The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

A Few Words on the Ukraine

As you’ve probably heard, the protestors have taken control of Kiev, the police have been defeated (literally), parliament has impeached President Yanukovych.  This followed the seize of arms depots and weapons, by the way, this was not won peacefully.  The former President, Tymoshenko, has been released from prison.

Meanwhile in the city of Kharkhov in the East, what looks like the beginning of a second capital of the Ukraine is being created. They are taking control of local arms depots, and refusing the recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev (the one now controlled by the opposition).  Russian “observers” were on hand.

What seems most likely to me, now, is that we’re going to get partition of the Ukraine, with Crimea and Sevastopol at least, and possibly other parts, forming a pro-Russian state.

There is zero chance that Putin is going to allow a hostile Ukraine, oriented to the West and Europe, to keep the port of Sevastopol and Crimea. For that, he will send in the army, if he needs to.

As for the deal brokered by the Europeans on Sunday, it’s pretty much dead.  The rebels want more, Yanukovych is refusing, the lines are forming.  Remember, while the West of Ukraine is very pro-Europe, the East, generally speaking, is not.  And many Russians consider the Ukraine part of Russia. and that Gorbachev letting it go was virtually treason.  Putin certainly does.

Finally, Putin and his foreign minister believe that the rebellion was backed by Western money and agents.  They see this as an attempt to deny Russia it’s sphere of influence and the physical space necessary to defend itself in a war.

This could get rather ugly if anyone miscalculates.

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Scenarios for Ukraine’s Future


  1. amspirnational

    The anti-working class enemies of Tradition and the enemies of a return to significance of the worldwide Working Class’ variegated folkways…are worried.

    The Evil Empire of Globalization, quartered in New York, Washington and Tel Aviv, are concerned. They say “fuck you” to every force which could be aligned against Amer-Israeli imperialism.

    The imperialists are particularly worried about the construction of the only force which can offset their imperial oppression of Palestine, Europe and even their suppression of the original American Nation whose Founders rejected Empire.

    This force is a socialist National Bolshevik/Eurasianist Union!
    Free Palestine! Free Europe!
    Support the Eurasian Union!

    Support German-Russian Eurasianist comity against the forces of imperial

  2. Z

    Dangerous geopolitical situation for the U.S. Fascist state to foment. Revolutions tend to spread like wildfire and there is plenty of kindling … unemployed youth … in western Europe. Also, expect the BRICS countries, led by Russia and China, to ramp up their efforts to attack the pivot point of u.s. power – the u.s. dollar’s status as the king currency – by creating a currency that is actually backed by something such as a basket of commodities. It shouldn’t be too hard to find other countries … Venezuela anyone? … that are willing to join in.

    Fucking with Russia and Putin is a bad, bad geopolitical move and one that I think our rulers are going to regret. But they are so arrogant that it is inevitable that they will overstep their bounds. Hopefully, positive revolutionary change will come about as a consequence.

    On a related note, one of the most important and underrated qualities of good leaders is humility. Humility opens one up to the possibility that their original decision was wrong and that it’s time to change course rather than burrowing down the same ego-fueled path because you CAN’T be wrong. Humility gives one perspective that the whole enterprise that you are leading is not just about YOU, that there are responsibilities that you should be beholden to besides your own self-interests. And humility is unfortunately a quality that our American Idol leaders know absolutely nothing of.


  3. Also remember that the Ossetian Solution is always a possibility here. A large number of Ukrainians in fact possess Russian passports because they are of ethnic Russian origin due to Stalin’s bad habit of moving fractious populations around (the “geographical cure”) when he wasn’t genociding them, and Putin’s habit of handing out Russian passports to anybody with Russian background. Putin could very well send in the Russian Army to “protect Russian citizens” just as he did with Georgia, though Ukraine is a bit of a tougher nut to crack if it comes to that.

  4. Ian Welsh

    Yeah, agreed Badtux. Though my money is still on the Russians. They’ll grind it for years if they have to.

