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Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 15.55 GMT

US gives push towards new Crimean War
By Lucien Rajakarunanayake


While the focus of Sri Lanka is largely on Geneva, where the Western members of the "international community" led by the US, UK, and Canada and their allies, are carrying on what is unquestionably a contractual obligation to the pro-LTTE Tamil groups in their countries, the larger issue before the world today is the possibility of another Crimean War.

There is considerable fear that such an outbreak of violence between states in Europe could well lead to a much wider conflagration. It is most interesting that this is happening when the world marks the centenary of World War 1, described as the "War to end all Wars".

We are now seeing a barrage of propaganda unleashed by both sides in the current conflict over the situation in Crimea and the larger State of Ukraine, of which it is a peninsula; with the West - mainly the United States and Europe come together against Russia, reminiscent of what happened during the Crimean War - when Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire joined against Russia.

The issue today is described largely by the Western media that echoes the US and European leaders as one of safeguarding democracy and the sovereignty of Ukraine, from threats by Russia. There are clearly wider issues than this overly simple explanation for this crisis that keeps growing each day, with Crimea expected to hold a referendum tomorrow (Sunday 16) whether to remain part of the Ukraine, be independent or possibly join the Russian Federation.


The propaganda from the West is largely that of hypocrisy, with the lead given by the US. This is best seen from the very early comment about phoney pretexts for war, made by US Secretary of State John Kerry. In his initial charge against Russia, Kerry said: "You just don't invade another country, on phony pretext in order to assert your interests... This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It's really 19th century behavior in the 21st century." (NBC - Sunday, March 3, 2014).

John Kerry (just like President Obama) has obviously forgotten the US and UK invasion of Iraq in 2003 on the pretext of neutralizing so-called weapons of mass destruction, where the US and UK leaders misled the US Congress, the UK House of Commons, and the UN Security Council, too. This was very much in the 21st century. The subsequent US, UK and many NATO member states' invasion of Afghanistan was also in this century. Such phoney pretexts by the West in the 21st century does not give Russia the right to invade Ukraine, as it is being accused of today. But it is necessary to expose the hypocrisy of the West both in helping to develop and now seeking to extend the crisis in Crimea and Ukraine.

One has to question here the democracy in Ukraine that the West is so anxious to protect. The government led by the illegally ousted President Viktor Yanukovych was certainly elected by the people. There is little doubt it was a rancorous leadership, where many Ukrainians felt their State had been captured by a corrupt elite. It was a rule of the corrupt rich, who had little interest in the rights of the people. There were public protests against the government, with the Maidan or Freedom Square in the capital Kiev being taken over by anti-government demonstrators. But, was it only these Ukrainian protestors who carried on the campaign? What were Western leaders doing among those people, encouraging them towards an overthrow of an elected government?

Foreign leaders

These included Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union; Senator John McCain of the US, who is known to rush to any scene of a crisis where Western interests are promoted, as in Libya and Syria. What was the role of the British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Kiev Maidan, as well as several other European leaders? Do they allow foreign leaders to come to their own countries to address the protestors against the elected governments? Does this not give a clear indication of a deeper conspiracy to oust the elected leader and government, to achieve the aims of Europe and NATO?
And, how did the protests begin? It was when President Yanukovych rejected a trade agreement with the EU.

There is enough evidence that this agreement would have brought all the hardships the EU has imposed on countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain - through the "troika" of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - on the already hard pressed Ukrainian people. President Yanukovych who rejected this "offer" with deadly economic strings, turned instead to Moscow that offered a different and easier package of urgently needed funds and cheaper gas to support the Ukranian economy that was facing a crisis.

The people of Ukraine had the right to protest, but how does one turn the rejection of a trade agreement into the demand for a Western style democracy, and nothing less? How did this rejection of an economic package, by the country's elected leader, suddenly become an unquestioned demand for West European style democracy? Political analysts of the developments in Kiev are clear the protesters included sections of National Socialists, some of whom are even regarded as having pro-Nazi policies. There is little doubt that the most active protesters, had financial and other support from the democracies of the US and Western Europe. There are no questions about Russia seeking to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence, having considerable cause for concern when these advances by the EU gave every indication of the approach of NATO much closer to its borders.

