Ukraine Crisis: the folly of false historical analogies

The ceasefire in Ukraine seems to be sort of holding. No one, however, seems terribly optimistic that peace is going to come. Certainly there is no sign of the displaced refugees returning home.

The conflict has repeatedly been portrayed as a binary good vs. bad situation analogous to the most simplistic of cowboy films by the West with the only dissent tending to be from the usual suspects (such as John Pilger here – that said good to see the Belfast Telegraph having something better than its current sub Daily Mail stuff complete with side bar of shame girly pictures) who tend to manipulate the facts almost as much as those whom they castigate. In Russia on the other hand the situation is exactly the same though with the goodies and baddies being reversed.

Ukraine has been contested over the centuries but eventually became part of the Russian empire. There was an attempt at independence after the fall of the Tsars in 1917 but the Soviet Union rapidly regained its dominance. Stalin proceeded to collectivisation of the farms which produced a devastating famine in a region which is amongst the worlds most agriculturally productive. It now seems clear that the famine was a deliberate act and millions died.

This devastating famine helped result in popular support from many Ukrainians when the Third Reich invaded in 1941: there are pictures of German soldiers being greeted by women with flowers. Unfortunately for the Ukrainians the master race saw them as sub human Slavs and proceeded to treat them appallingly. Although some Ukrainians supported the Nazis the lot of most people was dire. Resistance movements both aligned with and opposed to the Soviet Union arose along with those who supported the Nazis and those who simply tried to survive. 7 million Ukrainians died during the war.

The relentless return of the Red Army brought liberation for some, murder and exile for others, no doubt some more deservingly than others. The resistance to Moscow rule continued sporadically and largely ineffectually until the early 1950s. The general relaxing of Soviet rule under Nikita Khrushchev (though he had implemented Stalin’s purges in Ukraine) did result in peace. However, unseen by most in the west was the fact that parts of Ukraine were far from happy with rule from Moscow. The borders of Russia and Ukraine were arbitrary and then largely irrelevant: they were effectively one country; Khrushchev gave Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. Furthermore people clearly mingle and without a specific defining ethnic difference whether perceived or real many people will no doubt have been disinterested in the specifics of their nationality.

The events since the breakup of the Soviet Union, whilst until recently less deadly, have been just as duplicitous as those of the Second World War. The newly independent state of Ukraine had a vast nuclear arsenal. In return for voluntarily giving up its nuclear weapons (one of the few – arguably the only country to have done so) Ukraine’s territorial borders were guaranteed by Russia and NATO though Russia was allowed to station its powerful Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol. In addition it was agreed that NATO would not seek to expand its membership into the former Warsaw Pact countries.

Rightly or wrongly NATO promptly expanded to take in not only the former Warsaw Pact countries but also the former Soviet Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which also joined the EU. It was pretty clear that popular opinion in these countries supported such changes but they were in direct contravention of the agreements with Russia. This was at a time when Russia was historically weak led by the “kelopocacy” of alcoholic Boris Yeltsin and his cronies and man in the West paid little attention to Yeltsin apart from laughing at him when he was too drunk to get off the plane at Shannon. The Russian military was a pathetic shadow of its former self with their ships, aircraft and tanks largely inoperable and no money for new equipment or training.

Things changed radically, however with the rise to power of Vladimir Putin and the rise in the international value of Russia’s vast natural resources. Putin to an extent tamed the oligarchs and whilst by no means eliminating corruption he has made Russians richer and Russia more powerful. Specifically this former KGB officer has presided over an increase not only in authoritarian rule but also a massive reversal in fortune for the Russian military. Russia’s planes, ships and tanks have been restored to working order and new weapons systems arguably the equal of Wests have been produced.

With this improvement in Russia’s economic and military position Putin has also decided to adopt a much more assertive foreign policy. This was seen in South Ossetia but has reached new heights in Ukraine.

Ukraine had been leaning towards the west for some time with its presidents supporting joining both the EU and possibly NATO after the Orange Revolution. In 2010 Viktor Yanukovych was elected. His support base was the pro Russia east of the country but he initially supported increased ties with the west. However, under pressure from Moscow he dumped this policy in favour of increased ties with Moscow. Yanukovych was clearly authoritarian and spectacularly corrupt but he had been democratically, if narrowly, elected.

