wishes David Lloyd

    1. Azra, I’m sorry to have been so tardy in acknowledging your contribution; now that I’ve read it, I’m stunned. I shall update the blog to reference Kolomosky.

      That there is so much that must remain hidden probably explains the wall of propaganda we’ve been subjected to since hostilities began. But this dam can’t hold forever, the cracks are already appearing.

      If I was Hunter Biden I’d be getting worried about ‘suicide’, or possibly an ‘accident’. Because that boy is a ticking timebomb with the potential to destroy so many.

  4. David Smith

    What is the endgame of this putative anti-Western leftist overthrow/reshaping of society then? I get that they tend to be pro-Muslim but I always took that to be in reaction to them being perceived as a persecuted minority in response to sentiment and commentary on the right, from the Daily Mail to the EDL. Or perhaps even something more simplistic along the lines of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and drawing a line in the sand with scant regard for how incompatible tenets of Islamic culture are with their own liberal worldview.

    American big tech walks a very bizarre line between cultivating an image of California college campus-esque, hipsterish, SJW-ey, ‘progressive’ ethos, and the reality of existing as enormous and ruthless corporations which get all their kit manufactured in China, that shining beacon of liberalism. Had to laugh at the reference to Silicon Valley nerds though!

  5. How can the USA be the greatest country in the world when almost everything about its culture is derivative, and its very national ethos is one of rank hypocrisy? ‘Freedom’ and ‘All men being created equal’ are the rallying cries, yet the country was founded and expanded by genocide and built by slavery in its formative years.

    1. US culture is bound to be ‘derivative’ to some extent given that the country was a ‘melting-pot’. But I see it more as a synthesis of various inputs. Let’s look at music.

      The USA – specifically, the South – has given us Jazz, Country, Blues, Rock and Roll. to which we could add any number of sub genres like Modern Jazz, Bluegrass, Delta Blues, Heavy Metal. These are all native to the USA but have been adopted globally. That’s some contribution.

      As for the other point, this could apply to almost every country on earth. (And it’s never been a simplistic ‘evil White man’ thing.) Because most countries we know today had a pre-exiting population and culture. For example, England was Celtic, Romano-Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, English. How did the Han Chinese spread? Why is the Arabic language so widely dispersed today?

      1. David Smith

        I am a big consumer of a lot of their output in entertainment but as far as architecture and cultural richness it’s light years behind most any European country. Also I know of no other country on earth that’s as boastful and hypocritical at once. Not just with regard to its past, (and yes I’m well aware these things are never black and white, for want of a better term) but how about a trillion dollar military industrial complex being seen as ‘freedom’ but nationalised healthcare being seen as ‘communism’ and therefore wicked? Their zealotry when it comes to free markets and deregulation. Their pathetic fetishisation of firearms. And don’t forget how many anti-government nutters there exist there, armed to the teeth. How about the hounding of communist sympathisers? Surely personal freedom means freedom of belief; the irony of that Mccarthyite business was the anti-commies were acting more like commies themselves!

  6. DP

    And who is benefiting the most from this conflict? The USA has exempted itself from many of the sanctions on the basis that they are essential supplies, still buying oil and fertiliser etc. On the other hand we and EU are signing up to LNG gas from the USA [usually 20 year deals] and more weapons. Germany now committed to spending more on defence [but not when the Donald told them to]. As a result of the now increased energy cost to Germany and industrial competitor to the USA [and China] gets pushed down or removed. Plenty there for a conspiracy theory – was Joe working for China?.
    When the wheat gets short who will be filling the gap – the USA, as they did under Reagan when there was a wheat deficit in the soviet union. Let the Ruskies and Ukies fight the war, as they were encouraged to do by the USA and then reap the profits without putting any US troops on the ground. The lesson learned from Iraq and other conflicts.
    I can well see our dozy civil servants helping things along for the USA as they did in 1939 when they handed over our assets and military bases to the USA for scrap/junk destroyers and ships and for helping out in Iraq Toxic Blair and his advisers failed to secure any oil concessions for BP & Shell, they went to US companies and even the French!.
    Just some thoughts.

