Tag Archive for Ukraine

The Ukrainian Government’s Dilemma

Brian via Compfight

elexorien sword of vaelen

Those who live by the sword die by the sword

The interim government in Ukraine is becoming acutely aware of the saying derived from the biblical parable in The Gospel of Mathew, verse 26:52.

“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword”.

It’s ironic that the new government’s successful installation in Kiev, has encouraged the pro Russian activists in cities in the East of the country to use the same strategy.

A strategy of widespread resistance using tactics of roadblocks in the streets and illegal occupation of government buildings.

In a post on 25 February Ukraine, Peaceful Protest or Mob Rule, I pointed out the dangers of mob rule.

It appears that those dangers are now coming back to haunt the new government.

The same factors are now almost certainly hindering the West’s ability to effectively respond to the Russian annexation of Crimea and fomenting of demands for autonomy in Eastern Ukraine.

While most reasonable supporters of democracy will approve of the ousting of former President Yanukovich, the means by which it was achieved were anything but democratic.

It’s somewhat illogical to celebrate mob rule in one part of the country and then condemn the same actions in another.

The new government is now becoming painfully aware of the consequences of its takeover as it contemplates its options in the East.

There were calls for the former president and some of his officials to be tried for war crimes because some protesters were shot.

Is that why the new government is so scared of using force to evict the illegal occupiers of government buildings in Eastern towns?

It is a real predicament, use too much force resulting in casualties, alienate the pro-Russian population, risk accusations of war crimes, invite an invasion by Russian troops.

Don’t use force and see an increasing number of Eastern towns and regions become lawless, controlled by mobs and ripe for annexation by Russia.

Governments have to govern, as distasteful as it may be, the government in Ukraine must take resolute action to regain control of the whole country quickly.

The alternative is a partitioned Ukraine and increased risk of Russian sponsored agitation in other countries which were formerly part of the USSR.

The big question is why the new government did not take immediate steps to bolster the security at its buildings and defence of cities in the East as soon as the Russian activities in Crimea commenced.

Was it concern over the loyalty of its troops?  Was it the naivety of a new government? Was it inexperienced leadership?

 

peter-wright

 

 

 

Dangerous moves on the Ukrainian chess board

Killer QueenCreative Commons License aussiegall via Compfight

Back in September 2013, in this post, I suggested that Russia’s President Putin had acted like a Chess Master to out manoeuvre the Western powers in Syria.

Seems he learned from that success and has again played the more decisive opening moves. This time in the Ukraine, a bigger chessboard and a game with much higher stakes.

As offensive as his action in moving thousands of troops into the Crimea overnight is to our Western Democratic sensibilities, he has an element of legality on his side.

The government under President Yanukovich as bad as it appeared, was the elected government. It was overthrown by a violent revolution, police and protesters were killed, property damaged, buildings occupied and public officials prevented from doing their jobs.

Our Western leaders loudly condemn, and sometimes take action against, coup leaders in other countries – when we do not approve of them. It seems we have a selective morality when it comes to approving of, or condemning revolutions.

How then can we complain when Russia chooses to side with what to them is a beleaguered minority, deprived of their elected government by an uprising and fearful for their safety?

Not that I am supporting Russia’s invasion of the Crimea. Far from it, I am just suggesting that the situation is a little more complicated than most people believe.

Will Putin put troops into the rest of the Ukraine? That may well depend on his assessment of the “consequences” that British Foreign Minister William Hague threatens.

While I suspect that Russia will not be aggressive enough to launch a takeover of the whole country, it would not be surprising if they did attempt to annexe those parts of Eastern Ukraine with majority Russian speaking populations.

It looks like the Crimean peninsula is lost, a result that may eventually prevent further problems for the new government in Kiev. A Russian move into Eastern Ukraine would create more serious problems both for the country itself and other countries in Europe.

Depending on their assessment of the West’s likely reaction, Putin could well put troops around the Russian speaking cities in Eastern Ukraine temporarily to extract concessions from both the new Ukrainian government and the West.

Those concessions could include higher prices for Russian natural gas supplied to the Ukraine and beyond, removal of the threat of sanctions proposed by the USA and even more favourable consideration of Russian interests in unrelated sources of disagreement like Syria.

For now the Russian Chess Master has the West in check, will it be checkmate when more Ukrainian cities have been lost like pawns? Or will the West be bold enough to protect the Queen of Kiev and the rest of the pieces not yet lost?

