Getting it right on Ukraine
We know that Russia’s state-manipulated media frequently present one side of the story as the ultimate truth. But in countries in the West, we expect that open debates on important and critical issues will be the order of the day where readers of major newspapers and publications will be treated to multiple sides of an issue and enjoy the rough and tumble of it.
But sadly, in recent times, we have been terribly disappointed, especially when it comes to troublesome situations like in Ukraine. Editorials, columnists and letter-writers have a nasty habit of portraying Ukraine’s nationalists as Western democrats and Eastern Russian speakers as thugs and Putin’s useful idiots who prefer Russia over the European Union. The belief that Putin is the new Stalin, Crimea is the new Sudetenland and Obama as the new Chamberlain will last for years, if not for generations to come. The inconvenient truth is the fact that the Nazis and the Fascists were defeated only because of the alliance between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies.
Had it not been for the enormous sacrifice and the fierce resistance against the brutal force of the Axis powers, resulting in the loss of more than 25 million Russians, there would have been no D-Day, no Ukraine, no Baltic countries, no Hungary as all these countries were destined for destruction to pave the way for Nazi resettlement. For all its evils and to its credit, the Soviet union did not wipe out any of those or any other country.
The legacy of World War II is an issue that is very close to the heart of every Russian and it defines their way of thinking and their foreign policy. Freeing Europe from the threat of godless Communism cannot be considered genuine, noble or divine when it is accompanied by state-sponsored adulation of local Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators — be it in Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia or with Ukraine’s very own dubious hero, Stepan Bandera who sided with the Nazis in World War II.
After the breakup of the USSR, nuclear weapons lay scattered across Soviet Republics. The largest number, about 1900 Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, designed to strike the USA, were in Ukraine. It was therefore imperative to make sure that the demise of the Soviet Union did not increase the number of nuclear armed states. Washington brokered with Kiev and Moscow the terms under which Ukraine agreed to eliminate the strategic missiles, missile silos and bombers on its territory and to transfer the nuclear weapons to Russia to be dismantled.
In December, 1994, Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the USA signed the Budapest Memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances on condition Ukraine will commit itself to eliminating all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time and will remain a NON-nuclear state.
It was not a formal treaty but a diplomatic document under which the signatories made promises to each other as part of keeping the former Soviet Republics free of nuclear weapons. It was a wonderful gift for the USA – something nobody had even dreamed of. For more than 40 years, the United States and the Soviet Union had been locked in a vicious and global struggle, that by sheer chance, did not end in a nuclear holocaust. Now, a formidable adversary, armed to the teeth, disintegrated into a dozen smaller states without a single shot being fired. The Soviet Union was no more. America now emerged as the sole global superpower.
While the West celebrated, they also worried that the drive for independence by leaders of other Soviet Republics would usher in a mad and frantic effort to acquire nuclear weapons that lay scattered across Eastern Europe. The Americans definitely wanted Russia to be the sole owner of that nuclear arsenal and to maintain its influence in the Central Asian Republics. Its main aim was not just victory over the Soviet Union, but to prevent a civil war in the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons in the hands of unpredictable Republics and terrorists.
For more than a generation Russians watched their empire fall apart. We grew accustomed to witnessing former Soviet Republics declare their independence and the encroachment of the West on Russian civilization in countries where Russian ethnic nationals are numerous and the Russian language widely spoken.
The blight on the Western media is the constant reporting that street protesters successfully rose up against a Russian-leaning president, violently overthrowing a duly elected official and replacing him with a west-leaning Ukrainian. What is not mentioned is that less than 43% of Ukrainians favored the E.U. deal while 57% favored maintaining ties with Russia whom they considered more historically connected to than the West. More than 40% of Ukrainian exports went to Russia and they were offered favorable terms with regard to Russian oil and gas.The Ukrainians were also paid $98 million annually for the lease of Crimea by the Russians. The real truth is that Ukraine is a failed, corrupt state and what occurred was a brutal, Fascist coup backed by the West. What has not been mentioned in recent times by the Western press is the fact that the West was cautioned by the European Union to refrain from going ahead. The response came promptly and swiftly: F–K the E.U.
When we talk of Putin’s land grab of Crimea, we should recall the Nazi siege of the Soviet Fortress at Sevastopol that is soaked with the blood of more than 20,00 Russians. Their sacrifice did not go in vain. The lengthy siege of Crimea delayed the reinforcements to the Battle of Stalingrad where the fate of the Nazis and the Fascists were sealed. It is not difficult to understand that Crimea is hallowed ground when one considers that in the Crimean War of 1853-1856, it was also soaked in Russian blood when the British and the French – two Christian countries – joined forces with the Ottoman Empire against “Holy Russia.”
Crimea is home to the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, crucial for the defense of Russia and Putin is not gong to fritter it away to a Ukrainian government installed by a Fascist mob whose reckless and wanton act of aggression could easily have set Europe aflame as it did more than 75 years ago.