    1. I appreciate your comments.

      This is actually quite a good exposé of Hunter’s tangled web of business deals with the Chinese government and elite, thanks to Daddy dearest: “RIDING THE DRAGON: The Bidens’ Chinese Secrets” interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRmlcEBAiIs

      With regard to wheat, Canada is also one of the world’s great “bread baskets.”
      22 March 2022: “Biden: ‘We the United States are gonna do our part. We’re the third largest producer of wheat in the world and our Canadian friends are going to do the same.’ the United Nations’ World Food Program has warned that the situation is becoming ‘catastrophic’ with a high risk of famine in parts of the Middle East and Africa.” https://marketnews.com/biden-canada-and-us-to-fill-wheat-supply-shortage

      1. Brychan

        Total dribble, Azra. France (winter crop possible) is a bigger wheat producer than Canada.

        India produces twice as much wheat as the United States but due to size of the population it is internally consumed. The EU is self-sufficient in grain production. I think you are referring to exports, mainly to the middle east, previously dependent on imports from Ukraine, and the US exports to ‘plug the gap’.

        The situation in Africa is that of post-colonialism. Maize as a staple is more suited to their native agriculture. The European powers subdued Africa using wheat, now it is China who is using that tap of coercion.

        1. How much wheat you produce is irrelevant. What’s important is how much wheat you produce in excess of your own needs (ie available for export)

    1. Yes, you have a problem with Marxism advancing behind a Woke camouflage, but I remain optimistic because more and more people can see the evil for what it is.

      Men allowed to compete in women’s sport is absolute nonsense. And most people would agree with that statement – if they’re given the chance to speak. The major problem is that these deviant lunatics have captured the Democratic Party, with legacy media and Big Tech supporting the Democrats.

      The sheer biological and social absurdity of ‘Women with penises’ will be it’s undoing. Stay strong.

    1. I’m not sure there is a parallel to be drawn. The border between Wales and England is centuries old and unchallenged except by a few oddballs.

    2. Chopper Harley

      Here is a thought, should southern Pembrokeshire be in England ?

      Or what might happen should they declare themselves an independent republic with support and the backing of Simon Hart ?

  7. Chopper Harley

    I think your representation of recent events in Ukraine is somewhat lacking due to the omission of the Tymoshenko affair and the part played in those events by Yanukovych. Also, while you have briefly mentioned the backtracking of Yanukovych with respect to the EU Associate agreement, which I think I am right to say had broad popular support from the Ukrainian people. You also fail to explore the possibility that the failure to move forward and ratify that agreement may have been the direct result of Putin and Russian state interference in the democratic affairs of an independent Ukraine, don’t forget Yanukovych was nominated by the oligarchs of the Donetsk region for the presidency and was nothing more than a Kremlin puppet who commanded less than 50% of the popular vote in the 2010 elections when there were widespread allegations of vote rigging. Not to mention the Viktor Yushchenko affair, which had all the hallmarks of Russian FSB / GRU methods, and which would constitute another attempt to meddle in the affairs of Ukraine.

    While I am in full agreement with you regarding American foreign policy. Which ever since 1945 has caused more problems than it has solved, painting a picture of a benign Russia bravely standing up to the expansive west seems to be something of a stretch to say the least. For me, this more about Putin and his entourage attempting to solve the Ukrainian question once and for all.

    1. I take it you’re referring to the ‘poisoning’ of Tymoshenko. As poisonings go, the Borgias would have been very disappointed with such an amateurish attempt.

      It’s all very well pointing out who might have funded Yanukovych, and his sympathies for Russia (which I state), but the facts remain:

      1/ He was democratically elected.

      2/ He was removed by some pretty unpleasant actors in a US-orchestrated regime change.

      1. Brychan

        He lost in 2004, but won in 2010, by which time he was running on a join EU ticket. The unpleasntness after was due to him reneging on that, and it didn’t help that he fled to country to Russia.

        1. I’m not sure he actually reneged, but he certainly dragged his feet, mainly because there was an alternative offer on the table from Russia.

          Either way, he was still the elected head of state removed in a coup by some very nasty people, and with the assistance and full support of the USA, EU and NATO. This problem didn’t just blown up a few weeks ago. The West has been trying turn Ukraine against Russia since independence. The objective is to encircle Russia.

          If you were a Russian, how would you view it?

          1. Brychan

            The view of a Russian is very much misrepresented in the western media. They keep claiming that support for Putin very high, now up to 80% since the start of the invasion. The most in depth opinion poll does find that conclusion. But what they don’t say is 75% of those polled declined to answer. Most Russians are afraid, either to answer or an the anxiety of the situation.

