US/EU Most Responsible for Crisis in Ukraine: Crimean People Have Spoken
Vojin Joksimovich, Ph.D.
Modern Tokyo Times
On February 22, the Ukrainian opposition forces led by the “Pravi Sektor” (Right Sector), a confederation of ultra-nationalists, executed a coup d’état using armed force. The Pravi Sektor has been calling all the shots through terror and intimidation. The duly elected president was ousted and new interim government was formed. For the first time since 1945 an extremist anti–Semitic, anti-Russian Svoboda party controls the key levers of power in a European capital. Svoboda has six ministers, including Oleksandr Sych as deputy prime minister, in the unelected interim government headed by US hand picked appointee, Arseniy Yatsesnyuk. Last year, the World Jewish Congress called on the EU to consider banning ultra-nationalist parties, including Svoboda.
On February 28, the Russian President Vladimir Putin; Hitlerized by the western media, Conservative Neocons and Resposibility-to-Protect (RtoP) leftists, has responded by taking control of Crimea in order to protect ethnic Russians as well as the Sevastopol Russian naval base. None, other than Russia could possibly guarantee the security to the population of Crimea. Luckily thus far only warning shots have been fired. The Crimean Parliament voted unanimously to secede from Ukraine and to join Russia ahead of the March 16 referendum, which ratified the Parliament’s decision. Ethnic Russians constitute 58.3 % of the Crimean population and 71.6% of the Sevastopol city. About 97% voted to join Russia. The people spoke out and corrected the 1954 Soviet decision as the Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev stated. In 1954 the people were not asked. Putin announced that Russia would honor the referendum and promised to invest $5bn into Crimea. The masters of hypocrisy in Washington and Brussels refuse to recognize the referendum outcome claiming violation of the international law and the Ukrainian constitution. The US/EU are now formulating sanctions to punish Russia, which has already been punished as the MICEX, Russia’s main stock exchange index had plunged 15.7% to levels not seen since the 2008 global financial crisis. The Russian companies have shed $110bn in capitalization.
The legal arguments against the unilateral declaration of independence are weak given the Kosovo precedent. The UN International Court of Justice July 2010 ruling says: “Unilateral declaration of independence by a part of the country doesn’t violate any international norms” (Paragraph 84). Legal advice to the State Department (April, 22 2009), to the UK, German and French governments also contain similar statements. As it stands, the Ukraine’s constitution doesn’t exist.
Thousands of demonstrators in the second largest city of Kharkov in eastern Ukraine were calling for help from Russia, 97 reportedly were injured. 10,000 demonstrators in the city of Donetsk did the same, one dead, 28 injured. The Russian troops have been piling up ready for a possible invasion, rather than incursion in Crimea. The battle for eastern Ukraine might be underway. This should be the focus of international diplomatic efforts rather than the Crimea, which is gone for all practical purposes. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has stated that his top priority wasn’t to halt Russian annexation of Crimea but to prevent a wider conflict.
How did the world get to the brink of a war or much more likely the Cold War mark 2? How did the resurgence of ultra-nationalism, denied by the western media, take place? All the principal parties in the conflict, the Ukrainian, the US, the EU and Russian leaders share responsibility and blame but bulk of the blame should be assigned to the US/EU leaders. In the present state of affairs the only hope is a creative diplomacy comparable to avoidance of the US military intervention in several nations. Secretary of State John Kerry has been meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov with no breakthroughs. Insistence on dropping the Crimean referendum has been utterly counterproductive.
There have been hundreds of articles, which have inundated my computer. It would require more time to study bulk of them than reading again Tolstoi’s War and Peace. Hence, this writer was compelled to focus on accounts that have provided factual and analytical insights as opposed to the western propaganda illustrated best with the Wall Street Journal editorials and the Fox News coverage. Bill O’Reilly, a Fox News guru, and his colleagues mocking Putin and Putin’s Russia, have limited knowledge of modern Russia, as does Senator John McCain. In addition, the writer relied on his own background in blame apportionment as well as authorship of two books on 1999 US/NATO amputation of Serbia: Kosovo is Crisis and Kosovo is Serbia.
Some Statements by informed Americans
Prof. Stephen Cohen from the Princeton University characterized the present situation as two steps to the Cuban crisis and three steps before the war. He is a top-notch expert on Russia. His article Distorting Russia published in the March 3 edition of The Nation is a must read. In it he wrote: “The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines—particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin—is an indication this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.”
