down under. A few mentions have been made of events in the Ukraine and a few more about the meeting
held to try and bring peace to what is left of that nation.
The US, Russia, the Ukraine and the EU all sent their best people (well the US sent John Kerry but I’m not
going to make any Kerry jokes just yet) to come up with a solution to the situation in the Ukraine that
does not involve Russian tanks rolling westward.
After endless hours of talking a compromise was agreed upon and the situation was resolved.
The deal has five key points that all parties must follow now they have signed up.
1. An end to violence plus a vague agreement to stop being nasty to other people.
2. All illegal armed groups to put down their guns and go home.
3. Everyone involved gets an amnesty unless they are guilty of murder or another capital crime.
4. The Europeans send in monitors to keep an eye on the situation.
5. Constitutional reform, transparent and inclusive with all groups views being respected.
Point one can and probably will be considered by the separatists and Russia to include the Kiev loyalist
military units to pull back and stop threatening the eastern cities and towns. Failure by the Kiev Regime
to pull back those military units could very easily be used as justification for tearing up the whole agreement.
Point two. According to the separatists, the army units loyal to Kiev ARE an illegal armed group serving an
illegitimate regime that took power by a coup. As far as the separatists see things the Kiev regime has no
democratic mandate and its actions in sending in troops against people loyal to the elected government is
illegal. As I see this the only way to gain agreement on this point is that the army returns to its bases and
keeps out of sight and out of mind.
Point three. Given that the separatists have not killed anyone and are guilty of trespass and smashing
windows along with numerous assault charges this favours them. On the Kiev side, the army have killed a
number of separatists, given the situation that army units loyal to Kiev are considered to be loyal to an illegal
regime by the easterners this opens the door for calls to punish army units guilty of killing men loyal to the
democratically elected regime.
Point four. European observers. From EU countries. Yes the citizens of pro Russian east and south are going
to have faith in their impartiality. Could they not ask the UN for observers who could be considered neutral.
Given that the initial demonstrations in Kiev and the overthrow of the elected government was carried out
by pro EU groups and political parties having the EU come in to monitor the situation and ensure it is fair and
honest is going to make as much sense to the pro Russian side as hiring a fox to guard the hen house.
This is particularly badly thought out.
Point five. The end result. A political answer. The views of the eastern regions to be listened to and given
fair consideration. Using diplomacy and democracy to give the eastern regions more autonomy and control
over their own future.
This is the big one and the one from which, I think, disaster is going to spring. An open promise to be
transparent and inclusive which is going to fail very quickly given the nature of politics in the Ukraine.
When I look at the situation in Ukraine I cannot help but see a giant chess board floating over the entire
region. On one side sits Putin, his king safely castled. His major pieces deployed to control his half of the
board and his remaining pawns threatening the other side of the board.
His opponents, Obama and a huddle of tiny grey figures that pop up behind the US president's chair to
squeak orders in high pitched voices. They have a king hiding in one corner guarded by the few major
pieces they have on the board and they have a few more pawns trying to threaten Putin’s pawns while
not getting in range of the major Russian pieces.
Russia has said all along that it does not control the armed gangs in the east and will doubtless continue
to say this as they refuse to disarm. Better yet they now have an agreement with the EU and the US which
can be used to force the Ukraine to allow the eastern regions to use democracy to decide their own futures.
This will have one of two likely results. The Eastern regimes will manage to find the funds and organisation to
produce a massive and unified vote for a candidate who matches their views (Pro Eastern, Pro Russian). The
western parties will find it strangely difficult to match that unity, EU funds will drift in but they will come with
strings attached and I suspect that a number of minor candidates will be funded by anonymous donors to
allow them to break up the western and Pro Eu vote.
So back to the sort of government that held power before the initial uprising in Kiev. The pro EU groups and
parties will see this as a return to the bad old days. In all likelihood the same anger that caused the first uprising
will remain and a year from now things could start all over again. Only this time Putin will be able to say that he
had given the West a chance to resolve the problem and it had failed so now he has a mandate to resolve the
problem and protect Russian lives.
In fact I suspect that if a pro Russian regime is voted in groups opposing them will find they get funding and
support not just from the sources they had last time but also much more covertly from Russia. I will explain
why a bit latter.