This resulted in street protests and violence: exactly who started shooting is unclear but there were multiple deaths in Maidan Square. Yanukovych was deposed by a combination of idealists and democrats but a considerable part of the muscle that helped ensure his downfall came from fascist groups openly drawing inspiration from those who fought with the Nazis against the Russians in the Second World War.

This development in turn resulted in those in favour of greater ties with Russia objecting. In Crimea, which had a clear Russian majority, there was a relatively peaceful revolution against Kiev’s rule and a demand to return to Russia. Although there was little fighting armed men appeared to help ensure Crimea’s independence and it seems certain that some of them were Russian soldiers with varyingly unconvincing degrees of disguise. That said it is clear that the elections which followed demonstrated an overwhelming support for leaving Ukraine and returning to Russia and reflected the will of the people (if not by the majority obtained).

That left much of the rest of the east of Ukraine which has significant industry and is largely supportive of greater ties with Russia. With some support (seemingly less direct) from Russia, Donetsk and Lugansk regions declared UDI.

The Ukrainian response was considerably less supine than towards Crimea (probably largely due to a lower level of Russian support for the separatists). The Ukrainian army moved against the separatists and open warfare resulted. There was a ceasefire last summer but this quickly broke down. There followed gradual military victories for the Ukrainians which saw the area controlled by the separatists greatly reduced: it began to look as though the Ukrainian authorities might regain the whole of the country apart from Crimea. In this the Ukrainian army have been helped by assorted militia groups which have included neo Nazi groups such as the Azov Battalion complete with Waffen SS symbolism. The Ukrainian government has repeatedly described its opponents as terrorists helped by the still contested circumstances of the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 most likely by the separatists.

That situation has been reversed by recent improvements in the separatists fighting abilities along with continual suggestions that they have been supplied with weaponry by Russia and that Russian regular soldiers have joined them. Whether these Russians are formally constituted as Russian army units seems unlikely but there seem to be large numbers of them in an officially tolerated and encouraged fashion and they have helped tip the balance back in favour of the separatists.

The current uneasy ceasefire is expected to hold by few. If it does break down there have been multiple calls from many in the West to arm the Ukrainian military, even to let them join NATO and in addition there are western military observers with the Ukrainians at the moment.

This has been combined with a ratcheting up of the rhetoric in other parts of Eastern Europe with NATO warplanes sent to the Baltic States (NATO members) and the suggestion that we are back in a new Cold War, even that a real war could ensue.

Much of this seems problematic. It is clear that both Russia and NATO / EU have been involved in highly murky dealings in all these events. Amongst the most foolish comments have come from many sources including Prince Charles and more importantly British and American politicians likening Putin and Russia’s behavior to Hitler and Germany’s in the 1930s.

There is a very superficial similarity in that in pre Second World War eastern Europe there were substantial German minorities in many other eastern European states: this was increased further by the Treaty of Versailles. However, the levels of stupidity of comparing the authoritarian and nationalistic Putin with the genocidal policies of the master race pursued by Hitler and the Nazis are farcical and insulting to the Nazis’ millions of victims.

At least they would be farcical if they were not directed against the country which lost more citizens than any other during the Second World War and which bases much of its world view around its heroic defence of its (and the worlds) civilisation (even under the murderous tyrant Stalin) against Nazi Germany. Then the analogy is not only insulting but also actively dangerous.

The only way in which the analogy has any validity is one that reflects more poorly on the western powers. It is widely accepted that the Versailles Treaty imposed humiliation on Germany: a Germany which whilst defeated had not been destroyed the way it was a generation later. That sense of humiliation helped engender bitterness and the rise of nationalism in Germany The way the west treated Russia after the fall of communism was somewhat similar with humiliation heaped on humiliation. It is quite clear that during Yeltsin’s incompetent rule Russia was ignored and fairly deliberate attempts made to box it in. Now with Russia strengthened though by no means back to its USSR strength such attempts to box it in allied with rhetoric invoking the 1930s is in danger of creating a dangerous situation and will increase both paranoia and nationalism in Russia.