There is also the admitted telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they discuss installing a new, pro-US government that will incorporate the opposition figures favourable to them among those leading the street protests against President Yanukovych. They concluded that Arseniy Yatsenyuk, should head a new government, just as we see it today.

NATO thrust

It is difficult to ignore the role of the West, mainly the US and the EU, in engineering the fall of the elected government of Ukraine, which has to a large extent led to the position that Russia now takes over Crimea, where it is keen to ensure the presence of its Black Sea fleet, and now has the opportunity to talk of the need to protect the Russian speaking people of Ukraine, who comprise a substantial number of the population, both in the Crimea and regions of the Ukraine closer to Russia.

If the Crimean War was about Russia acting to protect the rights of Orthodox Christians, against the Ottoman Empire, with France and Britain joining the Ottomans to oppose Russia; the situation today in the Crimea, is that the Russians claim their right to protect the Russian speakers there, and if any expansion of the dispute takes place, act on behalf of the Russians or Russian speakers in other parts of Ukraine, too. This may seem a repetition of history in a different form, and a dangerous repetition too. But it does not seem to be one of farce.

What we see today is Russia's determination to deter the eastward thrust of NATO, towards its border nations. Russia did act decisively when NATO tried to expand to Georgia in 2008. It is important to recall that when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, the then US President George HW Bush, assured Russia that NATO would not extend to its borders. But President Clinton broke this promise and expanded NATO to the very borders of Russia, drawing in almost all former Warsaw Pact member states.

As most analysts see it, Ukraine is today even more important for Russia than Georgia, having a substantial Russian speaking population. In the emerging situation, if a new pro-US and Western government in Kiev decides to join NATO, Russia would very likely lose its Black Sea ports, which is a major cause for growing Russians concerns about the role of the West in Ukraine today.

Simon Tisdall, assistant editor and foreign affairs columnist of the Guardian in his "Opinion" to CNN on March 7, 2014 stated: "US President Barak Obama, a former law professor who should know better, has charged Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, with violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, in breach of international law. "But it is Obama, following in Bush's footsteps, who has repeatedly and cynically flouted international law by launching or backing myriad armed attacks on foreign soil, in Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan to name a few, without U.N. Security Council authorization. It is Obama's administration which continues to undermine international law by refusing to join or recognize the International Criminal Court, the most important instrument of international justice to have been developed since 1945.

"And it is Obama's State Department, principally in the person of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, that fatally overplayed its hand in the run-up to last month's second Ukraine revolution. Nuland's infamous "f**k the EU" comment revealed the extent to which Washington was recklessly manoeuvring to undermine Ukraine's elected pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, by backing the Kiev street protesters' demands."

David Paul, the President of the Fiscal Strategies Group, USA, writing in the Huffington Post on March 11, 2014 said: "It may seem like we are embarking on a new dark and dangerous era... (But) the elder Bush recognized the importance of acknowledging that Russia has its own strategic interests within its region, and that even with the collapse of the Communist regime, it would have the power to assert itself... Bush eschewed a Manichean world view, and could accept that other nations have interests and perspectives that are different than ours. Russia, Bush and the Paleoconservatives around him understood, would be less dangerous if it were not backed into a corner.

"But that was not the path we chose. Instead, we chose to push Russia to the wall at every opportunity possible, and now we are surprised that it is pushing back."

NATO has already deployed reconnaissance planes in Poland and Romania to monitor the Ukrainian crisis. United States warships have headed towards the Black Sea, to conduct military exercises with Bulgarian and Romanian naval forces, stepping up the tensions over Crimea. President Obama is putting maximum pressure on Europe for sanctions and other steps against Russia, which can only exacerbate the conflict. He clearly sees the Crimean situation as one that can change his image of being soft on foreign policy, when a midterm election to Congress is due later this year.

The main Western players stoking the Crimean crisis today have shed every trapping of human rights, accountability and such concerns good for the battles waged in Geneva against Sri Lanka. With the Ukraine, they expose their true selves in taking the world to the brink of another war in Crimea.





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Last modified: March 16, 2014.

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