Posts Tagged ‘Crimea’

The passing scene – August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015

White supremacist gathering underscores Russia’s nationalist trend by Masur Mirovalev for the Los Angeles Times.  Hat tip to Oidin.

Racism, xenophobia and extreme nationalism are on the rise among ethnic Russians, who are 81 percent of the population of the Russian Federation.  The victims are Russia’s ethnic minorities, such as the Tatars, and its immigrants, who are mainly from the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Vladimir Putin has cracked down on hate killings while trying to harness Russian nationalism to support his struggle with NATO nations over Ukraine.  He aligns himself with the Russian Orthodox Church, Cossack paramilitaries and the extreme right-wing parties.

Putin Cracks Down on Christians in Crimea by Geraldine Fagan for Newsweek.

Russian authorities in Crimea are building up the Russian Orthodox Church while persecuting Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Eastern Rite Catholics.

A suspiciously “European” solution by Tom Sullivan for Hullabaloo.

The French National Front and Donald Trump by Paul Gottfried for the Unz Review.

Anti-foreign and anti-immigrant sentiment are on the rise throughout Europe as well as the USA.


John Paul Jones, American hero, Russian admiral

July 2, 2015
John Paul Jones in 1781

John Paul Jones in 1781

John Paul Jones is remembered by Americans as a naval hero of the Revolutionary War and the founder of the American Navy.

He then had a remarkable short second career in the service of the Empress Catherine the Great in Russian’s conquest of Crimea.

He was born John Paul, the son of a poor gardener in Scotland, in 1747.  He went to sea at age 13 and was a captain by age 21.

In 1773, he was put on trial in Tobago in the West Indies for allegedly running a would-be mutineer through with his sword.  He fled to Virginia instead and changed his name to Jones.

When the Revolutionary War began, he took service in the new United States Navy, and quickly rose to the rank of captain.   On his first command, he captured 16 British ships in six weeks.

jpj4-05He was sent to French waters in 1778 to take the war to the British, which he did.   As captain of the Ranger and later of the Bonhomme Richard, he raided British ports, captured British merchant ships and defeated British warships in British waters.

This was astonishing achievement.   The American rebels had no navy or naval ships at the outbreak of the Revolution, and the British Navy was regarded as invincible at sea.

John Paul Jones’ most famous battle was in September, 1779, when he commanded a squadron that attacked a British merchant fleet protected by British ships of war.

He sailed directly for the lead British warship, the H.M.S. Serapis.  They fired broad-sides at each other at close range, and within an hour or so, the two ships were actually lashed together.

bhrichrdCaptain Pearson of the Serapis asked Jones, who was getting the worst of it, if he wanted to surrender.  Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight”—or words to that effect.

Jones personally fought with a pike to help repel a boarding party from the Serapis.  Then one of his crew threw an exploding grenade at one of the hatches of the Serapis, igniting gunpowder that lay along the deck and slaughtering many of the British crew.  The British captain surrendered soon after that.

The Bonhomme Richard sunk, but Jones sailed back to port in possession of the Serapis.

After the war ended, Congress disbanded the Continental Navy.   Jones took service with Catherine the Great of Russia in 1787 under the name Pavel Ivanovich Jones.


What Russia gained by its Crimea takeover

May 18, 2014


0518-web-blacksea-artboard_1-0Russia’s annexation of Crimea gives it a dominant position in claiming the oil and gas reserves of the Black Sea.  Crimea’s oil and gas assets, shown in the map above. now belong largely to Russia.

The maps at the right show Ukraine’s and Russia’s claims in the Black Sea before and after annexation.  The red area in the lower map at right shows what Russia gained by taking over Crimea.  Click on the link below for details.

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves by William J. Broad for the New York Times.

Speaking of Ukraine and Russia, here are links to three articles on the background of the Ukraine crisis that I found to be highly illuminating, and perhaps you will, too.

The Errand-Boys of Europe by Padraig Murphy for The Dublin Review of Books.   A look at the historical roots of Putin’s “Eurasianism,” a political ideology that says Russia should keep apart from Europe and its false philosophies of democracy and individual freedom, but instead be a bridge between Europe and Asia based on a philosophy of authoritarianism.

Fascism Returns to Ukraine by Timothy Snyder for The New Republic.  A well-known historian makes the case that Ukraine is a democratic nation, and that fascism is on the rise, not in Ukraine, but in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.   I think this article contains information and insight that is both true and important, but it is only part of the truth.

The New Cold War’s Ukraine Gambit by Michael Hudson for Naked Capitalism.  This is the other part of the truth: How Ukraine was destabilized by U.S. financiers and militarists and their European allies.

Why Crimean Tatars fear Russian rule

April 11, 2014

The Crimean Tatars, the indigenous population of the Crimean peninsula, are afraid for their future under Russia’s re-annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

crimean_tatars_They enjoyed a freedom under independent Ukraine that they did not have in Tsarist or Soviet Russia, and they fear that freedom is in jeopardy.  Many protested the Russian takeover, and one of their leaders has been murdered, apparently by pro-Russian forces.

