Features

Let Putin have Crimea – and it will destroy him

Why losing this province could be the making of Ukraine

29 March 2014

29 March 2014

David Cameron says that Russia’s annexation of Crimea ‘will not be recognised’. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promises that ‘we will take our territory back’. They are both misguided. Let Crimea go: it will be the making of Ukraine and the end of Vladimir Putin. Without Crimea, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. Ukraine will have a chance to become a governable country — a strongly pro-European one with a Russian minority of around 15 per cent. Putin will have gained Crimea but lost Ukraine for ever. And without Ukraine, as former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski famously said, ‘Russia can no longer be an empire.’

Crimea is a gangrenous limb on Ukraine’s body politic. It will never be governable from Kiev again. What Ukraine needs now, after two decades of thievery and mismanagement, is a kamikaze government that will implement unpopular reforms — including amputating the Crimea.

The good news is that, thanks to Putin’s aggression, there is no shortage of wealthy western benefactors willing to nurse the amputee back to health. The European Union originally presented President Viktor Yanukovych with an Association Agreement that threatened to destroy Ukraine’s rust-belt economy in order to save it: unsurprisingly, Yanukovych went to Moscow for a better offer. But Yanukovych has been overthrown by people power, Ukraine’s new leaders are so serious about austerity that they flew economy class to meetings in Washington, and whatever government emerges from the May elections, there will be few pro-Moscow voices in it. With Crimea gone, Ukrainian politics will no longer be a tug of war between the Ukrainian west and the Russian east: the balance of power tips irrevocably west.

Thanks to Putin’s rash decision to occupy Crimea, not just the EU but its most powerful members — notably Germany, the UK, France and Poland — realise that supporting Ukraine is no longer about handouts but principle. Countries that strive towards European values — and suffer for it — should be rewarded and protected. Angela Merkel, the European leader who knows Putin best and is usually the most conciliatory towards Russia, told the Bundestag last week that he was ‘on a different planet’. Brussels has hurried to offer an amended Association Agreement; the US has backed a generous bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

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Physically, the Crimea is easy enough to cut off: it is connected to Ukraine by a single, tiny neck of land to the north, and to Russia only by a slow ferry (though that will speedily be replaced, says Moscow, by a $3 billion bridge). The peninsula receives 80 per cent of its water and electricity from Ukraine; this year about $300 million of Crimea’s $540 million regional budget was due to come from Kiev. Its two main industries are tourism — mostly from Ukraine — and the Russian and Ukrainian navy bases in Sevastopol.

Russian media portrays Crimea rather as one would speak of a newly acquired ruin which could, one day, become an ideal family holiday home: it will replace Egypt as a tourist hotspot, predicts Russian Channel 1, and its offshore oil and gas reserves will cement Russia’s position as the world’s top energy producer. Crimea’s pro-Russian leader, Sergey Aksyonov — who before the latest crisis led a block of no more than 12 per cent of the regional government’s seats and has been accused of being an enforcer for the ‘Salem’ mafia gang with the nickname ‘Goblin’ — received 15 billion rubles ($410 million) in financial aid from Moscow after he signed the act of unification last week. But bank accounts in the territory remain frozen, locals are furiously buying all the dollars they can and tourism has ground to a halt.

Doubtless Putin will pour money into his acquisition, as he has done into Chechnya, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But making Crimea a viable part of the Russian Federation will be cripplingly expensive. ‘Today, our Crimea looks no better than Palestine’ — not the words of a EuroMaidan enthusiast in Kiev but of Russia’s regional development minister, Igor Slyunayev, speaking to the Russian business daily Kommersant just before Putin’s Anschluss.

What’s more, in taking Crimea Putin has made himself a hostage to Kiev. Putin’s main economic leverage is that he sits on Ukraine’s gas pipelines: but now Kiev sits on Crimea’s road, rail, water and power. And unlike the gas wars that the Kremlin launched against Ukraine in 2005 and 2009, which cut off Moscow’s European customers, a Ukrainian blockade of Crimea will hurt only Crimeans.

Donetsk — or as it was known until 1961, Stalino Province — remains a problem for the revolutionary government in Kiev. Russian-backed protesters and imported provocateurs are vocal and violent. But they are in a minority. According to the last census in 2001, ethnic Ukrainians account for 57 per cent of the population, Russians only 38 per cent.

But Putin’s biggest problem is not that annexing Crimea will be expensive for the treasury — it is that it will be expensive for Russia’s elite. On the face of it, US and EU sanctions amount to a mere pinprick. But the cost to Russia’s business class will be deep, and come in subtler ways — higher borrowing costs, evaporated international enthusiasm for their share offerings, a sliding stock market, a weak ruble, bad credit ratings. With energy prices sliding too, and Europe pushing hard to find alternatives to Gazprom, Putin is strangling the goose that laid golden eggs in pursuit of an incoherent imperial vision. Russia’s moneyed class will not forgive him.

For the first time in years Russia stands absolutely isolated in the UN Security Council, abandoned even by its old ally China. And former Soviet countries with large ethnic Russian populations — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Latvia — are all suddenly more nervous. Hitherto, the price of their loyalty has been cheap Russian gas. That price will soon go up. The foundations of Putin’s post-Soviet Customs Union have been shaken.

Putin says that Crimea has ‘always’ been part of Russia. He is right — in the sense that, like Warsaw and Vilnius, it was annexed to the Russian empire under Catherine the Great. But now Poland’s defence ministry has announced it will relaunch plans to establish a joint Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian military brigade, the first step towards Nato membership. In Crimea, Putin has scored the ultimate Pyrrhic victory.

Owen Matthews spent six years as Newsweek’s Moscow bureau chief, and is the author of Stalin’s Children and Glorious Misadventures.


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Show comments
  • rtnguy

    that is assuming he will not move towards east ukraine

  • Bonkim

    The Russian minority in eastern Ukraine should campaign for a separate state.

    • Alexsau91

      How would that work? Apart from Crimea, there was/is no part of Ukraine that has a majority Russian population. As the article mentions, Donetsk has only 38% Russian population.

      • Bonkim

        State reorganisation.

        • Alexsau91

          So… what forced removal of Ukrainians in areas with significant Russian minorities?… You know what, we could to the same in Northern Ireland – Protestants one side, Catholics the other. That’ll work, won’t it?