            I know what that is.
            We have that in Wales.

            It is the dim ateb when canvassing for Plaid Cymru. Proud on your country and supportive of independence, but ashamed of the party/leadership. The preference not to betray. It’s an expression of shame. Talking to people you get a feeling for it. I suspect your average Russian is the same in this matter.

      2. Chopper Harley

        Yes Yanukovych was elected but so too was Putin, not once but on several occasions. As I previously suggested his victory was highly suspect, at the time Ukraine suffered from many of the same issues that have blighted Russia for the past two decades. How confident are you in the process which has continually returned Putin to power ?

        No, Tymoshenko was not poisoned, she, for all her many failings, was subjected to a prolonged smear campaign orchestrated by the Russian secret services and enacted by their enablers within the Ukrainian state at that time. The 2014 regime change In Ukraine came about for one reason and one reason alone, the majority of people in Ukraine wanted change, they wanted self-determination, and they wanted to move away from the stagnation of oppresive-repressive Soviet / Russian control. Were the Americans pleased this happened, sure they were, but you over emphasise their involvement and influence I feel.

        While Tymoshenko was smeared and discredited by the Ukrainian state, including the judiciary, which had been infiltrated by Putin and his Secret Service people.Viktor Yushchenko was the person who was poisoned after his election victory in 2014 in what was widely regarded as the most transparent presidential election in Ukraine for many, many years. Yushchenko understood the wide-ranging benefits that Ukraine would derive from being in the EU central market and divorced from the corruption that had blighted Ukrainian politics and the Ukrainian economy going back as far as Soviet times. The Kremlin were determined to prevent Yuschenko remaining in power and so moving Ukraine ever closer to the EU. Yes, the attempt to remove Viktor Yushchenko was amateurish, so was the attempt to poison Alexander Litvinenko, and again the botched attempt to murder the Skripals and again with Navalny. The first Chechen war was a failure, the current war in Ukraine is not going to plan. Clearly, under Putin’s kleptocracy and the heightened corruption it has enabled, the Russian state at all levels appears to have become very amateurish. A glaring example was the recent disconnect between Lavrov and Peskov and the conflicting statements they released to the press.

        For what it is worth, I tend to agree with the theory that some political academics have suggested. Putin and his inner circle fear Ukraine joining the European Union far more than they fear Ukraine joining Nato or American troops and missiles being stationed in Europe.

        1. No one has ever come forward with convincing evidence that Putin’s victories owe anything to rigged elections. Same goes for another monster of the Western left, Orban. Then there’s that bloke in Poland that Macron today called a ‘far right anti-Semite’.

          In this respect, Western left liberals are almost racist. Because while they’re perfectly willing to accept despots and mass murderers of other races they seem to believe that all White people should agree with them, or meet their standards. It’s almost saying, ‘We expect less of lesser races’.

          As for the theory that Putin fears Ukraine joining the EU more than he fears it joining NATO, I would respond by saying they’re inseparable. EU membership is often the reward for joining NATO. And seeing as NATO is US controlled, that’s why I had no qualms about linking the three in this piece.

          1. Gruff Williams

            “We expect less of lesser races.” This is bang on the nail. If a Western country were to come up with a belief system like Islam incorporating misogyny, death for homosexuals and apostates etc etc, the left would go ballistic. But as this heinious cult is practiced overwhelmingly by non white people it remains beyond criticism. Now that is true racism.

        2. And of course, if Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential election then the left will become apoplectic. (Please, God!)

  8. Dafis

    I agree with you. Forget the “good vs evil” “black vs white” depiction churned out by UK and globalist MSM. Much of the roots of this conflict, or possibly these conflicts, lies back in the break up of the Soviet Union. The most successful people to emerge from that collapse were a mixed bag of politicians, military and intelligence services goons who were able to tap into black funds from the West and anywhere else where there was spare cash ( like the wider oil rich Islamic states). Eventually after much jockeying for position and the odd throat being cut the remaining hoods in top positions in Russia were able to turn the tables on their financiers in so far as the power relationship was reversed. The situation in Ukraine was less resolved but definitely a bunch of hoods, a smattering of politicians some holding very deep seated ethnicity grudges, and backed by an assortment of straight and seriously bent Western financiers looking to tap into the country’s latent wealth. To varying degrees the same applied to Poland, Hungary and other former Warsaw Pact states

    Am I being unkind in concluding that it’s one bunch of cnuts falling out with another, with all sorts of dodgy backers lurking in the background ?

