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The situation in Ukraine appears to accurately described as a state of limbo. The most positive thing that can be said at the moment is that the serious violence that was occurring last week is for the moment in abeyance. One of several serious problems on the table is what looks like a significant separatist movement in the Crimea centered in the city of Sevastopol.

Ukraine: Sevastopol installs pro-Russian mayor as separatism fears grow  

Authorities in the southern Ukrainian city of Sevastopol have installed a pro-Russian mayor as fears grow that the Kremlin may be stoking separatist sentiment in the region.

Sevastopol's city council handed power to Aleksei Chaliy, a Russian citizen, during an extraordinary session on Monday evening while more than a thousand protesters gathered around city hall chanting "Russia, Russia, Russia," and "A Russian mayor for a Russian city."

Fears are spreading that separatists in Sevastopol, and the Crimean region of which it is a part, could use the power vacuum in Ukraine to seize greater autonomy and deepen ties with Russia.

Ukraine's interim president, Olexander Turchynov, warned on Tuesday that the country faced a "serious threat" from separatism.
The Crimea is the only region in Ukraine with a majority of ethnic Russians. Sevastopol is the home port of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Russia has a lease on the port which is set to run until 2042. It is a situation somewhat reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. There had already been concerns that Russia was distributing Russian passports in the region and taking other steps to strengthen its influence. The situation provides a basis for Russian efforts to exert influence on the unstable situation in Ukraine.

Meanwhile the political situation in Kiev remains chaotic. On Saturday the plan had been to select an interim government by tomorrow. Now the plan has been pushed back until Thursday. The three formerly opposition parties have little in the way of common ground now that their common enemy Yanukovych is out of the picture. They are jockeying for power with an eye to the permanent elections scheduled for May.

The threat of imminent bankruptcy looms large. Russia has cancelled its financial assistance. The IMF will not open negotiations until an interim government has been established. The EU and the US are making general promises of some form of financial assistance to supplement IMF funding but haven't come up with any concrete plans or offers. The Ukrainian currency is in free fall and any ability to borrow on the international market has become non-existent as they more closer to the possibility of default.        

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Comment Preferences

  •  Speaker of Crimean legislature calls (9+ / 0-)

    for autonomy from Ukraine.

    http://online.wsj.com/...

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:06:14 AM PST

  •   (10+ / 0-)

    When we were in Ukraine a couple of years ago, our Ukrainian guide told us that the Russian consulate was issuing passports to any ethnic Russian Ukrainian who walked in the door.  So this has been going on for a while.

    She also said that she thought it was Russia's long-term strategy to reacquire the Crimea through a referendum.  

  •  Neo-nazis invaded Kiev city hall (10+ / 0-)

    and painted swastikas all over the place.  They occupied the offices, strolled around in ski masks and set up their headquarters.   There was exclusive footage yesterday on the TV5 Monde cable channel.  It's in French, but the swastikas tell the story well enough.

    Link

    I posted this last night on another thread, but it should be seen by all who are interested in the issue.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:16:32 AM PST

  •  it has had a lot of autonomy despite or because (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Lawrence, FarWestGirl

    of the USSR's ethnic cleansing programs

    where's the UN in all of this

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:17:10 AM PST

  •  This desire of governmental units to split is (5+ / 0-)

    common throughout the world.

    I see lots of posts here to the effect that maybe the Civil War was a mistaken and/or if the Red states want to secede, this time we should let them.

    In the US, we may have a vote by Californians to split into 6 states, and similar talk in Colorado and elsewhere.

    In my own state, my county talks wistfully about splitting off from the rest of the state.  

    Some in my city would like to form a separate county.  

    The 5 precincts that make up my small city talk about how much better they'd be if they were all separate cities.

    Parts of my precinct want to split off from other parts.

    Eventually we get down to the nation of me, my wife and my dog, and I'm not so sure about my wife lately.

    IMO, the basic human unit is the clan, and all larger groups are to some extent artificial, though of course they bring benefits from their larger size and efficiency of scale.

    •  The really basic human unit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Involuntary Exile, amyzex

      is a single body. The heart can't declare independence from the liver. Anything more complex than that is uncertain.

      •  the individual is weak; the clan is strong (3+ / 0-)

        One human alone in the wilderness can in theory survive, but he won't be able to do much with himself and is far more vulnerable.

        Supposedly the natural size of human groups is somewhere around 150 people, determined by physical limits on our brain's ability to hold and process information on specific individuals, and then depending on the need to actually have strong bonds with that many people; in practice most people only need to know far less people than that.  Above that number, we can only really deal with people as members of their groups.

        Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

        by Visceral on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:35:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A move towards increased local automy seems (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      protectspice

      to be a widespread trend throughout the world.

