The political crisis currently unfolding in Ukraine could have been wholly avoided

Published time: March 04, 2014 11:34

A woman and a young boy walk past pro-Russian self-defence activists standing guard in front of the Crimean Cabinet of the Ministers in Simferopol on March 2, 2014. (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)A woman and a young boy walk past pro-Russian self-defence activists standing guard in front of the Crimean Cabinet of the Ministers in Simferopol on March 2, 2014. (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)As divisions deepen between the eastern and western regions of Ukraine, the backers of the putsch regime in Kiev portray Russia as a reckless aggressor to absolve their own responsibility for engineering the crisis.While denunciations of Moscow have streamed out of western  capitals in recent days over the standoff in Crimea, it should be  understood that the political crisis currently unfolding in  Ukraine could have been wholly avoided.

In attempts to defuse  unrest and maintain legal and societal order, ousted President  Yanukovich offered remarkable concessions in his proposal to  install opposition leaders in top posts in a reshaped government,  which was rejected.

Russia expressed readiness to engage in  tripartite negotiations with Ukraine and the European Union with  the hope that both Moscow and Brussels could play a positive role  in Ukraine’s economic recovery, but the EU was unwilling to  accept such a proposal.

The February-21 agreement was mediated by  Russia, France, Germany and Poland and aimed to end the bloodshed  in Kiev by reducing presidential powers and establishing a  framework for a national unity government, in addition to  electoral reform, constitutional changes, and early elections.

There was clearly no shortage of opportunities to ease the  polarization of the Ukrainian state through an inclusive  political solution, and yet the opposition failed to uphold its  responsibilities, resulting in the ouster of Ukraine’s  democratically elected leader to the detriment of the country’s  political, economic, and societal stability.

As the new self-appointed authorities in Kiev dictate terms and  push legislation through a rump parliament, the reluctance of  western capitals to address the clearly dubious legitimacy of the  new regime suggests that the US and EU condone what is  effectively a coup d’état with no constitutional validity.

The leaked phone call between Assistant Secretary of State  Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt,  is a testament to Washington’s proclivity for foreign meddling  and its brazen disregard of Ukraine’s sovereignty. It is no  coincidence that Arseniy Yatsenyuk – handpicked by Nuland (MC-> or her masters) for the  role of prime minister – now occupies that position in Kiev’s new  leadership, and much like the reckless agitation strategies  employed by the US elsewhere, extremist groups were manipulated  to allow the nominal moderates to seize power on Washington’s  behalf.

  A new dawn for the far right

In order to maintain enough momentum to oust Yanukovich,  Ukraine’s opposition leaders relied on allies in the radical camp  such as fascist groups like Svoboda, Trizub, and the Right  Sector. These organizations espouse ethnic hatred against Jews  and Russians and promote neo-Nazi ideals. The foot soldiers of  these movements laid the groundwork for the putsch by occupying  the Maidan [Independence Square], storming government offices,  and attacking riot police with Molotov cocktails, firearms, and  other lethal weapons.

Members of these far-right groups have been integrated in  so-called ‘self-defense forces’ that now patrol Kiev and  other major cities, and have been seen wearing symbols that  include the Celtic cross, which has replaced the swastika for  many modern white-power groups, the wolf-hook SS insignia, and  other occult symbols associated with the Third Reich. In his  capacity as prime minister, Yatsenyuk has relinquished control of  Ukraine’s national security forces to the heads of these radical  organizations, who have openly used threatening and bigoted  language to incite ethnic hostility, in addition to calls for  Russians and Jews to be either destroyed or expelled from  Ukraine.

Dmytro Yarosh, a leader of the Right Sector movement, addresses during a rally in central Independence Square in Kiev February 21, 2014. (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

The political ascent of radical forces that represent a minority  of Ukrainian public opinion has alarmed minority communities,  indicated by Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman’s calls for  Kiev’s Jews to flee the country in light of recent political  developments. Regions in the east and southeast of Ukraine, where  many ethnic Russians and Russian speakers reside, are  experiencing the Maidan protests in reverse, as protestors plant  Russian flags atop government buildings in rejection of the new  leadership in Kiev.

Since seizing power, the putsch regime in Kiev has attempted to  pass laws against the official use of Russian and other languages  throughout the country, fueling social unrest and secessionist  sentiment in some quarters that culturally and linguistically  identify themselves as Russian. Fast-moving developments in Kiev  and actions taken by the new regime have enflamed the crisis, and  any Russian intervention should be seen against the backdrop of  eastern and southeastern Ukraine’s rejection of an  unconstitutional transfer of power that directly threatens the  integrity of the state.

  Russia as a stabilizing force

The request by the legitimate President Yanukovich and the  government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to bring a  limited contingent of Russian forces into the region to ensure  the safety of ethnic Russian citizens living within Crimean  territory is a reasonable request in light of the chaotic  socio-political situation currently facing Ukraine. It should be  understood that the movements of Russian forces in Crimea have  been entirely lawful, and within legal boundaries established by  existing security pacts with Ukraine. For western capitals to  threaten sanctions and accuse Russia of a belligerent  ‘invasion’ of Ukraine is completely unjustifiable, and  tinged with political bias.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements alluding to Russia  behaving like a 19th century power by ‘invading’ Ukraine  on a trumped up pretext encapsulates Washington’s infinite  potential for hypocritical double standards and pathological  dishonesty. The egregious violations of international law by the  United States and its NATO allies are abundant and need not be  evoked to rebut Kerry’s desperate and deceptive accusation.