Russia has for centuries feared being isolated and has been invaded by two of the last two centuries greatest tyrants (Hitler and Napoleon) with results not in keeping with the triumph of the west.

Sanctions are unlikely to affect Russia much in all this as to a significant extent this may be seen by them (or presented) as an existential threat to Russian civilisation. As such further sanctions are unlikely to affect them. Furthermore should the west supply the weaponry to tip the balance decisively in favour of the Kiev regime and enable it to retake eastern Ukraine it is more than possible that the Russians would feel forced to commit proper combat troops and formations to the fight. In that case the outcome would be an inevitable crushing defeat for Ukraine bringing with it not thousands but tens of thousands of deaths.

Whatever the protestations of our leaders it is inconceivable that they would commit NATO troops to fight for Ukraine. The aftermath of the calamitous Iraq invasion of 2003 makes large scale military adventurism very difficult for western governments: the aftermath of the so called Arab spring shows that even small scale adventurism can be disastrous.

In Ukraine the orders of magnitude of the potential disaster are many times greater. In some neocon fantasy of John McCain et al. sending American troops to Ukraine might solve the problem. In reality Russia is more willing to commit troops to the situation than any NATO allies and there is absolutely no way Europe or the USA would risk a war with Russia. Such a war which, if localised to Ukraine, the west would probably lose and which if generalised would probably escalate to nuclear annihilation.

Indeed it is fairly doubtful that NATO would when it came to it provide more than token defence for the Baltic States: not that there is any real evidence of Putin wanting to reincorporate the Baltic States into Russia. Again this is a piece of dangerous false analogy with 1930s Germany.

As such the idiotic rhetoric comparing Hilter’s Germany with Putin’s Russia needs to stop. It shows not only the lack of historical and cultural understanding of those making the analogy but is also an insult to those of the heroic generation of all nationalities who stood against Nazi tyranny.

, , , , ,

  • Ernekid

    The simple fact of the matter is that Putin has run roughshod over international law by violating a sovereign nations borders and violating the 1991 Minsk Agreement in which the Russian Federation agreed to respect the newly independent Ukraines borders.

    I recommend Luke Hardings book Mafia State, where he lifts the lid on Putins police state and exposes the brutality and corruption that’s been allowed to flourish in Putins Russia.

  • salmonofdata


    The Baltic states are members of NATO, as such any aggression against them would have to lead to an invocation of Article 5. There can be no equivocation on this, either NATO is committed to the mutual defence of all of its members or it is completely worthless.

    Whilst you are right that the situation in Ukraine is more complex than is given credit for, Russia have behaved abominably, and not all of the parallels with Nazi Germany are unwarranted. Fermenting unrest in neighbouring states with disguised troops is not the behaviour of a civilized state.

    I think that the pointlessness and waste of the Iraq War has led to a knee-jerk pacifism towards absolutely every geopolitical situation. Russia knows this, and has gotten away with all of its recent aggression in Georgia, Crimea, and now Eastern Ukraine. The only language that they understand is force, and they must be made to realise that aggression against a NATO member is a red line they dare not cross.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Europe and its allies have infinitely more to loose by bolstering the Ukraine and Putin knows this. Don’t expect Russia to back down. Europe is on a loser here whatever way you cut it.

  • Randy McDonald

    Mussolini’s Italy is a much better comparison, I agree.

  • Turgon

    You really think that we would go to war against Russia over the Baltic states? I know we are required to but would we? Would we be willing to fight over them knowing that this time the grandsons of the men who stopped at Berlin might not stop till they got to Enniskillen and all points east. That and the only way to stop them would be the Americans and even then probably a nuclear war.

    Maybe you are right: I find your faith in NATO touching.

  • Ernekid

    If a single Battalion of Russian soldiers crossed into Estonian or Latvian soil they’d have half an hour to get the hell out of there before Moscow or St. Petersburg would be reduced to a pile of smouldering radioactive ashes. Putin might be mad but he’s not mad enough to risk Mutually Assured Destruction by attacking EU and NATO states.

  • Turgon

    And we would ensure the same for every significant city in Europe and the USA to save Estonia or Latvia?

