Streetwise Professor

February 22, 2014

Слава Україні (Slava Ukraini-Glory to Ukraine)

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:14 am

Events are unfolding at a furious pace in Ukraine.  I decided not to blog about them last night, because I knew that whatever I wrote would be superseded within minutes, and that was definitely the case.  The same is probably true now, but enough has transpired to justify some comment.

Yesterday saw the negotiation of a deal between the opposition leadership and Yanukovych in which the president made major concessions, including a return to the 2004 constitution (with much more limited presidential powers), the resignation of the interior minister, and the creation of an independent investigation overseen by the EU.  But his concessions were insufficient for the crowds assembled at the Maidan.  The opposition leaders were nothing of the sort: they led only themselves, having lost whatever influence they had over the Maidan the moment they commenced to negotiate.  When they went to the Maidan platform to announce the deal, their ostensible followers reacted with rage.  They were-and are-willing to accept nothing less than Yanukovych’s resignation.

Then the really wild rumors began.  First, it was reported that Yanukovych had fled Kiev.  But where?  Initially, the claim was Harkiv.  Then, a plane allegedly carrying Yanik was tracked flying south.  Sochi?  No: the plane flew on and on, eventually landing in the UAE.  But was Yanukovych on it?

Apparently not.  He was apparently in Harkiv after all, where an assemblage of regime loyalists was meeting.  Then came the second rumor: that Yanukovych had resigned.

That rumor lasted a good 90 minutes, and then Yanukovych appeared on television, saying he had not resigned and would not resign.  He accused the opposition of being Nazis who were mounting a fascist coup like Hitler’s in 1933.

In the meantime, the police left the streets of Kiev.  Berkut units brought to the capital returned to Sevastopol and other cities.  The parliament passed a series of new laws, naming a new acting PM and new ministers, and demanding Yanukovych sign all the laws it had passed and the constitutional change or resign.  A law releasing Tymoshenko and invalidating the law under which she had been jailed also passed.

And as I write, the Rada has voted to remove Yanukovych from office, and Tymoshenko has left the hospital where she had been imprisioned.

The deal struck yesterday was midwifed by the EU, but although it deserves some credit, the laboring mother was the Ukrainian people, not just on Maidan, but throughout the country.  Why did Yanuokovych make so many concessions?  I surmise that he was stunned that the campaign of sniping that killed dozens only seemed to increase the determination of the opposition crowds rather than send the scurrying home.  The seizure of government buildings throughout the country and the switching of sides by police and interior units in various cities made it plain that he had insufficient strength to control the country.  And the firing of the commander of the army suggests that he wanted the military to intervene, but it refused: as I noted from the very beginning, the actions of the army and security forces would be decisive.  Thus stymied, Yanukovych tried to buy time and made concessions, but clung to power hoping that he could reverse matters in time.

Now it appears that he has retreated to his eastern redoubt, and is planning to wage a civil war from it.  Separatist rallies are occurring in the east.

Given his rhetoric-which dovetails perfectly with that coming out of Russia-it is only a matter of time before he calls on the fraternal support of big brother Russia.

How will Putin respond?  I don’t know, but the rhetoric emerging from Russia-including threats to attack the Crimea if “Ukraine breaks apart,” which is exactly what is happening-makes it plain that there is a substantial likelihood of Russian intervention, at least in the east.  Moments ago Russia announced that the opposition had violated the deal which the EU had guaranteed, thereby creating the predicate for an intervention.  (Though, interestingly, the Russian representative did not sign it, leaving in a huff.)  Russia’s UN ambassador Churkin has blamed the “western powers” for destabilizing Ukraine. This further suggests an intervention is in prospect.

Which makes Obama’s reaction all the more shocking.  Obama had a phone call with Putin yesterday.  Afterwards, the White House announced that the conversation had been “constructive and workmanlike.”  The administration made it sound like Putin was in agreement with Obama, and that he has a genuine interest in a peaceful outcome in Ukraine.

He might, but only on his bloody-minded terms.  His actions have been and continue to be anything but constructive.  Indeed, they have been nothing but destructive and threaten to become even more so.

It is astounding that Obama is publicly acting as if Putin is not ultimately and primarily responsible for this entire catastrophe in Ukraine, because that is exactly the reality.   By validating Putin as a constructive force in Ukraine Obama is enabling the Russian president’s impending intervention and will make himself and the United States look utterly foolish when that happens.  Just like in Syria.

From the early days of this, I anticipated that civil war was a very possible outcome in Ukraine.  It looks for all the world that this possibility is about to become a reality, although I have been repeatedly surprised at the path to that outcome.

This is a tragedy.