The former Republican congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul has launched a scathing attack on the US-backed coup in Ukraine, insisting that the Crimean people have the right to align their territory with Russia and describing sanctions against Russia as “an act war.” He compared economic aid to Ukraine like giving support to rebels in Syria knowing it would end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda.
Another former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, Tune out the War Party published by Human Events, advised President Obama to tune out the war party and reminded him how Cold War presidents dealt with far graver clashes with Moscow, i.e. 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Berlin Wall, 1968 Prague Spring, Solidarity movement in Poland. The US presidents saw no vital US interests in these Soviet actions, however brutal. History has proven them right. Buchanan has asserted that the US has no vital interest in Crimea, zero. “From Catherine the Great to Khrushchev, the peninsula belonged to Russia.” Buchanan then made the point that US has no moral right to prevent secession of Crimea, when “we bombed Serbia for 78 days to bring about secession of Kosovo.”
Yet another former two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich considered the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA), which initiated the present crisis, as NATO’s Trojan horse.
Retired CIA man Ray McGovern in Ukraine: One ‘Regime’ Change Too Many? Wrote: “Is ‘regime change’ in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative ‘regime changers’ of Official Washington and their sophomoric ‘responsibility-to-protect’ (R2P) allies in in the Obama administration? Have they dangerously over-reached by pushing the putsch that removed duly-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych?” He says that Putin has given unmistakable yes to those questions and that his message is clear: “Back-off our near-frontier!”
Adranick Migranyan compared Putin with Reagan in The National Interest: Putin is Russia’s Reagan. He has asserted that Putin is a Burkean conservative who takes great care of the state and protects it from its weaknesses. He wrote: “the western and especially the American mass media have never aspired to give objective coverage to events unfolding in Russia after the fall of the USSR. Nor did they seek to offer an unbiased account of the motives of Russia’s domestic and foreign policy.” He also made an important point that the Russians saw western media attacks on Putin, whose popularity has gone up to 67.8% during the Crimean crisis, as assaults on their country. Migranyan has compared the American media and American propaganda as the equivalent to the Soviet propaganda “of the time of Mikhail Suslov’s Agitprop” (the head of Communist Party ideology under Brezhnev).
Boston Globe has published an article authored by Stephen Kinzer: US a full partner in Ukraine debacle. Kinzer wrote: “From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.” He then quoted renowned Russia expert George Kennan, who said, “I think it is beginning of a new cold war” as NATO began expanding eastward (Drang Nach Osten). “I think the Russians will gradually react quite aversely, and it will affect their policies.” Kinzer concludes: “This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War. Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.”
Reader Supported News (rsn) published an article by Robert Parry: America’s Staggering Hypocrisy in Ukraine. Parry wrote: “Since World War II—and extending well into the Twenty-first Century—the United States has invaded or otherwise intervened in so many countries that it would be challenging to compile a complete list. Just last decade, there were full-scale US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, plus American bombing operations from Pakistan to Yemen to Libya.” Parry left out close to my heart 1995 intervention in Bosnia and 1999 in Serbia. A list of post WWII interventions has been composed: 33 interventions. There’s also a list suggesting that the US has invaded 70 nations since 1776. Eugene Robinson writing in the Washington Post, In the Ukraine crisis, the US has a credibility problem, has addressed the same issue.
US Portion of the Blame
Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs and the wife of Robert Kagan, leader of the younger generation of “neocons,” is now well recognized worldwide for introduction of the “F” word in the diplomatic language (“Fuck EU” tape). More importantly, after visiting Ukraine three times in five weeks and distributing cookies to the Kiev Maidan square protesters, she explained that the US has invested over $5 billion over two decades to subvert Ukraine away from its historic relationship with Russia and into the US sphere of interest. Also, she pointed out that there are prominent businessmen and government officials who support the US project to subvert Ukraine.
As a matter of fact the US policy since conclusion of the Cold War has been mostly to encircle Russia with military bases and puppet governments in the name of “spreading democracy.” Most likely the ultimate goal has been the dismemberment of Russia including taking Siberia away from Russia like Kosovo was taken away from Serbia. Siberia, two thirds of Russian territory covering over 12 million square kilometers with only 39 million people has huge strategic value for the future. Siberia has huge quantities of natural resources: oil, natural gas, platinum, nickel, cobalt, diamonds, silver, timber, hydropower, etc. Issues like the energy war and the Intermarium are not addressed herein.
