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Here it is said among other things that already there have been open proposals in the Rada to ban the Communist party of Ukraine altogether.

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I've heard about those proposals. Svoboda is pushing to ban the Communist Party (and even the Party of Regions, when they're feeling particularly ambitious), but the other government parties are so far resisting the idea. They're probably worried that if they did something like that, they would have to drop all pretense of being "democratic" forces.

The Communist Party itself (which, despite the name, is actually very moderate and limits its "communism" to social democratic demands and nostalgia for the USSR) has made statements about the situation as well. Here is one of them. It seems to be a general message of defiance, saying something along the lines of "they can ban our party, but they can never destroy the communist ideal". At least that's the impression I got from the google translation.

But also, I'm not sure how much the Rada matters right now. Does the Rada control the police? Does the police control the streets? As far as I can tell, the answer to both questions is "no". So the Rada can pass laws, but whether those laws actually get enforced or not depends entirely on the various local authorities that control the situation on the ground.

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Of course that's silly in practice, but it's not correct even in theory. The treaty was between Turkey and the Tsarist Russian Empire, which ceased to exist in 1917. So the treaty has in fact been null and void this entire time since then. The Russian Revolution of 1917 "killed" the Tsarist Empire and wiped the slate clean, creating an entirely new state (the RSFSR, and later the Soviet Union) which did not inherit any of the treaties or obligations of the old Empire. The modern Russian state traces its history to 1917, and no earlier. Everything that was signed by the old Russian Empire might as well have been signed by the Byzantine Empire or the Roman Empire - no modern state is bound by it.

In international law, it is possible for a state to "die" and be replaced by a new state which may have the same name and territory, but which is not legally the successor of the old state - so it's as if the old state was annihilated without a trace and a new one was created from scratch. It's not common, but it happens sometimes, as with Russia following the Revolution, or modern Greece (not a successor of the Byzantine/Roman Empire), or modern Poland (not a successor of the medieval Kingdom of Poland), or post-WW2 Federal Yugoslavia (not a successor of the pre-WW2 Kingdom of Yugoslavia), etc.

On a related note, here's a fun fact: Of the two German states established after WW2, West Germany was a legal successor of Nazi Germany (and the Weimar Republic, and the German Empire) but East Germany wasn't (East Germany was legally created from scratch in 1949, not inheriting anything from any previous state). Because the West won the Cold War, present-day Germany is an expanded West Germany and a few Nazi laws are still on the books. If East Germany had taken over all of Germany, by contrast, the Nazi state lineage would have "died".

Nice try, though.

:P
  • Upvote 1

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So, going back to the topic at hand, last Sunday Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia (in a vote that was almost certainly not free and fair, so the official result was biased, but nevertheless it is likely that a majority does indeed support unification with Russia). Within two days of the vote, the Crimean authorities and the Russian government signed a treaty officially making Crimea a part of the Russian Federation. No other sovereign state recognizes this annexation at the moment, but it is an accomplished fact on the ground. Ukraine is withdrawing its military personnel from Crimea, and Russian forces have taken control of all important state buildings and raised the Russian flag.

So congratulations, Putin, you've secured Russia's access to the Black Sea and defeated the fa... oh, wait, no, the fascists in Ukraine are not defeated at all - in fact they are stronger than ever. Thanks to this Russian annexation of Crimea, what used to be an internal political conflict within Ukraine is now being portrayed by everyone as an international conflict between Ukraine and Russia, meaning that all "true Ukrainians" are expected to rally behind the new Kiev government, which is still in power, still contains a significant fascist element, and still rules over 42 million out of Ukraine's 44 million people. The opposition to the new government now faces an incredibly difficult struggle to avoid being seen as pro-Putin.

And, as expected, nationalist feelings in Ukraine have been greatly strengthened by the loss of Crimea. A campaign to raise money for the army through micro-donations has raised one million dollars in just a few days. Svoboda thugs (including members of parliament!) beat up the boss of Ukrainian state television for daring to broadcast a ceremony at the Kremlin, and filmed themselves doing it, presumably so they could brag about it to their supporters. The Ukrainian government plans to introduce visa requirements for Russian citizens, and it has also created a "national guard" as an official paramilitary organization with unclear status and purpose. Guess what kind of people are going to be the first to sign up for this "national guard"... You can bet that it will serve as a vehicle for the fascists to continue ruling the streets, but with a "legal" stamp of approval.

So then the question is... now what? Crimea joined Russia, but at the cost of handing the new Kiev government a perfect excuse to do anything it wants in the name of "national security", and to denounce all critics as traitors and Russian spies. The mainstream media will be focusing on Crimea, and so will the international community, but what matters more is what happens in the rest of Ukraine. Does Putin have a plan? Does the West have a plan that's more intelligent than "let's support anyone who is against Russia"? Do the fascists have a plan? (let's hope not...) Is there any way that some kind of left-wing or at least centrist opposition could counter-attack against the far-right in the coming months?

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Here's an in-depth analysis of the Svoboda party:

http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?lng=en&id=137051

It's from 2011 but has some detailed information on the party's history, goals and methods.

