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Tag: Ukraine

A Russian Perspective on Ukraine- (Gregory Clark article below)

25 April 2022

While the brutal tactics of the Russians in Ukraine make horrendous continuing news, significant aspects of the origins of Russia’s Ukraine invasion have been ignored by Western media.  This does not justify the invasion, but one might wonder if the Donbas region in the East could ever have been retained within Ukraine.

It is well known that there is a gradation across the Ukraine from West to East, those in the West favouring Europe about 90%, but those in the East, the Donsek region, has almost 90% keen to merge with Russia.  There was a strong separatist movement in these provinces, with ongoing fighting. The Ukrainian army was not keen to fight other Ukrainians and it was said that neo-Nazi groups were involved in fighting the separatists using very Fascist tactics. 

Historically there had been some strong right wing groups in the Ukraine, and it might be noted that when Germany invaded, troops from Ukraine were recruited and fought with them against the Russians.  At the end of the war, naturally these groups were not seen, but it has been said that the CIA was in touch with them, and that they facilitated the successful storming of the Ukrainian Parliament in the coup in 2014, which led to the Donbas region in the east attempting to secede from Ukraine and Russia seizing Crimea.  It might be noted that Crimea was given to Ukraine by Russia in 1954 when they were both part of the USSR. The transfer was facilitated by Nikita Khrushchev who needed the Ukrainian votes to further his own career, and made little difference while Ukraine was in the USSR.

Fighting continued in the Donbas region which includes the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk. The fighting led to the Minsk Agreement in September 2014, but the agreement failed leading to Minsk II in February 2015.  Luhansk and Donetsk were supposed to become autonomous regions, but it has never happened.  Fighting has continued, so Russia’s claim that they are fighting Nazis is not as absurd as it has been painted, at least in those regions.

When the USSR was collapsing the US Secretary of State James Baker promised Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev on 9 February 1990 that NATO would not recruit countries to the East.  However, those countries were fearful of a Russian resurgence and wanted to join NATO.  The USSR collapsed in 1991. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined in 1999 and Russia objected.  Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined in 2004.  Note the marked move of NATO to the East.  Albania and Croatia joined in 2009, Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020.  The Balkan countries presumably joined as protection against Serbia, which started the wars as Yugoslavia disintegrated in 1991-1999.  Serbia was a strong Russian ally. 

Prior to invading Ukraine, Russia wanted a guarantee that Ukraine would not join NATO, but Ukraine along with Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have expressed membership aspirations.  No one was willing to give a guarantee the Ukraine would not join NATO even as the Russian troops massed for the invasion, though some hoped that Putin was bluffing.

Russia is now the 11th biggest economy in the world, ahead of Spain and Australia at 12th and 13th, so economically it is only a middle power, but having been a superpower with an empire recently, it has weapons far in excess of other middle powers and as it pursues a commodities-led recovery it hankers for its old Empire.

The German Social Democrats, the coalition partners of Angela Merkel, assumed that if Russia were integrated into the European economy by Germany buying their gas there would be no wars.  This has been a major miscalculation. Germany was dependent on Russia for 55% of their gas, this having gone up when then they closed their nuclear plants after the Fukushima disaster.  They still get 39% of their gas from Russia and are reluctant to turn it off as it would cause a major recession there.  This is very controversial in Germany at present.  Someone calculated that German purchase of Russian gas can pay for a tank every 20 seconds.

Here is an article by Gregory Clark, who spent 10 years with the Australian Dept. of External Affairs (which was the Foreign Relations Dept.) and resigned in 1965 in protest at Australia going into Vietnam. He went to Tokyo and was the lead correspondent for The Australian in Japan 1969-74 and a Japanese academic. He came back as an advisor to Prime Minister and Cabinet in 1974-76 (the Whitlam era), and returned to Japan after that. 

Western media have failed dismally in reporting the Ukraine war

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Will Russia Invade Ukraine?

6 February 2022

Probably not, but it is possible and they are likely to take some action.


The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was largely due to their economy being unable to compete with more efficient market-based ones. But US Secretary of State James Baker in 1990 promised Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia that NATO would not expand eastwards.


The Eastern European countries were effectively given independence. Their attitudes varied. The Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were very keen to have protection. Poland, which was abolished as a nation in WW2, simply being divided in half and incorporated into Russia and Germany by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 was also looking for protection.

NATO, led by the US has been joining up countries so that only the two closest to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have not joined. Now the US is now loudly proclaiming Ukraine’s ‘right’ to join NATO if it chooses. The US has a lot of hubris, a tin ear, an arms lobby that needs sales and a recent history of doing what it likes. It has also installed military facilities in some of the countries closet to Russia. Those with long memories may recall the Cuban missile crisis of 1961 when Russia tried to station missiles there and there was a major confrontation. The US has bases all over the world encircling its rivals. The Russians do not, and when they tried to these was a major confrontation. One can also note that there are no natural barriers to military advances in Europe. Napoleon and Hitler swept across Russia and Russia swept them back.


Ukraine, the former ‘breadbasket’ of the Soviet Union is the closest big country to Russia and also could control Russian access to the Black Sea so has special significance. Internally it has quite a varied attitude to Russia. Those in the Eastern part of the country are very pro-Russia, while those in the West would like more integration with Western Europe. There is a succession movement in Donbass, an eastern province, and Russia is accused of helping the separatists. The capital, Kiev, is on the Dnieper river, which bisects the country from north to south, just downstream of Chernobyl. In 2014 there was a coup which was shown to be CIA-supported. The Parliament was invaded, much like the US on 6 Jan 2021, but in Ukraine’s case the President fled and new government was installed, highly favourable to the US. Russia responded by annexing the Crimean peninsula, which has their key naval base in the Black Sea. It might be noted that in a plebiscite a huge majority of Crimeans supported Russia against Ukraine.


In an interview on 7.30 on 1/2/22 Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner pointed out the US hypocrisy on NATO membership. He also pointed out that Russia does not want to invade. There would be Western sanctions, but Russia would also be stuck with a guerrilla war situation having to suppress part of what they occupied perhaps indefinitely. They cannot count on being welcomed even into eastern Ukraine. Invading armies usually are not. They would lose a lot of face internationally and there would be trouble on side or another in selling their gas to Western Europe.


It might be overlooked with all the US statements on Ukraine that Germany, France and Italy, surely the heavyweights of Europe, have been very silent. Germany has decommissioned its nuclear plants, cut down on coal and now gets a third of its energy from Russian gas. It cannot replace that amount of energy in the short-term. They are very aware of what a war in Europe means. Europe is more economically integrated and in general, this is good thing.


Russia will be supported by China if the sanctions start to bite, and the US dollar is gradually becoming less important as a world currency, a trend that the Chinese are working hard to accelerate.Even the Ukrainian President is now on record saying that the US must take much of the blame for the current situation.


It seems that the US arms industry, which has spent decades having little wars to keep itself at the centre of that fading economy is lost in its own hubris. It sees this merely as an opportunity to sell arms to the Ukrainians. It is a market, and an economic game. The Russians have existential concerns, not to mention the loss of face. They are likely to take some action. Diplomacy needs to work and the US has to be restrained. Finland has lived on the Russian border for many years as a democracy that minded its Ps and Qs. The Ukraine should probably do the same.

Press stunned as Ukraine leader points finger at West

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