Georgia and the Baltic States (St. Petersburg is only 60 miles from Estonia) represent important components of the US/NATO encirclement of Russia but Ukraine is much more important component. The US policies have been for Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO, but the EU powers headed by Germany and France vetoed the US attempt at the NATO summit in Bucharest. Anti-missile shield with the radar in the Czech Republic and the anti-missile interceptors in Poland, planned but abandoned by the Obama administration against non-existent Iranian missiles, constituted yet another component of this encirclement. This project has now been moved to Romania. Russia, well founded in historic experience, is extremely sensitive regarding its borders. Their borders have been violated by Mongol hordes, Napoleon and the Germans in WWI and WWII. In WWII the Soviet Union lost 27 million people (US lost 416,800). Hence, it is not nostalgia for the Soviet Union as many Russophobes have reasserted in the last several months, but a major national security issue for Russia perhaps even existence threatening.
Yanukovych’s acceptance of the Russian bailout was viewed as anti EU and anti US pro-Russian demarche, which couldn’t be tolerated. The same key players which participated in the Ukraine 2004 Orange Revolution, which brought a pro-western government to power, were reactivated in now well established “regime change” methodology. Neoconservative “regime changers” on the right and the “responsibility-to-protect” allies in the Obama administration were on the same wavelength. Jonathan Steel, writing in the Guardian, identified them as the US Endowment for Democracy, USAID, Freedom House, Carnegie Foundation, George Soros’ Open Society and western embassies in Kiev. They provided funding to so-called moderates that the US and the EU hoped to install. Nuland’s hand picked choice was Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party. She calls him Yats: “I think Yats is the guy.” Yatsenyuk, banker expected to accede to the demands of the International Monetary Fund for austerity measures in exchange for a bailout of the Ukrainian debt, has become the PM and has been invited by president Obama to visit Washington.
Srdja Trifkovic, in March 10 Chronicles Magazine: Ukraine Bosnified, Putin Hitlerized, compared the role Nuland played to the role American Ambassador Zimmerman played in subverting the Lisbon agreement brokered by the EU (then the EC), which in all likelihood would have prevented the ethnic and religious war in Bosnia. Ambassador Zimmerman, following the State Department instructions, flew to Sarajevo and convinced Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic to abort the agreement he signed in Lisbon in favor of war to establish the first Muslim state in Europe: Unitary Bosnia. Nuland, her ambassador in Kiev Pyatt and presumably Secretary Kerry, encouraged one side in the Ukrainian multi-ethnic, multi-denominational mosaic to fight for the unitary Ukraine. These “mediators” have blood on their hands as Trifkovic pointed out.
Initially, after November the 30th, there were clashes between the supporters of the EU integration and the Special Forces “Berkut.” However, the crisis was stalemated enabling even president Yanukovych to depart for China, a major creditor of his nation. On January 17th an entity called “Pravi Sektor” (Right Sector) introduced armed fighters and turned the tide of protests to violent attacks on Berkut using clubs, helmets, stones, and Molotov cocktails. They stormed government buildings in Kiev and other parts of the country mostly in the west with a view to overthrowing the elected government.
“Pravi Sektor,” is an umbrella organization of ultra-nationalists right wing groups including Svoboda, which share ideology of the so-called “Organization of the Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the Nazi collaborator during WWII, founder of the Nazi SS Division Galizien. Bandera’s dream was a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and other undesirables. His WWII role could be compared with the role of Ante Pavelic in the Independent State of Croatia, which executed the largest killing field per unit territory in WWII. In the order of 750,000 Serbs, Jews and Roma were exterminated. One of Pravi Sektor leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight against the “Jews and Russians until I die.” Oleg Tyahnybok, black-and-red Svoboda founder and leader, has spoken repeatedly to crush the “Ruskie-Yid mafia that controls Ukraine.” In Kiev he led a 15,000-strong torch-lit march in memory of Bandera on his 105th birthday. The Svoboda party has tapped into Nazi symbolism including a swastika worn by the Waffen-SS, a panzer division that was declared criminal at Nuremberg. Andriu Parubiu, co-founder of the fascist Social National Party, which later changed its name to Svoboda, is now top commander of the National Defense and Security Council. Hid deputy Dmytro Yarosh, leader of Pravi Sektor at Maidan, said: “our revival begins with our Maidan.” Senator John McCain shared the platform in Kiev with Tyahnybok and told the protesters that America was with them. The Svoboda movement is reported to remove not only Lenin’s statutes but also the monument honoring Russian General Kutuzov, whose forces repelled Napoleon’s 1812 aggression on Russia.