However, recently the Right Sector registered as a legal party, and its leader is apparently going to run for President in the upcoming elections.

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Speaking of Right Sector, they have also just organized their first protest against the new government today.

Well, that was fast. I expected some kind of gradual cooling of relations between the coalition factions and eventual infighting, but I didn't expect it to come so soon. I guess Right Sector doesn't want to waste any time. They are the most extreme of the extreme-right in Ukraine - if Svoboda is Mussolini, Right Sector is Hitler. So I highly doubt that they intend to turn themselves into a "respectable" parliamentary party competing for votes and influence within the government. It's more likely that they are going to try seizing power by force at some point (and when that happens, hopefully they will be crushed). That might be the point of Yarosh (their leader) running for president in May. He doesn't stand a chance in hell of winning, but if the situation is sufficiently unstable at that point he might try to claim that the election was stolen from him and use that as an excuse to attempt a coup.

In other news, the new Kiev government has just accepted an IMF loan that requires them to raise gas prices by 50%. This is hilariously ironic, seeing how they were worried that Russia might charge them higher fuel prices, but instead it's their new Western "friends" who are forcing them into it! And this is only the beginning, of course. The IMF has no mercy. They will impose austerity measures that will make life in Ukraine in 2013 seem like paradise by comparison.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

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Speaking of Right Sector, they have also just organized their first protest against the new government today.

Well, that was fast. I expected some kind of gradual cooling of relations between the coalition factions and eventual infighting, but I didn't expect it to come so soon. I guess Right Sector doesn't want to waste any time.

Right Sector has reacted to the Aleksandr Muzychko having been killed during a raid by Ukrainian police forces.

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Jayzus, Edric, I knew you were a Communist, but I never thought I would see you defending Putin's Russia because of their tough stance on the "fascists in Kiev". Fascists in Kyiv, really? What are you on, those fofas stored in old Soviet fallout bunkers?

 

Nevermind that the new people in power in Kyiv shot dead Sashko Bily, a Right Sector boss, in a special forces operation, nevermind that Turchynov vetoed the annulment of the 2012 language law.

 

Nevermind that pro-Russian "self-defence forces" with serious weaponry, with the same high level of professionalism, took over municipal buildings in Donbass. Right? Nevermind that Russia is waging a farcical infowar, like when they "retrieved" Yarosh's business card, money, and other shite from two cars that were burnt-out after an attack on a separatist checkpoint. All of which was in perfect condition, despite the state of the vehicles.

 

"Enemy of my enemy is my friend"... What a joke. Take a look at the newest laws adopted in the Russian Duma, check out Pavel Durov, founder of VKontakte (Russia's Facebook) being forced out of his company and leaving the country because FSB goons wanted him to hand over data on users that were supporting Ukraine on the website.

 

Check out the "concerned" and self-proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk, who said that he stop elections from taking place by taking someone and "stringing him up by the balls", who threatened to shoot local people who were caught with leaflets dropped by a Ukrainian helicopter about the situation in their city.

 

You're delusional if you think that Russia didn't at least covertly support these thugs, if you think that elements in the Russian government haven't been supporting them for years. The mysterious "self-defence" forces with state-of-the-art weaponry and training, the people who tortured Volodymyr Rybak, a local councilman, and a student of a Kyiv university, cut open their stomachs, and tossed them in the river. They may have gotten out of control, but have no doubt that Moscow was helping these pigs out.

 

I won't even address what MrFlibble has written, to be honest I feel sorry for the guy, living in the Russian infospace. He'd probably say that Yuriy Verbytsky, a 54-year-old seismologist who worked at the National Academy of Sciences, was a Right Sector militant who got what was coming to him. As well as insisting that the Crimean forces were "self-defence", except oops, Putin admitted that Russian forces were in there from the start, and saying that those shot dead on the Maidan during the events of 18-21 of February were shot by their own side - just like protesters in Vilnius, Riga, Tbilisi and other places were shot down by an unknown "third element" when the Soviet Union was coming down. Nationalist provocateurs, right?

 

Man, it's bullshit - I can appreciate a different point of view, but you're just regurgitating Kremlin propaganda. So far, the only people who have been disappeared and found dead have been Euromaidan activists, locals who were against the pro-Russian separatists, a Ukrainian soldier and Tatar in Crimea...

 

"Enemy of my enemy"... Psshaw. Go rub shoulders with Zhirinovsky, those corrupt old commies, and Dugin. You said something about Churchill? He said, "The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists."

Prescient old bulldog.

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I won't even address what MrFlibble has written, to be honest I feel sorry for the guy, living in the Russian infospace. He'd probably say that Yuriy Verbytsky, a 54-year-old seismologist who worked at the National Academy of Sciences, was a Right Sector militant who got what was coming to him. As well as insisting that the Crimean forces were "self-defence", except oops, Putin admitted that Russian forces were in there from the start, and saying that those shot dead on the Maidan during the events of 18-21 of February were shot by their own side - just like protesters in Vilnius, Riga, Tbilisi and other places were shot down by an unknown "third element" when the Soviet Union was coming down. Nationalist provocateurs, right?

