Hideous deceit from the pro-Russian rebels and hideous nightmares in ‘Russian’ Crimea

While the Crimean population now suffers all but a complete breakdown in its infrastructure, because of the speed of change of ‘sovereignty’, leading to chaos as the logistical nightmare of supplying around 2.5 million people with the necessities of life, the un-elected, self-imposed soap factory owner, acting as ‘mayor’ of the city of Slovyansk says “We don’t have any direct contact with the special services of the Russian Federation”

After a swift annexation comes the reality as hundreds, if not thousands, queue daily to try and obtain their new Russian passports and documentation.

In the queue for a passport

The queue inside the passport office in Simferopol

Virtually all government offices have largely stopped operating because of the impossibility of dealing with even simple detail, such as understanding newly accepted Russian law – following the abandonment of Ukrainian law – and the impact that it might have on the transaction being negotiated.

queues outside passport office Crimea

People in the street in Simferopol waiting for their new, Russian passports

Most banks have closed because of the legal complications and currency difficulties. Land registry offices remained shut because the transfer of property must now be conducted under Russian law. This also affected court cases, which have been delayed until clarity is issued over how they should conduct existing and then future cases. Food imports are hit-and-miss and causing shortages as a result. The local McDonald’s has shut down citing operational difficulties. It is currently impossible to import the products because of logistical problems. Metro, a German, multinational supermarket chain has also shut down. Most US/EU-based businesses want to avoid possible sanctions elsewhere for operating in Crimea. The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions is not helping matters and further  sanctions because of this may well effect the businesses’ ability to operate at all.

No more Big Macs in Simferopol, Crimea

No more Big Macs in Crimea

Some people are finding life more difficult than others such as Ukrainian priests,  dissident political activists, even gay people, who are now coming under the scrutiny of the local militia, in the absence of a structured police service, and bolstered by the newly (and homophobic) Russian Orthodox Church. The illegal ‘swap’ in nationality is unlikely to see more tolerance from the mother state, as anyone with pro-European views, beliefs or even if they are simply gay may well find life distinctly uncomfortable. Switching countries has introduced chaos and confusion to any need that was once basically simple:  driver’s licenses and vehicle registration, insurances and even something as simple as school curriculums, which may be viewed as inappropriate in the new order, post-Ukraine. For the Crimean people, these are very uncertain days.

“In the mindset of Moscow, pro-Russians can seize power, but not Ukrainians in Kyev”

Denis Pushilin, center, head of the self-styled People’s Republic of Donetsk

Denis Pushilin, center, head of the self-styled People’s Republic of Donetsk

The ‘dignitary’ is a smooth-tongued former-croupier-come-former-salesman in a Ponzi scam run by Sergei Mavrodi, Moscow’s equivalent to Bernie Madoff. The only authority this band of ‘friends’ have being the Kalashnikov and the black balaclava, Denis Pushilin has now cast off his former covert identity and surfaced as the leader of the pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. Whilst many find him genuine, many others, including officials in the Donetsk region,who have negotiated with the pro-Russians, see him and his followers as opportunists, front men for the New Russia and the forces that try to bring about a greater Russia.

Pushilin, won 77 votes when he ran for parliament a few months ago, but he recently re-invented himself as the self-appointed leader of the so-called People’s Republic of Donetsk, occupying the regional governor’s office in eastern Ukraine. Conspicuous because of his suave, salesman-like spiel and by his dapper suits – all of which distinguish him from the dowdy, grubby men sporting mis-matched army surplus fatigues who man the barricades – Pushilin lends a reassuringly articulate, but suspiciously opportunist voice, detailing prevailing pro-Russian worries: They simply do not trust the interim leaders in Kyev who overthrew Viktor Yanukovych. It doesn’t help that Yanukovych was born in Donetsk.

Despite all the ‘we don’t want to be a part of Russia’ rhetoric, most are seeking a referendum based on joining Crimea by passing into Russian statehood. “There will be a referendum,” Pushilin said. It appears that this region has a de-facto Ponzi-scheme salesman president-elect, if the matter is ever put to a ballot, which is highly unlikely considering that the Russian ethnics are not in the majority in this industrial region, as can be seen here:

The Ukrainian National Census, 2001 (you will need to Google translate the page) detailed the following demography within the Donetsk Oblast: Ukrainians:  2,744,100 (56.9%), Russians:  1,844,400 (38.2%), Greeks:  77,500 (1.6%), Belarusians:  44,500 (0.9%), others (2.3%). However, the languages spoken within the region are: Russian:  74.9%, Ukrainian: 24.1% but it must be remembered that the region is on the border with Russia, where it would be expected to see such language transference, from a larger country with a much larger economy.