My bet is that right now it’s too close to call. My gut instinct tells me that this game would have played out differently if Presidents John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had still been leaders of their countries.

More recently, if either President Bush had been in power, Russia’s opening moves may have been less provocative.

I do not believe that the West will, or should, get into a war with Russia, the potential cost is too high, the outcome unlikely to improve the situation for the people of Ukraine.

However the Russian action is a clear indication that the USA is no longer seen as the only world superpower, the balance of power is steadily shifting Eastwards and Russia desperately wants to improve its standing in the ranks of nations that carry weight.

Interesting times ahead.

 

peter-wright

Ukraine, Peaceful Protest, Revolution or Mob Rule?

 

consequences

Peaceful Protest or Anarchy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the protests against the government of the Ukraine became increasingly violent it was not surprising that they invited an equally violent response from the forces of law and order.

The overwhelming reaction from commentators and political leaders in the West was support for the protesters and condemnation of the government for stopping “peaceful” protests with violent confrontation.

Can protests be considered “peaceful” when barricades are set up in streets to stop the police doing their job as well as preventing free access to other law-abiding citizens? When police are shot at, stoned, petrol bombed with many injured and some killed.

When government buildings, vehicles and other public assets are invaded, burned and the occupants prevented from doing their jobs.

I have always been wary of the right to peaceful protest. The moment the number of protesters becomes high enough, or their actions violent enough, to interfere with the ability of others to enjoy freedom of movement, ability to work or use their property, a line has been crossed.

That line should not be crossed in a democratic system.

The first time a brick or more dangerous missile, is hurled at a policeman, public or private property damaged, the protesters must accept the risk of being seriously injured or killed.

I have no sympathy for recently deposed President Yanukovych or his government, however I have little enthusiasm for mob rule.

Why do we in the West automatically side with the protesters? Even when the government that is the target of the protesters was freely elected and by some standards no worse than others? – That was not necessarily so in the case of the Ukraine.

The Western leaders and media fell over themselves to praise the protesters in the “Arab Spring”. The result, certainly in Libya, Egypt and Syria, less stable countries with more casualties than before under the old autocratic regimes.

What would happen in North America or Western Europe if freely elected governments were faced with massive and violent revolution? We saw how Greece experienced a taste of it at the start of the austerity measures.

It was ugly, but the government had no alternative to using force to contain the situation, protect lives and property, prevent a revolution.

We saw a much more wishy-washy response to protesters during the “Occupy” movement when crowds illegally invaded private and public property, used private gardens as camp sites and toilets and prevented thousands of people going about their legitimate business.

That is not democracy at work, that is the action of a selfish minority attempting to replace a government it does not like by revolution instead of the ballot box.

Why should your and my tax dollars be wasted on replacing burned police cars and paying for thousands of hours of police overtime because the authorities are too timid to use force to maintain law and order?

The new interim government in the Ukraine is now calling for the arrest and trial of President Yanukovych. That may well be justified and he certainly invited retribution by is actions and by the recently revealed opulence of his residence.

That creates the concern that other presidents and prime ministers will be too nervous about their own futures to use force to stop revolutions. The job of being the leader of a country will become more dangerous, less attractive. Weak governments will result, anarchy will prevail.

There is a great danger in glorifying revolution. Yes some revolutions are just and eventually result in better governed countries with better conditions for most citizens. The French Revolution of 1789 – 1799 is probably the best example.

Other revolutions have had more sinister outcomes.The Russian revolution in 1905, being a prime example. One oppressive regime being replaced by a worse and more deadly one that affected the lives of millions of people inside and beyond the borders of the country itself.

The danger is that accepting increasing levels of violence and destruction as the “right of peaceful protest” opens the door to insurrection and chaos every time a segment of the population becomes dissatisfied with the government of the day. Irrespective of whether that government was democratically elected or not, good or bad, effective or not.

In Canada, Australia and most of Europe, the population has largely been disarmed, ordinary citizens will be unable to defend themselves, their families or their properties when weak leaders fear the consequences of firm action and mob rule is allowed to become the norm.

A sad state of affairs and one deliberately engineered by successive levels of increasing “big government”.

The USA, Israel and Switzerland alone in the West have allowed their citizens the security of legal possession of fire arms to defend themselves against the results of mob rule.

peter-wright

 

 

 

Graphic by Artvex.com