      I think that as political units become bigger and bigger (say the EU) people increasinly fear the loss of their historical and cultural identies.

      Perhaps political monstrosities like the EU will become unions of regions rather than of the modern national states.

      We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

      by Lepanto on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:20:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are times when I wonder whether we (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Visceral, amyzex

    should have simply allowed the South to secede and be down with it. We had industrial might, creativity, and a far fairer and more moral view of society. By winning our (un)Civil war, we have been shackled by their idiocy, backwardness, racism, sexism and irrational beliefs in a two part fairy tale.

    It seems as though the Ukraine suffers from the same choice. The have a backwards, small minded, anti-democratic, group that worships Ye Olde Soviet Union instead of the EU. Perhaps they should simply let them go.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:26:57 AM PST

  •  carve off Crimea for Russia and let the rest go (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    Russia gets their Sevastopol naval base back for good and their whole excuse for interfering - protecting ethnic Russians - is satisfied.  They might see less reason to hold onto the rest in some fashion, or at least drop their objections to an east/west partition of Ukraine proper, so they still have their "buffer state" against the EU/NATO.

    I swear, if people were honestly cynical - Russia just wants its naval base and a buffer state, the EU just wants to grow, NATO just wants to grow, ethnic Ukrainians and Russian-Ukrainians just hate each other, etc. - it would be much easier to fix problems.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:31:29 AM PST

    •  Probably have to carve off more of eastern (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, Involuntary Exile

      Ukraine than that.

      Why the EU and NATO feel the need to push further and further east, beyond sticking it to Russia, is beyond me.  It's like some mindless monster that feels the need to grow and grow just to grow and grow.

      "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

      by Paleo on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:36:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, Involuntary Exile, amyzex

        Crimea becomes part of Russia proper (like Kaliningrad/Koenigsburg), eastern Ukraine becomes a pro-Russian vassal state like Belarus, western Ukraine joins EU/NATO.  Simple solution, IMO; if not for all the flag-wavers and pan-Slavists.

        As for EU/NATO's determination to grow, that's a universal human tendency: more land, more subjects, more revenue, more power.  As if Russia didn't/doesn't have the same tendency.  It's gotten a lot harder and less popular, so now it has to disguise itself as "business", "soft power", and "interconnectivity".

        Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

        by Visceral on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:41:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Manifest Destiny! n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Paleo, Involuntary Exile
      •  I really think you have part of that backwards... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lawrence
        Why the EU and NATO feel the need to push further and further east, beyond sticking it to Russia, is beyond me.  It's like some mindless monster that feels the need to grow and grow just to grow and grow.
        First, EU does not equal NATO. Two different entities.
            Second, the expansion of the EU has not been driven by the original members wanting to expand. It has been driven by the new nations wanting to be part of the EU. Joining the EU offers their citizens serious gains in trade and mobility. The EU is not seeking out new members; prospective new members have been seeking them out.
            As far as the impact of Greece and Cyprus is concerned, remember that membership in the EU is not the same as membership in the Eurozone. They do not have to adopt the common currency to join the EU. They are supposed to, but Sweden has intentionally avoided it, and a number of the new members aren't there yet, either.

        -7.25, -6.26

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 12:13:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good post. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    Perhaps partition would be better.  Europe faced this throughout the 20th century.  New nations, changing borders, expulsion of minorities.  A Ukraine with a western orientation in the west and central and let Russia have its port and the east.

    But I bet the people prefer civil war.    

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:54:06 AM PST

  •  A contrarian perspective: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, pico

    Despite his desire for a Russian Crimea, I doubt Mr. Putin wishes to give legitimacy to the idea that regions have the right to secede from their mother countries.

    What would stop Chechnyans and Ossetians from using Crimea as precedent?

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 08:54:33 AM PST

  •  Russia isn't going to let Crimea go (3+ / 0-)

    I believe there is another region of Ukraine on the eastern side that is also majority russian.
       One way or another, this is a very delicate situation that could get out of hand very quickly.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 09:11:01 AM PST

  •  Essentially two distinct ethnic groups... (0+ / 0-)

    ...wrestling control of one nation back and forth from each other, and using executive power, while in office, to further continue a half century of old grudges and blood feuds.

    They really need to cleave the country in two, and let them go their separate ways. Crimea and the Easter can return to its satellite statehood, and Western Ukraine can join the EU and NATO to prosper.

    I've seen some hardboiled eggs in my time, but you're about twenty minutes

    by harrylimelives on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 09:38:52 AM PST

    •  Make that three ethnic groups - the Crimean Tatars (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      harrylimelives, Lawrence

      were at the Maidan and will (and should) complicate Russia's assumption they can walk away with Crimea. That's one reason to get the UN involved - the Tatars were brutally suppressed in Soviet days and have no desire to be reabsorbed into USSR 2.0

      •  At the end of WWII the British (3+ / 0-)

        shipped them back to the USSR knowing that they would be executed.