    Most Crimeans have Russian passports. And really, there’s just no way Russia is not going to insist on control of Sevastapol. It would be a huge strategic setback and loss of face.

  5. someofparts

    Looks like our government is busy destabilizing Venezuela too. I don’t have the grasp of historical particulars that Ian and Tux do. Learning from what I read here is the main reason I visit. But even on the level I’m at (which is at least light years beyond the people around me IRL), I’m just depressed by the miserable things the people who run this country do on every front.

  6. karen

    Tymoshenko was not the president; she was the prime minister.

  7. EGrise

    Agreed about the danger of Russian intervention, but they may not need to take the whole thing: let old Galicia go independent and into the EU orbit, but fight like hell for the critical parts along the coast down to Sevastapol. With Ukraine apparently splitting into two governments I think it’s increasingly a possibility.

  8. par4

    Is that last paragraph a joke? The neo-fascist, er I mean neo-con Nuland bragged about spending $5 billion subverting the duly elected government of Ukraine.

  9. Jerome Armstrong

    I have been fascinating seeing RT, which we think of as housing progressive broadcasters in the US (for the most part), act the part of the tool on behalf of Putin. “Anarchists have taken over Kiev” and the like.

    Having the ports are over-rated imo. There isn’t a real reason for West Ukraine to hold onto them. Form a new nation out of anarchy and socialism, as euromaiden has been. Have a Prague spring in Kiev this year.

    And what an ironic piece of global synchronicity that Jan Kourn, raised young in a small village outside Kiev, became a multi-billionaire just about the same day Kiev broke loose from the tyrants.

  10. Ellen Shatter

    On a cruise that I took in Russia in 2011 we were told by one of the program directors that Khrushchev gave a chunk of Russian territory to the Ukraine. At the time it didn’t matter much, she said, but now it does. Does anyone know how much territory and which parts of it were given to the Ukraine?

  11. Ellen Shatter

    We were also told by several of the program directors that the breakup of the former Soviet Union was done by Yeltsin, Kravchuk of the Ukraine, and Lukashenko of Byelorussia in a secret meeting in 1991, Gorbachev had been made head of the Soviet Union and Yeltsin had been made head of Russia and the other two head of their respective states. The breakup of the USSR put Gorbachev out of power and made him irrelevant.

  12. Q7

    Check out the Bangkok, Thailand “protest” on Corrente. Obviously well-heeled corporate organizers, with extensive built-up infrastructure and facilities–it looks more like an outdoor concert than a protest. The main banner is in English, with a Top Gun red-white-and-blue color scheme and an excruciatingly corporate slogan–it’s an absolute dead ringer for the campaign mailings I got from the Conservative campaign in the last Ontario election.

    Jesus Christ, they’re not even trying to fake it anymore.

  13. guest

    Ellen Shatter PERMALINK
    February 22, 2014
    On a cruise that I took in Russia in 2011 we were told by one of the program directors that Khrushchev gave a chunk of Russian territory to the Ukraine. At the time it didn’t matter much, she said, but now it does. Does anyone know how much territory and which parts of it were given to the Ukraine?
    I heard very similar “facts” from someone at work, who claimed that Khrushchev was Ukranian and so wanted Ukraine to have more territory.
    When I googled it at home, I learned that Kruschchev was Russian but born near Ukraine and that he ran Ukraine during parts of Stalin’s rule.
    But from as near as I could tell, the borders between Ukraine and Russia have not changed a whole lot since the Russian revolution (borders with the west changed a lot).
    A lot of Russians consider the Ukrainians as traitors and collaborators with Nazi Germany (forgetting to note how horribly they were treated under the Soviets in the 1930s).
    But the southeast 40% or more of Ukraine seems to be populated either by ethnic Russians or Russian speaking ethnic Ukrainians. They may not want to rejoin the Russian sphere, but they certainly don’t want to reorient towards Europe either.