His ‘deputy’, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the ‘people’s mayor’ of Slovyansk, a two-hour drive north of Donetsk, is a completely different character. In his fifties, and much less brash, dealing with the media scrum is way out of his comfort zone. A much more rugged, hands-on man, is much more characterised by his gold teeth than his bold smile.

Ponomaryov vehemently denies taking orders from the Kremlin or liaising with Russian commandos. “There is not a single Russian soldier or an active member of Russian Armed Forces in the Slovyansk area, and no contact with Russian authorities, its state security services or military,” Ponomaryov said.

The fact remains that the well-rehearsed, military precision of the ‘men in green’ is totally uncharacteristic of the cobbled together militia that the public see through contact with the media. Any reasonable observer would surmise that the Russian special forces are responsible by virtue of the discipline displayed in some of the offensives – these tend to be the initial advances to attack in order to achieve a bloodless victory.

John R. Schindler, once a National Security Agency (NSA) counterintelligence officer, now an academic at the Naval War College, calls it “special war […] an amalgam of espionage, subversion, even forms of terrorism to attain political ends without actually going to war in any conventional sense.”  Schindler coined the term, particularly as Russia excels at special war, which was first used in the post-Soviet war in Chechnya back in 1994 to regain control of the state by sending in Russian soldiers who disguised themselves as pro-Moscow Chechens.

Hiding the identity of Russian forces with balaclava-style masks and no insignia inhibits the potential for discovery and denunciation, and has definitely become a key tactical element that has been used in wars and conflicts over the last two decades in the former Soviet sphere. Russia’s addiction to ‘maskirovka’, as it is called, has been used increasingly under the direction of Putin, whose central command is largely comprises his old colleagues from the KGB, the former Soviet intelligence agency.

In 2013, Schindler wrote in the journal ‘The National Interest’ (on page 177)  “NATO’s Baltic members are accustomed to regular harassment by Moscow, with aggressive espionage, subversion, and manipulation of local politics, business, and Russian minorities being part of daily life in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Russian intelligence services are highly active in the Baltics and generally treat them as less than sovereign states, much less NATO member countries. But the return of a conventional military threat from Russia, coupled with press releases from Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin that seem nostalgic for the Soviet period, has led to a mounting sense of dread in the Baltics”.

If you look at the map shown hereunder and imagine all of the grey/blue areas as part of a ‘New Russia’, you can see the logic, and it is chilling. It would find Russia with a border touching Romania and would include the Russian-ethnic diaspora in the disputed area of Transnistria in Moldavia. All of that would keep NATO out of Russia’s home water, the Black Sea.

Ukraine % ethnic Russian population


Could this be the nascent potential for a democratic EU commission?


The race in the European elections has seen a paradigm shift for the future of the elections, with the two front runners warning the current President of the EU, Herman Von Rompuy. that simply appointing a President by diplomatic nomination was ‘dead in the water’. Van Rompuy recently attempted to dismiss the efforts of the main parties to submit a candidate for the European elections in a bid to win the top seat at the Commission.

President Van Rompuy’s statements this weekend elecited scathing comments from Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker, both of whom rounded on the incumbent President, saying that the days of avoiding voter choice were over because the next President of the EU Commission will need a firm majority in the next Parliamentary council. Van Rompuy had commented that “The difference between the Parliament and those who really decide is very clear to citizens.”

Juncker, previously the Luxembourg Prime Minister, who is campaigning for the centre-right European People’s Party, told Süddeutsche Zeitung. “the democratic toothpaste is out of the tube with the election of a lead candidate. The old days, when a Commission president was elected by diplomats in backrooms, are finally over,”

Article 17.7, TEU of the Lisbon Treaty was instrumental in bringing about this small, but significant step towards a more robust democracy, and although the next President of the European Union will be nominated by EU leaders, the candidates will have to submit themselves to the European Parliament for an election by their peers.

The Presidential candidate for the Socialists and Democrats, Martin Schulz, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. that Mr Van Rompuy’s position reflected his “own opinion, based on his interpretation, to fit his job description. Many in the European Council see this issue differently. Most importantly, the European voters see this differently.”