          • Bonkim

            People of Ukraine are many years behind UK in terms of social evolution. Much more nationalistic and conceited about their ethnicity and religion. The demise of the USSR had released dormant fascist Genies in that part of the world – note the first step of the new regime in Kiev was to ban use of Russian as second language in schools. That is the type of bigotry you come across in Europe particularly the eastern parts. The Church also foments extreme nationalism.

          • Alexsau91

            Indeed it is, which is why the feasibility of ‘state reorganisation’ is even less realistic.

            It is true that there are elements in Ukraine that are less than savory, to put it mildly. But somehow you are pretending that this is one sided, that this is the fault of the Ukrainian population, not the Russian – which ruled over them for best part of a century. Talk about fascism, you just need to look at the Tatar population of Crimia, who were forcibly removed, along with ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians. It really isn’t a wonder why Russia sturs so much nationalistic fervor. But this is a phenomenon that is not limited to eastern-europe; far right (and anti-immigration) movements are on the rise right across western Europe, Golden Dorn, Front National of France, and UKIP to name a few.

            So unless you are suggesting that Russia occupies yet more of the Ukraine, and ousts ethnic Ukrainians as they did the Tartars, I can’t see how state reorganisation is ever going to happen, or work.

            As I’ve commented below, Russia’s actions only serve to exacerbate the extremities of the Ukrainians, leaving them only one way to turn. I think, by the way, it is also worth mentioning that contrary to the words of many that a ‘democratic’ government was ousted by the force of protest or ‘revolution’ that he was impeached. This isn’t comparable to Morsi of Egypt. Unlike Morsi, Yanukovych has no right to go insisting he is the legitimate President. He isn’t.

          • Bonkim

            Not saying social upeavals are one sided or that the Russians are angels. One takes a view based on balance of probabilities. Today’s nation states are a creation of the past hundred or so years and who is to say borders will not change again.

            The Greeks, Tatars, Kievan Rus and Polish, etc, all have been invaders or settlers in their turn and force, revolution and demographic changes will alter he balance in the future.

            The call for democracy and rule of law from the EU or the US is humbug, their own history is one of barbaric invasions, genocide and forced occupation. The Catholic Church was an active participant in the bloody history of Europe and calling for post WW2 redrawing of the Map of Europe or post colonial Asia and Africa misses out on the natural affinities of people which itself changes with time.

            History is about how human societies rise and fall, overpower others and in turn are overpowered. I am just a spectator and have no strong views on who is right and who is wrong. Europe will be cutting its own leg to save its face in the Ukraine/Russia spat. Both the EU and the US understand Ukraine and Russia less than Russia understands the West. Ukraine was offered a bail out by Putin if it had any sense would have tried to use the Soviet era connections to better itself rather than run after the EU – which in time will be seen as a hollow vessel. The EU and the IMF will extract their pound of flesh from the Ukrainians – check with the Greeks and the Spanish if they like the EU medicine.

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            Why is banning Russian as a second language in school a sign of fascism and bigotry?

          • http://www.drivebyplanet.com/ j_600

            Efforts by the unelected Kiev government to repeal the regional language law, is a reflection of the ethnic based supremacist views that are embedded in this new order. It goes beyond schools. If they succeed Russian media will be targeted also and you don’t get how this reflects bigotry? Try asking the 8 million Russians in the south and east of the country.

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            There are places in the world where they say “language x is the language of the oppressors and we don’t want it here anymore.” Don’t many Ukrainians find Russian to be the “language of the oppressors?”

            Now the Russian/Ukrainian relationship is not the same as between colonial powers in Africa or the Caribbean. I’m not suggesting that however… the Soviet/Ukrainian relationship was horrible and some leeway needs to be given to the history,

            I don’t know enough about the players or the sentiment “on the ground” to have any say as to whether the Ukrainian response is bigoted or a demand that Russians respect their culture.

            Similar things exist in the Baltic states where these nations were Russified. It exists also in the various central asian “stans.” And of course China is famous for importing Han Chinese into Tibet and Xinjaing (sp?) (East Turkestan)

          • Bonkim

            You have little understanding of Russian/Ukrainian relationship. Would you suggest the Canadian Government ban use of French.

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            Ukrainians and Russians are “cousins” with a shared history. But it’s also been one marked, in recent years, by oppression. If French Canada has oppressed and killed millions of English Canadians there would be a great deal of resentment in English Canada now that it became separate from French Canada. (I’m keeping the analogy but there are holes so let’s not parse it too closely.)

            The shear fact that there was mass slaughter of Ukrainians as well as mass importation of Russians in order to Russify the Ukraine makes the situation more complex than the Canadian example.

          • Bonkim

            If you look up pre-WW2 history across the globe, the land is littered with wholesale massacres, population displacement, slavery of one sort or the other, taxing the foreigner or of other religions, etc, etc, still continues – only we only think of or take an interest of what is happening close to our backyard. Tens of thousands have or are being eliminated in central Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Zanzibar, etc, quite aprt from what is going on in Syria with very little being talked about the rights or wrongs – the spat between Ukraine and Russia has nothing to do with the demographic changes during the Soviet era or elimination of the landed classes to make room for collective farming and industrial zones across the USSR. All suffered the same injustices or readjustment to meet the central planning objectives. In effect all nationalities coexisted within the USSR in brotherly harmony as the prevailing soial ethos tried to suppress base racial, ethnic, and sectarian features that are sen to be destructive in Europe and elsewhere.

            I have no problem recognizing that the referendum in Crimea was democratic, the vast majority of its population wanted to return to the Russian fold and do not think much of the EU or western notions of democracy and free-market.which is breeding greed, and exploitation across the globe.

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            I don’t have a problem with the Crimean resolution in general terms. As a free-market, small-government, libertarian sort of persons I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the sentiment that democracy and free-markets breed greed and exploitation.

          • Bonkim

            Check out if all those participating in democracy act on informed consideration or simply because of prejudices and misguided following of jazzy politicians. Across large democracies such as India democracy is a cover for corrupt practices – and US democracy was not all that clean or rational not many decades ago. It did terrible things across the world with little support from US citizens.

          • rtj1211

            The truth is that free markets don’t, but usually cartels emerge from early stage free markets to create the conditions where greed and exploitation can thrive. Natural monopolies run under the principles of microeconomic ‘free markets’ are the classic vehicle for greed, which in the UK includes energy utilities, railway franchises, football clubs run as a business etc etc.