  14. Bruce Wilder

    Russian natural gas passes through Ukraine on its way to central Europe, and Ukraine also has enormous capacity to store natural gas — a necessary resource to balance production, which occurs at a near-constant rate, with demand, which fluctuates wildly. It is that natural gas transit, which has been a chief irritant and corrupting influence. Partition won’t put the pipelines and storage into more competent and reliable hands, and Russia’s interest is matched by the interest of its customers in central Europe.

    Russia supplies something like a quarter of all the gas consumed in the EU, and eighty percent passes through Ukraine, according to Wikipedia.

    Ukraine’s pipeline company has taken on heavy debts, while underinvesting, and while the oligarchs have been siphoning off economic rents with opaque private arrangements regarding the buying and selling of gas — these arrangements are a potent source of political corruption. Ukraine once enjoyed very heavily subsidized gas prices, and was a huge and wasteful consumer; this was clearly against Russia’s interest, but weaning Ukraine is a political problem.

    I have no expertise in this area, but I think the gas may be of greater immediate importance than the naval base, which is already controlled by Russia.

  15. Oh my giddy aunt, I’ve only just stopped laughing! That ‘amspirnational’ who wrote the first comment above is straight out of the “The Judean People’s Front” from Python’s “Life of Brian”. Thank you, thank you, I don’t normally look for laughs here but that was an ideal way to cheer me up on a wet, cold, windy Sunday morning.

    “The anti-working class enemies of Tradition and the enemies of a return to significance of the worldwide Working Class’ variegated folkways…are worried.”

    Oh, stop it, stop it, I can’t take any more . . .

  16. Jessica

    Thailand and Ukraine are quite different situations.
    The “anti-government” forces in Thailand are clearly aligned with and supported by key parts of the long-established Thai elite who are opposed to the slight democratization of Thailand.
    While I have no doubt that anti-Russian forces may have helped foment the uprising in Ukraine, the uprising itself seems genuine. Ukraine is so impressively poorly run, it is not necessary to invoke outside forces to explain the revolt.
    Some of the posts here seem to be assuming that everyone who opposes the main American-centered global oligarchy is somehow on the side of the people. When I find myself agreeing with anything that David Duff wrote, something must be wrong.

  17. Charlie Dozen

    Crimea was transferred from RSFSR to Ukrainian SSR in 1954. This happened in connection with the 300-years commemoration of, so the standard explanation is that it was a grand anniversary gift, which of course seems rather silly. I would assume the Soviet leadership had some deeper motivation for the move, but what that was I don’t know. Simple geographical continuity could be one of course, but that geographical continuity isn’t that much stronger with Ukraine than with Russia to start with, and exclaves weren’t uncommon in Soviet Union’s political and administrative divisions (e.g. Nagorno-Karabach, Nakhchivan, Kaliningrad).

  18. Charlie Dozen

    Sorry, wrote too fast. Nagorno-Karabach was part of Azerbaijan SSR, so not an example of an exclave.

  19. Celsius 233

    OMG! Would those of you commenting on Thai politics please stop.
    You have no idea what’s going on here. No idea!
    I’m more than a decade in here (LOS) and it’s not so simple as you seem to think.
    My better half (way better) is highly educated and together we have a pretty foggy view of what’s going on here.
    The Shinawatras (family) have formulated a failed populist agenda (the rice pledging scheme) that is coming apart at the seams, because of gross corruption among other things.
    Thai politics are so bloody complicated due to cultural norms and mores, very few westerners have a clue about what’s going on.
    Certainly, nobody here has a clue. And to compare what’s going on here, to what’s happening in Ukraine is ludicrous.

  20. The memory is short-lived and it is the same scenario like 20 year ago: In 1991 I was very close to the Croatian city of Vukovar as the town fell into the hands of nationalist Serbian mercenaries.
    But the last Yugoslav president , Stipe Mesic, took a ship to Dubrovnik to demonstrate against the shelling of the recognized World Heritage city of Dubrovnik by Yugoslav navy and Montenegrin mercenariness, – while the patients of Vukovar’s hospital were carried into the courtyard and executed by Serb irregulars .

