Russian-Ukrainian crisis: comments from readers on one of the longest conflicts in Europe in the last two centuries

(To David Rossi)
02/03/19

It is a climatically difficult land, which for thousands of years its inhabitants have cultivated with difficulty, obtaining to live above all cereals, potatoes and - as an anesthetic from the sufferings of daily life - spirits distilled. There is a "cumbersome" neighbor, which, after centuries of medieval darkness, has become a world power and still very strong today, despite having lost a colossal empire but kept a nuclear arsenal. There have been centuries of domination by this neighbor, who has come to impose his own language and has tried to obliterate that of the natives. There remains the still living memory of a devastating famine, which has left millions of dead in mass graves and was largely wanted by the neighbor-master, happy to break the kidneys once and for all to people so riotous. Yes, because the near-dominator of a thing is certain: whenever these stubborn ex-servants become too independent, the geostrategic situation changes and in a negative way. An endless series of attempts to free themselves from this suffocating yoke has passed through history, often offering support to the enemies of the oppressor. Even to those not presentable. Even at the cost of internal conflicts, real civil wars, because - although they want to free themselves - they have never built a cohesive nation. But who cares: not even Italy is ... Meanwhile, Europe and North America are filled with migrants, all still happy to recognize themselves in their national identity ... And today, in the 2019, the relationship - always bad - with the former neighbor-master are in the news and put in difficulty the former empire.

You see, my readers, the magic of propaganda: in front of this narrative - at the beginning of an editorial on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis - the prey of Russophobia, the critics of the "servant of the Americans" and the bishops of the "But they are all Eastern Slavs".

In fact, I was talking about Ireland. Of ireland! Yeah, now they do not care a damn thing anymore: the issues of the green island of St. Patrick do not concern US-Russian relations, nor the geopolitics of Moscow. But the two stories are so identical as to make people shiver. And this incipit has helped me to understand something simple to the readers: always look for, in your judgments and also in matters of geopolitics and security, to be impartial and just, because what you would not deny to Western Europeans in Ireland - ie do what he likes and do with their nation - in an almost identical scenario, perhaps it is also true for the Eastern Ukrainian Europeans.

The Crimea and the Donbass are different from Ulster only once - after the narration of the scenario - a name is affixed instead of another. Thus, the narrative on the Crimea "which is inhabited by Russians" is not so different from that on South Tyrol that is inhabited by the Tyrolean, Catalan populated by the Catalans, Corsica with its indigenous Courses and, why not, Sardinia of Sardinia , the Serbian Vojvodina and the Romanian Transylvania of the Magyars. So, just to dismember some States ...

Now, net of the events in Donbass and the violations of the Minsk agreements, the question to ask is this: if changing the name changes your judgment, how much will you have been correct in your evaluation? How much have you been different from politicians and journalists who are always criticized? Think people think.

And now, the word to the readers!

Stefano puts it in geopolitics: Until thirty years ago, the powers that dominated the world were two; now, China has been added. The rest is all silent. The EU as it is is useless: too many presidents, ministers, parliaments. If instead of the EU there was a single European state, made up only of already existing regions, perhaps many crises like this would not exist because perhaps Ukraine would also be in this state. But we would have had a preventive war on the part of the US, Russia, China and all the Middle Eastern states, because such a state would be inconvenient: in four the world would be too small.

The reader Andrea has a peculiar vision of Russian potential. About the "Polish neo-Nazism", I remember a nice cartoon in which South Korea and Israel - personified - argue about who has the most insane and aggressive neighbors. At the same time, they feel answered: "You have no problem with your neighbors, compared to me!" from Poland itself. Joking aside, neo-Nazis, dear reader, is how the Soviet leaders called the workers who supported Solidarnosc ...

Russia, since the collapse of the USSR, has lost about 5 mln of km2 of territory, and we do not speak only of desert steppes without resources and life. But it was and remains an empire, that is, it has an imperial vision of foreign policy, and it will always have it. One can think that today has nothing to do but resist US and NATO pressure on its borders, also trying to react tactically, where possible. The fulcrum of the matter, given that in any case its strategic and economic strength will sooner or later become unsustainable for us Western Europeans, it is what they will do to counteract the US and China (the true rival, always). Bearing countries like Ukraine and Poland, also others, are destined to be used (as always happened) as temporary and / or passing battlefields, and nobody will ever really commit to them (it did not even happen in the 2a GM, on closer inspection). It is cynical to say, but they also look for it: see eg. the latest Polish neo-Nazi determinations: history has not taught him anything, it seems.

The reader Giorgio paints a scenario of very short period, imagining the collective suicide of the Ukrainian leadership, ready to unleash an open war with Russia without any system of alliance covering the back of the country. Regarding the general "weather", the Crimea has passed into the Russian Federation in a few weeks: the one in Eastern Ukraine is starting to become the longest conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War. I do not know whose friend, this high official ...