On February 21 President Yanukovych and three parliamentary party leaders signed a “reconciliation agreement co-signed by the by the EU troika (foreign ministers from Germany, France and Poland). It amounted to a blueprint for a solution. Russia endorsed the agreement, which provided constitutional reforms based on reducing the powers of the president, creation of a government of national unity, early presidential election, and disbanding of the Maidan mobs. The former world-boxing champion, Vitaly Klitchko, one of Nuland’s moderate leaders was booed by the Maidan mobs and shoved aside. The agreement didn’t last an hour. The “Right Sector” mobs provoked a massacre causing some 100 fatalities and drove the duly elected president out of the country. One of their leaders said they didn’t overthrow the government in order to deliver it into the hands of Washington and the EU paid “opposition.” The next day the Ukrainian Parliament repealed the law that allowed regions to use Russian as a second official language. The interim president vetoed the bill but the damage was done.
The opportunity for an equitable solution was lost. The EU/US allowed the opposition leaders to violate the agreement, to use it to take over the state and instead moved to legitimize the opposition. The US says the agreement no longer matters!! This brings the point if the West can be trusted. Christoph Horstel, German government consultant and publicist, felt that the situation was very grave, as the west didn’t hesitate to get involved with “absolutely unacceptable radicals In our western societies we unambiguously protect ourselves from such forces. They are absolutely unpredictable; they have their own program, which is violent for the most part. People like that sided with Adolf Hitler during WWII.”
EU Portion of the Blame
After the 2004 “Orange Revolution” a pro-western government came to power in Ukraine in defiance of Russia with President Yushchenko soon thereafter requesting the EU membership. Ukrainian desire to join the EU dates back to 1994. In 2005, the European Commission (EC) Barroso stated that the future of Ukraine was in the EU. However, within the EU there was an expansion fatigue. Hence, so called Eastern Partnership, with Ukraine one of six post-Soviet nations was not launched until 2009. It wasn’t until 2012 that the EU offered so called Association Agreement (AA), with no promise of membership, subject to Ukrainian commitment to carry out changes in its justice and electoral systems. Finally in 2013, the voluminous 20,000 page AA, which included a demand that the Ukrainian railways be converted to the European gauge standard, was ready for signature with the EU setting a deadline for adoption of six laws thus the Ukrainian Parliament refused to pass thus suspending preparations for signing the AA. President Yanukovych on the eve of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius abandoned plans to sign the AA.
In 2013 Ukraine was one of the five countries with the largest double deficits: current account and fiscal deficits, it has been mired in recession, the GDP was lower than in 1991, dwindling foreign reserves, $15bn IMF loan suspended, the currency hryvnia has been hitting multiple year lows. All in all, Ukraine was on the verge of a default and bankruptcy. Yanukovych badly needed new loans. He asked the EU and the IMF but EU was offering too little cash and the IMF conditions for loans were too tough. He considered the EU cash as humiliating and estimated the cost of upgrading to the EU standards at $19bn/yr or $200bn over the next decade, which is more than his country’s annual GDP. It should be noted that had Yanukovych signed the AA, the agreement wouldn’t have been implemented until all 28 EU members ratified it. So Yanukovych turned to Russia, which offered $15bn loan and cut in price of critical natural gas supplies by 50%. If you were he, what would you do?
Radoslav Sikorski, Polish foreign minister, said that the EU seriously overestimated the attractiveness of its offer and underestimated Russia’s determination. A way to resolve the crisis would have been to establish a trilateral EU/Russia/Ukraine commission to find solutions satisfactory to all sides. This writer would go further and suggest that the EU in general overestimates its offers. Serbia is a good example. After signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement in 2008 it didn’t open membership negotiations until this January. The negotiations are expected to last until 2022.
February 21 agreement brokered by the EU troika (foreign ministers from Germany, France and Poland) and the Ukrainian politicians, both in the government and the opposition, provided a blueprint for a solution, which would return to the 2004 constitution, thus returning the country to a system centered around the parliament and not the president. Russia went along. However, the opposition leaders failed to implement the agreement. An hour later Maidan square mobs provoked a massacre: 94 killed, 900 injured. It has been reported that the snipers who shot at protesters and the police were hired by the Maidan leaders, according to a leaked conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet. Ashton stated: “I think we do want to investigate.” Urmas Paet, who had the benefit of talking to a doctor who treated those shot by the snipers, has described the whole sniper issue as “disturbing” and added “it already discredits from the very beginning” the new Ukrainian power. So it appears that Yanukovych was not behind the snipers. However, the incident was used to drive the duly elected president out of office and to flee the country. The opportunity for an equitable solution was lost. However, the EU, with support from the US, has allowed the opposition leaders to violate the February 21 agreement and to use it to take over the state. Disturbingly, both the EU and US moved to legitimize the opposition thereby ignoring the sniper atrocity.