          • Holdfast_II

            I’d suggest that the Quebec government has come damned close in their treatment of English.

          • Bonkim

            What do you expect given the English banishment of Frenchmen to Louisiana.

          • jack

            they don’t have to, I live in western Canada and 99.9% don’t speak a word of french and thats not a problem

          • Bonkim

            Quite so – it is voluntary – but not in Ukraine where the new law specifically excludes Russian and other minority languages.

          • jack

            I guess considering what Russia has done to the Ukraine in last few weeks I can understand why Ukraine is doing this, can hardly blame them.

          • Anthony Brady

            Just came back fro Kiev Moscow and /Russia. The people I met in Kiev speak Russian ,love Tolstoy etc but hate the Russian government because of its lack of freedom liberty and poverty. By the way, people in Moscow think the same. They dislike Putin because of his corruption. His friend was paid 7 billion for a train to nowhere in Sochi. Poor Russia will there be private property in ten years I doubt it, Will there be millions killed most likely.

          • Bonkim

            Corruption is rampant across the region – and Russians and Ukrainians like strong leaders – democracy and rule of law as we know it in the US and Britain (not that perfect either) will take generations of evolution and internal conflict to take shape as it did in the West – just look up the events in the US or Britain over the past decades that has brought relative improvement to the human condition in the West.

          • Bonkim

            I would question your view of Russians as oppressors – whilst majority cultures do overwhelm minorities and political domination is the result, the Russians are a highly cultured lot having made huge advances in social thought, literature, medicine, technology, etc, etc. Much like the British Empire, the sum total of the USSR was greater than the individual nationalities that participated in the joint enterprise. Pity the USSR collapsed – simply because its philosophy deferred from the global engine based on greed and exploitation of the weak..

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            I’m not saying they are. I live, and grew up in NYC, and there are/were many Ukrainian immigrants many with resentful memories of their treatment under the Soviets. Now Soviets do not equal Russian but resentment is there nonetheless.

            I’m responding to the position that Ukrainians are bigoted or fascist because they are trying to strengthen Ukrainian culture by requiring that only Ukrainian be taught in school.

            There may be a large fascist contingent among the Ukrainians (I don’t know) – but I’m not willing to label them that for demanding Ukrainian only schools.

          • Bonkim

            If you looked up the history of the US you will find the episode of the Robber Barons and NY sweat shops not all that liberating. Exploiting immigrants and blacks was the norm until the civil rights awakening on the 1960s. Go to the West to look up the history of genocide and Indian camps where people starved and died of disease and exploitation by crooked Indian Agents. Look up also the activities of US business and crooked politicians across the world and their practices to understand how greed and corruption has dominated 19th and 20th century international business. The story continues today across the globe.

          • rtj1211

            Well, perhaps your children should be forced to go, against your will, to Spanish only schools?? Perhaps CNN, MSNBC, NBC, Fox etc etc should all be banned unless all their future programming eliminates English in its entirety??

            See how you feel about that……..

          • Daniel Maris

            REst assured there is a very big fascist element in the Ukrainian polity. They were at the forefront of the demonstrations. That’s the reality. They forced the resignation of the Ukrainian TV head through threats of violence.

          • Tom Tom

            There are people in China who appreciated the supply of opium from British traders and China is proud of British contribution……the British are universally loved for their behaviour in the Famine in Bengal in 1943

          • Rintintin

            I’m sure Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Baltic states etc are still really upset abut the collapse of the wonderful USSR. Lol.

          • Bonkim

            You will be surprised – most from the older generation miss the passing away of their socialist states, most lost their life-savings by the changes and the greedy oligarchs that replaced the old hierarchy. People in the Soviet Block were better educated and more aware of their equality within the system.

          • rtj1211

            I”m sure all the footballers didn’t, seeing as how the most successful manager in Soviet History was a Ukrainian from Kyiv called Valeri Lobanowskyi, whose Dynamo Kiev team dominated the Soviet league throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as the USSR national team that came close to winning the Euros in 1988. No oppression of Ukrainians in that field……

          • Holdfast_II

            Reminds me a little of Quebec. Except nobody seemed to care about repression Anglos there.

          • Bonkim

            I thought Canada was bilingual.

          • Jimmy R

            No, only Quebec is bilingual, not the rest of Canada.

          • Bonkim

            Thanks for the clarification.

          • Daniel Maris

            He’s got it completely wrong!

          • Daniel Maris

            Well Jimmy you R most spectacularly WRONG!

            From Wikipedia:

            “At the provincial level, New Brunswick and Manitoba are
            officially bilingual provinces, though this is closer to perfect legal equality in New Brunswick, whereas in Manitoba it is the result of a court ruling which struck down seventy-year-old English-only laws in 1985. Only Quebec has declared itself officially unilingual (French only). “

          • Bonkim

            Without splitting legal hairs – Canada supports minority languages as needed, although Quebec has french as official language. See
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_language_in_Canada

            “By the Official Languages Act in 1969, Canada recognized English and French as having equal status in the government of Canada.[2] While French, with no specification as to dialect or variety, has the status of one of Canada’s two official languages at the federal government level, English is the native language of the majority of Canadians. The federal government provides services and operates in both languages. French is the sole official language[3] in Quebec at the provincial level and is co-official with English in New Brunswick. The provincial governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba are required to provide services in French where justified by the number of francophones (those whose mother tongue is French). However, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires all provinces to provide primary and secondary education to their official-language minorities at public expense.”

          • jack

            all of Canada is bilingual but not all Canadians speak both languages, its not a big deal there

          • Bonkim

            Ukrainians ended up as Nazi collaborators and guards at the extermination camps. The Catholic block – Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, etc were more Euro-centred and the Catholic Church was very strong in western Ukraine – part of the previous Polish Empire. No one appears to mention that The Crimean Tartars were banished by Stalin as they actively collaborated with the Nazis.

          • Anthony Brady

            Bonkim, you have a strange view of history. It was Russia that signed a pact with Germany to invade Poland. If not for this treaty no WW II. By the way Russia killed at least 40 million people and raped hundreds of thousands of women during the last century. Now they support Iran and the Syria which speaks for itself and is very poor. Go to Poland or Slovakia Estonia and tell people you are Russian and how great the nation is. Perhaps they will tell you how the Russian killed the men and raped the women. Oh, you would say this countries were Catholic
            go to non Catholic countries such as Romania Bulgaria and you will get the same response.