The five candidates for the job are:

  • Guy Verhofstadt:                    Belgian liberal (ALDE)
  • José Bové and Ska Keller:     Franco-German Green Party joint-candidacy
  • Alexis Tsipras:                         Greek Leftist (GUE-NGL)
  • Martin Schulz:                         German Socialists and Democrats
  • Jean-Claude Juncker:            Luxembourg centre-right European People’s Party

All are currently touring EU member states, supporting national parties in their bid to get voters to the polls on 22-25 May.

“Mr Schulz and I are touring the whole of Europe, to make clear the stakes of the elections,” Juncker said “Every citizen can co-decide the direction of Europe for the next five years.”

There is an informal agreement among the parties that the one that wins the most seats can put forward its candidate for the EU Executive.

The latest opinion polls put Juncker’s EPP in the lead with 222 seats and the socialists with 209 seats. The liberal ALDE party is credited with around 60 seats, the far-left GUE-NGL around 50 seats and the Greens and Conservatives with about 40 seats each.


They wear masks to hide their identities, they carry rifles, they’re Russians: Mr. Putin, as you cannot even be honest about your wealth, why would you be honest about your invasion of Ukraine?

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Ukraine officials claim Russia has deployed its special forces to destabilise the volatile region. The 11-page document contains images of soldiers in eastern Ukraine wearing similar uniforms and brandishing Russian weapons.


The photo top-left shows supposedly pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine in 2014

The photo bottom-left shows Russian soldiers in Georgia in 2008


Ukraine Provides Evidence of Russian Military in Civil Unrest

The Ukrainian government provided these photographs last week to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna. Ukraine says the photographs document that the armed men who have taken over government buildings in eastern Ukraine are Russian combatants. The State Department, which has also alleged Russian interference, says that the Ukrainian evidence is convincing.

With a modus operandi more characteristic of an organised criminal, Vladimir Putin seeems to have unleashed a Russian special operational force unit in the region of Donetsk. This evenening, the BBC news said of the photographic identification of certain Russian soldiers operating in the Donetsk region that “What comes across from the photos is that at least one unit of heavily armed, well-equipped, pro-Russian paramilitaries has been operating in the Donetsk region.” (BBC)

This tallies with the oservation in my article of 18th April (Further evidence that shows Russian interference in Ukraine). On April 14th, I described the Russian’s efforts as something akin to Agitprop, the London-based anarchist organisation from the 1960s.

Now NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, Gen. Philip Breedlove, has also published the following evidence of President Putin’s deceit:

  • The pro-Russian “activists” in eastern Ukraine exhibit tell-tale military training and equipment and work together in a way that is consistent with troops who are part of a long-standing unit, not spontaneously stood up from a local militia.
  • The weapon handling discipline and professional behavior of these forces is consistent with a trained military force. Rifle muzzles are pointed down, fingers not on triggers, but rather laid across trigger mechanisms.
  • Coordinated use of tear gas and stun grenades against targeted buildings indicates a level of training that exceeds a recently formed militia.
  • Video of these forces at checkpoints shows they are attentive, on their feet, focused on their security tasks, and under control of an apparent leader. This contrasts with typical militia or mob checkpoints, where it’s common to see people sitting, smoking, and so forth.
  • The way these forces target government buildings, hit them in coordinated strikes and quickly secure the surrounding area with roadblocks and barricades is similar to what we’ve seen in Crimea. Again, indicative of a professional military force, acting under direction and leadership, not a spontaneous militia.
  • Finally, the weapons and equipment they carry are primarily Russian army issue. This is not the kind of equipment that civilians would be likely to be able to get their hands on in large numbers.

This supports my own assertion on April 18th: “one or two of the clips showed what were clearly military personnel going in first to storm government buildings, using Kalashnikov rifles and small explosive charges that would make more noise than damage, working as a disciplined military squad to subdue and bring about the surrender of the legitimate Ukrainian police or other personnel within […] the concerted effort to attack similar buildings, with similar, disciplined methods, what seems to be an initial military advance to bring about the surrender of legitimate staff within government buildings, is a very persuasive argument that Russia is directly managing the conflict.”

Any one of the points above taken alone would not be enough to come to a conclusion on this issue, but taken in the aggregate, the story is clear.

You may remember the difficulty in identifying the Russian troops in Crimea because of the masks worn and the exclusion of the press in all but stage managed performances. This morning President Putin admitted that Russian troops were there after denying it repeatedly early on.