    1. At the risk of sounding unkind, we are dealing with a vast region where who you know, and how much money you’ve got for them brown envelopes, has invariably trumped democracy.

      Every country of eastern Europe has lost territory, and seen its borders change, in the past century. That’s beside the ravages of war and massive numbers of casualties. To the point where more than anything else, people want safety, security. And that will often mean supporting a strongman, even an absolute bastard, who will then be despised by Western liberals. Not just because he’s a bit of a bastard, but because he refuses to do the West’s bidding.

      This is one reason why Putin infuriates the West – he remains popular with his own people.

      A recent example of divergence twixt east and west was the refugee crisis of 2015/2016. Germany threw open the doors to anybody claiming to be a ‘refugee’. Most of those arriving were young men looking for financial hand-outs and easy sex. And as we saw with the events of New Year’s Eve 2016, most of them were from North Africa, not the Middle East. Yet despite Merkel’s pleading, Hungary, Poland and other countries to the east refused to accept ‘refugees’ that Germany had invited expecting other countries to share the load. ‘You invited them, love, you look after them!’

      Having mentioned Hungary, old Vik Orban is another who really pisses off the hand-wringers. They call him everything – but he keeps getting elected in fair elections. (Cos if they weren’t fair, we’d know about it.) But a cursory glance at Hungarian history will explain a lot. There are Hungarian minorities in all the neighbouring countries because Hungary lost so much territory after WWI. That will leave its mark on the national psyche.

      On the plus side, Hungary is homogenous . . . and wants to stay that way. Maybe this is what pisses off the permanently anxious. Bastards!

  9. Yann Maenden

    I’m not sure your anecdote about Afghanistan proves anything. It’s been the graveyard of many imperial adventures over the centuries.
    Only last September General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that the US effectively lost the 20-year war in Afghanistan. A war which had cost them an estimated 2.3 trillion dollars and 2000 lives.
    And during the ‘Retreat from Kabul’ in 1842 an entire British army of around 16,000 troops and civilians was annihilated. So it’s not the easiest of places to invade.

    NATO expansionism is driven by the USA’s desire to exert power in Europe. The rise of the Euro currency to challenge the once invincible petro-Dollar was the writing on the wall for the US. The EU has a population (447 million), far bigger than the USA (330 million) and three times that of Russia (150 million).
    The EU also has a GDP equivalent to the USA and far bigger than Russia.
    That’s just the EU, not the whole of Europe. Europe therefore has little to fear from Russia and doesn’t need the USA to protect it.

    This is why the US has constantly tried to undermine the NORD2 gas pipeline. All that cheap gas flooding into Europe makes US industry uncompetitive and removes the need for expensive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from America.
    The US also interfered in a submarine sale between Australia and France ( which lost Oz $5.5 billion) and tried to stop France selling warships to Greece. NATO was crumbling.

    That was until the current crisis. Biden has proudly announced that NATO is now much more united and has tried to force Germany into buying 35 Lockheed F-35 fighter jets in exchange for the right to buy LNG.
    The reasons behind this war are far more complex than the ‘Mad Vlad’ headlines in the English press.

    1. My reference to Afghanistan was simply background information, setting the scene.

      A further consideration that I had thought of including is that the USA may feel the time is ripe to finally ‘deal with’ Russia because the real and future enemy is obviously China.

      1. Brychan

        Oil and Gas are the only commodities which are traded on a global scale and Russia sits on a trump card in these matters. The reason why such a small economy manages to creep along despite punitive sanctions. It was a thought that occurred to me yesterday driving the M4 at Sarn. They have been cutting some vegetation on the cutting near Pencoed and exposed the strata, and a seam of ‘pink coal’. That is the Red Vein, all six foot six of it. I used to mine that in my youth, near Tonyrefail. No matter what happens, Russia or South Wales, if it’s left underground, it will always still be there. Mine it now or bank it for the future.

  10. Dr Jonathan F Dean

    You missed the first republic in 1917 after Germany won the war on the eastern front, which didn’t last long before the communists took over

    And the Ukrainian SS divisions in WWII fighting the communists

    And of course western Ukraine was Poland between WWI and WWII

    Not a criticism, but it’s a very complex issue

    1. There was a Ukrainian community in Swansea. For a while there was even a Ukrainian drinking club in Morriston. A mate of a mine married the daughter of one of the regulars.