    Maybe our leaders would: I am not certain.

    That said I doubt Putin wants Latvia or Estonia. Rather my fear is that by suggesting he does some in the west are making the situation more unstable.

    Unless that is they want to demonstrate a “victory” in that no matter what happens in Ukraine he never does invade the Baltic states. Then they can claim a victory and everyone (our leaders and Putin) ends up fairly happy.

  • salmonofdata

    Obviously nobody wants war. There needs to be a way of giving Russia an “out”, and give them a face-saving way of climbing down from the precipice that they are standing on. It would help if the UK hadn’t completely gutted the Foreign Office of Russian speakers and experts in Russia in one of the stupidest cost-saving measures I can think of.

    Russia needs the price of oil to be over $105 to pay its bills, and if oil prices stay at their current level, combined with sanctions, then they are in financial dire straits, which is likely to fan the flames of extreme nationalist and make them ever more dangerous. They need to be given a choice; either back down and respect their neighbours’ territorial integrity, or realise that there will be consequences.

    Latvia and Estonia are EU members as well as NATO members. We simply can’t allow aggression against them. If we don’t treat Daugavpils as if it was Enniskillen, then the world will become a much more dangerous place. The Cold War wasn’t won through appeasement.

  • Ernekid

    When it comes to collective security of NATO. there’s no ifs or buts. If any European NATO state is threatened by Russia then all states are threatened. Putin is the greatest threat to global stability since the end of the Cold War.

  • Turgon

    If you say it often enough I am sure you will believe it. It might even be true.

  • notimetoshine

    “However, the levels of stupidity of comparing the authoritarian and nationalistic Putin with the genocidal policies of the master race pursued by Hitler and the Nazis are farcical and insulting to the Nazis’ millions of victims.”

    I think you are being too simplistic with this view. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Putin is pursuing a genocidal racial master plan but his foreign policy is reminsicesnt of the aggressive, insecure nationalist, entitled foreign policy that was typical of German policy in the thirities.

    The atrocities committed by the Nazis notwithstanding, one can make an analogy with german foreign policy without insinuating genocide.

  • Turgon

    One can indeed. However, the subtitles of that may not be immediately apparent in Russia where comparing Russia and Putin to Germany and Hitler is one of the more insulting things one could do.

    The historical and cultural context of what is being said needs to be considered both in Europe and Russia.

  • Turgon

    “The Cold War wasn’t won through appeasement.”

    You encapsulate my point perfectly with the binary concepts of winning and losing. You also go back to the emotive and loaded use of the term appeasement.

    As I said the cultural and historical context of what one says is important: well not for us but for our leaders.

    As to Latvia and Estonia. My suspicion is that Putin does not want them back. However I am less convinced than you that we would risk nuclear armageddon to save them.

    Hopefully we will never find out that either of us is wrong.

  • Turgon

    Yes though I think a good analogy is interwar Poland: though analogies are always flawed.

  • Ernekid

    The Baltic states suffered under the jackboot of Soviet tyranny for fifty years. There’s no doubt NATO wouldn’t hesitate to protect them.

  • Turgon

    “There’s no doubt NATO would hesitate to protect them.”

    I agree: I think there would be a right bit of hesitating. Though as I said above I doubt it is part of Putin’s plan. Rather by talking it up some want to have a “victory” when he does not.

    That may be a good plan though ratcheting up the tension and rhetoric always involves a certain level of risk.

  • aber1991

    I share your doubts about the willingness of NATO to go war with Russia to defend the Baltic States.

    The main reason for Russian aggression against the Ukraine is that Ukraine gave up its nukes. I think that the USA should arm Ukraine with replacement nukes. Failing that, the USA could offer to station bomber aircraft in Ukraine if the Russians continue to occupy any part of Ukraine. As for Crimea, so long as the Russians remain in Crimea, no Russian ship should be allowed out of the Black sea.

    I think that, if Ronald Reagan or the like of him had been the President of the USA, there would have been a lot less cheek from the Russians.

