As we see the news of sanctions hitting our eyes via the news on TV, the Newspapers and the internet, some will conclude that the third cold war is now officially starting. Yet, some might have the question within their minds ‘who has the moral high ground?’, or better yet, what brought these escalations about?
Now, I have missed the cold war, whether you stare through a sniper scope overlooking Lakhta air base in a video game, or those who needed to take another look at the Arkhangelsk naval base because they serviced the Typhoons (in 1983 a genuine bringer of nightmares to NATO). The Cold War was a war, but one with its own rules, regulations, needs and wants.
But is this the same as the first or the second cold war? The first cold war was in itself about a disagreements in Ideology, there was however another side to it all. This was basically a pissing contest between the Kremlin and the White House on who was trained better, tools were the best and who got away with the most. The 70’s as it was depicted by John Le Carre with ‘the Circus’ and the after the fact knowledge that several members at the top of MI-6 had a better knowledge of Russian then those living in Moscow. Even with that set back, I always felt that the NATO side was victorious! I missed most of it and did not get hit with events until 1982-1984.
This new cold war we are about to face is something different. This is a lot less about ideology and a lot more about the greed of a chosen few. Let us take a look at the Ukraine and the Crimea region. Most will not remember the original Crimean War, even though one of the most famous names in history had her origin there. It was Florence Nightingale; slightly less famous was Mary Seacole who also earned her a place in the history books. In those days the direct reason for the war that was there was all about religion, specifically on access of the holy places in what is now called Israel (an area that was in those days part of the Ottoman Empire). It is the one time that the Russian Navy got it hide tanned (not the best moment in Russian Naval History), even though it held out for a year, dealing with England, France and the Ottoman Empire was a cake that turned out to be slightly too large for them.
I think it is important to ‘trivialise’ that part. It should also be noted that Russia started this fight with the Ottoman Empire because Russia held that it had a right to protect the Orthodox Christians. These events are important, as those contained the darkest days for the Russian Navy.
Now when we go to today we have other issues to content with. Crimea has always been a cultural hot potato. It will take too long to explain the issues (and I am not an expert in that regard), there are several ties that were severed when Khrushchev placed it all within the border of the Ukraine; he never considered the idea that Ukraine would be anything but part of the ‘Russian brotherhood’.
It is the changes in the Ukraine that are at the centre of the Crimean escalation. As I see the Russian side, it seems to me that this would happen no matter what. The entire issue with the Black Sea navy has never been regarded positively by the Ukraine. The issues there have been going on for almost 7 years now, even though Ukraine has valid reasons for ‘demanding’ certain changes, it is a little far-fetched for Russia to accept the security of its Navy (the Black Sea Fleet) thought the Ukrainian security services. If America has any objections in that regard, then consider the issues several people had in the past with the ‘idiots’ patrolling and guarding at the US part of Soesterberg Air base, I had more than one issue with a few US guards, even though I was on the other side of the fence wearing a Dutch uniform.
So, we can agree that like the Americans, the Russians will not trust the guarding and protection of their defence forces by ‘outsiders’. This is one of the issues, which are at the very heart of this. The second one is one I discussed in an earlier blog named ‘Hot air for the Ukraine‘ on March 1st. The EEC is too much about adding new members and not about maintaining and setting a stable financial and economic platform. That part has been proven by many, but the issue goes wider (at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2014/car030514a.htm). The IMF is still finalising the fact finding mission and the amount needed for the Ukraine substantial. Another issue in this regard can be found at Reuters where we see the following quote “If the West wants Ukraine to align with them rather than Russia they will have to offer a carrot and the carrot could be better terms on the debt” (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/17/us-ukraine-crisis-debt-idUSBREA2G0E020140317)
And why does the west want this, Economic prosperity? Ukraine has a massive amount of debt! The only consequence many will initially see is that Ukrainians will suddenly relocate by droves of thousands to get that better future in the west (which is fair enough). That pressure gets added to the issues already dragging many down in Western Europe which are still unstable at present, so adding nations with bad budgets whilst the rest remains in a bad shape is just bad politics and bad judgement. Another view from the IMF can be seen in the Reuters article (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/25/us-ukraine-crisis-imf-idUSBREA1O1DT20140225)
“The IMF has consistently said that Ukraine’s economic policies would create unsustainable large external and fiscal imbalances. It has called on Kiev to cut its large fiscal deficit, phase out energy subsidies, strengthen the banking sector, and allow the exchange rate to fall. A freely floating hryvnia currency and higher domestic gas prices are unpopular steps previously rejected by the Kiev”
So they want money, but are unwilling to do what needs to be done? How is this in any way a good deal in any shape or form? I will grant that energy prices will always be unpopular, but this is all about a change where the government does not want change to begin with.