          • Bonkim

            Stalin’s Russia did a lot of nasty things as was the custom of the times – should we also discuss the genocide in 1800s Americas or the mass murder by the Spanish, and deliberate infections spread in indian Reservations?

            the Russians exacted vengence across Europe particularly in Germany during their progress in WW2 but you are exaggerating murder and rape in the other Slavic countries. i know Czechoslovakia well – Both Slovakia and Ukraine collaborated with Germany and all the eastern European countries – Slovakia, Bulgaria, Rumania continue to discriminate against the Roma even today to the extent they are taking refuge in Britain.

            Agree Russia has sided with war-criminals particularly Syria but why did the US hesitate to take military action against Assad? I have no problem with Iran – a highly civilized and cultured people and has democracy of sort – the West has no idea about iran after it waskicked out for siding with tyrants like the Shah, overthrow of legitimate governments there in the 1950s to gain their oil resource, etc, Western countries had behaved abominably in the Middle-East following WW2 and all their lessons of democracy and human values were thrown down the chute. What you sow you reap – example Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, etc, etc. Politics is not an art in the hands of angels.

          • Wessex Man

            Come Bonkin, a family member is maried to a Russian woman and she and her family don’t the same warped views as you.

            I would say though that some of the people posting here probably have their fingers crossed as they comment, the only thing the surpression of a language and identity results in is strife!

          • Bonkim

            Warped or straight depends on perspectives – many in Russia/Ukraine and neighbouring countries have married dnationalities different to their origin, that is increasingly the case in Britain. We are all biased depending on our background, experience, and education/ability to rationalise. So I don’t hold my views in black and white.

            Obviously if someone does not have the freedom to use their language, religion, cultural practices, or other personal traits that will generate animosity against those constraining their freedom. Often the constraint can be imposed by a majority/stronger group without recourse to laws – for example new immigrants to the US quite apart from having to learn English as a condition of citizenship, adopted Anglo-names and accents to fit in with the dominant culture.

            Regrettably in many eastern European cultures WW2 had introduced strong sense of nationalistic and cultural/sectarian/ethnic neurosis – citizenship was also somehow associated with etnicity and blood-lines and clear distinction between insiders and outsiders.

            Even in Britain today’s sense of equality within diversity is a feature of the past few decades and many still are battling with the disjointed identities.

          • Rintintin

            Stalin did a lot of nasty things that was the custom of the times??? ha! ha! Yes,, show trials, mass relocation of ethnic peoples, virtually no civic society etc etc were all the rage throughout Europe and the US…er not.
            And as for Iran being more civilised under this regime than the Shah….bullshit….I actually lived in Iran then and the Shah’s regime was indeed effectively an authoritarian virtual police state but it was amateur compared to the brutal dictatorial regime governing the country now.

          • Bonkim

            Nothing compared with the political puppetry conducted by the West.

          • Tom Tom

            “did nasty things” !!!!!!! War Crimes. Stalin was evil and psychotic making Hitler look a moderate – Stalin put 10% Soviet population through the Gulags

          • Bonkim

            Check out famines created across the Empire supplying war materials during WW1 and WW.

          • Tom Tom

            The Nazi Collaborators were Stephan Bandera’s boys, and the 14th Waffen-SS Galician Division from western Ukraine………Stalin did not need evidence to persecute, simply suspicion

          • Bonkim

            In dire times suspicion is enough. You don’t take risk. No different during the Nixon un-American activity period in US history.

          • Tom Tom

            Nixon ?????

          • Bonkim

            Sorry – committees of various sorts have long history – I meant the Hollywood hearings by the ‘House Committee on Internal Security’ in which Richard Nixon then a lawyer played a prominent part. But of course no comparison with Stalin’s or Mao’s purges. Regrettably elimination of those who opposed dictators was the norm – we can split hairs by debating which monster was more wicked than the other. Some may argue whether the carnage and social upheavals of the American civil war was worth emancipation – or was it just the will of the the Northern establishment to annex the Southern states – parallels with Russia and Ukraine? The History of the US and Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries is littered with barabarities of various sorts. That is how history progresses.

          • iviv44

            Could you clarify for me; did they ban the teaching of Russian, or merely say that teaching Russian as a second language was not obligatory (so that a school could, for instance, teach Ukrainian and English) [asking as one who hasn’t followed this point closely enough]

          • Bonkim

            not just in schools but using Russian. A sizeable proportion of Ukraine residents are Russian speaking – it is like Belgium banning use of French.

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            Yes. I realize that. Belgium has problems btwn the Flemish and French populations. Imagine that French population had committed atrocities on the Flemish population; that France had moved French people into Belgium to change the culture and demographics; that Flemish people, in order to prosper had to learn Russian – would you not expect some sort of reaction when the Flemish people were freed?

            Ukrainian anger at Russia is understandable. I don’t condone the Ukraine oppressing Russians – but having only Ukrainian taught in school – to me – doesn’t qualify as oppression.

          • Bonkim

            All said and done, those involved are passionate about their cause, we can only shout from the sidelines. I bet the Welsh would not look too kindly on you if tomorrow the UK government banned Welsh language from schools there.

          • rtj1211

            It does qualify as discrimination which, allied to aggressive threats against peaceful protestors, doesn’t add up to something that either the EU or the USA should be supporting or even tolerating.

          • rtj1211

            Well, what else would you call people who propose that and also go around daubing Nazi symbols all over the place?!

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            That’s part of the question isn’t it? Sometimes symbols are put up by provocateurs, sometimes my a minority of loud idiots that don’t represent the whole.

            I hear conflicting stories – and to the best I can tell the nazi-type idiots are a small minority that don’t represent the whole. If the idiots represent the whole in the Ukraine then you must equate muslims with nazi terrorists as the percentage doing evil things and those condoning such actions is much much greater.

          • Tom Tom

            Because in Russian-majority areas it is the majority language – this is exactly what the Czechs did in Sudetenland

          • http://www.theclassicalliberal.com The Classical Liberal

            As far as I know the Ukraine is not teaching Russian in school. It’s not the same thing as banning it from being spoken at home or in the street.

            If, after being colonized a country wanted to promote and reestablish it’s culture would you consider it to be fascist for that country to not teach the “oppressor’s” language in school?

          • Rintintin

            Nothing compared to the Russian fascists….sorry , “liberators”.