  • Ernekid

    Typo amended. Turgon. I’ve a friend who hails from Lithuania, he once said to me that although there’s a sizeable population of ethnic Russians in his country, they are no fans of Putin, Lithuanians are fiercely proud of their hard won independence and they would fight like dogs if the Russians tried to take it away again.

  • Turgon

    I think that is true and a critical difference. The Russians in the Baltic states do not seem dissatisfied with their lot to anything like the same extent than those in Ukraine.

    As such I doubt there is any mileage for Putin in causing unrest there.

    I would, however, warn against the “I have a friend from Lithuania” typed form of evidence. As an analogy some foreigners understand all about Northern Ireland because they have a friend from here.

  • Gopher

    The Russians can thankfully work You Tube. Russians simply wont want to be in a Tank/Plane/Sub/Ship and go to war with NATO that is the brake on Putin. He cant get around that. The difference between 1939 and today is its the Russians with the Fairy Battles and every Russian “conscript” knows it.

  • Erewhon888

    You referred to the downing of MH17 as being “most likely by the separatists”. Given the new analysis that appeared on the 6th of March ( that may need to be revised unless a convincing rebuttal is forthcoming from some quarter.

  • salmonofdata

    Given that august website’s “analysis” on issues such as the evils of vaccination, 9/11 “truth”, and chemtrails, I would take anything that they publish with a grain of salt.

  • Cue Bono

    The Russian military are expected to have 70% modern equipment by 2020.

  • Mister_Joe

    “The West” is good and Russia is bad? Nonsense. “The West” repeatedly meddled in Russia’s backyard and now the Ukrainians are paying the price along with the average Russian through the impact of sanctions.

  • notimetoshine

    Assuming that you accept that Russian has a ‘backyard’. Or that relations with Russia’s immediate neighbours are the sole preserve of the Russian state

  • notimetoshine

    But surely the Nazi example is the petfexr historical context to consider potentially hostile acts by foreign powers. After all ww2 ipwas the seminal event of the 20th century in Europe.

    I agree with what you say regarding the subtleties and the potential insult comparing Russia and Putin with the Germans and Hitler. However maybe that also is the wakeup call needed to show that this sort of nationalistic posturing is incredibly destabilising in Europe.

  • Turgon

    Indeed. It is worth noting that (thankfully) neither Russia nor NATO have fought proper wars against equivalently modern armies. Nor indeed have any of their constituent countries.

    Various countries and alliances have fought states equipped with the other side of the cold war’s technology but it was usually asymmetric in training or modernity of technology or both. Even then the side with the better training and technology did not by any means always win.

    People point to the First Gulf War and the American (and British to an extent) brushing aside the Iraqi army with its Soviet weapons ignoring the fact that that was at the nadir of Russian technology and power and even with that the Iraqis has obsolescent Soviet equipment mainly from the 1970s and 1980s.

    We have no idea how a war between Russia and NATO would play out and hopefully we never will. The machismo posturing of arm chair generals thankfully will probably never be seen in real life.

  • Erewhon888

    Yes, I take all these kind of sites’ stories with a spoonful of salt but I also look for debunking of the stories that aren’t chemtrails, aliens and so on. I expect to see debunking of this one but haven’t found it yet. Pointers welcome.

  • Gopher

    Always love those articles been reading them since I was a child big scary superfast Foxbats, T72’s and Rip off Concordes. These articles are good because people in general dont understand the principle of deterence unless they get a scare story. Its reasurring to know that our freedom is protected by some of the best lobbiest’s on earth.

    The Fundamental problem the Russians face is Apple, Mircrosoft, Intel, Americas Cup yachts, Airbus, Boeing, Formula One racing cars, etc etc etc. It will be a while before anyone gets on a Russian built aircraft for a commercial flight through choice and certainly not in 2020

  • Mister_Joe

    I assume then that you think it was acceptable for the USSR to station nuclear missiles in Cuba back when.

  • salmonofdata

    For all I much care they could have found evidence for supersymmetry, or discovered what Fermat wanted to write in the margin of Arithmetica. But if they are in the habit of writing spurious nonsense then I am not going to take anything that they say seriously. Or even read it.