I'm sorry sir, but I don't know you, and you don't know me either, so would you please refrain from making guesses as to what I would or would not say, and in what circumstances? That is not very polite in the first place.

Especially since you have implied, in the quote above, that I would cheer at the death of an innocent person.

If you want to criticise what I have actually said in this thread, please quote my exact post and make your comments in relation to what I have said, not to what you somehow suppose that I would have said, hypothetically.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Mihail, I've posted numerous links, pictures, and even YouTube videos showing fascists in Kiev. Do you want more? There are hundreds, perhaps thousands. Are they all somehow fake? Is the Kremlin engaged in some kind of vast conspiracy that involves photoshopping fascists into pictures and videos posted by Western news outlets like the BBC?

As I've said in another post:

And dismissing the reports of fascist activity as "Russian propaganda" is insane. Did the Russian government put up a portrait of a Nazi collaborator over the entrance to Kiev Town Hall? Did the Russian government hand out WW2-era fascist flags to protesters in Maidan? Did the Russian government force political leaders in Ukraine to rant against Jews? Did the Russian government take town statues of Lenin and deface their pedestals with neo-Nazi graffiti? Did the Russian government do this to the Communist Party headquarters in Kiev? Did they spray-paint this on the entrance of the Reform synagogue in Simferopol? (I don't speak Ukrainian or Russian, but I can read what that vile graffiti says - "Death to the Jews")

It cannot be denied that nationalist protesters and their leaders did these things. So how can it be "propaganda" to point it out?

Of course it's true that the pro-Russian "self-defence forces" are supported by the Kremlin and probably receive money and weapons from Russia. I'm sure at least some of their members come from the Russian military or special forces, too.

The question is: So what? Should I be upset with Putin for lying, for pretending that the "self-defence forces" are independent when he clearly supports them? Of course he's lying. He's a politician, and an authoritarian one at that. They all lie. And his methods are heavy-handed and violent, obviously, because - well, this is Putin we're talking about.

When I see Right Sector and Svoboda kicked out of the Ukrainian government, when I see Ukrainian police actually defending the Communist Party and other left-wing organizations from violent attacks and vandalism against their buildings, when I see a strong crackdown against armed ultra-nationalist paramilitary forces in Ukraine, then I will change my views. Until then, I will continue to support the only government in Europe that seems to have noticed the return of fascism and is trying to do something about it. It's too bad that government - the Russian government - is so horrible in many other ways, but, like I said, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Putin is bad, but in a conflict between him and a coalition of neoliberals, IMF stooges and fascists... I have no other option but to choose Putin. He is the lesser evil here - and believe me, I'm just as shocked as you are that it has come to this. I never thought I would be supporting Putin as the lesser evil. That just shows what a mess we're in.

Also, this isn't just about Ukraine, you know. Look at Greece. Look at Hungary. Look at the polls for the European elections in France, where it looks like the National Front is going to win. Fascism has returned as a significant political movement in Europe. It must be confronted before it is too late.

Now let me be clear: Putin is not some kind of principled anti-fascist. He is just following his own interests. I'm sure he would have no problem supporting pro-Russian fascists, if they took power somewhere. As the situation changes, Putin may stop being the lesser evil. We'll see.

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Of course fascism has returned to Europe. And Putin is schmoozer extraordinaire with both the parties of the far right and far left.

 

I encourage you to check out the voting patterns and actions of your dear far-left parties, how they voted together with far-right parties against a resolution condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine. Die Linke, Bulgarian, Greek, and Czech communists, etc...

 

http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com/2014/04/pro-russian-national-bolshevik-alliance.html#more

http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com/2014/04/fascist-vultures-of-hungarian-jobbik.html

http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com/2014/03/moscows-friendship-with-european-far.html

 

Putin is a fascist, make no mistake. Russia is the most fascistic state in Europe, and it is the one supporting the Fronte Nationale, Jobbik, and the other scumbags you rail against. Except the far left is in on it, too.

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And all three links are from the blog of... uh... some guy, I guess. Totally reliable and everything.

The far-right parties in the European Parliament are anti-EU, so of course they would vote against any assertion of power by the European Union. And Putin, like I said, is just looking out for his interests and will make alliances with anyone, depending on what is most convenient at the time.

In this particular instance, with regards to Ukraine, Putin stands against the rise of fascism. Not because he is anti-fascist or anything like that, but because these particular fascists, at this particular time, are sworn enemies of Russia. As I said, in the future things may change. I'm certainly not saying that we should always support Putin (ha! far from it!) - I am only saying we should support him now, in this specific crisis.

Intelligent communists should also stand against the European Union, and make alliances-of-convenience with other anti-EU forces on a case-by-case basis, as the opportunity arises. The EU, with its rabid neoliberalism and austerity policies, bears primary responsibility for the economic disaster that has fallen upon Europe, and therefore it is indirectly the cause of the rising popularity of the far-right. Without EU-imposed austerity driving people to desperation, neither Golden Dawn nor Jobbik nor the National Front would have much support.

Extreme capitalism and the far-right feed off each other in a vicious cycle (capitalism drives people to desperation, so they support the far-right; then the far-right destroys left-wing movements, clearing the way for capitalism). They are both our enemies. And sometimes it is a good idea to play them off against each other.