Now we get to the good stuff, namely intimidate and terrorise. These are basically synonyms for strongarming, and now it is the west doing this. Sky News reported that more sanctions are in place (at http://news.sky.com/story/1227143/ukraine-sanctions-target-putin-aides)
So basically, individuals are now targeted for alleged involvement of government actions. Is this even legal? It is interesting that these events are calling for sanctions. Consider that in the US one in seven lives below the poverty line. Now also consider the events as we saw the hard working people at Wal-Mart getting hit financially, needing food stamps and needing government support, whilst the owners are multi billionaires. Unless the Honorable African American in charge in the White House (aka President Barack Obama) is a coward, I hereby officially demand and he should officially call for similar sanctions which are to be placed against the members of the Walton family! I understand that sanctions are a tactical choice, yet to ignore your home base, whilst going after a few individuals (whose guilt is still officially in question) is nothing less than a joke. The fact that the advisors are hit with sanctions, yet, the person in charge (President Putin) is not getting any sanctions makes the joke even more pathetic.
Another issue we should not ignore is that the bulk of the people in Crimea WANT to be part of Russia. Now, that would never be my personal choice and I believe it is the choice of many non-Crimean not to go that path, but the idea that their choice is not the choice of the USA and the EEC and therefor rejected is a laughing matter, where is THEIR freedom of choice? In opposition, I do have an issue with the legality of that part too. I do acknowledge that Crimea is part of the Ukraine, yet the Ukraine is ‘only’ 72 years old. The issues we now see in Belgium as that nations is likely to split into two parts, whilst that nations is a lot older then the Ukraine is not causing this level of concern (mainly because it hasn’t happened yet). In my view, it seems a lot more legal if Crimea became independent. Consider the immediate consequence of that act. If the referendum is regarded as illegal, what will happen and what will the reaction be as referendums are called over the next 3 years as parties decide to secede from the EEC/Euro, as these requests are called for by Nigel Farage (UKIP/UK), Geert Wilders (PVV/NL) and Marine Le Penn (FN/FR). Will we suddenly see calls for illegality by the USA and the IMF? Consider that, because these steps are likely to push the EEC and therefor the USA over the edge of bankruptcy.
As a ‘supporter’ of the cold wars, tactically the entire escalation works nicely for NATO. If Ukraine does enter the EEC, then it comes with a nice ‘free’ naval base in a perfectly placed tactical position, with direct striking capabilities on several Russian fronts (still surprised that Russia is so against it?).
My issue remains that the power players in this game are all motivated by greed. You do not give out 35 billion unless you get 70-135 billion in return. The Ukraine does not have such economic prospects in any near future. Consider in addition that once this happens, the cheap gas deal that the Ukraine currently has will then is also be null and void, which means that the people in the Ukraine will have to content with an energy price hike of at least 20%. Look at your own heating bills (especially in the UK). How does it feel to pay 20% more?
The last side to the Ukraine is one that will hit all Europeans (and Americans). Please do not take my word for that, the paper was written by Anna Yemelianova and is called ‘A Diagnosis of Corruption in Ukraine‘ (at http://www.againstcorruption.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/WP-14-Diagnosis-of-Corruption-in-Ukraine-new.pdf). You see, the big business boffins currently whispering into the ears of government officials in the west tend to ignore issues that do not cause THEM any grief, but those who pay their taxes and small businesses alike will get to deal with this to some degree in one way or another. From the very beginning of that paper where we see “Ukraine is a country is with wide scale and systemic corruption which makes a crucial influence on the economic, political, social and other spheres of public life“, it will be clear that whatever you pump into their economy, a percentage will end up with a man like Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich, a man who should be regarded as one of the most powerful men (some state the most powerful man) in the history of the Russian Mafia. Consider the end of the report where it states “21% of respondents in Ukraine reported paying a bribe in the past 12 months according to Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer 2009“.
This gives a clear indication, I might even state, this is in my personal view clear evidence that the numbers reported towards the IMF in regards to the economic support is underestimated by at least 30%. I will be bold enough to take my view one step further. When the Russian powerbase walks away, the floodgates that minimised some of this form of damage will be gone completely. It is a side that so many ignore, yet, when people in the News in the UK and the Netherlands read about these ‘Romanian gangs’, take heed for what happens when the Ukraine is added to the mix. These events are easily ignored by the power players as they remain out of reach, but the rest of the people in those area’s (99.98443213% roughly) will become a target one way or another.
Am I against the Ukraine joining the EEC? No, as I stated, it is about the freedom of choice. I do however have several reservations on why certain elements want to Ukraine to become part of the EEC no matter the cost. They have certain intentions and the press seems to be taking extreme care not to go anywhere near that part of the equation.
So who is strongarming, who is intimidating and who is terrorising? Three answers that call for a name, an entity or an organisation. So who exactly are the players and why are we seeing way too little on certain sides in the press?