They  were the inhabitants of the Crimean peninsula before it was annexed by Russia under Catherine the Great in 1783.   They had been a semi-independent part of the Ottoman Empire, and, in Russia’s wars with Ottoman Turkey, they were regarded as disloyal.  Many fled to Turkey after the Crimean War of 1853-56, in which the British, French and Turks unsuccessfully invaded Crimea, and Turkey still has a large Ukrainian Tatar population.

During the Second World War, Crimean Tatar loyalties were divided.  Some fought for the Germans, some joined the Red Army, some fought in the partisan resistance against the German occupation.  But in 1944, Stalin ordered the deportation of the Crimean Tartars to Central Asia and Siberia without exception — women, children, old people, crippled people and veterans of the Red Army and partisan resistance.   Later they were allowed to return, but there still is a large Crimean Tatar population in Central Asia.

They now are more 12 percent of the population of Crimea, and many of them object to being reincorporated into Russia.   Their fears have a real basis, based on history and on the resurgence of Russian ethnic nationalism.

It is not realistic to hope that the Russian Federation, having re-annexed Ukraine, will give it up.  The goal of Russian statecraft, from Peter the Great and before, was to have “warm-water ports” on the Baltic and Black Seas for merchant shipping and the Russian navy.   Crimea was ruled by Russia for longer than Louisiana and Florida have been part of the United States.  No Russian government will willingly allow control of its main naval base on the Black Sea by an anti-Russian government.

The best that can be hoped for is an easing of tensions and a winding down of extreme Russian and Ukrainian nationalism, so that non-Russian and non-Ukrainian minorities can live in peace without being persecuted.  The best thing the U.S. government can do is to stop trying to use Ukraine as a proxy for an anti-Russian foreign policy


The Ukraine crisis: Links & comments 3/30/14

March 30, 2014
Crimean Tatar women protest breakup of Ukraine

Crimean Tatar women protest breakup of Ukraine

Elections are scheduled in Ukraine for May 25.   I don’t know how free and fair the elections will be or whether Ukrainians will have meaningful choices.  But it matters little, because the present unelected government of Ukraine has committed the nation to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that no elected government would ever agree to.  It is an example of Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine” in action.

The Ukraine government will sell off national assets at bargain prices, raise gas prices and cut public services as a condition for its loans to foreign banks to be paid off.  Yet I don’t read anything meaningful about this aspect in the national press.  Here are summaries of what is going on in Ukraine that are better than anything Americans are likely to read in their local newspapers or see on their local TV news programs.

Another important aspect of the situation is the desire of certain neo-conservatives in the U.S. government to draw Ukraine into an anti-Russian alliance.   Vladimir Putin could not more tolerate the possibility of nuclear-armed American warships docking in Crimea than John F. Kennedy could tolerate Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Economic sanctions against Russia have a price that some countries – for example, Germany – may not be willing to pay..

That doesn’t mean that Ukrainians, including Russian speakers and ethnic Russians, necessarily want to be “rescued” by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Dmitry Orlov gives a Russian perspective on his ClubOrlov blog.

Pepe Escobar of Asia Times has sharp commentary on the geopolitical implications of the Ukraine crisis.   Read his articles to get an idea of how U.S. policy seems to the outside world.

There are links to the latest from Ian Welsh, Pepe Escobar and Dmitry Orlov on my Blogs I Like page.

The elusive facts about the Ukraine conflict

March 11, 2014


I have been trying for a couple of weeks to educate myself about the political conflict in Ukraine, and I am not sure even of basic facts.

Consider these two articles, each of which I would believe contained the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, if I hadn’t read the other.

A Petition by Scholars: Don’t Brand Kiev Maidan Protestors as Extremists.

The Crimean “Crisis” and Western Bias by Outlook Zen.  Hat tip to ClubOrlov.

About the only thing I feel sure of is that the Russian Federation, United States and other governments are trying to turn the Ukrainian political factions into their proxies in their global competition for geopolitical and economic power.

Getting set to recreate the old Soviet empire

March 8, 2014

Russia and the former Soviet republics

Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation, once said the break-up of the old Soviet Union was a geopolitical catastrophe.  Now laws are being enacted that will make it easier to put the pieces back together.

President Putin

President Putin

The Russian Federation has changed its citizenship procedures so that speakers of Russian, who have lived for three years in any of the former Soviet republics, can obtain citizenship in as little as three months.

Precedence will be given to highly-trained professionals and Prime Minister Medvedev said the law is intended to bolster the economy of Russia.  But it obviously applies to the many Russian speakers not only in Ukraine, but Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics.

The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, is considering a law to allow annexation of territory against the opposition of the legal government, provided that the majority of the people of the area want to join Russia.  A vote on this law is being postponed until after Crimea holds a referendum on annexation.

This, too, has implications for other countries besides just Ukraine.