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Ukraine- Russia Conflict

 

US, Europe Step Up Threats Against RussiaOver Ukraine
By Stefan Steinberg

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stepped up pressure on the Russian government after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday. “We expect other nations to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and avoid provocative action,” Hagel declared. “That’s why I’m closely watching Russia’s military exercises along the Ukrainian border, which they just announced yesterday.”

Ukraine Was A Playbook CIA Coup d’état
By Prof Francis Boyle

According to Professor Boyle what happened in Kiev was a playbook coup d’état by the CIA. Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, working with the US Ambassador, were instrumental in carrying out the coup d’état, as it has been proven they were working with “the brown shirts”: Svoboda, the right sector, the Bandera Nazis and skinheads

675,000 Ukrainians Pour Into Russia As ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ Looms

02 March, 2014
Countercurrents.org

Russian news agencies are reporting that Russian speaking Ukranians are pouring into Russia. Russia Today reported that an estimated 675,000 Ukrainians left for Russia in January and February. Itar-Tass news agency reported that “In just the past two months (January-February) of this year…675,000 Ukrainian citizens have entered Russian territory”. On Sunday, the border guard service said Russian authorities have identified definite signs that a “humanitarian catastrophe” is brewing in Ukraine. “If ‘revolutionary chaos’ in Ukraine continues, hundreds of thousands of refugees will flow into bordering Russian regions,” the statement read.

Ukrainians have long formed a large presence in Russia. According to the official 2010 census, 1.9 million Ukrainians were officially living in Russia, although the head of the Federal Migration Service put that figure as high as 3.5 million one year before. While those migrants were often prompted by economic concerns, political turmoil has spiked the recent rise in Ukrainian’s attempting to leave the country.

On Saturday, Russian migration authorities reported that 143,000 requests for asylum had been sent to Russia within a two-week period. Russian officials have promised to expedite the processing of those requests.

“Tragic events in Ukraine have caused a sharp spike in requests coming from this country seeking asylum in Russia,” said the chief of the FMS’s citizenship desk, Valentina Kazakova. “We monitor figures daily and they are far from comforting. Over the last two weeks of February, some 143,000 people applied.”

Kazakova said most requests come from the areas bordering Russia, and especially from Ukraine’s south.

“People are lost, scared and depressed,” she said. “There are many requests from law enforcement services, state officials as they are wary of possible lynching on behalf of radicalized armed groups.”

A week after the government of Viktor Yanukovich was toppled by violent street protests, fears of deepening political and social strife have been particularly acute in Ukraine’s country’s pro-Russian east and south.

Soon after Yanukovich opted to flee the country in what he branded as an extremist coup, a newly reconfigured parliament did away with a 2012 law on minority languages which permitted the use of two official languages in regions where the size of an ethnic minority exceeds 10 percent.

Apart from the Russian-majority regions affected by this law, Hungarian, Moldovan and Romanian also lost their status as official languages in several towns in Western Ukraine.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Ukrainian deputies were wrong to cancel the law, while European parliamentarians urged the new government to respect the rights of minorities in Ukraine, including the right to use Russian and other minority languages.

Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, was far more damning in his criticism.

“The attack on the Russian language in Ukraine is a brutal violation of ethnic minority rights,” he tweeted.

Ukraine crisis: Moscow catches the world off guard

With no appetite for a show of force and little leverage over Russia, the West is left with a choice of uncertain sanctions. Oliver Poole reports

After the shock, the response. For two days Western governments clung to the illusion that Vladimir Putin would not ignore their concerns, despite the hour-by-hour escalation of events in Crimea. The Russian parliament’s vote to send in the tanks snapped them out of that illusion.

The European Union, which at lunchtime yesterday was vaguely saying that foreign ministers would meet “early next week”, announced this would now happen tomorrow. The UN Security Council went into emergency session last night.

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” President Obama said. John McCain, the former presidential candidate who in recent days has insisted threat be met by threat, went further. He wrote on Twitter: “Russian Senate backs Putin request to send troops to #Ukraine – straight out of Soviet playbook. Don’t want Cold War back, but Putin seems to.”

Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said last night: “This is an unwarranted escalation of tensions. I therefore call upon the Russian Federation not to dispatch such troops, but to promote its views through peaceful means.”

 

Yet, as the howls of protest grow, what can actually be done? The  international community has looked impotent, condemning the actions but remaining a considerable way away from putting boots on the ground.

Read more: Ukraine vows to fight after Russia says yes to invasion
How far will president Putin go to keep his hands on Crimea?
Comment: No wonder Putin says Crimea is Russian
Cameron warns that ‘the world is watching’
Election monitors will be under extreme pressure
Editorial: We don’t want a war with Russia

With events moving rapidly, what options will now be considered?

Threats

No one wants war, but that does not mean there are no military options. Already the US military’s European commander, General Philip Breedlove, has ordered satellites to target Crimea and, it is being reported, called for a massive ramping-up in communication intercepts from across Ukraine. Others want more. The strident arm of the Republican party has been calling for the Bush-era missile defence plan to be revived, with missiles despatched to the Czech republic. They see what is occurring as a result of Barack Obama’s weakness – the flip-flopping over Syria, abandonment of Iraq, withdrawal from Afghanistan – and believe sabre- rattling is needed, returning strength with strength.

Isolation

Although Russia, as a permanent members of the Security Council, will veto them, resolutions may be introduced at the UN condemning what has unfolded. The G8 could revert to its pre-1998 incarnation as the G7, with Russia excluded. Turkey is likely to be a key determinant. It sees Crimea’s Tatars as kin, and has protested at injustices against those who returned from enforced exile after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Punishment

Sanctions are a blunt weapon, although the slowing Russian economy means a trade hit would impact – primarily on those who are poorest and weakest. The Bospherous is an important export route for Russian fossil fuels. Its closure by the Turks would hurt. But there are more targeted penalties available. Last week, Switzerland and Austria froze all assets linked to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. London and the US, are likely to follow.

The Magnitsky Act, which at present has only been adopted by the US but allows it to bar Russian individuals linked to illegal activity, could similarly be extended. The Russian regime is as dependent on powerful backers as any other. Excluding them from holding money abroad, shopping in London or sending their children to favoured private schools will generate squeals of protest in Putin’s court. Targeting them may prove to be the most effective way of reminding Russia of its international responsibilities. In our highly connected world, it is not only bombs that can be used to strike back.

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