The second likely result is that the eastern and southern regions decide they have had enough of the regime
in Kiev, rightly or wrongly there is a great deal of hatred for the corruption, inefficiency and pro
EU views of an out of touch political class in Kiev (that sounds familiar for some reason).
So instead of voting to bring in a new government for the whole country they instead push through a vote
for greater autonomy. They use democracy and the desire for self determination along with the US and EU
agreement for inclusion in the democratic process to vote for greater self control. They vote for one or more
parliaments to be formed in the south and east that have greater control over those regions. Just like Crimea.
Those parliaments will be full of high profile pro Russian MPs. Just like Crimea. Those parliaments will then
hold a referendum to leave the Ukraine and return to Russia. Just like Crimea.
If these regions return to Russia they become part of Russia and under Putin’s rule, not a friendly region with
a friendly government but actually Russian. This is, I think, what Putin is after.
I see two reasons for all this.
Firstly and from the Russian side only. The Ukraine is the heart of the founding people of Russia, the Rus
came from here and founded the land now called Russia. There is a strong patriotic and nationalistic pull
exerted by this piece of land. It has been part of Russia for many generations, millions of Russians know it
well because of its place as a top tourist destination. It is peopled by Russian speakers and Russian citizens.
Just the sort of thing that Putin needs as he is waving flags and highlighting threats internal and external to
unify the Russian people behind his rule. Just the sort of high profile situation he needs to rally the masses
and just the sort of success he needs to reinforce his status as a world leader and hard man. Outside of the
west this is far more beneficial since large areas of the world that are not best friends with the west see time
and again that Putin has out smarted or simply ignored the powerless west.
Soft power in action again.
The second reason applies to both the EU and Russia. Money.
How many people have stopped and asked why the EU is in the Ukraine. I often ask why NATO is there, a
provocative measure if there ever was. But why the EU. Kiev needs billions of Euros just to stay afloat. 15
billion to start and then a bottomless pit of money flowing in. EU conditions include replacement of select
government ministers, changes in every aspect of Ukrainian social and economic life. Just like Greece. The
Ukraine would be kept afloat by German tax payers. Locked into permenant austerity and under the
complete control of unelected Eurocrats.
A massive financial drain. So why exactly is the EU there? What is it that interests the EU and has bought
us to this situation?
Well call me cynical if you want, many do, but I see one big glaring reason. Gas.
Yep. Gas. To be specific Shale Gas. Remember that stuff that has people up in arms across Europe because
of Fracking. Contaminated water, drilling sites across the country. Environmental destruction. That Shale Gas.
Did you know that there is enough calculated Shale Gas under the Ukraine to meet the entire import needs of
the EU for a decade or so. Probably more as technology improves and more difficult gas fields can be reached.
Enough gas to make Europe independent of external gas sources for a decade or more. Massive fields under
the Donetsk region, huge reserves under the regions along the borders with Poland and Romania.
A country with far less restrictive environmental controls, regions already polluted from decades of heavy
industry. Enough gas to meet Europe’s import needs for a decade or two. Accessible by Fracking.
If the eastern regions gain independence and join Putin then Russia gets much of the gas. If the EU gets its
way and turns what is left of the country into another Greece, broke and totally under EU control then the
EU gets the gas and the Russian economy takes a significant hit. Will the people of the Ukraine benefit from
this vast potential of wealth. Not if the EU gets in. Western companies will drain the gas and then walk away
and a slavishly loyal pro EU government will do nothing while lining their own pockets. If Russia takes over
they may well see a better life, after all many in the east remember the old days when they were an economic
powerhouse and the roubles rolled in.
That sort of memory has a powerful resonance and there is nothing the EU can do to counter it when pro
Russian press can point to Greece as an example.
Putin is still winning this chess game because the west sold off most of their pieces years ago.
What we are seeing is the result of decades of contempt for Russia in the west. Government after Government
considered the Bear toothless and as a result old alliances were dropped, new allies were ignored, the economic
and military force needed to stand up to the bear were allowed to shrink away.
The west has basically spend many years building a coffin of Western power and influence over Russia, Obama
may be banging in the nails but that coffin has been building for a long time.
The result is that now we are faced with Putin, who is expanding his power base, crushing any who stand against
him, threatening everyone around him, doing what he wants, taking what he desires.
While the west makes empty threats.
It is not the Bear who is old and toothless, it is the West. And until that changes Putin will remain unchallenged.
To the dismay of his many many victims.