The men wearing balaclava-style masks are Russian special forces troops operating in eastern Ukraine. Please visit the following websites for verification:

1. You Tube Shatters Russian Lies About Troops In Ukraine: Putin Denies Truth To Obama

2. Putin acknowledges Russian military servicemen were in Crimea

3. Ukraine submits proof of Russian covert action

4. The Science of Unmasking Russian Forces in Ukraine


A typically sparsely attended church service in Britain

A typically sparsely attended church service in Britain

The argument concerning David Cameron’s claim that Britain is a Christian country rumbles on, but the notion is nevertheless not correct.

The reason for this is supplied by the religions themselves. Here is an extract from the BBC web page:

The “Muslim Council of Britain secretary-general Farooq Murad said nobody could deny the UK remained a largely Christian country with “deep historical and structural links” to Christianity.”

Anil Bhanot, managing director of Hindu Council UK, said he was “very comfortable” with the UK being described as a Christian country, adding many Hindu people celebrated Christmas and Easter. “People can secularise those traditions but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the country was based in Christian traditions,” he said.

Christina Rees, a member of the General Synod, the highest governing body of the Church of England, said she was glad Mr Cameron had the “confidence” to talk about his faith. The UK had “historically and culturally” been a Christian country for “many hundreds of years”, she added. (BBC)

Each and every one of them talks of ‘secularising’ the Christian religion in the UK, or of the ‘historical and cultural’ importance of the faith. Not one is able to face the unpalatable truth that religion is a dead parrot in Britain, because most people don’t go anywhere near a church from one end of the year to the next. There is no monotheistic religion that allows you to visit your place of worship solely for the purposes of a marriage or a funeral, but that is what happens in Britain.

The religions that are trying to support David Cameron are only able to talk of the “historic and cultural” ties, or the increasing “secularism”. All of this is a lame way of saying that Britons generally have no interest in religion.

Britain is not a Christian country …

A wonderful Easter in Spain

A wonderful Easter in Spain


At the end of a week where David Cameron was found to have appointed a crony who became a bankrupt to run the financing of government quangos, one might have imagined that he would show the utmost care in being seen as judicious by the country as a whole.

However, although the PM is quite meticulous in managing his holiday arrangements, he appears to be totally injudicious when it comes to the comments he makes regarding Christianity. In an article for the Church Times, the prime minister said that Christians should be confident in standing up to defend their values and that his did not mean doing down other religions.

However, Writers, academics and scientists – including authors Sir Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman – make the claim in a letter to the Daily Telegraph. Its lead signatory is Professor Jim Al-Khalili, president of the British Humanist Association and other signatories include performer Tim Minchin, journalist Polly Toynbee, philosopher AC Grayling and presenter Dan Snow. In the letter, the group says: “We respect the prime minister’s right to his religious beliefs and the fact that they necessarily affect his own life as a politician. However, we object to his characterisation of Britain as a ‘Christian country’ and the negative consequences for politics and society that this engenders. Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established Church, Britain is not a ‘Christian country’.”

His own well-feathered ilk may well be churchgoing Christians, but to announce that Britain is a Christian country is simply and wholly wrong. In the 2011 Census, Christianity was the largest religion, with 33.2 million people (59.3 per cent of the population). The second largest religious group were Muslims with 2.7 million people (4.8 per cent of the population) 14.1 million people, around a quarter of the population in England and Wales, reported they have no religion in 2011 (Office of National Statistics). However, the British Social Attitudes survey asked the question “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?” where 41.22% of respondents selecting ‘no Religion’ in 2001 and 50.67% selecting ‘no religion’ in 2009.   The trend continued with the European Social Survey, which asked the question “Which religion or denomination do you belong to at present?” with 50.54% of respondents selecting ‘no religion’ in 2002 and 52.68% selecting ‘no religion’ in 2008.

Referring to a 2011 speech in which he made his comments about Christianity, the Downing Street spokeswoman said: “As the PM set out in his speech to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the UK is a Christian country and should not be afraid to say so.”  (BBC) This echoes comments made recently by the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, who said “I’ve stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish […] Heaven forbid. We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.” I am sure that most of the people in this country see Mr. Pickle’s comment as an attempt to impose his politically correct intolerance on us.