Ukrainian and Russian Portion of the Blame
More elaboration of the Ukrainian and Russian leaders’ portion of the blame are needed. Briefly, failure of communism and the Soviet Union in 1991 has left most of Eastern Europe in enormous shock and in a huge economic mess. One Dutch analyst who has spent some time in Kiev as a EU representative told me that everyone in Ukraine above the age of 35 was a write-off. Only a new generation could handle the enormity of the first-of-the-kind challenges including the democratization of the country. The Ukrainian leaders didn’t rise to the occasion. They allowed graft, corruption and greed to further damage the fragile newborn state, both economically and militarily, to the point that survival was questionable. They have allowed the rebirth of ultra-nationalism.
Regarding the Russian portion of the blame, it appears that President Putin relied too much on President Yanukovych, who was a corrupt figure allegedly stealing billions from his people. Given the geostrategic importance of Ukraine to Russia, Putin should have used the Russian financial and economic influence to demand Yanukovych’s removal from power in favor of a pro-Russian Ukrainian leader with a clean background. In particular he should have reacted to the reemergence of ultra-nationalism in the Ukraine. Conceivably Putin could have arrived at some kind of an equitable solution with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to the eruption of the existing crisis. He endorsed the February 21st agreement but it was too late.
Putin, however, shouldn’t be blamed for ordering the contingency planned incursion of Russian troops into the autonomous region of Crimea to protect the ethnic Russian population, constituting 59% of the Crimean population. In particular after the unruly situation in Kiev and a donnybrook between the ethnic Russians and the Tatars, constituting about 12% of the population, chanting “Allahu Akbar.” About 30 people were injured, two dead. Tatars are Sunni Muslims, essentially the Turks with an ugly history. At one point they had enslaved about 3 million Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians and Poles. Stalin purged the Tatars from the Crimea in 1944 for collaborating with the Nazis. Germans formed six battalions and 14 companies of Crimean Tatars by February 12, 1942. Close to 20,000 Tatars served in German battalions. After official apology from Ukraine in 1991 many of them returned. It has been reported that their current population in the Crimea is 200,000-250,000.
In 1983, President Reagan militarily intervened in Grenada two days after the bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut. A congressional investigation justified the invasion concluding that the US medical students in Grenada could have been taken hostages like the US diplomats were taken in Iran.
Crimea delivered the victory to Yanukovych in his 2010 presidential victory but now he was chased out of the country. The Maidan square mob sent a chill throughout Crimea as well as Eastern Ukraine leading to massive protests demanding protection by Moscow. This should come as no surprise to anybody given cultural, economic, energy, political and military ties between Crimea and the Russian Federation. Russia maintains a naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet. Crimea belonged to Russia from the days of Catherine the Great until the communist leader Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushcev transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Communist leaders are known for redrawing the internal boundaries. Tito redrew the internal borders between the republics in my native Yugoslavia in an arbitrary manner. However, these administrative borders were never intended to become international borders. The majority of Crimea and eastern Ukraine identify with the Moscow patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church, unlike Western Ukraine, which is aligned with the Catholic Church.
The Canadian retired general Lewis Mackenzie, veteran of eight UN peacekeeping missions, sent a short note to a friend: “I regret having to turn down interviews as no one that I have heard mentions that Russia and Ukraine have an agreement that Russian soldiers and sailors can stay in the Crimea focused on Sevastopol until 2042 for a 30% reduction in the price of natural gas. They are just reinforcing their camps? Not likely but for Ukraine to call it a declaration of war is an attempt to drag NATO into the war which would be the Alliance’s biggest mistake yet.”
On March 6, President Obama claimed that the Crimean referendum violates the Ukrainian Constitution and international law. “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine (the present government in Kiev is legitimate?). We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratically leaders (Yanukovych was democratically elected not the present Kiev leaders).” So Obama and other western leaders appear to be upholding the Soviet legacy by insisting that Crimea must remain part of the Ukraine, while Putin is upholding the right of people to self-determination. Where was Obama on February 17, 2008 when the US and the EU heavy weights (Germany, France, UK, Italy) created a second Albania in Europe by amputating the sovereign country of Serbia in violation of the UN Charter Helsinki Accords, Serbian Constitution and a host of UN Resolutions including the governing one: UN Security Council Resolution #1244 which terminated the US/NATO war on Serbia.