      I used to encounter members of the local Ukrainian community in the Three Lamps on Castle Gardens, in the upstairs bar on a Saturday night. I was in my late teens and knew little of the politics and the history, but they used to sing interesting songs, some of which had a strong German lilt to them. Of course, after WWII there was no hope of them going back to Ukraine.

      But then, if you’d survived the Famine I suppose you might have regarded the Nazis as liberators.

      As you say, it’s very complex. Which is why I tried to focus on recent decades, since the collapse of the USSR, to explain why we are where we are.

      1. Since after the First World War things went back to relative normality quite quickly over here, most people are ignorant of the convulsions which went on in eastern Europe well into the 1920s. I only recently (a year or two ago) became aware of the Polish-Soviet war of 1918-1921.

        The beginnings of it were so complex that it’s hard to work out who started it, even, but essentially the Soviets wanted to obliterate newly-independent Poland and march westwards to impose Communism on beleaguered post-War Germany; and the Poles wanted to see an independent Ukraine (and ideally, Belarus as well) to be a buffer between them and Russia.

        The front moved back and forth between the suburbs of Warsaw and well to the east of Kiev, and at least 100,000 people were killed, but eventually a treaty was agreed with most of Ukraine still part of the USSR and Poland occupying what’s now the west of the country. That’s the part of the world that my wife’s family hail from – Polish-speaking people with a Ukrainian surname, who lived just outside L’viv and came to Britain as refugees during WWII.

        Prior to that, L’viv (or L’wow) was a Polish-speaking city (with a population ~60% Polish and 40% Jewish) surrounded by a mainly Ukrainian-speaking countryside, in much the same way as Brussels today is a French-speaking city surrounded by Flemish-speaking countryside. After the war almost the entire population of the city was exiled.

        There has occasionally been bad blood between the Poles and Ukrainians over the years, but no-one can fault Poland’s role in both supplying Ukraine and taking in refugees during this war. Clearly the Poles would rather have a stable independent Ukraine on their border than having Russia there; and that seems much more likely to be the outcome this time around than it was in 1921.

        1. While in Germany itself there were the Freikorps and other groups determined to defend the eastern border. Due to the threat of moving borders and displaced populations. Something Germany itself suffered after WWII. What happened to the German populations of East Prussia, the Sudetenland and elsewhere? Who remembers the Volga Germans?

          In considering the Polish-Soviet war we must remember that the Revolution was not supposed to happen in Russia because the country was too backward. When Marx was doing his writing he had in mind the advanced industrial economies of central and western Europe. The Russian Revolution(s) were both a shock and a disappointment to many of his followers.

          1. Dafis

            A good time perhaps to reflect on all that turbulence with much of it happening between 1914 and 1939 with some unfinished business to this day. It was during that period that Ireland took its freedom, nobody gave it to them, and settled for an incomplete solution, 26 counties and Dominion status, but at least a good arm’s length from a tired and bruised Great Britain and its Empire. Catalonia might have broken free had it not been the case that both sides of the Spanish Civil War were hostile to the idea. Wales ? Our forefathers did next to nothing, either content with subordinate status or afraid of the Empire’s ability to deploy a massive armed force.

            Today I see Welsh Nats drawing comparisons between Ukraine’s relationship with a resurgent Russia and Wales’ relationship with the AngloBrit UK. Maybe that justifies supporting “little” Ukraine, but there is merit too in seeing the relationship between Donetsk and Luhansk, recently self declared independent, and Ukraine as being more akin to ours with our eastern neighbour. Black and white ? not really, just loads of grey and really depressing.

            1. The fact that so many ‘nationalists’ here identify with Ukraine, almost instinctively, is one reason I wrote this piece. We’ve been here so many times, from Biafra onwards.

              What’s been consistent through the decades is a) ignorance of the situation; b) side-taking greatly influenced by the ideological position of the observer.

              1. Dafis

                “…..a) ignorance and b) side-taking greatly influenced by the ideological position of the observer. ”

                Now that sounds like a tailor made profile for a confused wokey jerk !
                What really confuses the wokish cult in this conflict is the almost complete absence of a modern lifestyle leftie dimension. All the parties, Ukrainian and Russian, fit a “right wing” template which is probably why the BBC in its wisdom contrived to drop a few Afros in among the refugees fleeing to the west. Shame that the fleeing piccaninies denounced the Ukrainians as “racist Nazis” for telling them to fuck off and make their own way out of there. Didn’t fit very well with a narrative the Beeboids were trying their level best to construct ! And that’s just the tip of the bias mountain in the media here.