    The former European Union observer and later subsequent UN governor in Kosovo, Bernhard Kouchner had watched idly. Although the culprits of crimes had then later sentenced to long prison terms by the UN war crimes tribunal in 2003/4 , but Bernard Kouchner even became French foreign minister in the Sarkozy government . Thus the way was cleared for a “war without borders” which ended in a nearly 4 -year siege of Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo.

    All signs suggest the fate of Ukraine will be similar. And that only because NATO wants to expand and bring their missile sites closer to Russia. But this time I let myself no longer make a useful idiot of an intellectually bankrupt policy.

  21. @Jessica:

    “When I find myself agreeing with anything that David Duff wrote, something must be wrong.”

    I feel your pain, Jessica, but my advice is just lay back and think of the Queen, er, or the President if you really have to!

    And poor old ‘Celcius 233’ must also suffer in that *I* agree with *him*! Quelle horreure!

  22. Celsius 233

    “And poor old ‘Celcius 233′ must also suffer in that *I* agree with *him*! Quelle horreure!”

    Yes, the horror, oh the horror that you agree with me. But I have no idea why. And I don’t accept platitudes regardless.
    But the LOS is not like Ukraine; in any way.
    Mostly, the U.S. has very little sway here; it’s not zero; but it’s not much.

  23. @ celcius 233:

    I agreed with you in your opinion that matters in Thailand are exceedingly, er, inscrutable. Likewise in Ukraine. Doesn’t stop us holding opinions on them but they would be unlikely to bear hard scrutiny – and that includes my opinion, of course!

  24. delta_log_R

    Nice article.

    I don’t know where some commenters get off saying this situation is a result of American “fomenting” and “destablizing”. This whole situation has been the result of a giant mis-played hand by Putin.

    Either Yanukovich was trying to cozy up to the EU to extort some money from the Kremlin, or Putin just didn’t like the incipient trade deals between the EU and Ukraine. In any case, when Putin said “hey here’s $15 billion if you drop those talks with the EU” and the Ukraine agreed, the plan blew up in Putin’s face as a purely populist movement began in the streets of Kiev.

    Now the US may see a little Russian blood in the water and want to strike a blow against Russia in its own sphere, but to say the Americans “fomented” the situation and “destablized” Ukraine is just not true. The unstable nature of Ukraine is what happens when half the country wants to be a client state of Mother Russia and the other half looks to the west and sees the benefits of western political virtues and the rule-of-law to the average pleb.

  25. Z


    I don’t know if you are referring to me when you write: “I don’t know where some commenters get off saying this situation is a result of American “fomenting” and “destablizing”” , but I personally don’t believe the situation came about entirely as a result of the U.S. fascist government’s involvement with the protesters and their leaders. I was only commenting on that aspect of it. And I also don’t believe, as you apparently do, that “(t)his whole situation has been the result of a giant mis-played hand by Putin”. It’s a lot more complicated than that with numerous actors and dynamics in play.

    On a separate note, comparing Putin to Obama, I’d say that Putin is an evil man that loves his country while Obama is an evil man who loves nothing besides himself and, as an extension of himself, his family.


  26. Z


    By the way, I also don’t think that if the pro-west Ukrainians took an objective look at how the west actually goes about carrying out their “rule-of-law” that they’d be all that impressed. At. All.


  27. madisolation

    IMO, one of the very best sources of information on The Ukraine is:

  28. CharlesInCharge99

    @Jerome Armstrong: Fascists (Svoboda and Right Sector) have taken over Kiev. I guess you haven’t seen who is on the portrait\banner hung over Kiev City Hall this morning: Nazi Collaborator and Anti-Semite Stephen Banderas. (scroll down to see pic of said banner).