  • Cue Bono

    In the eighties it was widely acknowledged that the Soviets had better MBTs and APCs than the west. Theirs were sleek and low profiled whilst ours were big clumsy boxes. In the late eighties and early nineties the west modernised its armour, aircraft etc just in time to go to war with Iraq and its obsolete kit. Their tanks didn’t even have night vision equipment and the result was massacre. Now we are disarming just as Putin is rearming and modernising his armed forces. You don’t need to be a historical genius to see the paralells with the 30s.

  • Ernekid

    You can’t read it anyway as the link doesnt work. Is it just me or are conspiracy theorists multiplying?

  • Erewhon888

    Just for you:

    Sean Carroll may have the answer in lecture 13 but I’m not there yet so I can’t say if the evidence you want is there.

  • Erewhon888

    You are right. It’s gone now but was there before. Mm, conspiracy?

  • Erewhon888

    It’s back now. They changed the link.

    I still hope to find a debunking as an exercise in critical thinking. Maybe the Corbett Report or similar will have a go.

  • Erewhon888

    Checking further the article has nothing to do with the conspiracy site. They just picked it up. The original is here with around 400 comments. There is also some divergent analysis at Eventually the Malaysian government will have to take a position on this kind of debate and not just leave it to the Dutch team.

  • notimetoshine

    As a tit for tat provocation considering the basing of short range ballistic missile systems like Thor in turkey yes. In the context of the time of course the world was divided by spheres of influence and one could argue that in that context it was wrong to impinge upon those spheres. However the missile crisis was an aside to the communist revolution in cuba which had already happened, so maybe not the best analogy to gave used. But things have changed. Dealing with the Russians with a cold war mindset is exactly the wrong thing to do, the world has changed and the concept of spheres of influence outdated.

    I suppose much of it has to do with the insecurity Russians feel with regards to their place in the world. They are no longer a super power/ hyper power and the role in the world once taken by Russia is passing (or has passed) to China. Putin of course is trying to reclaim some of that glory, but with a sclerotic economy and a demographic crisis Russia will never reclaim its throne. Therefore these adventures are simply the last spasm of Russian imperial power. Much like the Suez crisis was for the UK.

  • btheist

    Global research?

  • notimetoshine

    I don’t doubt that and I suppose what you are saying is a good example of subjective experience and projecting your cultural memes. But what I would say is that the second world war was the defining geopolitical event in western Europe in the 20th century. Regardless of where you are in Europe the conflict with the Nazis shaped the strategic situation post 45.

  • Robert Sowers

    this author is smoking dope.
    there was no “peaceful but legal” elections to have the crimea leave Ukraine and join Russia.
    Russia’s troops showed up…the soldiers and instigators on the ground forcefully eject the current local government….insert their own “government” and then decide within weeks to hold an election.


    and Unicorns fly..

    Russia forcefully invaded with ground forces and naval forces from the black sea base and then forcefully and illegally ejected the Ukrainian military from its bases.

  • Randy McDonald

    Hmm. Was there much territorial revisionism being actively promoted by the Polish state? I suppose there’s the city currently known as Vilnius.

  • tmitch57

    It is still against international law. International law unlike domestic law is not enforced by a higher body, it is enforced through self help. This means that the UN veto goes into effect. But only if you consider international law to mean no use of force without Security Council authorization is this a valid argument.

  • walkergw

    You seem to accept the “Sphere of influence” idea. This means Russia’s right to control areas around it are more than the rights of those countries to maintain their own Independence? Think about that for a moment. Then tell me how far this “Sphere of influence” goes. Are you basically saying that the cold war never ended and the world is divided into west and “Former Soviet Union”? Or Can Russia create its own new Monroe Document and state that Europe is its sphere of influence?

  • walkergw

    I wouldnt even accept it with salt. I have yet to read a single article on the site that had a bit of usefullness except to see how crazy some people are.

  • walkergw

    Of course not intentionally. But miscalculations are very possible. Right now Nato looks pretty weak to Putin. If he thinks he can break it once and for all, he might try it. Remember during the cold war, Germany had close to 10x as many tanks as it has now. US has always been the biggest partner in NATO, but it is now 75% of NATO. Taken the wimpiness of the EU and US to do much more than play lip service to what Russia is doing in Ukraine, it is concievable that Putin could think he could covertly strip a Baltic state from NATO protection.