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Not taking part in the big discussion here. But after reading some, I noticed this:

 


capitalism drives people to desperation

 

"And so does communism." (that is applied today)

Take note of the ". It's just something that I occasionally hear here.

 

I thought, on what is that line based?

And I am smart enough to know that you get the same message where you live.

 

We have wonderful lives here in the Netherlands (and I have family in Spain, telling me it ain't that bad right now). Even though economics where currently bad in Europe (But so where the economics of communism some decades ago). And things are getting better again.

But blaming bad economics on capitalism? Perhaps... I am not going to defend capitalism in that regard. The system has notching to do with the bad economics. Its the people using the system.

 

It doesn't matter what kind of policy a country uses. There are always people abusing and moreover hurting the system. And it is them that should be removed from power. (What did Stalin do with capitalism in you country?)

 

[person talking to person, the following is not personal, just something that you and I could say to each other]


And there are always people that tell others that the system they live in is good and other systems are bad. I only tell you, we have a good life right now. And if you tell me that you have a good life, I will believe you. But don't tell me that I have it bad and should change, just because I live in a country labelled as a capitalism/communism country. You don't know me, nor my life, nor the country.

 


 

On a side note, personally. I still see no fundamental difference between capitalism and communism in these days. At the top of both systems, only greedy money/power grabbers, most of them ruining it for us all. And if we don't follow them, we get [fill in a random punishment]. And there are many more systems in this world. All have their wrongs and rights.

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capitalism drives people to desperation

"And so does communism." (that is applied today)

I still see no fundamental difference between capitalism and communism in these days.

I'm pretty certain Edric O will provide a much better, elaborate response to your post, but I'll throw just a few points anyway.

First off, I'm not sure what you mean by "communism that is applied today", because technically, no country in the world has even achieved the state of communism as described in Marx's works.

However, if you take China for example (a country that is "officially Communist" so to speak) and compare it to Europe today, there's a glaring difference in that China's economy is booming while Europe is in a (mildly speaking) serious decline.

It doesn't matter what kind of policy a country uses.

I think that the events in Europe and the whole world of today kinda prove the opposite: whether it's the economy, internal or foreign affairs, or just the welfare of a country and its citizens, it does matter what kind of policy is used.

Or, I didn't get your point in that quoted passage (in which case, my apologies).

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First off, I'm not sure what you mean by "communism that is applied today", because technically, no country in the world has even achieved the state of communism as described in Marx's works.

 

That was exactly as I meant. Communism applied today is different then what Marx described. I know the exact same thing.

 

And the policy thingy. It doesn't matter what they use. There are always abusers. Those 2 sentences belong together.

Of course it does matter what a country uses. But not if you want to abuse the policy. Then there is no difference, both (all) can (and will) be abused.

Perhaps I described that one a bit off.

 


 

O, I looked into China. It is really fun to study them. They didn't really have economy to start with. That is why is looks like it is blooming right now. The companies there still have plenty of room to grow.

Although,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_China

So, who am I kidding. In 50 years, they are number 3, 2? In the world.

 

All they did was a simple, let's not go 100% communism, but allow some capitalism as well. (And I think before that they actually where the closest to Marx communism too)

 

So a nice combination of "capitalism" and "communism".

 


 

Now back to topic, which I don't participate in. ;)

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Edric:

 

I know you don’t like Putin and you obviously shouldn’t, being a communist. But even so, I don’t see how you can approve of his present actions even on the grounds that he's the lesser evil.

 

I don’t agree with your assessment of the EU, but it seems pretty clear to me that Russia is far worse from any ideological perspective. The wealth gap is greater in Russia, there’s more cronyism, and as for fascism…there are plenty of politicians in the Russian Duma that are reactionary, conservative and authoritarian; all of whom support Putin.

 

Mind you, I don’t think that ousting Yanukovich was a good idea at all. I agree with the Maidan people that he was a jerk for more than one reason, but it’s very rarely a good idea to topple a government that’s been elected by the books. It’s also true that many of the most vocal of the protestors were sympathetic to Right Sector.

 

On the other hand, according to polls the leader of Right Sector would get about 0,9 % of the votes if he were to run for president. It’s simply a case of the most extreme being the most vocal, and at the very least, they were right about Yanukovich being unworthy of leading the country. Even a broken clock is right once every 12 hours, except if it’s a digital one.

 

While I had serious reservations about the Maidan protests I have no doubts at all about Putin’s annexation of Crimea. It’s just like every other place where Russian minorities have found themselves stranded after the dissolution of the USSR: Bessabaria, South Ossetia and Abchazia. The baltic states are lucky they made it to NATO when they did.

 

Crimea has a large Russian population, and so do other eastern European nations, because of centuries of Russification under the Tzars and Stalin. Does that mean that Russia anno 2014 has a legitimate reason to intervene in all of these places? It’s not even a uniquely Russian concept. Hitler put the same theory into practice when he annexed Austria and invaded Chzechoslovakia and Poland. The theory that every man, woman, child and farm animal which speaks the relevant language belongs to the mother/fatherland. Self-determination has very little to do with it.