The outrage expressed by western capitals over the so-called  ‘Russian aggression’ is in stark contrast to the  restraint showed when Saudi Arabia militarily intervened in  Bahrain in 2011 to put down peaceful protests. Recent  interventions by France in its former colonies, Mali and the  Central African Republic, have roused no international  condemnation, despite notable local sentiment in those countries  that view Paris as an aggressive actor.

The western stance on when intervention is and isn’t legitimate  is highly selective, and for the interventionist countries to use  their soft power monopoly to portray Russia as a meddler intent  on aggressively undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty is truly a  politically loaded and dangerous notion.

Pro-Russian Rally – Simferopo, Crimea

The Obama administration, in an attempt to offer President Putin  ‘a face-saving way out of the crisis,’ has proposed that European forces take the  place of Russian forces in Crimea to guard against threats to the  population, knowing full well that Moscow would never accept such  an arrangement in a region like Crimea, which shares historic  political, economic, cultural, and strategic military ties.

The area in which Kiev’s new authorities need Washington and  Brussels most is in dealing with Ukraine’s impending debt crisis,  and indications suggest that any economic assistance from the  West would come with punishing terms and conditions, structural  adjustments and austerity measures that would generate widespread  social discontent in the country, and threaten the already shaky  legitimacy of the putsch authorities.

Internal divisions within the defense sector and the bureaucracy  of Ukraine, such as the prominent defection of the newly  appointed head of Ukraine’s navy, Admiral Denis Berezovsky, and  other significant figures in support of Crimea’s pro-Russian  stance suggests that the anti-Kiev sentiment is deepening and  showing no signs of abating.

Residents of the Crimea will take part in a referendum on March  30 to reevaluate the status of the peninsula, and the outcome is  widely expected to result in the region seeking greater autonomy  from Ukraine with a move towards federalism. If Russian  authorities feel that all possibilities for dialogue have been  exhausted, and a peacekeeping mission must be launched in  earnest, there is every indication that Moscow will act within  international law and show maximum restraint. Just as radical  forces have become empowered as a result of western policy  elsewhere, the result of the illegitimate putsch in Kiev is that  those countries who claim to defend the post-World War II  international order have empowered forces that sympathize with,  and seek to propagate, fanatical prejudice and extremism, on the  false notion that such radical groups will move aside peacefully  to allow nominal western-aligned moderates and neoliberals to  rule. It hasn’t worked elsewhere, and it won’t work in Ukraine.


Volkssozialistische Bewegung Deutschlands/Partei der Arbeit (VSBD/PdA or People’s Socialist Movement of Germany/Labour Party) was a German Neo-Nazi organization led by Friedhelm Busse. It was founded in 1971 and banned in 1982. It used a stylized eagle on a shield bearing a stylized celtic cross and the wolfsangel as its party emblems.

The Wolfsangel on an old field boundary stone in the Deister in Lower Saxony.
A simplified Celtic cross.
A simplified Celtic Christian cross.

Different examples of eagles, from H. Ströhl‘s Heraldischer Atlas.

At a time when the far right in Germany was distancing itself from mainstream Nazism, the VSBD/PdA took the lead by supporting the more socialist-leaning version of Nazism, Strasserism.[1] The Junge Front (Young Front), a youth movement attached to the party, was also organised.[2]

Despite its name, the movement was not a registered party, which allowed the German Minister of the Interior to ban it in 1982 as an organization opposing the constitution. Usage of the stylized celtic cross was outlawed as well, unless used in an obviously innocuous context.[3] Soon afterwards, many of its former members founded the Nationalist Front, which can be seen as a successor to the VSBD/PdA….

read more:


The extreme right meets the extreme left…the horseshoe theory:

The horseshoe theory in political science asserts that rather than the far left and the far right being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, they in fact closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe. The theory is attributed to French writer Jean-Pierre Faye.[1]

Horseshoe theorists argue that the extreme left and the extreme right are a lot more similar than members of either group would admit.

Horseshoe theory competes with the conventional linear left-right continuum system as well as the various multidimensional systems. Proponents of the theory point to similarities between the extreme left and the extreme right. Specifically, the two ends share an authoritarian element. In extreme left political systems (such as communism) the government takes control of the economic resources. In extreme right political systems (such as fascism) the government also takes control of the economic life, creating a central planning. With both extremes, this theory asserts, the power elite are opposed to genuine clean elections, genuinely free media and speech, and similar democratic institutions that characterise the political center.

More recently, the term has been used when comparing hostility towards Jews from both the far left and the far right (see New antisemitism).[4]

Research the Balkans with an open mind, then go back (or forward) to other “revolutions”, “conflicts”, “famines”, “wars” – there’s a clear pattern…

Follow the money…

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