The US seems to advocate international law when convenient but doesn’t abide by it. When the US mined harbors in Nicaragua, the answer was essentially “mind your own business.” When it came to my native Yugoslavia and Kosovo, Tom Fleming borrowed from one of Socrates interlocutors, “whatever is in the interest of the stronger.” The US and the EU heavy weights advocated and assisted the secessions of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, but adamantly disapproved attempts of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to secede. This hypocrisy constitutes the established modus operandi. Kosovo opened the Pandora’s box. The first chickens of Kosovo independence came to roost the same year: unilateral secessions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia. This writer recommended instead of granting unilateral independence of Kosovo the great powers should have convened an equivalent of the 1878 Berlin Congress, which redrew the map of Europe and could have dealt with tough issues of not only Kosovo/Ossetia but also Kosovo/Crimea.
Crimea is not Kosovo: Chancellor Schroeder
In the aftermath of the Crimean Parliament declaration of independence a well-rehearsed chorus of western leaders declared that Crimea is not Kosovo. Secretary Kerry had audacity to tell Russia: “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert own interests. This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century.” It could be safely assumed that Kerry doesn’t suffer from amnesia. Hence, it is a brazen case of hypocrisy. The US is not in a position to give morality lessons about sovereignty to anybody. Remember 33 interventions since WWII and 70 since 1776. Germany, for its conduct of WWI and WWII, has even less credibility.
Well, there is one honest western politician, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who was in office during the Yugoslav conflict. In an interview with Die Zeit in Hamburg Schroeder has admitted that: “like the situation in Crimea, the NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 was also a violation of international law. We sent our planes there …against Serbia, and together with NATO forces bombed a sovereign state, and at the same time there was no decision of the UN Security Council.” He also criticized the EU for not realizing that Ukraine was one “culturally divided country.” He wondered if a culturally divided country should have been presented with a choice of the EU association agreement and the customs unions with Russia. The Czech Republic president Milos Zeman made a similar statement. He also made the point that no square being Maidan, Lviv or Donets should decide about the government in Kiev. Gregor Gysi, parliamentary group leader of “Die Linke” party, said: “The recognition of Kosovo independence set a precedent that gives Crimeans, as well as Basques and Catalans, a right for self-determination,” lashing out at Angela Merkel’ support of sanctions against Russia.
Crimea is not Kosovo indeed. Thus far, no shots have been fired in Crimea. In case of Kosovo the US/NATO mercilessly bombed Serbia for 78 days in order to establish its huge Camp Bondsteel military base, the largest since the Vietnam War. The US/NATO decided to expand to the east following well-established “Drang Nach Osten” precedents in history. With that purpose the US/NATO used the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), listed previously by the State Department as a terrorist organization and previously supported by Osama bin Laden. The staged Racak massacre was used as casus belli. The aggression resulted in the loss of 4,000 human lives, two vast majority being civilians. 10,000 were also wounded. NATO dropped 10 tons of depleted uranium over Kosovo and southern Serbia and bombed chemical and petrochemical plants releasing tons of hazardous chemicals, including the world’s most toxic substances that wouldn’t be tolerated in miniscule quantities in the west. Ecocide was committed. Over the last decade 24.3% increase in cancer rates has been recorded in Serbia, while the mortality rate is up 9.9%. The Serbian infrastructure was demolished including the bridges in Novi Sad, hundreds of kilometers north of Kosovo. The destruction included: 78 industrial plants, 42 energy plants, 64 telecommunication stations, 66 bridges, 32 agricultural complexes, 23 railway tracks, 8 airports, 146 healthcare facilities, 200 schools and educational facilities. Economic damage amounted to $120 bn. After the aggression, 250,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians were ethnically cleansed. 150 Serbian monasteries and churches, built in middle ages were demolished. For more information, the author’s Kosovo books should be consulted.
There was no single American in Kosovo, while there are 1.5 million Russians in Crimea. US/NATO pays nothing for the Serbian lands used to build the Bondsteel military base. Russia was paying $100 mm/yr for the use of its naval base. For 230 years the Russian Black Sea fleet has been stationed in Crimea. Sevastopol has been the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Vojin Joksimovich is the author of three books and over 110 articles.