  29. CharlesInCharge99

    Correction: Make that ‘Stephen Bandera’ – touchy keyboard this a.m.

  30. ks

    The revolt “seems genuine”, huh? Wow, people have short memories. I guess we are going to pretend that things like the dubious “Orange revolution” didn’t happen and Victoria Nuland was just “misquoted”, huh? Ukraine has been a clown show of governance for years so why the latest “revolution”?

    Yeah a “genuine” revolt sprung up to overthrow a democratically elected PM despite elections being just a year away and after he agreed to all their demands and they will likely replace him with an at least equally corrupt and incompetent former PM or some other suspect character. Meanwhile they have already outlawed opposition parties and the more unsavory, but unfortunately well organized, elements of the “revolution” proudly display their openly fascist tendencies. Yea “democracy”! Go team! Countdown to an IMF loan package in 3…2…1…

    In the unlikely event that the current situation in Kiev holds and the country doesn’t split apart, they will probably never have full EU membership. Aside from a small circle of gangster elites who will continue to make out like bandits, the country will likely be a debt slave, dumping ground for EU consumer goods, a fresh supply of low wage laborers and sexual tourist spot for high end EU businessmen.

  31. Z

    An excellent article about our ruling class:


  32. markfromireland

    This evening’s reported declaration by Sevastopol that they will no longer pay taxes to Kiev because they intend to breakaway from Ukraine is a very ominous sign, it means the country is within a hairsbreadth of civil war.


  33. An encouraged or manipulated (counter)revolution isn’t a less “real” or “authentic” (counter)revolution because of it. It appears that Ukraine is divided, and the West favours the control of one half over the other. Russia favours the reverse. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to cozy up to Vladimir Putin. I also wouldn’t blame anyone *for* cozying up to him in the sense that, yeah, a lot of Ukrainians are culturally and economically dependent on Russia, apparently.

  34. ks

    C’mon now that’s just playing semantic games. Of course it’s real in the sense that it happened or, more accurately, is happening but it’s hardly “authentic” in a meaningful, not literal, sense of the word when one claims to be revolting for the sake of authentic “democracy” by overthrowing a democratically elected leader immediately after you signed a settlement agreement, replacing him with an ally of the previous corrupt stooge and outlawing the opposition party(s) among other things.

  35. No, it’s not a semantic game. There’s a large chunk of Ukraine that actually wants/prefers it, largely divided by region. It’s not “only” foreign interference. This excessively reductive view makes it impossible to engage with some of the underlying issues.

  36. ks


    Yes it is especially since if they decide to leave who’s going to stop them? Kiev is in disarray to put it mildly. Have no fear though, the EU is already on deck preparing to offer a 20B Euro loan contingent upon reforms (you know what that means) in the Ukraine economy. I’m sure that will be helpful.

  37. ks

    Sure Mandos. Who said it was only foreign interference? That’s just more of your fanciful wordplay. I’m well aware that regional divides exist and are part of the situation but it’s still nonsense to pretend that there’s some sort of battle going on for “authentic” democracy when an obvious naked power grab is underway.

  38. Compound F

    paypal sux. I have no confidence in their system. Once I conclude they did not outright steal my money, I’ll send you a physical cashier’s check instead. Paypal sux.

  39. Bruce Wilder

    Crimea, which is almost entirely Russian-speaking, is already autonomous, and the Russian naval base is there, and its obviously geographically isolated, so I don’t think Crimea going to Russia would, itself, trigger civil war. Ukraine is not going to fight for it, and there may not be a lot of resistance within Crimea, at least until things settle down in Kiev, and the disadvantages of being Russian loom larger.

    People are alarmed, and although it seems alarming to us, this kind of announcement in Crimea may actually be calming, a reminder of their detachment and insulation.