(mind you – the German population of Chzechoslovakia in the 1930-38 wasn't treated well. Annexation was still wrong on all levels, regardless)

 

Before anyone mentions it as a retort, I think that NATO handled the Balkan wars badly in general, and that allowing Kosovo to seccede from Serbia was a particulary bad idea. Russia was right to oppose that, even though they were immensely hypocritical in doing so.

 

In short: everything about the last 4 months in Ukraine is bad, I just don’t see how anyone can speak in defense of how Russia has reacted to it.

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Hey, Anathema, it has been a long time! Good to see you, old friend. :)

I wanted to take the time to write a full, comprehensive reply, which is why I took so long to respond (and why this post is as long as you can see). Sorry about that - I should have probably been a little more brief.

I know you don’t like Putin and you obviously shouldn’t, being a communist. But even so, I don’t see how you can approve of his present actions even on the grounds that he's the lesser evil.

I don’t agree with your assessment of the EU, but it seems pretty clear to me that Russia is far worse from any ideological perspective. The wealth gap is greater in Russia, there’s more cronyism, and as for fascism... there are plenty of politicians in the Russian Duma that are reactionary, conservative and authoritarian; all of whom support Putin.

Well, as far as the Russian Duma is concerned, it's true that overall it is more reactionary than most European parliaments, but it also contains the largest Communist Party in Europe (92 seats out of 450, meaning over 20%). The Russian establishment is more right-wing than the EU establishment, but the radical left is bigger and has more popular support in Russia than in the EU (after all, at the EU elections last week, the radical left got only about 9-10% of the vote).

But none of that is really important. We should never decide to support or oppose the foreign policy of governments based on their internal politics. Yes, internally, Russia has a far greater wealth gap, a more ruthless capitalism, more conservative policies, and a lot more corruption than the European Union. But that is not what matters here. After all, internally, the United States was superior in every way to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Does that mean we should have supported the US invasion of Iraq? No. Internal politics are irrelevant in such cases.

We should decide who to support in international conflicts (both military and diplomatic) based on who has justice on their side, and also - perhaps more importantly - based on who is likely to create a better political situation in the world if they win. Sometimes the side that has the worse internal policies is the one that will lead to the better consequences for the world if they win.

In other words, in the case of Ukraine, the question is NOT "is Putin better than the West in the way he runs his country?" Of course he isn't. The question is, "what would be better for Ukraine and the world - a victory for Putin or a victory for the West?" And the answer is, a victory for Putin would be better. It would be better for Ukraine because it would avoid crushing austerity and it would defeat the rising tide of fascism. And it would be better for the world because it would push us in the direction of a more multi-polar world, and away from global domination by a single superpower.

From the communist perspective, Leon Trotsky once provided a great imaginary example of a situation where we should feel compelled to support the foreign policy of a ruthless anti-communist dictatorship against the foreign policy of a progressive democracy (namely, if the French colonies in North Africa rose up in rebellion in the 1930s and Mussolini decided to provide the rebels with guns - then we should support Mussolini's weapon shipments and oppose France, in the name of liberation for oppressed peoples). The internal politics of a regime have little to do with the question of whether we should support its foreign policy.

But even more importantly, as far as communists are concerned, we are not given a choice of who to support in Ukraine. The Kiev government has made repeated attempts to ban the Communist Party, and communists have been assaulted, threatened, and in some cases even murdered by forces allied to the Kiev government. Grassroots left-wing organizations have been driven underground in Odessa and other government-controlled areas.

So, basically, one side wants to destroy us while the other is at least willing to tolerate our existence. The conclusion is clear. There is no choice here.

Mind you, I don’t think that ousting Yanukovich was a good idea at all. I agree with the Maidan people that he was a jerk for more than one reason, but it’s very rarely a good idea to topple a government that’s been elected by the books. It’s also true that many of the most vocal of the protestors were sympathetic to Right Sector.

On the other hand, according to polls the leader of Right Sector would get about 0,9 % of the votes if he were to run for president. It’s simply a case of the most extreme being the most vocal, and at the very least, they were right about Yanukovich being unworthy of leading the country. Even a broken clock is right once every 12 hours, except if it’s a digital one.

The strength of Right Sector does not lie in electoral support, or popular support of any kind. It lies in controlling the streets with a small but disciplined contingent of paramilitary thugs, while the police does not dare to challenge them. Right Sector and other similar fascist groups operate in ways similar to the mafia and organized crime in general (although, of course, their goals are very different).

Also, remember Svoboda? They are a fascist party that is a member of the governing coalition right now. It's amazing how the rise of Right Sector has made people completely forget about Svoboda, when just last year Svoboda was seen as the scary fascist threat! It is a sign of how much Ukrainian politics has shifted to the far-right that Svoboda is now regarded as reasonable or even moderate compared to the neo-Nazis of Right Sector.

Basically, if Right Sector is Hitler, Svoboda is Francisco Franco. Should we feel reassured that Hitler only has 0.9% support in polls while Franco sits in government?