  • walkergw

    I dont think that article 9 automatically invokes nuclear war. There is some question about what the proper response is. I would say that if Russia moves even a single tank into a NATO country without concent, NATO would have to respond. But what that response is and whether the violated country would consider it adequate or other NATO nations would think that NATO is no longer guaranteeing their own protection is the key question.

  • lele1889

    It is pretty funny, Russia, the largest Country in the world feel “seized” if its politician cannot control neighbor state like Chechenya, Georgia or Ukraine. Using the cause of russian minorities as like german did with the german people around eastern europe. Everybody like to find ufos ,fascists, dark plot within the western world, and probably we have many “dark sides” mostly due to lobbies interest, by the way we european are obliged to discuss peace in Belarus, fierce allied of Moscow, where the same man Mr Lukashenko run a dictatorship soviet style since 94, at the same time in Moscow Putin rules his country since 99, I think everybody should consult the russian parliament composition before compare Russia and the West. I’ll be really happy if somebody find a real opposition party today in Russia.

  • Neil

    there was no “peaceful but legal” elections to have the crimea leave Ukraine and join Russia.

    How would you describe the initial coup to remove Yanukovych? Bearing in mind he was democratically, legally elected as president of the Ukraine? Europe nurtured the initial revolution as that was what it wanted. As soon as Putin showed that he didn’t plan to be a walkover the Europeans sloped out the door. If the initial (pro EU) revolution was understandable, then the current (pro Russia) revolution in the East is also understandable.

  • willie drennan

    This is a very valuable insight into the situation in Ukraine from Turgon. We are usually too quick to jump into partisan opinions on global conflicts: the Middle East being a fine example. It’s the same as people from other countries basing strong opinions on Northern Ireland without fully understanding all the subtleties.

    We have good cause to be distrusting of Putin but if there are majorities within regions of Ukraine that genuinely favour the link with Russia, does the West not need to be considerate of this? Is the expansion of the EU and NATO perhaps a contributing factor – as much as the expansionist plans of Putin? Perhaps interference in Ukraine by NATO, EU and USA are giving Putin the excuses that he needs?

    Should Russia make serious efforts to interfere with Baltic States, which are already linked to NATO and EU, then it will all be different as we will then know for certain that we are dealing with another Stalin or Hitler-type maniac out to seek control over as much of the world as possible. Personally, from what I know of the Baltics, I think that is all a bluff – and probably a bluff perpetuated by both sides.

    Seems to me it is always in the interests of power mongers to use wars, or threat of wars to try increase their power bases. Initially they need to stir up fears and emotions among the people until a situation can be created where those people have no choice but to defend their territory.

    We should be very careful not to hold partisan views on Ukraine at this stage – that would just encourage the war mongers and be of no help at all to the residents of Ukraine. We should rather be encouraging our political leaders to focus on facilitating a fair solution for all the people of Ukraine: which in turn would be the best scenario for all us people here. We could all do rightly without a wee nuclear war at the moment.

  • Practically_Family

    Real politik. They have and they are.

  • Practically_Family

    Yeah because the tin plated tractors and horse cavalry that still made up the better part of the purge addled Soviet army waas a real force to be reckoned with when the the Wehrmacht rolled over their borders.

  • Practically_Family

    And a key surprise for NATO (or any other agressor) fighting actual Russians in real Russian kit, is just how “monkey” the monkey models sold to export customers are. As good as the West’s top flight kit? Probably not in most cases. Quite good enough to equal the casualty toll in every conflict NATO has participated in since 1990 in a slack afternoon of munitions exchange? Very easily.

    And we know it. By far and a way the most belligerent voice in the whole affair is David Cameron. Which is vaguely amusing.

  • Practically_Family

    “The Parties agree that an armed attack against
    one or more of them in Europe or North America shall
    be considered an attack against them all and consequently
    they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each
    of them, in exercise of the right of individual or
    collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of The UN will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking
    forthwith, individually and in concert with the other
    Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including
    the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the
    security of the North Atlantic area”

    Is what Article V actually says. And that is, in point of fact, rather equivocal.

