Archive for April 11th, 2010


Nuclear prolification, Energy Security, Military Cooperation & Financial Crisis Impact

April 11, 2010

Well dear readers, sometimes you have to wonder what is time worth and are some meetings worth while at all?

President Vikor Yanukovych will meet President Obama in a bilateral meeting on 12 April before the NuclearSecurity Summit 12 – 13 April.

Now, my questions above are really quite flippant in some regards and in others quite justified.

Of course, for the sake of President Yanukovych, meeting President Obama is necessary to be seen to be done, particularly having already met with the EU and Russia.  If nothing else it publicly displays he is attempting to follow the policies and communication channels he set out as required for the nation…….and his order of visits has followed the list chronologically and also logically taking aspirations and trade into account.

Job done for President Yanukovych as far as the PR of being seen to follow his EU, Russia, US cooperation platform in various spheres of mutually beneficial Ukrainian interests.

However, there can be little to be said about nuclear prolification, as Ukraine rid itself of the worlds third biggest nuclear arsenal 20 years ago.  There is really nothing to discuss as far as Ukraine is concerned as it is quite capable of running its civil reactors……unless it is going to ask the USA for money to deal with the Chernobyl legacy……..and the only nuclear threat Ukraine possesses is a rouge scientist or isotopes being smuggled across it’s territory into the EU.

Miliatry cooperation policy with NATO has alredy been declared, consisting of peacekeeping, pirates, civil emergency cooperation……and anything else which Ukraine sees a bilateral benefit from.  Membership application is not going to happen under President Yanukovych and he has indeed scrapped the official bodies which were set up to accomplish this.

Energy security will of course be spoken about, bt Nordstream is underway, Southstream now has EU backing and Nabucco……….remains a pipedream.  A trilateral EU/Ukrainian/Russian conglomerate to modernise and control the Ukrainian gas transport system has been muted by Yanulovych and recieved fairly warmly in both the EU and Russia……so we will wait and see.

The flow of oil from the ‘Stan nations through Ukraine will commence again this year after Yanukovych’s visit to the ‘Stans.

There is still the issue of the Black Sea Shelf exploration to consider, to tap the reserves of oil and gas in Ukrainian waters……..but whilst this is not particularly difficult to do technology wise, you will simply have to accept my word that within the Ukrainian halls of power, there are two very destinct views on how to deal with the exploration itself which have yet to be settled.  I am not talking about party politics here either, but to quite justified positions when it comes to the exploartion itself.  This is not likely to be discussed and if it is, certainly not in any depth.

The financial crisis impact on Ukraine needs no real discussion either, other than asking President Obama to lean on the IMF and World bank to resume lending.

So, as President Obama seems to be quite pragmatic when it comes to who he will see, when and why…..regardless of which nation or organisation they represent……what is in it for him?

Obviously a slap on the back for Yanukovych for winning, the same for dropping the NATO issue which neither Ukraine nor NATO are ready for when it comes to Ukrainian assention and for quickly mending relations with Russia who the USA are keen to have “on side” as much as possible for the next few years?

Is that really enough to warrant President Obama meeting with President Yanukovych given his pragmatic stance on such meetings?

Conspiracy theorist I am not…….well not normally……..and I suppose it is quite difficult to shun a newly elected leader in a nation which borders both Russia and the EU, that has been subject to major political impass for the past 5 years and is a major world arms exporter as well.

Is this simply a gesture of goodwill by President Obama or are other things to be discussed which we do not know about.  Are the real conversations worthy of note going to happen between aides and mandarins rather than the Presidents themselves?

Quite simply what is really in this meeting for the USA?


The darkening storm clouds of history appears on the Ukrainian skyline

April 11, 2010

Well dear readers, something quite disturbing is raising its head on an almost daily basis in Ukraine.

The efforts of former President Yushenko to rewrite Ukrainian history to meet his more nationalist agenda and now the current government’s efforts to put it back has brought to the fore a very bitter, largely (but not exclusively) East verses West Ukraine, ethnic Ukrainian and ethnic Russian split across the nation.

When the former President awarded Hero of Ukraine status to Stepan Bandera and the OUN-UPA in the last few weeks of his presidency did he intend to give his replacement a political nightmare?  At the time of granting these awards, he was not sure if it would be Ms Tymoshenko or Mr Yanukovych of course.  To be fair, he had not done it in the full 5 years during his term in office until that time, so there is certainly grounds to suspect the winner would inherit a poisoned challace gifted by him quite deliberately.

If he was under the impression Ms Tymoshenko would win, then he was giving her a political hot potatoe which would alienate her against the densly populated and commodity rich east should she not overturn his award, despite her claims to be democratic and representative of the whole nation.  If she did overturn it, with the east being far more Yanukovych orientated, she would have alienated her natural supporters in the West of Ukraine, in effect having no support amongst any sections of the Ukrainian population.

If Yanukovych won, then whilst he would not suffer any loss of electoral support in the west of Ukraine, he would, should he overturn it, be seen as a Kremlin puppet and justify to all western Ukrainians that they were right to vote against him and he is not representative of their views, further insuring Yanukovych would never get a political foothold in the west of the nation.

It is difficult to asscertain if this act, which he knew would be very divisive politically, was done through a misguided belief that these people should be honoured regardless of the consequences, given his personal nationalist views, or whether they were honoured specifically to split the nation and make the next President unable to surpass him in the history books as one which accomplished much more than him.

In effect, was it the misplaced notion that nationalism is actually patriotism, or a scortched earth policy of a deliberate and calculated move to actually split Ukraine in two? 

As I am not Mr Yushenko, I cannot answer that question obviously, although his actions did recieve official rebuttal and disgust from the EU, jewish communities both domestic and international as well as Russia and Poland in particular.