        •  It think you're referring to the repatriation of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marsanges, Lawrence

          the Cossacks rather than the Tatars. As James Bond put it in Goldeneye - "Not exactly our finest hour". It's worth noting that some of the Sochi security, including the images of Pussy Riot members being whipped, were provided by Cossacks - so their relationship to Russia and Russians is more complicated.

          For the Tatars - I think they want nothing to do with Russians or Russia - and they inhabited Crimea long before the Russians turned up at the end of the 18th century, and sounds like they would be OK with Ukraine - particularly a Ukraine that becomes part of the EU (there are Tatars in Bulgaria and Romania already).

        •  Some thirty years ago I read a book (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon

          by Nikolai Tolstoy "Victims of Yalta" (I think it was published with another title in the US) on the betrayal by the Allies of Russian and Ukrainian nationalists. I recall it being very informative on all this. If my memory doesn't fail me I think some of the people shipped back to the USSR for execution and imprisonment included former White Russians who had lived in Western Europe since the end of the Russian Civil War and not just Russians and Ukrainians who had served with the Germans.

          We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

          by Lepanto on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:03:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Western Ukraine to prosper under EU like Bulgaria (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon

      Like Romania. Like Montenegro. Like Poland. Oh sure, a few will prosper. There will always be a 1% everywhere. But the majority will not. They will suffer under the demands of the Germans for monetary and fiscal discipline. Prices for everything vital for survival will skyrocket while wages will fall. The country's greatest export, for at least a decade, will be it's young, educated people who will emigrate to find whatever work they can to send Euros and dollars home to support бабуся і дідусь (babusya i didusʹ). Young Ukrainians are about to learn the hard way that the EU is not a panacea, that they are never going to be Germans, and that they are trading away their independence and their patrimony to a group who will never treat them as equals, who will regard them as blond Bulgarians. (Ha! As if being blond could ever make the Germans think of Slavs as being their equals.) In their current euphoria the young can't see that they've been played, that it's going to be a bitter pill they will be forced to swallow. When they do wake up from their fever dream it will almost certainly be too late to change the trajectory.

      •  Ukraine's reference point is Poland, not Greece or (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lawrence

        Bulgaria. As the BBC noted today, Poland played a pivotal role in securing the Friday agreement and stopping the bloodshed. For Ukrainians, it was only 10 years ago that either side of the Polish-Ukrainian border looked about the same. Poland now has 3 times the GDP per capita, and almost alone among EU nations barely noticed the 2009 mini-depression.

        Yes the French and Germans showed up on Friday, but it was Radoslaw Sikorski running the EU show, and Poland is not afraid to be assertive these days within the EU. It also helps that Poland does NOT use the euro - and is therefore less susceptible to German monetary policy.

        •  Unlike Greece, Poland still (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Involuntary Exile, katiec

          has its own currency. That has been an advantage in the great contraction.

        •  So what are the chances Ukraine will keep... (0+ / 0-)

          it's own currency, especially now that it's in free fall? For some reason the populace is almost always willing to swallow the lie that converting to the Euro will improve their lot. The worse the monetary situation, it seems, the more willing they are to believe the Euro will cure their ills.

        •  Also, Ukrainians for the most part don't want (0+ / 0-)

          to be Poles. Being like Poland is not that attractive an option for the young. They want to be Germans. Poland may be prospering compared to the rest of Eastern Europe, but all you have to do is spend some time in Chicago to learn how well the Polish economy is doing for the average Pole. There has been little let up in emigration of young educated people from Poland to the US and Western Europe, though population migration may be in stasis as older Poles are retiring at increasing rates and returning to Poland where it is relatively cheap to live on their Social Security incomes.

          •  My point wasn't that Ukrainians wanted to be Poles (0+ / 0-)

            but their reference point for what is "normal" and "possible" will be Poland, and not some of the EU basket cases. As far as wanting to be German - if by "German" you mean having a strong economy, generally free and democratic institutions, and good job prospects - then we all want to be German - at least if Bob Corker will get out the picture (re: VW and Chattanooga)

            •  That was indeed my reference re. "being Germans" (0+ / 0-)

              And yes, all of Europe wants to be like Germany, but Germany is not ever going to let that happen if they can help it. Germany wants vassal states just as Russia does, but not quite so transparently. It is in their economic interest to be the strong leader of the union and for their partners to be subservient. It is not in their economic interest to have equal partners - it never is in any partnership. It is always economically advantageous to maintain the controlling interest.