  • Practically_Family

    LOL. I’m willing to take a wild gamble here and say that you missed the Cold War by virtue of age?

  • Duncan Skilton

    Gents, I recommend reading the following for background on the lead up to Maiden, this crisis was born more of incompetence than malice.

  • Practically_Family

    There are and always have been inumerable ifs & a plethora of buts.

  • Demi Boone

    Always amusing to read the comments made from someones personal opinions Robert based on no fact. The election were televised and monitored AND passed overwhelmingly.

  • Demi Boone

    Rubbish, Russia is 1/5 the worlds land mass and potentially Thee world richest nation on earth. It there fore comes into any game holding quite a few chips and is not to be treated as some third world State to be exploited at the benefit of another.

  • Demi Boone


  • Scott Walker

    I believe that the assassination of Boris Nemtsov was a huge blow to any political moves, he was supposedly preparing the evidence to bring Russia to the tables and talk it over. Now the Russian opposition feel threatened and undermined, corruption is apparently still rampant in Russian society. What ever Putin’s motives are, hopefully NATO’s actions will be adequate to maintain peace and stability in the region. I fear the propaganda portrayed on Russian state television to be misleading their citizens into a biased against the West, in turn making Putin’s authoritarian rule strengthened.

  • notimetoshine

    Certainly not a third world state but certainly not the power it once was.
    Land mass doesn’t count for much if the country on the land isnt productive.

    Russia’s economy is a disaster zone. Manufacturing and services are sclerotic, inefficient, and bedevilled with corruption.

    Public services even with Putin’s huge cash injections are hideous and life expectancy infant mortality and fertility are well below what they should be of a country like Russia.

    Yes Russia has hydrocarbon resources, but they are fickle and a country like Russia will and certainly has fallen victim to the hydrocarbon curse.

    Russia wasn’t what it once was and will never be again. Certainly Stoll very influential but a sideshow to the real world powers.

  • Demi Boone

    FACT…Israel would have lost if not for logistical and satellite data from the US….same as in 73. A lot will doubt but it’s true. Besides that we built their Air Force, train their Pilots, feed em and put them to bed at night.

  • Practically_Family

    The ability to end any sembelance of human society in at least one hemisphere of the planet if pissed off enough is still a fair old joker to be able to play though.

    Realistically only the USA has similar capability.

  • notimetoshine

    Of course quite right, though in terms of economic and soft power and therefore the resultant influence and power Russia is lagging.

  • Demi Boone

    Must be a lot of young people on this site with all the tough talk about who can kick whose ass. Let’s take a look at economics and in particular the EU and the US’s concern about the up an coming EEU. Any one have any comments on that and the situation in Ukraine WRT the article just read?

  • Practically_Family

    I honestly don’t think they have the same desires on the power and influence front as “we” do.

  • Practically_Family

    There’s a whole generation who believe that a war is a little bit of shock & awe followed by handing out the building contracts and then having a homecoming parade. It’s slightly disconcerting.

  • Practically_Family

    No, no they weren’t.

  • Randy McDonald

    The soft fascism, the irredentism aimed against neighbouring countries, the militarism, the rejection of degenerate foreign culture, et cetera.

  • willie drennan

    Very true, but perhaps the assassination of this opposition leader will encourage more Russians to question their regime. Also the propaganda on RT tv is blatant indeed. It has such a different interpretation of the facts from Western media. Always good to read between all the lines.

  • Practically_Family

    “Very true, but perhaps the assassination of this opposition leader will encourage more Russians to question their regime.”

    Not for as long as Western governments and influences try exert pressure on Russia and he thumbs his nose at them. It’s better than a stream of photos of him wrestling a bear.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The thing about Eastern Europe, the Nazis were seen as heroes to those who saw their loved ones slaughter by the Red Army, many who could’ve been victims of Nazi eugenics supported the Third Reich because of Stalin’s war on ‘class enemies’ would have been more likely to kill them instead, as was the case in Katyn, Poland so was the case in many Eastern parts of Ukraine.

  • Practically_Family

    I’d probably be more mindful of Alexandr Nevsky in this dispute than of either Hitler or Stalin.