What is certain is that our Bronze and Iron Age ancestors, all pagan worshippers, celebrated seasonal events such as the winter solstice, when the days would begin to lengthen. Equally, they must have delighted in the advent of Spring, when nature’s rebirth brought the warmer weather to the hunter gatherers’ world. Theirs was a world that followed experiential happenings rather than doctrinal beliefs. They would almost certainly have celebrated Spring because of the enormous importance that it would have had to such people. Their lives were focused on such chronological happenings because celebrating the very happenings that nurtured life would have been deemed important.

Easter fun in the Philippines, where they still actually nail devotees to a wooden cross in celebration.

Easter fun in the Philippines, where they still actually nail devotees to a wooden cross in celebration.

However, it will come as no surprise that this tradition died out and was replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the mythological resurrection of Jesus: the very word Easter is not a Christian word at all, but one the Christians ‘borrowed’ to make their own celebration ‘comfortable’ for the naive recipients of nascent Christianity, as Eostre was an ancient reference to Easter that may have been connected to Eos, the Greek goddess who rode a chariot across the sky bringing in the dawn.

Saying that Britain is a Christian country, when coming from a Conservative prime minister, creates a false impression of our country as a whole. We are a plural society encompassing many faiths, but by far the largest swathe of the population do not anything to do with religion. What I am sure of is that the ancient Britons would have celebrated the fact that winter was over, and, to borrow a quote from a friend of mine, the same will be said for Mr. Cameron’s career if he continues to spout such nonsense.

Further evidence that shows Russian interference in Ukraine

pro-Russian militia thugs threaten a Ukrainian reporter for doing his job. The journalist was eventually released but note that the thug holding the man by the neck is phoning someone about this 'arrest'.

pro-Russian militia thugs threaten a Ukrainian reporter for doing his job. The journalist was eventually released but note that the thug holding the man by the neck is phoning someone about this ‘arrest’.


The above image is a rare example of ‘real news’ getting out of the Donetsk region: the man being assaulted is a Ukrainian news reporter going about his lawful business and being intimidated and threatened by the pro-Russian thugs.

Yesterday, President Putin denied that there were any covert Russian military personnel managing the conflict in Ukraine, supporting this by saying that the Russian ethnic protesters on the streets were not wearing masks now, though now the pro-Russian thugs have control and it is likely that the ensigna-free, uniformed Russians are no longer needed on the streets and thus thugs could remove their masks, but they haven’t, as the above image testifies.

In a broadcast on BBC news yesterday, the involvement of covert Russian military engagement was looked at by one reporter. Of course, by its very nature, proving covert operations in a region where people are excluding and banning journalists from anything other than the most contrived situations is extremely difficult. Ask yourself: why are people who want to state their case internationally, preventing the media from anything but obvious ‘stage managed’ access? It reminds me of the Libyan conflict, where the same tactic was frequently used.

The broadcast did show protesters who were seemingly non-military, i.e. not disciplined but in charge. However, one or two of the clips showed what were clearly military personnel going in first to storm government buildings, using Kalashnikov rifles and small explosive charges that would make more noise than damage, working as a disciplined military squad to subdue and bring about the surrender of the legitimate Ukrainian police or other personnel within.

There is no doubt that ethnic-Russian Ukrainians are manning these police stations now, but it is impossible to now know who is directing operations from within. Moreover, the concerted effort to attack similar buildings, with similar, disciplined methods, what seems to be an initial military advance to bring about the surrender of legitimate staff within government buildings, is a very persuasive argument that Russia is directly managing the conflict.

The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union met for peace talks in Geneva concerning the conflict. The result was better than expected, a unified policy aimed at ending the tensions. The deal includes the disarmament of all illegal groups in Ukraine. After the talks the various negotiators said that they had agreed on steps to de-escalate the crisis but are now waiting to see if words will be met with actions.

However, pro-Russian militia in Donetsk have announced that they will not leave the government buildings, openly challenging the Kyev authorities and threatening the deal to de-escalate the tensions. The pro-Russian spokesman said that the Kyev government would have to step down for them to give up the conflict. You may remember that two days ago, former pro-Moscow President, Viktor Yanukovych said that there cannot be elections now because of the extent of the conflict. It is therefore remarkably coincidental that the one thing that could wreck the legitimacy of the election is the pro-Russian militia refusing to step down and deal with matters through dialogue and democracy.