When the Berlin Wall collapsed thirty years ago and shortly after the USSR, the West experienced events with different visions. Europe hoped for a better and reconciled world, the US saw itself only as winners of the Cold War. Today, both realized that they were wrong and that Ukraine is a plastic representation. Many historians make this equivalence Nationalisms = Conflicts. Well the end of the USSR has released the dormant nationalisms to the east and after the 2014 coup in Kiev, the subsequent return of Crimea to Russia, the civil war in the Donbass, the imminent arrival of the Nord Stream 2, the 'Azov and a Turkey increasingly distant from the US, the Ukrainian leadership has in hand all the elements (not happy) economic, financial, religious, geographical and ethnic to voluntarily detonate a traditional conflict with Russia.

In Kiev they know that General 'Tempo' is not their ally, but the opposite, so before the US Presidential elections will trigger an open war with Russia in the belief that the US will never allow a Russian victory; and Europe?

It will split, Baltic Poland with the USA, Germany, France and others will declare themselves neutral. Result: end of the 1.0 and NATO 1.0 with the birth of something else.

To the ancient reader Luca, of which we publish the passage below, I remember that the spirits distilled - produced with cereals or potatoes - are a medieval invention of the Poles, widespread among the Eastern Slavs following the troops of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire.

Incomprehensible that a country that writes in Cyrillic, of orthodox religion, of Slavic roots wants to enter the European illusion. Perhaps because they felt exploited by Moscow? When the drunkenness has passed and they will realize that instead of having only one master, they find two or three to be satisfied, perhaps some regrets will surely emerge.

From Italian it is understandable the resentment of the Kremlin, similar a bit like when Italy was taken away from the Nice land of Garibaldi and Savoy for policy of convenience, but this is ancient history ... We know the alcohol is bad effects and wine French too. On the other hand politics is politics does not happen often by most, crazy hysterical mother of the nations.

A Ukrainian friend as a present coming back from Kiev gave me a bottle of vodka, a friend Moscovita gave the same gift ... I wonder why the Belgians give me beer and not vodka? Well ....

The reader Marco tells us a story at times personal, but in the end touches everyone - but everyone - the topics of interest.

Journey to western Ukraine from 13 years for family reasons. The feeling is that a good part of the population from 2014 has rediscovered the ideals of Patria. I was confronted before, during and after the 2014 both with ordinary people and with retired and in-service staff belonging to the "armed forces and / or police" and belonging to local institutions from which it is clear that if the first "orange revolution" gave hope, from the 2014-15 you have a certainty: Ukraine is and will be a free state and independent of Russia.

In these 4 years a state has been rebuilt which was adrift starting from the central administrations and cascading the local ones. The effects are not yet seen in its potential but there is no doubt, in the coming years the economic growth will be felt and the link with Russia is considered prehistory and this regardless of who will be the winner of the next Presidential. I am convinced that even if a pro-Russian candidate wins, the Ukraine policy will remain pro-European.

The only 2 obstacles to a development are paradoxically given by the viability that, although much improved, has still uneven roads and in second place a Western prejudice due to our profound ignorance of the history, art, technology, culture and religion of Ukraine. Erroneously many continue to consider it a satellite of Russia when instead for many of the aspects mentioned above it was the opposite that Russia showed as its own Ukrainian resources.

I have no doubt, if you look with objective eyes, perhaps the occupied regions will remain under separatist control for a few more years then return to Ukraine while the Crimea will remain under Russian occupation until there is a moment of great weakness of Russia itself, this because there is no desire for a bloodbath to resume this region.

The Ukrainians have learned to defend themselves by any means and a military occupation of Kyiv (of the whole of Ukraine would not be conceivable) would last the time of a season. The worst thinkable option, the atomic one, would lead to a retaliation of the same amount on the adverse soil, the only possible smart Russian option is to try to steer the change what they are doing. Even another force action in the Azov sea would be possible but would still bring severe losses to the invader and firm international condemnation. Let us not forget that there are important economic interests in the port transport of Mariupol which do not concern also important and strong countries of Asia and that could put up a very high pressure even without openly siding.

Lorenzo emphasizes geopolitical and legal aspects: It is undisputed that in the Ukraine affair two geopolitical weight actors collide: the US and the Russian Federation.

Unilateral actions are never desirable in particular when, although indirectly, they concern problems within a sovereign state.

That said, the secession of a part of the territory and / or its annexation to another, from a legal point of view, should be carefully considered by the international community.
What, sorry, perplexes me, however, is the double standard: if the principle of self-determination of peoples is protected by international law, this principle must always apply. Ergo applies to Kosovo and applies to Crimea and Donbass.