              Meanwhile, back in Ukraine the economic situation will become more dire than it already is as Russia puts the squeeze on from the left in the form of higher gas prices and possible economic sanctions and the IMF and EU put the squeeze on from the right in the form of it's ever popular economic reforms. It will be at least two decades before Ukraine will climb out of the hole that is about to be dug.

    •  Join the EU to Prosper Like Greece or Cyprus (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, Involuntary Exile

      Apparently it isn't as easy to join the EU as one might think.  At least that's what they're telling Scotland these days.

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:54:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Russian military APCs are patrolling in Sevastopol (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, Involuntary Exile

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:11:18 AM PST

  •  I don't recall whether Crimea was under the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence

    same edicts and attacks by Stalin when he starved all those millions. According to Ukie sources, 10,000,000 people starved to death because Uncle Joe wanted to teach them a lesson. He sent that grain west and sold it. Anyone who tried to hide and store grain was shot.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:35:25 AM PST

    •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Involuntary Exile, agnostic

      What happened in the Ukraine in 1929-31 was the kind of primitive accumulation that set the stage for industrialization.  This happened in Great Britain through sugar slavery in the Caribbean and cotton and tobacco slavery in the U.S. South.  In the U.S. a similar route was followed, with extermination of the American Indians thrown in.

      As Barrington Moore Jr. has made plain, the route to the modern world was a bloody business no matter where or when it was carried out.

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:59:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  very true. (0+ / 0-)

        I recall that for a number of decades, any country that had a MacDonalds would not get into a war with another country that had a MacDonalds. (whether the fat levels made the unable to march to war, or the chemicals in the soft drinks destroyed too many brain cells and prevented any organized action, is still unknown) But that changed under Bush.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 11:15:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It Isn't Just the Crimea (5+ / 0-)

    It will be Kharkov, Belgorad, Rostov, the Donets Basin and most of the Black Sea littoral.  Southeastern "Ukraine" is pretty much Russia, no matter how the Czar or Stalin chose to draw the lines.

    And Poland still thinks a big chunk of western Ukraine should be part of Poland.  It's a captive nation, you know.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:45:23 AM PST

  •  I'm going to check out some native-language (3+ / 0-)

    sites later tonight (I have a long workday today, unfortunately), but so far the few things I've managed to skim suggest two points:

    The first is that there seems to be no love lost for Yanukovych or the current government per se.  I don't think this is a huge surprise, though.  And I think that has some implications in terms of going forward.

    The second is the major concerns seem to be "fascism"* (which is totally legit) and national instability (which, given the last ten years of Ukrainian history, are even more legit.)  I think the idea that there's some intractable cultural difference between Crimea and the rest of the nation is overstated, but when you've gone through three massively failed presidencies in a row, including two nationwide protests, the latest of which has turned violent, then people start emphasizing those cultural differences more strongly.  Heck, Putinian Russia looks like a rock of stability by comparison.

    * "fascism" in quotes not because I doubt the applicability, but because the Russian word "фашизм" is broader than the English.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:48:00 AM PST

      •  Yeah. Checking things out now. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon

        The oppo is doing a shit job keeping these elements in check, although I don't know how one could be expected to without tight organizing, and one feature of these protests has been the total lack of organizing: just online calls for people to show up and pitch their tents.  Apart from hatred of Yankovych's policies, there hasn't been a unifying theme.

        My hope, however naive, is this: the protests in Ukraine push the oppo to a more moderate position.  For better or worse someone is going to have to administrate this country, and they can choose to a path that recognizes and preserves the rights of minority groups, or they can choose the path that privileges destructive nationalism above everything.  So far the hypernationalists are still in the minority even among the oppo, but it's not going to matter if they can whip up enough hatred to convince non-ethnic Ukrainians that they have something legitimate to fear (and swastikas in public buildings will do just that.)  All in all, a depressing set of developments.

        On the flipside, the majority party in the Crimean regional council is "Russian Unity", which already tells you what you need to know, and the party head, Sergei Tsekov, has been singing this song for a while.  It sucks that he's right in this case - there really are fascists in the oppo - so it's going to be an interesting week.

        I've been chatting with Ukrainian friends, and the main concern at this point is less the political situation per se, and more the on-the-ground problems: pensions payments are frozen, salaries are frozen, etc.  People need to eat.  Things could get bad very quickly unless the remaining government steps up, and here's where I'm at my most cynical: the person stepping into the power vacuum is Oleksander Turchynov, yet another crooked asshole.   So... not good.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 11:19:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  So? Let Russia have the Crimea. (0+ / 0-)

    It would be like America getting rid of Texas.  Besides, you would put a world-class seaport and NATO naval facilities right at Odessa.  Sevastopol?  Not so much....

    Proponents of gun violence own guns. Opponents of gun violence do not own guns. What part of this do you not understand?

    by Liberal Panzer on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 11:13:20 AM PST

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