While I had serious reservations about the Maidan protests I have no doubts at all about Putin’s annexation of Crimea. It’s just like every other place where Russian minorities have found themselves stranded after the dissolution of the USSR: Bessabaria, South Ossetia and Abchazia. The baltic states are lucky they made it to NATO when they did.

Crimea was conquered by the Russian Empire from the Tatars in 1783, and it has been ruled from Moscow for 204 of the 231 years that have passed since then (the only exceptions were 1918-1922 and 1991-2014). It's not just a territory that happens to be inhabited by ethnic Russians, the way the Sudetenland or post-WW1 Austria happened to be inhabited by ethnic Germans despite never being ruled from Berlin before the 1930s. Crimea is a territory that has been part of the Russian state for centuries, and would have remained part of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR if Khrushchev hadn't whimsically transferred it to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian SSR in 1954.

There is no good argument for why Crimea should be part of Ukraine, except stubborn legalism ("That's what the law says, so we've got to follow it, no matter how the law in question was adopted or how little sense it makes!"). The majority of Crimeans obviously don't want to be part of Ukraine, even if that majority is not as large as the referendum made it look.

Frankly, it's amazing to see people who reject the legitimacy of the Soviet Union care so much about respecting borders that were drawn by Soviet authorities. Lithuania claims to have been illegally occupied by the USSR, for example, yet it's perfectly happy to keep the city of Vilnius and surrounding areas (using it as the national capital, no less), despite the fact that this city was given to Lithuania by the USSR. Funny... it's almost as if they don't actually care about what was "legal" or not, and simply follow their own interests.

Crimea has a large Russian population, and so do other eastern European nations, because of centuries of Russification under the Tzars and Stalin. Does that mean that Russia anno 2014 has a legitimate reason to intervene in all of these places?

The issue of how a certain ethnic group came to live in a certain area cannot be used as a justification to dismiss their grievances or deprive them of rights. Yes, many areas are dominated by Russian speakers because of centuries of Russification. Also, North America is dominated by English speakers because of centuries of colonial expansion and genocide. So does that mean that if the United States collapsed and Native Americans came to rule certain parts of the former union, they would be justified in restricting the rights of people of European descent? Of course not.

Likewise for Central and South America, Australia, some parts of southern Africa, and so on. Western Europeans have done the greatest amount of ethnic cleansing and population displacement around the world in recent centuries. Does that mean that it would be justified to try to undo these population changes today? No.

The way the Baltic states treat ethnic Russians is no more justified than the way Robert Mugabe treats the descendants of European settlers. Except that the Baltic states are (fanatically) pro-Western, so they get away with it.

So yes, Russia most definitely has a legitimate reason to intervene in all of these places, at least through diplomatic and political channels. Military intervention is not justified except in extreme cases - but the current situation in Ukraine is an extreme case.

It’s not even a uniquely Russian concept. Hitler put the same theory into practice when he annexed Austria and invaded Chzechoslovakia and Poland. The theory that every man, woman, child and farm animal which speaks the relevant language belongs to the mother/fatherland. Self-determination has very little to do with it.

(mind you – the German population of Chzechoslovakia in the 1930-38 wasn't treated well. Annexation was still wrong on all levels, regardless)

If Austria or the Sudetenland had been annexed by a "normal" German government, instead of the Nazis, would it have been such an indisputably bad thing? Not really. It would have been up for debate - personally, I could see reasonable arguments for both sides in such a situation.

The reason the Nazi annexations of the 1930s were so horrible is not because they were annexations, but because they were done by the Nazis.

Obviously Nazis should be opposed, because they are Nazis, but is annexation bad in and of itself, no matter who does it? Not necessarily. What is inherently wrong with annexing a territory belonging to a country in political chaos, with no legitimate government, where the majority of the population welcomes you with open arms? For example, if Belgium collapsed into violent chaos, and a majority of Walloons clearly supported French rule, would it be wrong for France to send in troops and annex Wallonia? I don't think so.

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This revolution is getting weird. Separatists now use confederate flag and the new ukraine president is Pornoshenko.

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The flag used by the separatists has nothing to do with the American confederate flag. It's derived from the Russian Navy Ensign.

As for Poroshenko... I'm not sure what's weird about him. I guess the fact that he is a billionaire most famous for owning chocolate factories...?

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Its artificial revolution. Ukrainian ppl going to win nothing but war. Europa did that to make chaos and make russia busy. But they got unexpected answer by russia. They didnt think about that but russia just start military camping and enter to ukrain to take control. Because they know what is european demonic politics are. Russia know if they just watch from home, europa gona take control about ukrain. Europa not really mind about ukranian ppl and their rights. Human rights only for central european ppl. They just wanted to catch russians weak point but ehehehehe russia nit fakin middle africa girls u cant taks anythink but some missiles from there europa.

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2 days ago an airplane shot down, russia and ukrain blame each other about it. No one knows properly who did it. Hope its not gonna cause new war. Dont know if europa actually england want war between russia and ukrain but, if its happens only innocent children and woman going tio lost their lives. Not england president.

I think its long complo created by england. Furst they flame ukrainian poor people to anarcy, then ukrainian gronment chenced, russia joined to conflict. Russia dont want europan ukraina. Its shame europa and even russia only about to take control in ukraina and capture their resources. No one care civil ppl, their lives or future.

both russian and enlish grovnemets guilty I think, but england much more guilty to made chaos in country tousands fersah away.

