Everyone seems to have an opinion on the situation in Ukraine – but whom to believe?
In my never-humble-opinion, the best sources of information are not just the ‘usual media’, but also the people on the ground, who can tell you what their own experience is. As I do not know anyone currently living in that part of the world, I did the next best thing: I asked a lot of questions of someone who may live on Canada (and whose academic background specializes in how Russia exerts influence over Ukrainian political sphere through the use of Russian energy policy), but who has family members she is in touch with in the Ukraine, in Crimea – and even within the Ukrainian military forces.
The most important thing my source stresses that people there are afraid: and when people are afraid, they will believe all kinds of transparent propaganda which could never trick them in their right state of mind.
This, of course, is true for all people in all kinds of situation – but it is important to keep this in mind while the various propagandists battle each other over the minds of the Ukrainian people.
The next important thing my source stressed was that while the Ukrainian troops have been ordered not to fire their weapons, the Ukrainian naval vessels are not under any such restriction and, even if someone tried to impose it on them, they would disobey. Therefore, if the Russian forces show any aggressive moves against the Ukrainian Navy, regardless of what the chain of command may order, the Ukrainian Navy WILL engage.
At least, that is the information my source has received.
In addition, the Ukrainian military forces stationed on the ground in Crimea (and currently surrounded by Russian troops firing into the air, neutralized and functionally disarmed) are being pressured into breaking their oath of loyalty to UKRAINIAN forces and instead declare themselves CRIMEAN military forces. While we are hearing all about Russian versus Ukrainian military forces on the ground, we also ought to consider the possibility that a third military force may be created: the Crimean military.
The Ukraine does not recognize any legitimate Crimea referendum!
There certainly is no provision for it in the 1996 Ukraine Constitution
currently ruling the country…
Yet, the Crimeans do plan to hold one: originally scheduled to coincide with the Presidential elections to be held in May, it has been ‘bumped up’ to March 30th, 2014. In this referendum, the Crimean people will vote on whether to be an autonomous Protectorate of Ukraine or an autonomous protectorate of Russia.
Funny word, ‘Protectorate’! Sounds eerily like the Hitler’s ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’, right after he was forced to annex Sudetenland in order to protect the ethnic German nationals living there from persecution and oppression… Yes, yes, reducto ad Hitlerum, but you can’t call Godwin’s law on me when the comparison is actually accurate!!!
My most excellent source also stressed a few other very important factors that are not being spoken about.
Like the fact that Crimea has no natural source of fresh water – it is a mountainous desert region whose water is being piped in from Ukraine. And just like Russia exercises control over Ukraine through energy supplies, Ukraine could exert considerable pressure on Crimea by controlling its water supply. Russians could only ship water in by boats – very costly and not particularly practical. And building a water de-salination plant takes time…
The Tatar population of Crimea is Muslim and has a strong support in Turkey. If Putin feels the necessity of sending troops into Crimea to protect the ethnic Russians, then Turkey would be equally justified in sending in their troops to protect the 12% of the population who are ethnic Tatars.
And Turkey IS a NATO country…
According to my source, this would be the best way for NATO to get their foot in the door and many Crimeans are hoping that this is what will happen, as Turkey is a NATO member.
The Budapest Memorandum is also very important as it stipulated that if Ukraine gave up its defenses as part of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Russia, Great Britain and the USA would be the guarantors of its territorial integrity.
And so it happened.
Now that Russia is in breech of the Budapest Memorandum, both the UK and USA are treaty bound to protect the Ukraine against Russia’s actions. Will they be honourable enough to live up to their treaty obligations?
Well, Great Britain had a mutual defense treaty with Czechoslovakia – yet it failed to live up to it, letting Hitler have his ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’. (Yet another nod to Godwin-law-nazis…) So, I would not hold my breath there – Britain’s promises on defense are worth about as much as Nortel stocks…
And the once powerful, not to be trifled with United States of America?
Obama let his own people be slaughtered in Benghazi without lifting a finger to help them – so why would anyone expect him to inconvenience himself on behalf of a country he probably could not even find on a map? He only selectively enforces laws in his own country, so why would anyone expect him to live up to his international legal obligations?
It sound a proper mess…
One last item of importance my source had stressed: many people are acting as if the current government in the Ukraine were illegitimate, something similar to a military coup. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Rather, the shift in the Ukrainian government is more accurately described as a shift in coalitions where properly elected representatives from various parties have shuffled around their allegiances and formed a different ruling coalition. So don’t be fooled by the propaganda that this government is illegitimate…