Mr Yushenko, now of course, certainly struggles to recieve any limelight whatsoever, even in the west of Ukraine, his popularity has severely diminished as the recognition of Bandera and Co is still not enough to make up for the complete lack of progress towards the ideals which got him into power in the first place.

What it has done though, is raise the profile of Ukrainian Nationalists to unprecedented levels for such a small group of people and with Mr Yushenko now a rapidly fading public figure, Ms Tymoshenko, whilst no longer even an MP, seems to have taken up the nationalist cause being the poplarist political animal she is.

There is no better way to paint the present President and government as anti-Ukrainian than figureheading those which are more extreme in their “all things Ukraine” stance.  This of course does not necessarily do the long term image of Ms Tymoshenko any good should she try to remain in politics at the next election and then suddenly try and claim she represents the entire nation again, but at the moment she seems to be adrift of idea and credibility so I suppose the currently high profile nationalist raft appears to be a suitable platform to keep her name in the news regardless of the long term consequences.  I am not certain that it does the identity of the Ukrainian Nationalist much good either being represented by Ms Tymoshenko either.

Her latest quote being the new government dispises anthing Ukrainian.

Anyway, predictably, and as identified by Issac Newton, to every action there is an equal and opposition reaction.  Just as in physics, it is often the case in society.

Enter into the fray an NGO called the Society for the Victims of Ukrainian Nationalists (Poland) that has staged an exhibition in Kyiv about the massacre at a place called Volyn where jews and Poles were allegedly victim to Ukrainian Nationalist agression.

I have not seen the exhibition and will not go and see it, so quite what is displayed and how I do not know.  Like all exhibitions, if I am not interested in the subject I will not go and nobody can or will make me either.

Regardless of the fact people are not forced to see this exhibition, the Ukrainian Nationalists and Ms Tymoshenko are “outraged”………a little like the EU, Poland, Russians and jews about Bandera & Co’s awards given by Yushenko.

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression, it seems, is a one way street and should not offend Ms Tymoshenko or the Ukrainian Nationalists (if she is now their mouthpiece), however if their actions offend anyone else, well, just get over it!

I would also be at pains to state that the Polish Ambassador whilst condemning the Bander and Co awards has also condemned this exhibition.

Unfortunatley for Ukrainian Nationalists, there is no “one size fits all” history for what is now the geographical region called Ukraine as recognised internationally.

Without getting too technical, the west of Ukraine was never part of the Russian Empire and the east was never part of the Polish Empire……..and the south, historically was Ottoman Empire.

Only from 1956, when Ukraine was gifted Crimea, does the whole of what is Ukraine today, have a common history………. and that was almost all under the now defunct  and disolved USSR regime, barring the last 18 years.

You can no more transpose the history of Lviv onto Luhansk than you can Luhansk onto Lviv and say Lviv’s history is right for the entire nation.  They are, literally, Empires apart.

This said, there seems to be a drive to recognise heros of a certain locality as national heros, despite the fact they were actually foes to other regions.

How can Crimea accept historical heros and/or villians of Ukraine and their actions when Crimea was not even part of Ukraine until 1956 and has its own independent history until that time?

Will Ukrainian Nationalists recognise Crimean heros as Heros of Ukraine if they fought against other regions of what is now Ukraine?

To force one tradition, culture, history and ethnicity over another leads to only one thing and that result can be seen in the fate of the former Yugoslavia, yet it seems the battle lines are being drawn in Ukraine for just such actions by a small number of people and former politicians trying to remain in the spotlight.

How do the Ukrainian Nationalists and supporting politicians see this playing out?  The whole point of the OUN-UPA was to fight for a free and independent Ukraine.

Well this has been achieved and has existed for 18 years.

Is this independence not enough?  Is it now necessary to dictate what is acceptable freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of thought and national history, whether that history is national or not?  Is only nationalist ideology and nationalist agendas to be allowed?  Does that not sound very much like the USSR  or Nazi regimes they fought against?  At what point does a freedom seeking hero become a dictator and villian?

How far will these matters escalate?  Will we go from controvertial awards, exhibitions and protests in the streets to physical violence as a next step?  Then what, bombings?  To what end?  Is splitting the independent Ukraine into a number of very small and practically useless States like the former Yugoslavia, recognised by a few nations here and there and not recongised by others the goal?  Would this not disintergrate what the original OUN-UPA fought for?

West Ukraine, East Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as independent soverieng States?  Will that be enough?

Who is the enemy which is being fought against here?  Russia?  Poland?  Yanukovych?  Everything which is not west Ukraine or nationalist in thought and deed?

Is it a true democracy that is sought or one which is tailored to only one individual group’s right to freely express themselves?

What is the goal of today’s Ukrainian Nationalist when the independent soveriegn state of Ukraine exists?

The biggest threat to Ukraine’s existance comes from within Ukraine and in this, the Ukrainian Nationalist is not exempt, be they the current Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly or the Ukrainian Nationalist Self Defence movement.

It may be that the Ukrainian Nationalists have chosen a very poor name for themselves as by inference nationalism glorifies the nation regardless of the actions of the nation, where as patriots will glorify the nation but recognise when the nation is wrong in word or deed.

It may be the Ukrainian Nationalists are completely misrepresented and like all things in Ukraine, simply do not know how to effectively use the media to clarify their position and goals. 

What also maybe true is they are being manipulated by the Tymoshenko machine who whilst keeping them in the limelight, has never come out and confirmed her absolute support for the Bandera award, in effect, their protests about the Volyn exhibition has been hijacked for the political ends of others.

Unfortunatley nobody will know unless their position is clarified but this lack of clarification puts the dark clouds of internal conflict firmly on the horizon of Ukraine on and evermore frequent public basis.

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