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Hey Edric,

It’s good to hear from you too. I miss our old political arguments. I read your post a couple of weeks ago but didn't have the time to write a lengthy reply then. Then I forgot, sorry.

I'll start by mentioning the recent aircraft disaster, almost certainly caused by the separatists - but since that hasn't any bearing on wether or not annexation or seccession itself is justified, I'll leave it at that.

 

Well, as far as the Russian Duma is concerned, it's true that overall it is more reactionary than most European parliaments, but it also contains the largest Communist Party in Europe (92 seats out of 450, meaning over 20%). The Russian establishment is more right-wing than the EU establishment, but the radical left is bigger and has more popular support in Russia than in the EU (after all, at the EU elections last week, the radical left got only about 9-10% of the vote).

The Duma is more extreme on both ends; a telltale sign of a country being a spurious or dysfunctional democracy.

The point was; Russia can hardly point fingers at other countries because authoritarian or fascist parties are present in its assembly.

 

But none of that is really important. We should never decide to support or oppose the foreign policy of governments based on their internal politics. Yes, internally, Russia has a far greater wealth gap, a more ruthless capitalism, more conservative policies, and a lot more corruption than the European Union. But that is not what matters here. After all, internally, the United States was superior in every way to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Does that mean we should have supported the US invasion of Iraq? No. Internal politics are irrelevant in such cases.

We should decide who to support in international conflicts (both military and diplomatic) based on who has justice on their side, and also - perhaps more importantly - based on who is likely to create a better political situation in the world if they win. Sometimes the side that has the worse internal policies is the one that will lead to the better consequences for the world if they win.

I agree that foreign policy decisions should be measured seperately from the whole. I also agreed with Russia when it opposed the second gulf war, for example. They were also right to oppose the secession of Kosovo from Serbia, and at the same time immensely hypocritical. They were supporting numerous rebellions in post-Soviet states at roughly the same time.

I don't really see how Ukraine's case is helped by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea or their current involvement. If it's about Ukraine's possibly entry into the EU (which I personally would consider a good thing), that seems even more likely in the long term - unless this unrest continues for a long, long time. Austerity is material for another discussion. It would only be relevant for Ukraine if they also adopted the European exchange rate and then the Euro; not anytime soon.

 

But even more importantly, as far as communists are concerned, we are not given a choice of who to support in Ukraine. The Kiev government has made repeated attempts to ban the Communist Party, and communists have been assaulted, threatened, and in some cases even murdered by forces allied to the Kiev government. Grassroots left-wing organizations have been driven underground in Odessa and other government-controlled areas.

So, basically, one side wants to destroy us while the other is at least willing to tolerate our existence. The conclusion is clear. There is no choice here.

That communist party AFAIK accused of being complicit in the unrest that’s been happening in eastern Ukraine. I won’t vouch for the credibility of that; there are accusations on both sides of the fence that are impossible to evaluate properly- unless you’re there, and not committed to either side.

On the issue of communism: I know your political opinions in some detail, and while I don't share them I do respect them. It's my impression that a lot of communists, however, are more accurately described as Soviet-nostalgists. People who will deny, or at least refuse to admit that the CCCP was a tyrannical regime. More often than not they're staunchly pro-Russian, something which (so it seems to me) is more of an emotional reflex than anything else.

 

The strength of Right Sector does not lie in electoral support, or popular support of any kind. It lies in controlling the streets with a small but disciplined contingent of paramilitary thugs, while the police does not dare to challenge them. Right Sector and other similar fascist groups operate in ways similar to the mafia and organized crime in general (although, of course, their goals are very different).

Also, remember Svoboda? They are a fascist party that is a member of the governing coalition right now. It's amazing how the rise of Right Sector has made people completely forget about Svoboda, when just last year Svoboda was seen as the scary fascist threat! It is a sign of how much Ukrainian politics has shifted to the far-right that Svoboda is now regarded as reasonable or even moderate compared to the neo-Nazis of Right Sector.

Basically, if Right Sector is Hitler, Svoboda is Francisco Franco. Should we feel reassured that Hitler only has 0.9% support in polls while Franco sits in government?

Svoboda has less than 10% of the number of seats in parliament, yet the pro-Russian media paint them as being essentially in charge of the ‘Kiev government’. I won’t discuss the semantics of the word ‘fascist’, but I agree that they’re not very nice people. However they’re not comparable to Golden Dawn, for example.

 

Crimea was conquered by the Russian Empire from the Tatars in 1783, and it has been ruled from Moscow for 204 of the 231 years that have passed since then (the only exceptions were 1918-1922 and 1991-2014). It's not just a territory that happens to be inhabited by ethnic Russians, the way the Sudetenland or post-WW1 Austria happened to be inhabited by ethnic Germans despite never being ruled from Berlin before the 1930s. Crimea is a territory that has been part of the Russian state for centuries, and would have remained part of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR if Khrushchev hadn't whimsically transferred it to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian SSR in 1954.