          2. Yes, I remember being taught that about Marx in school; the Revolution was always meant to take place in Germany first.

            As for the Germans of eastern Europe, it’s well worth reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s account of his travels in the region in the early 30s. There were German settlements scattered throughout the newly-independent countries of the region between the wars, and even Turkish ones here and there the further south you went.

            After the War these Germans were almost all resettled back in Germany, along with the East Prussians, whilst the parts of East Prussia vacated by the Germans were settled by the Poles who’d been expelled from Western Ukraine. It’s hard to imagine.

            1. A pre-condition of a Communist revolution is the existence of an industrial proletariat. That said, the fact that it happened in Russia meant that it could happen anywhere.

            2. Dafis

              It’s a hefty shuffle of the old ethnic deck, moving the tribes around to suit the new vision as laid down by victors. Except victories don’t last for ever and eventually people want to return to wherever they were happiest. Bit like the Brits and Frogs hoping to carve up the Middle East after WW1, attempting to ensure that sundry tribes would accept the white man’s word without question. Of course the shifty old Arabs wouldn’t have any of it hence the continuing niggles about the existence of Israel and all those fake straight line borders without regard to tribal/sectarian boundaries.

              1. Africa is an even bigger disaster of peoples divided and others lumped together, with all the suffering we’ve seen since the ’60s.

                1. Dafis

                  Sometime over last 2-3 years I read a serious report by some journo who couldn’t understand why the Islamist extremist movements in sub Saharan West Africa were moving around freely across several borders. Silly ass chose not to remember that all those straight lines on maps dividing likes of Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania were the result of European land grabbing Empire builders dividing up the spoils and paid no heed to any kind of local patterns of ethnicities, cultures, religions etc. That practice was particularly rife in those territories further inland.

                  1. David Smith

                    Look at the federal state boundaries in other colonially-established, ‘new’ countries like the States, Canada or Australia too, often following straight lines of latitude or longitude, or the course of a river.

                    1. Utah and Colorado are unlikely to go to war. Sane applies to South Australia and Western Australia.

                    2. Jac your CSS or whatever won’t let me reply past a certain level of nesting, so replying here. Yes, of course, I was just commenting on how post-colonial boundaries tend to follow this pattern all over the world.

          3. Brychan

            Often overlooked, there is of course the Russian enclave of Königsberg/Kaliningrad. Historically that of east Prussia and the imperial German empire. It is a remnant on the eastern ‘carve-up’ at the end of WW2. The only Baltic port in Russia that remains ice free. It is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland. It will be significant if conflict escalate to the Baltic, a thorn for Sweden and Finland and their Nato status, and technically Russia can fortify this enclave, both short range missiles, airbase and Naval presence. I’m sure those Typhoons and F21s which plague Machynlleth, now in Estonia, will not have gone unnoticed.

  11. Brychan

    The native and linguistic heritage of Crimea is neither Ukrainian nor Russian. It is that of the Tartars. These are an Asiatic people which pre-date Christianity, but they natively adopted Islam in the 11th century. It was an independent Crimean Khanate. The absorbing of Crimea into the Ottoman empire was not born of invasion but economic leverage and based on the (white) slave trade, treated in the same way as Armenia. It was only ‘Russified’, firstly by the expansion of the Tzarist Russian empire (interrupted with a short tussle with the British empire) and then by the mass deportation and ethnic cleansing in the Soviet Union under Stalin. It is neither Ukrainian nor Russian. A bit like Wales. Not EU nor English. An ancient, linguistically distinct, and often abused people of a peninsular surrounded by sea. Independence for Crimea would be like the Singapore of the west.

    1. Crimea under the Tatars was also a staging-post for Russian and Ukrainian slaves being shipped to Istanbul. That had to be stopped.

      1. What to say about the current war in Ukraine, in many ways it has the characteristics of a Civil war or even as a continuation of the Second World War.

        Russian and Ukrainian are part of a language continuum with villagers always being able to understand the language of their neighbours but with mutual unintelligibility between folk at either end of the continuum. This is quite different from the situation between Dutch and French in Belgium or historically between Welsh and English, where near neighbours spoke wholly different languages.