On the other hand, if we analyze the situation from a substantive standpoint, outside the strict law, there are those who do not see how the pushes towards secessions and annexations are evaluated by the international community according to specific geopolitical interests and interests. The US sees well the independent Kosovo and the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation; the Crimea and Donbass question less well; the Russian Federation, on the other hand, sees the first and the second best badly.

So it depends on what point of view the question is observed. From a geopolitical point of view, it is enough to mention the numerous interventions by Sergio Romano who, on several occasions, pointed out the western error, in particular the European one, of not taking into account the geopolitical interests of the Russian Federation: its inclusion in Ukraine constitution of the obligation to join NATO. Those who pay the consequences of these behaviors are, as usual, the population that, for the most part, suffers the choices made in far away places. For us Europeans, a latent war on our eastern borders is not a good sign, and we should have a specific interest in preserving important economic relations without becoming subjects of anybody. However, I fear that this vision, third and independent with respect to the two geopolitical players, is absolutely non-existent and, therefore, we always risk going from a flattening on US (current) wire positions to a flattening of pro-Russian positions (maybe tomorrow). And maybe, then, we pay the bill for a hot conflict in which perhaps we will also be directly involved. It's not good at all.

The ancient reader Sergio goes very hard: It is a clash between those who want to prostitute themselves for Russia and those for the West, while the population (including the relevant and inconvenient Russian minority), for millennia accustomed to bloodshed, does what it does best: survive as it can with any half. Russia, a cold, curving giant looking for warmth and sustenance from the Donbass coalfield, from the Black Sea military ports and missile factories (those that have lost secrets to Iran and North Korea after the fall of the Union). Simple reasons of state and necessity. Russia needs to live and will never give up the already controlled Russian territories. But I doubt I aim to expand them. It must be present and strong in the Black Sea in opposition to the NATO countries, especially Turkey. While the US seeks a pretext for war (against China), Russia avoids, since any outcome would be nefarious: if it wins it would become a Chinese province, if it lost it would eat cold-dog and vodka for life.

Claudio's commentary, very critical of the Orwellian order of the West and the media and pleased that one of our vice-premier has decided to meet the yellow waistcoats, we publish an interesting piece, which will be a starting point (on Kurds and massacre of Odessa) for future articles.

On the other hand, if the Kurds want to carve out their status, that's OK, but if they do the Russians in Novorossia do not. And do we want to make a serious debate in these conditions? For heaven's sake I'm not just talking about journalists but also about the jesters of the European parliament and beyond. We want to talk about the Odessa massacre? 48 dead - forty eight - with unworthy details of a civilized country.

A reader - who asks for complete anonymity - offers us a very structured analysis, which we publish in full, as a conclusion.

Anyone who wants to examine the crisis in Ukraine in detail must take it into their head that this is a very delicate matter. Why delicate? First, because this is an area that is in our backyard. Do not think that there are big obstacles that separate Ukraine from the rest of Europe; Ukraine has common borders with four states that are part of the EU (Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland), so any upheaval that affects that country, also interests us, for better or for worse. Second, if the Europeans, and even more Americans, may be tempted to treat Ukraine in the same way as a "waste land" and implement irresponsible policy on the spot, this is not true for the Russians.

Since the crisis in Ukraine has degenerated, during the first months of the 2014, it became clear to everyone that the Russians would never, ever give up the bone and are determined to fight to the most extreme consequences, if necessary, to protect their national interests in what they consider their "Near Foreign".

Let us have no illusions, Euromaidan had the same effect on the Russians as the Battle of Cannae had on the Romans; in the very short term it was a political-military disaster from which, however, the Russians drew the energy to fight with renewed tenacity and, almost certainly, triumph over the long term.

As I had to say over and over again during these years, the stakes in Ukraine are such that for Putin the retreat was never an option. Whatever the outcome of this latest battle for the control of the lands that once formed part of the "Scythia Maior", we can already draw some important lessons from the unfortunate historical parable of Ukraine. First, that a territory that is vast but without its own coherent culture can not necessarily produce a "state". Secondly, any country that deliberately destroys its armed and security forces has created the conditions for its own end because it is the armed and security forces that cultivate patriotism on which the ideological premise of the "state" rests. Third, that the "oligarchic" component present in any society must never be left free to carry out its own "policies" antithetical to what is the supreme national interest, nor should it be put in a position to engulf the middle class and the other popular classes . Fourth, that even when it seems that the bottom has been touched, a handful of particularly incompetent and irresponsible rulers are equally able to tackle, if not counterbalanced by the right internal counterweights, so wicked policies that they tell a careful outside observer that, indeed, sometimes there are no limits to masochism.

Photo: US DoD