There is no good argument for why Crimea should be part of Ukraine, except stubborn legalism ("That's what the law says, so we've got to follow it, no matter how the law in question was adopted or how little sense it makes!"). The majority of Crimeans obviously don't want to be part of Ukraine, even if that majority is not as large as the referendum made it look.

Frankly, it's amazing to see people who reject the legitimacy of the Soviet Union care so much about respecting borders that were drawn by Soviet authorities. Lithuania claims to have been illegally occupied by the USSR, for example, yet it's perfectly happy to keep the city of Vilnius and surrounding areas (using it as the national capital, no less), despite the fact that this city was given to Lithuania by the USSR. Funny... it's almost as if they don't actually care about what was "legal" or not, and simply follow their own interests.

Exactly who has denounced the legitimacy of the Soviet Union? In the sense that, “we don’t acknowledge the Kremlin government or its claim on these territories”?

Vilnius has historically been a Lithuanian city and only became a part of Russia because the Czars conspired with Austria and Germany to dismember the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Of course that’s history now, but so is the Soviet era for that matter. Ukraine’s borders weren’t just drawn by Soviet authorities. They were also acknowledged by the successor states, and that’s the crucial part. Russia has acknowledged Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea numerous times, beginning with the agreement where Ukraine handed over its nuclear weapons in exchange for explicit recognition of its borders. Unlike other spots in the former CCCP, Crimea or eastern Ukraine have never been disputed territory; the annexation has more to do with power-politics than any humanitarian or cultural concerns.

I'm not even convinced that a majority of Crimea's population supports integration into Russia. The Russian segment of the population only numbers 58,5% and the ethnic minorities are vehemently opposed. That would require the Russian population to be around 90-95% in favour. We'll never know for certain.

 

The issue of how a certain ethnic group came to live in a certain area cannot be used as a justification to dismiss their grievances or deprive them of rights. Yes, many areas are dominated by Russian speakers because of centuries of Russification. Also, North America is dominated by English speakers because of centuries of colonial expansion and genocide. So does that mean that if the United States collapsed and Native Americans came to rule certain parts of the former union, they would be justified in restricting the rights of people of European descent? Of course not.

Likewise for Central and South America, Australia, some parts of southern Africa, and so on. Western Europeans have done the greatest amount of ethnic cleansing and population displacement around the world in recent centuries. Does that mean that it would be justified to try to undo these population changes today? No.

The way the Baltic states treat ethnic Russians is no more justified than the way Robert Mugabe treats the descendants of European settlers. Except that the Baltic states are (fanatically) pro-Western, so they get away with it.

So yes, Russia most definitely has a legitimate reason to intervene in all of these places, at least through diplomatic and political channels. Military intervention is not justified except in extreme cases - but the current situation in Ukraine is an extreme case.

I've never been there, but I wager that the Baltic states treat ethnic Russians far, far better than Mugabe treats his white subjects. It's also a safe bet that they treat them better than Russia treats its own ethnic minorities.

Official status of the Russian language is a big deal to some. Ukraine’s case is similar in a way to Ireland’s situation after it left the UK. English used to be the official language and the native language was on decline. The tide was stemmed by granting official sanction to the native language alone, and in the case of Ireland even reconstructing large parts of it.

It’s not an issue I can relate to on an emotional level, but obviously language is an important factor in the collective self-respect of a culture. Denying Russian the status of an official language might not be the” correct” choice, but it’s understandable. People in Ukraine continued to use it in daily life, regardless, without being persecuted.

Personally, I’m not convinced at all that serious repression of ethnic Russians was imminent anywhere in the Ukraine – at least before Russia started their annexation and began supporting rebellions.

 

The If Austria or the Sudetenland had been annexed by a "normal" German government, instead of the Nazis, would it have been such an indisputably bad thing? Not really. It would have been up for debate - personally, I could see reasonable arguments for both sides in such a situation.

The reason the Nazi annexations of the 1930s were so horrible is not because they were annexations, but because they were done by the Nazis.

Obviously Nazis should be opposed, because they are Nazis, but is annexation bad in and of itself, no matter who does it? Not necessarily. What is inherently wrong with annexing a territory belonging to a country in political chaos, with no legitimate government, where the majority of the population welcomes you with open arms? For example, if Belgium collapsed into violent chaos, and a majority of Walloons clearly supported French rule, would it be wrong for France to send in troops and annex Wallonia? I don't think so.

…if a democratic and benign German government started annexing territories of neighbouring states, by military force or threat?

The irony here is that many people sympathized with Germany at the time because of your own reasons. They didn’t necessarily believe that Germany was being governed in a good way, but they understood the desire to unite all German speakers into the same nation. And they were willing to throw Chzechoslovakia under the bus for it.

If two states negotiate a referendum in a disputed area in which the locals can decide to which they’d rather belong, fine. I don’t think anybody in the world would have a problem with that situation. Otherwise, the borders of existing states need to be respected. History is replete with examples that point to that conclusion.

Ukraine did not collapse into violent chaos, at all. What happened was a disorderly transfer of power, after which Russia seized Ukraine using soldiers without insignia and started formenting unrest in the eastern parts of the country.

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