          • Tom Tom

            Whereas City of Leeds School teaches English as a foreign language

          • MikeF

            There are increasing numbers of people in the UK with a very strong sense of their ethnicity and religion.

          • Bonkim

            Yes Britain is getting infected and losing its calm confidence. Too many people with emotional hang ups coming in.

          • rtj1211

            A wily Tory associate I once worked in suggested that the way to have sorted out Northern ireland was to have given all Hong Kong citizens British Passports with the sole right to live in Northern Ireland. Hard workers to transform the economy and the Triads to snuff the IRA and the Proddies to dust…..

          • Apaliteno

            Superficially it sounds inspired but I doubt many would have found Northern Ireland so irresistible

          • Tom Tom

            We agreed to it in Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1945-48 expelling 2-3 million Germans and having huge death rates in camps and expropriation. The British created a huge movement of people in India in 1947, and removed the population of Diego Garcia in the 1960s

      • David Webb

        Yes, the Crimea was the only part of the Ukraine with a majority ethnic-Russian population – but the Eastern and Southern provinces of the Ukraine are majority Russian-speaking, because a large number of ethnic Ukrainians are not native speakers of Ukrainian, but of Russian. Donetsk and Lugansk in particular are solidly Russian-speaking. I’m not sure what relevance it has if Russian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians feel loyal to the Ukraine, but this point was not mentioned in this article and needs to be discussed for an adequate analysis.

      • jack

        Putin could rig the vote as he always does.

  • FF42

    The Russian policy (and the USSR one before that) has always been to
    keep its satellites weak. When a satellite naturally baulks against
    this, the second policy is to send in the army to get rid of any
    government that asserts itself.

    What you outline is a plausible
    future for Ukraine, but it does depend on its government being serious
    about effective governance for the first time and in this way delivering
    better living standards for its citizens. It also depends on making
    armed invasion so expensive for Russia that it won’t contemplate it.

    • Alexsau91

      True enough. Though surely in any case, armed invasion of Ukraine proper would be politically costly for Puitin, as it would just push the Ukrainian government further and further into the arms of the west.

      • Reaganite

        If Putin invades Ukraine there would be no “Ukrainian Government”

        Another simple minded observation. Not be taken seriously from this point forward

      • Tom Tom

        If Ukraine attacks Russia as the Right Sektor has threatened he will no doubt roll over and let NATO invade as it did in Serbia dropping 23,000 bombs

    • Tom Tom

      Rubbish, the GDR was far from weak…..the USSR had focussed factories with certain key industries in the GDR and CSSR and Ukraine and the Baltic States…..you clearly have no idea of VEB Carl Zeiss in Jena

      • FF42

        The Soviet objective was a united but weak Germany that was nominally under Four Power control, but which they expected to dominate. East Germany was really a construct of the West , since an independent and assertive West Germany resulted in an opposing East Germany almost by default. The aim of the Berlin blockage, which failed, was to force the abandonment of an independent West Germany. East Germany only survived as long as there was a Wall and the threat of the Soviet army moving in.

        • Tom Tom

          NO it was not. The Morgenthau Plan intended to pastoralise Germany at a cost of 10 million dead until Stalin dangled the carrot of a United Neutral Germany and the US State Dept panicked for fear of Germany and France under Communist influence. West Germany was carved out of the Occupied Germany by the West using D-Mark printed in the USA. The Morgenthau Plan came from the US Treasury where Morgenthau was Jewish and his adviser Harry Dexter White was a Soviet agent. The Plan was forced on Churchill at Quebec Conferene

          • FF42

            The trigger for the Berlin Blockade was the introduction of the Deutsche Mark by Ludwig Erhardt, the subsequent Economics Minister of West Germany. He was acting beyond the remit set him by the Western powers. The Deutsche Mark was so wildly successful that everyone in the Soviet sector changed their currency and Western powers made no attempt to reverse the trend towards West Germany’s independence. This concept of a powerful West Germany was energetically promoted by Konrad Adenauer. He was opposed by the SPD, who were keener to preserve the integrity of Germany even if it meant accommodating the Soviet Union.

            As you point out, the Morgenthau Plan for a weak post-War Germany was a Soviet idea. It was accepted somewhat reluctantly by the US and UK, disowned when details leaked while the War was going on, implemented somewhat half-heartedly at the end of the War and abandoned quite quickly.

  • WinstonF

    “Let Putin have Crimea – and it will destroy him”
    – No it won’t. But you enjoy yourselves have a coke and smile.

    • Tom Tom

      you mean “have coke and smile”

    • Alexsau91

      I love well reasoned arguments like yours. The article has set out why it think’s it will, you say ‘no it wont’ as if it’s a conclusive argument.

  • Dan Hossley

    “Let Putin have Crimea”. Maybe you haven’t figured it out yet, but it isn’t up to us.

    • iviv44

      There is still a decision to be made as to whether to actively push (through diplomatic channels) to return the Crimea to Ukraine, or to make the same noises in public but behind the scenes to put in place a strategy to preserve the current boundaries. This article makes a (very plausible, IMHO) argument for the latter. It would result in a viable Ukrainian-led Ukraine, and any recovery of the Crimea might be best approached by a long-term cold war strategy where the quality of life in the rest of the Ukraine becomes so much better than in the Crimea that there is a popular movement for reunion.

      • Wessex Man

        You seem to live in a diiferent world, I just hope you have nothing to do with Foreign Policy in the Government.

        • iviv44

          If you’re so confident then give your reasoning.

      • Tom Tom

        I hope diplomatic channels can return The Malvinas to Argentina and Gibraltar to Spain

        • iviv44

          Good for you, although personally I think it is sensible to listen to local opinion more than you seem to be inclined to. Not sure what it has to do with this, though (rather than maybe supporting the second route above)

          • Tom Tom

            I hope the Westminster Government ignores the result of any Scottish referendum too and does what is in English interests

          • komment

            That would hardly be anything new.
            But you make a strong case against Devo-Max.

          • Frank

            Why would they? It is not as if they have any track record at all of protecting England’s interests

    • jack

      Tell us who it is up to, please?

      • Dan Hossley

        Them, it is up to them.

    • Tom Tom

      Well they let Britain have Gibraltar

  • ahorvath

    Delusional nonsense. The author is living in the same fantasy world as Obama.