        The real divide is religious and historical not linguistic, Western Ukraine only became part of the Soviet Union in 1945, previously it was part of the Austria Hungarian Empire and then after the First World War as part of Poland, culminating in particularly bloody inter-ethnic slaughtering. It would be crazy for Russia to occupy these Uniate non-Orthodox lands, let them be gifted to the EU.

        Where there is a similarity with South Wales at least is in the Donbas, both being industrial areas which attracted people from all over and ended up speaking the state language. The difference being that whereas South Wales is the most Welsh identifying area of Wales, the Donbas is the least Ukrainian identifying part of Ukraine. The reasons for this are the anti-Russian language policies of various Ukrainian governments and the identification of Ukrainian nationalism with Naziďom.

        Ukraine is sometimes pictured as a small country, this is far from the truth, it also has a large Nato trained and equiped army. Defeating such a force is no easy task, not least because elements close to Putin are somewhat limited in their ambitions. The fact that Peskov appeared on Sky TV wearing a blue shirt and a yellow tie did not go unnoticed on Russian social media. Putin has never been the dictator pictured in the West, rather he is like the chairman of a particularly disputatious parish Council trying to balance various factions. If he accepts a limited peace he won’t last long.

        Regarding the Crimea, this is a non issue. The Tatars haven’t been a majority since Victorian times and in any case the peninsula was part of the Orthodox Byzantine empire for a thousand years, if we want to base claims on historical precedence. As an aside there is evidence that Anglo-Saxons settled on the Black Sea coast after 1066 ….. perhaps the English should claim it.

      2. Neil Singleton

        I was asked to visit Ukraine in 2004, just before the so called Orange Revolution. The Foreign Office funded visit was in response to a request from the Donbas Regional Government, which was keen to understand how Wales had recovered so well (sic) following the closure of it’s coal mines and steelworks. After the Russians has left in 1992, taking everything they could with them (including the railway lines) the economy of the Donbas Region in Eastern Ukraine, tanked. Mines, steelworks, foundries and pretty much all other manufacturing industries were wiped out. Skilled former production workers and their families were reduced to living in garden sheds and trying to grow vegetables to feed themselves on little patches of ground surrounding their “dwellings”. The people were all Russian speaking and yearned for the return of communism. The wages were paltry BUT there was 100% employment. Their kids had crèches and schools and there were vast greenhouses in which food was grown and sold to the factory workers at state subsidised cost. The state looked after everyone, not a very pleasant lifestyle, but certainly better than what the citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk had endured since 1992. The young people were desperate to learn English, especially the girls, so that they could emigrate to the West and find American or British sugar daddies to look after them. Meanwhile, westernised Kiev and the west of Ukraine prospered with it’s 5 star hotels, McDonalds, KFC’s etc. and regarded the Russian speaking Donbas as “bandit country.” So the recipe for unrest in Ukraine has been evident since 1992, but could, and should, have been resolved by negotiation WITHIN Ukraine and without the inflammatory input of the USA, EU and NATO.

          1. Brychan

            Whilst Ukraine and the West have screwed things up in Donbas, the Russians have also played their part. It is a longstanding foreign policy of Russia to destabilise such regions as a ‘defensive’ boundary of Russia proper, either by creating economic deserts or puppet states. This can be seen most recently in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Moldova, and in previous incarnations, Afghanistan, Vyborg and more historically the basis of the Molotov–Ribbentrop treaty and prior to that Brest-Litovsk treaty. It is the Russian state culture of ‘spheres of influence’. Putin sees the world in this way. An inheritance of the days of the ‘great powers’. A classic example of this is also the British State. It’s why there’s the ‘commonwealth’.

            1. All great powers expect a ‘sphere of influence’, nothing odd in that. But what you overlook is the USA / NATO / EU interfering in countries on Russia’s doorstep, which Russia is never going to allow. From a Russian perspective such behaviour will always be viewed as provocative.

              Just as the USA viewed Soviet missiles in Cuba.

              Let’s look at Georgia where, Shevardnadze was forced out in the ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003 led by Mikhail Saakashvili. An interesting character, Saakashvili. Speaks fluent English from his time working for a NY law firm. And he has many powerful friends in the US. After he himself got the heave-ho from Georgia he ended up in post-coup Ukraine, took out Ukrainian citizenship, and was made $200,000 a year governor of the Odessa / Odesa oblast.