Слава Україні.  Godspeed to the Ukrainian people.  May we do what we can to give them a chance at independence and freedom.  But I fear that there is a mismatch of will and capability-especially will-and that the ultimate outcome will be a partition of the country, with Yanukovych ruling over a rump state in the east (until Putin tires of him), and with Putin scheming to find the way to achieve his ultimate objective of gaining control, de facto or  de jure, over the entire nation.

This is the end of the beginning, at most.  As bad as things have been, they are almost certain to get worse.  There is a real possibility that Ukraine will emerge free, but I fear that Ukrainians will have to fight for that freedom.

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  1. People have been let into the lavish palace grounds abandoned by Yanukonvikt, and some are even playing golf on the golf course

    The Maidan people are making sure that there is no looting or vandalism, and are awaiting a commission to come which will take an inventory everything. Yanukonvikt had a golden bidet and some red shorts at the ready. Right now, the place has been closed to the public, after an initial vewing.

    video here:

    according to reports, yanukonvikt left 2 days ago, and there was a flurry of vehicles. The last helicopter left the place at that time.

    reporters have found a whole bunch of papers, including bookkeeping and accounting papers, in a water basin near the Dnipro river, which they are pulling out of the water. The papers show “blacklists” of enemy journalists and others, plus “donations” by “sponsor,” plus expenses.

    Elections for a new president have been announced for May.

    pictures here

    It looks like the Maidan people are trying to make sure that there is no looting and they are going to give the opposition politicians a chance to implement a constitutional democratic government.

    During the funeral and memorial services, they played this – the “Heavenly Division” and chanted “heroes don’t die.”

    Ukrainians have finally stood up for themselves and for democracy, and for European democratic values.

    Reports are that Kernes and Dobkin, 2 of the more odious operatives in Kharkiv and eastern Ukraine, have fled to Moscow.

    Dobkin is the oblast (province) administrator, and Kernes is the head of the city administration in Kharkiv.

    Kernes is another one of those jerks who likes to take his shirt off and pose on his Facebook page.

    Comment by elmer — February 22, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  2. In a — video – released today, Yanukonvikt claims that he has not left and is not leaving the country, and that he was given “guarantees” by all of the foreign intermediaries that he would remain as president, in all the talks leading up to the current events, and, in essence, he is calling upon them to meet their guarantees.

    In the meantime, Tymoshenko is on a plane headed to Maidan, after being released from jail.

    picture here:

    Comment by elmer — February 22, 2014 @ 11:01 am

  3. @Professor, there is a typo in the headline.

    Let’s hope the Russian Führer is a somewhat rational thug, not an outright lunatic. An obvious peril for Ukraine’s democracy is the return of Evita Tymoshenko to politics, though. Ukraine will be in for another stifling era of nomenklatura “business as usual” if people fail to see Yulia for what she is again.

    Comment by Ivan — February 22, 2014 @ 11:11 am

  4. @Ivan-Thanks. Corrected. I agree completely re Tymoshenko. That was going to be the subject of my next blog post.

    I have always been doubtful about Ukraine’s prospects even if it shakes loose from Yanukovych and Russia. The sovok legacy is so pervasive. The past is a dead hand, and Tymoshenko is a voice from the past. Ukraine must do everything it can to make a break from that past. It will not do so completely, but returning to Tymoshenko would definitely be a huge step in the wrong direction.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 22, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  5. It’s almost like the nomenklatura politburo has been keeping Tymoshenko up the sleeve as plan B, should the frontal attack using Yanukovych fail. I see the chance of avoiding her presidency as quite low. But then again, maybe pleasant surprises are not out of stock yet.

    Comment by Ivan — February 22, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  6. Check out Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski chatting to one of the Glorious Heroes of the Maidan!

    “If you don’t support this, you will have martial law, you’ll have the army, you’ll all be dead.”

    The Glorious Heroes of the Maidan may be about to learn how the West crushes protest, without a care as to the amount of blood that flows.

    Comment by PailiP — February 22, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  7. The insurgents should just blow up the pipelines. Get rid of that Sovok legacy once and for all.

    Comment by So? — February 22, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

  8. My total respect to the people on the Maidan and sympathies to the families that lost loved ones. I would like to see them string that smug blackhearted bastard up in Kharkiv

    After all this please not Tymeshenko.

    Comment by pahoben — February 23, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

  9. > Concerned about the cost? Don’t be penny-wise, and pound foolish.

    To make a change in the desperate Ukrainian economy, the US taxpayers will need to spend at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years, or until the US government defaults on its obligations and/or devalues the dollar, at which time the US will ask Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and Uganda for reverse economic aid.

    Comment by vladislav — February 25, 2014 @ 4:54 am

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    Comment by weird facts — April 10, 2014 @ 10:34 am

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