    It will interesting to see whether Russia chooses to encourage or discourage separatist threats. Crimea will be a test of that. They want Crimea for the geopolitical reasons Ian outlined, but they have it in practical terms already, and they probably do not want a disorderly dissolution of Ukraine. If the EU is willing to pony up and pay at least part of Ukraine’s gas bill (and the billions nearing default owed to Russian banks), stabilizing the rouble, the Russians may feel they can benefit in the short run by accepting small humiliations and large payments, while playing the long game. EU help has proven to be a painful ordeal for other countries in the recent past; so hope in the long game is not misplaced.

  40. markfromireland

    I find myself wondering what steps have been taken to ensure that the five Ukrainian nuclear power plants will remain safe should the country fall into chaos or civil war.

    Similarly in the event of the country as a whole or just those parts of it that have the gas pumping stations and holding tanks fall into chaos or civil war what steps can be taken to ensure that these facilities are not :

    1: Destroyed.
    2: Severely damaged.
    3: Closed for the duration.

    Even the least serious of these will cause considerable suffering to the civilian populace of the Ukraine. They will also cause considerable economic disruption in the Central European countries not least of them Germany.

    Germany needs Gazprom far far more than Gazprom needs Germany.


  41. Celsius 233

    February 24, 2014
    Good points all.
    My major concern is what the U.S. is doing to foment this crisis to their advantage.
    There is ample evidence the U.S. may be encouraging a coup.
    This, from Democracy Now is very disturbing;

    Putin is a genuine tough guy, not American faux tough guy; he’ll not take this passively.
    I agree, this is serious shit. And we’re (Americans) not acting appropriately to the reality on the ground…

  42. markfromireland

    @ Celsius 233 February 24, 2014 America has been chipping away at the Ukraine for 37 years, IMO this latest is endgame of that policy – I’ve addressed exactly this point in a comment on Ian’s latest.


  43. Jerome Armstrong

    CharlesInCharge99, don’t be a Russian propagandist.

    1640 GMT: More Russian media propaganda — as we’ve been pointing out, the Russian media has been trying to spin the tale that the protesters in Maidan are mainly made up of Nazis, and the ethnic Russians inside Ukraine are in danger. There are certainly radical elements inside Ukraine’s opposition, but journalists on the ground, many people in the streets, and more and more Jewish voices inside and outside of Ukraine are arguing that this is just propaganda. Enter’s newest slander article. The Russian state-operated news site has published an article entitled, “Alarming trend in Ukraine: Historic monuments toppled, Nazi symbols spread.” That’s an alarming headline. The removal of Soviet symbols has been well documented. But the symbols are being removed because of anger at Russia’s support for ousted president Yanukovych, not out of support for the Nazis whom the Russians helped defeat in World War II. And as many journalists have been present at these events, that has also been well documented.

  44. Jerome Armstrong

    CharlesInCharge99, here was the best comment on that facebook page:

    sparukh-Dārayavauš Theodorich-Ertuğrul Turan-þiudiskaz Sort of like the image of Andrew Jackson, who perpetrated the Trail of Tears genocide, being on the US $ 20 bill? Yeah, school me a new one…

    But really, this:

    Alexander Marinich Hi all, thanks for taking interest in the events in Ukraine. I am a Ukrainian, I live in the center of Kiev. I have not been under the bullets, but I did see the hospitals packed with wounded people.

    The caption of this photo is an attempt to paint history black and white. I’d like to refer everybody to Wikipedia article on Stepan Bandera, and also you are welcome to google around. What you will find is a wealth of polarized opinions. I believe it is very unresponsible for a random journalist who happened to write this caption to make statements that inspire hatred and one-sided views.

    I am neither protecting nor justifying Bandera, I don’t have a clue on the details of 70 year old event. What I know is that government sniper has killed 80 people last week. My mother is now attending a funeral of a guy who was defending his right to stand in the city square and demand changes. May I say, this right is what the US and the EU and the Ukrainians are supporting.

    And such unproffessional and unresponsible speculations on the Ukrainian history only spark hatred and divert attention from the real and confirmed facts of the Ukrainian reality.

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