Mr Denis Kopyl, Press Attaché at the Russian Embassy in Georgetown, in his latest letter, ‘Statements from Kiev and the West about Russia being behind the eastern Ukraine protests are groundless,’ (SN, April 20), is an obvious attempt to deflect sole blame from Russia for the Ukraine crisis, to which the US is now responding by sending troops to neighbouring states.
He claims that “the decision of President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych to take time to analyze the proposed Association Agreement with the EU on the EU conditions and not to sign it right away, because it would dramatically worsen the socioeconomic situation in Ukraine and affect Ukrainians, provoked public unrest that eventually culminated in an unconstitutional coup,” but the truth is that Ukraine’s now ousted President, Victor Yanukovych, was set to sign an economic package deal with the European Union, but reneged at the last moment and decided instead to turn to Russia for economic bailouts.
Perhaps observing President Putin’s intolerance for people’s freedoms and rights, pro-European protests broke out across Ukraine, but especially in the capital of Kiev, against the Russian deal. After weeks of protests, the Ukrainian Parliament voted for a presidential election to be held, but shortly after that Yanukovych fled to Russia. Ukraine’s parliament then named Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the head of the country’s interim government.
In short, from the sheer numbers of protestors and their daily appearances on streets and public spaces, many Ukrainians and their parliamentary representatives decided that they did not want to be aligned with Russia, but with Europe.
For whatever debatable reason, pro-Russian protests started inside Ukraine, but particularly in Crimea, made up of mostly Russian speaking citizens, who charged that the new Ukrainian government would suppress their rights.
Russia then declared it had a right to defend the Russian people in Crimea, and this was followed by the pro-Russia parliamentary representatives in Crimea agreeing to a referendum calling for the secession of Crimea from Ukraine and alignment with Russia.
Russia’s UN envoy even claimed that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asked Russia to send troops to “establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability, and defend the people of Ukraine.”
The annexation of Crimea – signed over to Ukraine by Russia in 1954 – and the marshalling of thousands of Russian troops and military hardware along the Russian-Ukraine border, therefore, gave international observers grounds for believing the pro-Russian protests and seizing of buildings were being directed from Moscow.
But what is even more disturbing is the growing belief among many that Vladimir Putin is actually on an aggressive drive to lead the revival of Russia as a superpower with communism as the guiding ideology. I have blogged making this same point right on Stabroek News’ blog site, and so it was no surprise when Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in an NBC ‘Meet The Press’ interview last Saturday reportedly said that the world doesn’t know how far Russian President Vladimir Putin will go to attain his self-proclaimed goal of restoring the Soviet Union — and the end result could be disastrous.”
President Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union. And every day, he goes further and further. And God knows where the final destination is.”
According to an NBC report citing Yatsenyuk, Putin had actually disclosed his aim to reestablish the Soviet Union in his state of the union address two years ago and said in another speech that the biggest disaster of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union. He noted, however, that “the biggest disaster of this century would be the restoring of the Soviet Union under the auspices of President Putin.”
So, to me, it is no longer a question of whether Russia wants Ukraine, but when; and also whether the West is really prepared to expend political, economic and military resources defending Ukraine if Russia makes such a move.
In the 1994 Budapest agreement, Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons, stationed there by the Soviet Union when Ukraine was part of the union, and in exchange, Russia will not invade Ukraine.
Then US President Bill Clinton, along with the British, even signed in 1994 an almost overlooked agreement to protect Ukraine’s borders.
I do not think the West will engage Russia militarily. They need each other. Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world. About 25 per cent of the natural gas that Europe uses comes from Russia, and Ukraine only has about four months of natural gas supplies stockpiled. If Russia cut off the natural gas, that would create some huge problems, but Russia will also lose badly needed income.
And it really does not help that communist China has openly sided with Russia on Ukraine. One report actually claim Russia and China hold approximately 25 per cent of all foreign-owned US debt, and if they started massively dumping US debt it could rapidly create a nightmare scenario.
In fact, if Russia and China got together and decided to kill the petrodollar, they could do it almost overnight, which is why Yatsenyuk’s observation on Putin’s push to revive Russia as a superpower looks ominous, especially given the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nucleus, of which Russia is the leader.
Whether the West is right that Russia’s annexation of Crimea meant Russia broke the 1994 Budapest agreement, or Russia’s countercharge is right that the West first broke the deal when democratically-elected Yanukovych was ousted with support from the West, the world needs to be put on full alert that a Putin-led revival of Russia as a superpower, especially a communist one, is a dangerous omen for freedom-loving people around the world.