              He was stripped of Ukrainian citizenship, but it was restored when Zelensky came to power in 2019. Saakashvili – always an arrogant bugger – returned to Georgia some time late last year demanding his supporters rise up. He was instead banged up, has gone on intermittent hunger strikes, and his liberty will no doubt be quietly bought by his Western backers.

              1. Brychan

                Important to distinguish between the collective will of a country and the individuals elevated by them.

                Boris Johnson was born in New York, Adam Price was educated in Boston, your own MP, Liz Savelle Roberts is from London. I have no doubt that the collective will of the Baltic States and the other ‘new’ states of the EU was the collective will of the people, and not from leverage from external powers, nor from the kind of flotsam like Saakashvili who rose out of quagmire in Georgia.

                Cuba is interesting, because it’s not about Cuba. That was the US ‘sphere of influence on Latin America. Castro was no communist and Guevara was from Argentina (via Bolivia). The closest nukes to the US were not Cuba, it was as it is today. It is eastern Siberia at Chukotka. All that was posture and chest bashing. Note – A recent appointed governor of Chukotka was Roman Abramovich.

                The key to ‘spheres of influence’ is that it subverts democracy and when a propogandist is a dictator tensions becomes wars. This is not new. It may well be the case that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be a new Vietnam. Remember ‘domino theory’? The reality is it’s an issue of self-determination, regardless of the fake prowess of Russia.

                1. I don’t doubt that a majority of the populations of the Baltic States may have wanted to join NATO. But no vote would have been overwhelming given the Russian minorities in those countries and the indigenes who either appreciated the risks or else were old-style Communists with a lingering affection for Russia.

                  The other thing to remember with the Baltic States joining NATO is that it was the necessary precursor to becoming a member of the European Union, with all the funding that resulted from EU membership. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO 29 March, 2004; joined EU 01 May, 2004.

                  Maybe the real question should be: ‘How eager to join NATO would the Baltic States have been if they hadn’t also been promised EU membership?

                  A supplementary question: ‘Has Ukraine been offered the same deal?’

                  P.S. Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO and EU on the same dates. Romania joined NATO on the same date as the others but had to wait until January 1, 2007, before being accepted into the EU.

                  1. Brychan

                    All states had a referendum on EU membership. Estonia on 14 September 2003. Lativa on 20 September 2003. Lithuania on 11 May 2003. This pre-dates Nato membership who didn’t join Nato until 2004. It is not compulsory or conditional. Ireland, Finland and Sweden are EU members but not in Nato. The recent claim that they were concurrent by date or by condition was recently invented in Russia. It is false.

                    1. There is a definite correlation – where relatively poor east European countries are concerned – between NATO membership and EU membership. EU membership is the ‘sweetener’ for joining NATO. You mention Ireland, Sweden and Finland. So let’s consider these.

                      Ireland was neutral in WWII and remains neutral today. Sweden is traditionally neutral, which is why there was no German occupation in WWII. If Finland didn’t join NATO when next to the USSR why join NATO after the Soviet Union collapsed?

                      That Finland’s considering it now is due to the machinations I’ve described in my blog – not because Russia is threatening Finland.

                    2. Brychan

                      Reason why Ireland was neutral in WW2 was because Britain had a trade embargo on the Free State when war was declared. It was Russia who invented the ‘concept of sphere of influence’ in the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact with the Nazis. Russia claimed Finland in their sphere and invaded Finland. Finland won that war. Russia also invaded eastern Poland when Germany invaded western Poland. Sphere of Influence was invented by Russia and it is revived today, by Putin. He applies is to Ukraine.

                    3. I think the concept of sphere of influence goes way back, to long before the Soviet Union. It probably accounts for the Battle of Kadesh, fought in 1274 BC between the Egyptians under Rameses II and the Hittites, from Anatolia. Each felt this border territory in the Levant lay in their sphere of influence.

                      All powers and empires since have demanded a sphere of influence, usually beyond the territory directly ruled. This came in many forms: tribute, supply of raw materials, hostages, manpower, support in time of war. In Rome it was done by swearing to be a ‘Friend of the Roman People’. When Hamilcar Barca took his young son, Hannibal, into the temple of Ba’al in what is now Andalusia he made him swear never to let Carthage adopt this status.

                      Later, pro-Roman writers, twisted this into a fable about Hamilcar demanding his son promise to always hate Rome. An early example of fake news!

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