Incidentally, you may remember from my last article that I mentioned how fabulously wealthy Putin is – some $40bn by all accounts – and it was therefore extremely enlightening when I found this observation in an article on the BBC:

“Wealth has shifted under President Viktor Yanukovych [who] is widely seen as living in symbiosis with Ukraine’s tycoons.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25323964 Dec 11, 2013

This is broadly similar to Putin’s own financial success. Equally, the same goes for Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, another Putin appointee. As head of Chechnya, Kadyrov has been credited for ‘bringing peace and stability to the region’, though his methods are said to be extremely brutal if not tyrannical. He has also been persistently criticised by the international media because of alleged human rights violations and reports of massive corruption and enhancing his own wealth, shutting down newspapers and killing those who speak out against him.

These reports sound dismally familiar, don’t they?

Why Ukraine will be ruled by the ‘back door’ (and by Putin)

ukraine strife

Out of the smoke and chaos that seems to be descending on Eastern Ukraine, the Russian government response to Ukraine announcing that it would use it military forces to carefully quell the rebellion and clamour for independence in six major cities in the lands to the east of Kyev. This elicited a comment from the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry spokesman that smacks of duplicity and irony, “Ukraine is […] waging war against its own people” (BBC, 14 April 2014).Exactly the same wording was uttered by the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, who urged the Ukrainian government to cease a “war with its own people”  (You Tube, 14 April 2014)

This begs a question: We all think of Russia as a vast transcontinental country that almost touches the US and has borders and an exclave (Kaliningrad Oblast) that infuse with the EU nations, but the land we call ‘Russia’ simply isn’t just Russian. Far from it, it is a host of tightly woven Oblasts, Krais and autonomous Okrugs. The Kaliningrad Oblast was the most heavily militarized area of what was called the Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation, and the scale and density of military infrastructure was also the highest found anywhere in Europe. Contrast that with the part in Putin’s muted but obvious victory speech on what Russia considers to be the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation, when he said “can you imagine greeting NATO soldiers in the streets of Sevastopol? I mean, not on a visit, but stationed there?” (Kremlin.ru 14 March 2014)The prospect of Nato in ‘Russian’ waters was a bridge too far. They are now, for the first time in history, going to build a bridge between Russia and Crimea to cement its place within the Russian Federation.

Putin roundly denounced NATO and its members for breaching all and every agreement with Russia, adding that when Russia complains, it is condescendingly told, that “It’s none of your business”. (ibid) Putin is referrring here to NATO’s expansion eastward, in the Black Sea and its broken promises about not stationing NATO troops in former Soviet republics, its involvement in Georgia and the broken promises with regard to the deployment of missile batteries in Europe: Putin is claiming that NATO’s expansions pose a credible and direct threat to the security of the Russian Federation.

Sir Tony Brenton, a former ambassador to the Russian Federation, said that the “upsurge of popular resentment is aimed at the Western inspired government in Kiev […] a slide into NATO”. Sir Tony bemoaned that fact that the conflict was diminishing the efforts of a decade where the West sought to “make it [Russia] a more normal country” (Today, Radio 4, 14 April 2014 at 02:14:20)

The problem is that Russia’s near bloodless annextion of Crimea and now the fomenting of trouble in the eastern regions of Ukraine are similar to those of Agitprop in the UK five decades ago. Russian covert troops were clearly used in the Crimean theft and the same can be said for the civil unrest in the east of Ukraine, where similar ‘troops’ with camouflage gear and Russian-made weapons direct the mob to achieve their master’s aims. Russian expert and author of The Russia Hand, Strobe Talbott said that Russia’s actions are “payback for a quarter of a century of diplomatic bullying” but he also notes that “Despite being Yeltsin’s handpicked successor, Putin saw his role not as building on the Gorbachev-Yeltsin legacy but downplaying it and, in some important respects, repudiating and reversing it.” (Talbott, Yale Global, 2014) The Ukrainians have see-sawed for years between an EU-NATO future and ever closer ties with the Russians. What is sure is that the wishes of the majority of the people of Ukraine will never trump the wishes of the most dangerous man in Europe or Asia, Vladimir Putin.

What Talbott’s argument underscores is the increasingly autocratic way that Putin has run the Russian Federation, frequently broaching no dissent, as Alexander Litvinenko would testify were he to be still alive today. His alleged murderer, Andrei Lugovoy, is deputy of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament for the LDPR. He is a former KGB colleague of Vladimir Putin and, if one wants to prove that Russia is run by a mob of thugs, Lugovoy would be an excellent place to start.