    • jack

      time will be the judge of that : )

  • http://www.drivebyplanet.com/ j_600

    “What Ukraine needs now, after two decades of thievery and mismanagement, is a kamikaze government that will implement unpopular reforms — including amputating the Crimea.”

    So a new set of pro-EU billionaire oligarchs, sketchy old timers, neo-fascists and ethnic based ultranationalists are Owen’s idea of progress.

    • smedley

      Enough about the Russian political system, this story is about Ukraine. Focus.

  • Pickee

    Why is Belarus worried? Their President has always longed for reunification with Mother Russia.

  • http://perceptionasreality.blogspot.com/ skoorbekim

    Let Putin have [Georgia, Crimea, Kherson, Moldova, Estonia, Poland] it will destroy him……. eventually.

  • mike077

    Owen, you aren’t even a little bit right. Crimean annexation was a huge win for Russia, and a huge defeat for western Europe and the US. Among other things, it shows the bankruptcy of the west. The west hopes to stop Russian expansion with words, while Putin apparently intends to expand with tanks.

    The difference in pride and enthusiasm is huge, and it means a lot to a people. Crimea will work with a vengeance to prove Putin’s “faith” in them. Further, there is a good chance Putin will invade and annex the rest of the eastern Ukraine. Then, what does the rest of the west do? Stand there looking impotent and helpless. And we know what that “policy” led to under Neville Chamberlain.

    • American

      I don’t disagree with you, in that I too understand that the Russians taking Crimea is wrong and should not have been allowed. But in the search for a “bright side” (if there is one) the author has a point. With all the “ethnic Russians” in Crimea no longer voting in the Ukrainian elections, the rest of Ukraine may finally have a real chance to break clean from Russia and perhaps later join the EU. If that happens (and the Russians don’t attack the remainder of Ukraine as you’ve suggested) then 10 or 20 years down the road there may be a stark difference in the standard of living between Ukraine and Crimea which would serve to underscore, yet again, which system is an inherent economic failure.

      • mollysdad

        What Putin has done is establish a precedent that the acquisition of territory by the use of force can be lawful and acceptable. So now the way is open to question of Russia’s title to German, Finnish, Chinese and Japanese territory. It is open to question whether Kamchatka and Sakha (rich in oil and diamonds) wouldn’t prosper more easily as part of the USA, and whether the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region (the source of 90 per cent of Russia’s gas) might not do better under international control.

        • Bonkim

          Historically land was always acquired by wars and invasions. So what is new? Crimea was Russia’s historically and now being returned.

          • mollysdad

            Guess which parts of Russia historically belonged to some other country, and therefore still does. Koenigsberg and Pskov (Pleskau) once belonged to the Germans (in the case of Pleskau the Teutonic Knights). St Petersburg once belonged to Sweden. Crimea to Turkey. The Kuril Islands and Sakhalin to Japan. Smolensk to Poland-Lithuania.

          • Bonkim

            Yes – may be time to drive the Turks back to their ancestral home-lands in Central Asia and return all the Hanseatic Cities to Germany which dominated the Baltic in the Middle Ages. But of course there was no Germany or Latvia or Lithuania or Estonia at the time and Poland – there was no independent Polish state all through the 1800s until 1916.

      • Bonkim

        Do we want unemployed Ukrainians flocking into Germany and the UK to benefit from our social security?

    • Bonkim

      The stakes are much higher today than they were in Chamberlain’s days. World economy will not stand another European war and business will decide if eastern Ukraine is worth the turmoil it will create. Germany for one will lose its gas supplies if there was to be a war and its industries suffer. Doubt if there is much substance behind the Western bluster.

  • Reaganite

    I love how Liberals use Pyrrhic Theory to justify this Geopolitical defeat. Putin won this hands down. The so called “Smartest” President and “Citizen Of the World” did not see it coming.
    I still remember 6 months ago when you guys were hailing Putin because he and Obama were working so closely together to defuse Syria and achieve an agreement on nuclear technology development with Iran.

    You were positively effusive about how long and how close the two men worked together. There there was the “I can be more flexible after the election” nonsense with the President confiding to Medvedev to pass on to Putin Now we can see in the care of the Ukraine, that Pres. Obama is indeed being more “flexible” in his sanctions for the invasion and annexation of another nation’s territory. Obama announced that he refuses to give visas to 11 Russians in government and business. That is the epitome of “flexibility”!

    • br14

      On the contrary. The USA were discussing the make up of the Ukrainian parliament before Yanukovych was deposed.

      And the snipers that killed demonstrators and police were backed by forces in opposition to Yanukovych.

      The US strategists would have realised Putin had little choice but to invade Crimea once he realised he had lost in Ukraine.

      The annexation of Crimea in fact demonstrates a huge surrender of power by Putin. He has essentially given up on the rest of Ukraine.

      As Petkov mentions above, the coup was more than likely orchestrated by the US. Presidents don’t leave flee their countries because of the threat of peaceful demonstrators.

      • Reaganite

        So the west was the aggressor? How do you explain the reset button

        • br14

          You can press the reset button all you want. It’s doesn’t actually do anything. This is the EU we’re talking about.

          • Reaganite

            Then why are we on the hook to make it right?

          • br14

            We’re not on the hook for anything. Apart from bailing out the Ukraine of course. Lets see how that goes.

            Personally I’d like to avoid the idiots that rule us starting World War III. They seem intent on creating conflict where none is required.

          • Reaganite

            Agreed, But this whole thing was not handled well by the Obama administration. Capitulation on Crimea does not make the world safe from war.

          • br14

            Not so much capitulation on Crimea by Ukraine.

            More like capitulation on Ukraine by Putin.

            Putin decided it was not worth gambling that a pro-Russian government would be elected again in Ukraine so decided to protect Russian interests in Crimea.

            We conveniently ignore the overthrow of a democratically elected government (however corrupt) and in its place have installed a puppet government with some pretty unsavoury components.

            Have the Ukrainian people actually had a say in their current government? Not likely. We can’t leave these things to chance. Deals will be signed, in the months leading to elections, that commit the Ukraine to whatever the West wants.

            And as the author suggests, Putin is now unlikely to ever get a pro-Russian government.

            He may have Crimea. But he’s lost Ukraine.

            After the recent sabre rattling, I’d suggest a smug silence from the West now that Ukraine has been captured. And after a few months, reducing the sanctions. Might as well make cash where it’s available.

    • Bonkim

      Spot on. epitome of idiocy.

  • Zexufang

    As to –
    “Let Putin have Crimea – and it will destroy him”
    Flashback…
    Isn’t that similar to what the British told the Czechs about Germany and the Sudetenland?

    • Tywin Lannister

      It didn’t end well for Hitler that time.

      • Bonkim

        That was because Hitler got greedy and invaded Russia.

  • Itsy_bitsy

    Oh really? I’m sure Ukrainians are not amused with Cameron’s more than stupid statement!

    • Bonkim

      Ukrainians don’t vote in British elections – what they think don’t matter.

  • toumanbeg

    Wishful dreaming, based on rainbows and unicorn farts.
    By the authors thinking WW2 was impossible. Germany and Russia were each others #1 trading partner. Only it never works out like that.
    What is at stake here is the international treaty based system established after WW2.
    If the Budapest agreement of 1994 was invalidated by the Ukraine revolution of 2013, then the UN treaty that established the Soviets as a permanent member of the UN Security Council was invalidated by the 1991 revolution that eliminated the Soviet Union.
    Russia (Pootie) needs to decide if he wants a UN Security seat and veto or the Ukraine. You cannot argue for both with the same argument.

    • Bonkim

      The UN is wasted space and toothless without the mainstay – US, France and Britain. Not sure if the British Parliament or the US would agree to start spending money in an European war unless they are seriously threatened – treaties and UN resolutions can be made and bypassed.

      • toumanbeg

        Then the treaties and the UN don’t matter. I’m good with that. I’m an American and we have the B-2 bomber,. WE can drop a nuclear weapon on Moscow whenever we want and there is fook-all the Rooskies can do to stop it. A return to Law of the Jungle (not that it ever really left) would still leave America as the Number One. The Only Superpower.
        So yes, Pootie is helping America. The Obumbler will not be POTUS forever. There is a good chance he gets impeached in 2015. About 50/50. So if the next POTUS is smarter and tougher then the current POS, America can make use of the return to the law of the jungle.
        After all, we are the biggest, baddest beast in that jungle.

        • Bonkim

          Biggest and baddest don’t remain forever, and in any case UN or no UN US has done what it wanted with or without UN cover of resolutions. The only constraint is big-business and if going back into its isolationist shell will help or hinder that.

          And before you open your moth too wide – the nuclear deterrent was just that – once used all hell will break loose and the US can also be nuked particularly the valuable assets. Those that have more have more to lose than those that have little.

          Regards Putin – Crimea is no diferent from say the Panama Canal Zone to the US – wonder if US will allow anyone to take over that. What if Hawai California wishes to declare independence? or Florida wants to go back to Spain? That would be another story.

  • Curnonsky

    Whistling past the graveyard? Putin has won, and trying to make the case that it is a Pyrrhic victory is simply sad. So Crimea will cost him some money – with half a trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves think he can afford it?

    Meanwhile, just what does pro-Western Ukraine get from the US and EU? Certainly not weaponry, which is what they need, and the financial aid they will be offered is going to be limited by Germany’s unhappy experience with Greece. In the end Ukraine will have to comes to terms with Russia’s new status as the pre-eminent European land power, and so will Poland, the Baltic states and the EU for that matter. It is not a matter of sentiment, or history, but of accommodating reality.

    And the oligarchs will be very wary of challenging Putin on a point of Russian national pride, especially because he will tell them that the very next crisis with Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. the same Western leaders that are chastising Russia today will come running to it for help.

    Crimea will be a trivia question five years from now – the Schleswig-Holstein of the 21st century.

    • Bonkim

      and most of Ukraine’s industrial base is in the Russian dominated East and its markets mainly Russia. Russia if it wants can throttle Ukraine’s gas for non-payment. The EU will do sod-all if it comes to the crunch. Doubt if EU investors are queuing to put their money there.

  • Phillip Wilson

    Well, if one thing is clear, it’s that Hussein Obama is a delusional marxist.

  • Petkov

    Such a stupid article.
    USSR was governed by a Georgian and two Ukrainians. Then came the Western puppet Gorbachov to demolish it, but all the blame is and will be for RUSSIA. The promised guarantee that NATO would not move East of Berlin, now is a forgotten joke, for it advanced to the Russian borders. Eltsin the drunk, could not do much and care less to stop the dangerous for the Russians democratic locomotion of the peace loving Pentagon and its cronies. There came a colored revolution
    in Kiev and later the Georgian card was played. It was again all about NATO
    expansion. Moscow’s weakness could not resist Yushchenko’s regime, but smashed the southern eater of his own tie. The arrogant USA decided to give it
    another try by pouring more than 5 billion US dollars to topple
    Yanukovich. This time it managed to form through a coup an
    illegal puppet government, chosen by the lady “F..K THE
    EU”. Actually she was damn right. Gayropa is impotent. Only the US
    has the ability to military confront Russia, but does Washington has the guts
    to risk its wellbeing? Putin for sure has because there is no
    other choice for him. Right?

    • Anthony Brady

      With all due respect from just returning from Kiev and Russia I must conclude that Putin is perhaps the dumbest ruler f a nation since the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Putin should be compared to Peter III the czar of Russia.

      • Wessex Man

        Oh dear, do you seriously think that Call me Dave, Clegg over, Milepede and Barroso are brighter?

      • Tom Tom

        Iraq was logical in invading Kuwait once the Us Ambassador gave the nod. Kuwait sat on Iraq’s oil reservoirs

  • Tywin Lannister

    Unfortunately it is western Ukraine that is the economic basket case, not Crimea and the east. The West is taking on a 90bn dollar liability with Ukraine.

    • jack

      90 billion is a bargain.

      • Wessex Man

        Please expand on your argument that 90 billion is a bargin, personally I wouldn’t waste 1 pound sterling on these gangsters.

        • toumanbeg

          Wheat. Gangsters can be hung.

    • Tom Tom

      $90 billion is one month of Fed QE

  • Petkov

    The SPECTATOR, why did my comment disappear?

  • jack mcdaniels

    Nope, Putin will be fine and recognized as a great and respectable leader. Also, Crimea will only benefit Russia.

  • danram

    This is an excellent column. Right on the money. Well done.

  • https://belasariust.wordpress.com/ solly gratia

    You do realise that Timoshenko is as corrupt at Yanukovych? She should fit right in with the EU.

  • Hello?