These thugs control states and regions outside of their own domain by withdrawing energy supplies or rewriting a contract that sees their energy tariff substatially rise, as was evidenced in Georgia a decade ago: “Once a relatively affluent part of the USSR, with independence Georgia lost the cheap energy to which it had access in the Soviet period. As relations between Georgia and Russia deteriorated, Moscow did not flinch from tightening the economic screws, and the rupturing of trading ties caused the Georgian economy to nose-dive.” (BBC, 14 August 2013)

The comment in Putin’s speech at the time of the Crimean uprising, when he said that “If you press a spring too hard, it will recoil” (Kremlin.ru, 14 March 2014) serves as a confirmation that Russia feels that ‘their interests’ in Ukraine have been usurped, that they are being marginalised.

It was only ten days ago that Russia was describing the pro-Russian peoples now rioting as ‘Russians’, much the same as it did in Crimea before it forced out the Ukrainian military at gunpoint and annexed it. Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the “reappearance of men with specialised Russian weapons and identical uniforms without insignia, as previously worn by Russian troops during Russia’s illegal and illegitimate seizure of Crimea, is a grave development”. (NATO Press Release 13 Apr. 2014)

Grave is the right word: I suspect there may be plenty of those soon in Donetsk and the region thereabouts., not that we will likely hear of them. The reason that I make this prediction is because South-Eastern Ukraine is not similar in a demographic perspective to Crimea.

Regions of Ukraine and their demographics in terms of ethnicity and GDP

Regions of Ukraine and their demographics in terms of ethnicity and GDP

As you can see from the maps, east and south-east Ukraine has a minotrity Russian ethnic population, but it is far too simplistic, with the pro-Russian protesters having declared a ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ to then move to the conclusion that Russia will annexe eastern Ukraine in the style of their previous theft in Crimea.

The maps reveal a strikingly different situation. There is nowhere in eastern Ukraine that has a Russian ethnic majority, whereas Russian ethnics in crimea had an almost 60% percent majority. It was and still is far easier to justify an ‘uprising’ of the inhabitants than it is in the reaminder of eastern Ukraine. It is likely that Russia would like to steal Donetsk as Russia is run by a cabal who specialise in theft, but it is unlikely that they will do this in an obvious way. Putin’s method is always surreptitious, back door methods first, as in Georgia and Crimea, followed by a mechanism that gives Putin effective control. The paradigm of this is ‘Putin’s puppet’, the former president Dmitry Medvedev, who “served as chairman of Gazprom” (Moscow Times, 6 March 2008) a post he relinquished before his inauguration as head of state. Gazprom? There’s another connection:

“Putin “effectively” controls 37% of the shares of Surgutneftegaz, an oil exploration company and Russia’s third biggest oil producer, worth $20bn, he says. He also owns 4.5% of Gazprom, and “at least 75%” of Gunvor, a mysterious Swiss-based oil trader, founded by Gennady Timchenko, a friend of the president’s, Belkovsky alleges.” (The Guardian, 21 December 2007)

All of this was uncovered at the time that Medvedev was about to assume the Russian presidency in 2007. When pressed on how much he thought Putin was worth, Belkovsky said: “At least $40bn. Maximum we cannot know. I suspect there are some businesses I know nothing about.” He added: “It may be more. It may be much more.” (ibid) The Moscow ‘Mafia’ is a good earner, but smoke-and-mirrors is the key strategy. President Boot-in should know all about that – he was formerly a KGB agent.  Ask yourself one question: How can a man who has only every been a government offical then president of the state ever be worth more than £20bn?


Addendum 17 April 2014

“When asked if Russia was planning to send troops to the troubled region he [Putin] said parliament had given him the right to do so, but hoped he would not have to use that right.”

You will note that Putin seems to believe that he does not require the agreement of the UN for this matter. He uses the history of Kievan Rus, the state that existed in 800 – 900 AD as evidence that this is the ‘heart’ of the Russian culture, even though Moscow is not built on land within the territory of the ancient land of Kievan Rus. His is a crude ploy at a ‘humanitarian rescue’.

With his Duma (parliament) having given him the ‘right’ to invade Ukraine, with troops and military armoured vehicles ammasssed on the border and Russian special forces incognito operating and co-ordinating efforts in the eastern provinces of Ukraine, it is becoming ever-clearer that Putin and his murky band of thieves are about to steal even more that doesn’t belong to them. Only the West and NATO can prevent this with unified resistance.