    So now the West flaunts it’s phony veneer of outrage and concern. If we were so worried about Crimean succession, the Ukraine should have been given financial and moral support some time ago. Too late now. Had the country been in better fiscal shape separation would be a non-issue. In Canada, the Quebec separatist movement all but disappeared once they were given a certain degree of special status and autonomy; but more to the point, a blank cheque from the federal government courtesy of the Canadian tax payers is what eventually eradicated their nationalist griping.

  • Baron

    Obviously, the six years spent by you in Moscow taught you BA, Owen. The putsch in Kiev wasn’t carried out by ‘people’s power’, but a bunch of thugs who and their comrades will not be easy to pacify, the money needed to get Ukraine going will run to a multiple of the $35bn, and the centuries long coupling of Ukraine to Russia will reasserts itself at some point in the future when Vlad will long be gone, the two countries will unite again. Bet on it, the West for all its warm and wooing words will never guarantee Ukraine’s long term security. Russia can and will.

  • Terry Field

    WHat will the West do when Putin moves against FInland, the Baltics, Belorussia and the Isle of Wight???

    • jack

      You don’t understand Russian psychology. To them this is a defensive move against bloodthirsty Ukrainian nationalists who carried out a putsch with support from the CIA. They know the cadres who have taken over Kiev and they would make Slobodan Melosovitch seem like a choir boy. In Russian minds Putin is protecting their blood-kin from tyranny and oppression. It is a very similar “humanitarian” motive to what the west pretended in Libya or Kosovo. There are no Russian speakers in Finland so such places have nothing to fear. However if I was the president of Estonia or Latvia I would be a trifle worried.

  • jack

    Ukraine is not a viable enterprise. If the place had an economy that produced something of value, and a political class that was halfway honest, the country might be salvageable. But that is not the case and will not be, for the foreseeable future. The result is an international basket case hardly worth fighting over. The place will cost the EU a fortune and will also cost Russia a fortune. The best solution is to split the country into two parts which will be fairly uniform in ethnic composition, and hence governable. In other words I proposed a breakup along the lines of what happened in Yugoslavia or in the split of Serbia and Kosovo. To affect this, there should be a province-by province referendum asking the population to choose between joining Russia, or staying as part of a rump Ukrainian state. The results will predictably follow the outcome the last free democratic election: Provinces that went for Yanukovych will choose Russia, and those that went for Temoschenko will choose Ukraine. This would leave the west, including Kiev and Livov, inside the Ukrainian sector and much of the east and south (including the whole of the black sea coast) in the hands of the Russians. The Ukrainian sector will lean towards the west and the EU will have to support them for years. It will be worse than Greece and 4 times bigger. The east will be a similar problem for the Russians, but at least they share some close connections of language and culture.

  • br14

    Putin has walked into a trap.

    If I, a relatively uninformed punter, can come to the same hypothesis as you concerning Ukrainian demographics, I’m damn sure US strategic analysts can come up with the same scenario.

    What happened in Ukraine was a coup against a democratically elected (if corrupt) leader due to face elections in 2015. Just because we don’t happen to like his government doesn’t give us the right to remove him – or perhaps I am naive about the nature of democracy and the rule of law.

    The revelations of the Estonian foreign minister concerning snipers hired by forces in opposition to Yanukovych are enough of a clue that the events in Ukraine were not just the result of peaceful demonstrations.

    The current sabre rattling is just noise to hide the truth. Nothing real will be done about Putin in Crimea, because the result is precisely what was expected, and ensures an EU friendly government in Ukraine. I hope the austerity they are likely to face as a result doesn’t dampen their ardour for the West.

  • komment

    The headline appears to be very noble until one remembers it is pragmatic to acquiesse over events one has no control over.
    It is not a case of let Mr Putin have Crime as, it is already re-united with its Mother Russia.

  • Frank

    It seems essential to defuse the situation, whilst getting all of the oligarchs and cronies behind Putin on the list for sanctions and travel bans.

  • Petkov

    I red the comments so far and was fascinated by the predominance of sober and logical thinking of the British readers. No doubt, every public has an illiterate part that is brainwashed and contemplates through its emotions. Apart from that, I would not oppose in any way the conclusion that Putin by openly resisting the plans of NATO is buying himself enormous problems. The most important however, is hidden from the Western public eyes.
    All of you should recall that the murder in London of Litvinenko was the bubblegum of all the medias for years. The death of Berezovski – the kingmaker of all Eltsin’s elite was reported as trivial and boring suicide. Why? Wasn’t he an enormous figure, no matter how corrupt, in comparison with the petty former KGB agent, who has betrayed his country? The reason maybe ts simple – if you can’t put the blame on Russia – there is no interest on the subject. The whole truth, by my judgment is, that the oligarch was killed by someone and it was not in the interest of the British government to look for the culprit.
    Berezovski, as most Russians, was homesick, and after losing the battle with the Chelsea man sent a HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL letter to Putin with the request to be permitted to return home. He has pleaded that if pardoned, he would reveal all the agents of the US and UK that are currently in high places in Moscow. Why couldn’t he wait to receive the reply? Only A COUPLE OF DAYS after sending the letter he hanged himself in the bathroom. Do you believe that?

  • camjan2

    I had a beer in Saas Fee with a couple of Russians gents in their fifties and asked them what they thought of the Crimea “take over”
    They both said that they never realised the Crimea belonged to the Ukraine until this crisis. Childhood holidays were spent there with friends and parents , and all assumed it was part of Russia.

  • Alb Einstein

    ” the US has backed a generous bailout from the International Monetary Fund.”

    Deluded. What’s going to happen in the SE of Ukraine when the Russian speakers there realise that their pensions are going to be halved and their gas bills doubled by the government in Kiev to pay the IMF’s blood money? At the same time, people in Crimea are going to be seeing an increase in their pensions. The nutters in the Western establishment are going to hand the East of Ukraine to Putin on a plate. Within 6 months, people there will be up in arms – literally.

  • Jonathan Leibowitz

    Your harbour, safe from the storms of confusion conjured up by today’s liberals, progressives, and mass-media clowns: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Katya Bezyazchna

    You know what is the problem with that thinking? It’s that the person who wrote this has no idea about Ukrainian history. My region – mainly Russian speaking is next. Krimea has a pull in the government? Let’s see what happens with Donbass. Yeah, why don’t we let Putin take Ukaraine by pieces.

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