Skip to content

Ukraine: Out of the Frying Pan

Ukraine: Out of the Frying Pan – The very fact that Ukrainian protesters can oust their leader and plunge their country into political uncertainty testifies to the diminished influence of the major international players trying to control outcomes in Kiev.
John Feffer

The fall of Yanukovych, welcomed by virtually everyone in Ukraine including his own party, means that Ukraine is out of the frying pan. Now the challenge facing Ukrainians – and the countrys neighbors – is to prevent a tumble into the fire. (Photo: Sasha Maksymenko / Flickr)

In the end, the street triumphed over the elite. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych tried to hang on to power, and failed. Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to maintain Russian influence, and failed. The EU tried to mediate, and failed. And the United States tried to well, Ill get to that in a moment.

Over the weekend, the Maidan movement in Kiev rejected the agreement reached between Yanukovych and opposition leaders, which would have created a national unity government and prepared for new elections within the year. Like their distant cousins in Egypt and Syria, protestors wanted nothing to do with their putative leader and demanded his immediate resignation. They disregarded the blunt advice of EU mediator (and Polish foreign minister) Radoslaw Sikorski, who warned, If you dont support this [compromise] you will have martial law, the army. Youll all be dead. When Yanukovych left the capital on Friday night for his political base in the eastern part of the country, they sensed their opportunity and effectively seized control of the city.

Interim leader Oleksandr Turchynov and the newly empowered parliament immediately went to work. It voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko from prison – where the former prime minister and Orange revolutionary was serving a seven-year sentence for alleged corruption. The MPs also fired the interior minister responsible for the security forces, which opened fire on protestors last week, killing dozens. The hated riot police were disbanded.

The fall of Yanukovych, welcomed by virtually everyone in Ukraine including his own party, means that Ukraine is out of the frying pan. Now the challenge facing Ukrainians – and the countrys neighbors – is to prevent a tumble into the fire.

The most immediate problem is achieving a measure of political stability. It hasnt been easy to form a new government in Kiev. But other signs are good. There have been no revenge killings. There are no reports of looting. Police and armed protestors are sharing responsibility for keeping order in the major cities. Thousands of people toured – as opposed to trashed – Yanukovychs opulent presidential palace, and they not only didnt touch anything but even stayed off the grass.

The opposition is far from unified. But Tymoshenko, a divisive figure now that shes once again out of prison, has deferred to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of the Fatherland party that she founded. Other oppositionists, like former boxer Vitali Klitschko, are also angling for the presidency. No one has threatened a Ceausescu scenario – rush to judgment followed by summary execution – for the AWOL Yanukovych. Rather, the interim leadership is only talking legal recourse, even broaching the possibility of involving the International Criminal Court.

The second pressing challenge is the Ukrainian economy. The countrys economic tailspin precipitated the current crisis, as the country was caught between twin bailouts, one from MOSCOW and the other from Brussels. After a feint towards Europe, Yanukovych eventually took $15 billion from Russia. That aid has been suspended. Now the EU, the IMF, and the United States are dreaming up some kind of package for Ukraine. In the past IMF austerity measures, which included wage freezes and utility hikes, were unpopular, to say the least. But Ukraine owes $73 billion in foreign debt, and $12 billion of that comes due this year. Its the IMFs job to dispense unpleasant medicine, and so far neither Brussels nor Washington have offered much to sweeten the pill.

The nightmare scenario, however, is the disintegration of the country. Ukraine is divided between an eastern part populated by a large number of Russian speakers and a European-leaning western part. Then theres the peninsula of Crimea, in the Black Sea, which is 60-percent Russian-speaking and where Moscow docks its Black Sea fleet in a leasing arrangement good until 2042. On Sunday, 20,000 people rallied in the Crimean city of Sevastopol to elect a pro-Moscow Russian as their mayor. The whole peninsula might attempt to migrate back to Russia where it belonged for a couple centuries until 1954 when Khrushchev gifted it to Ukraine on the 300th anniversary of the Russian-Ukrainian merger. An unidentified Russian government official told The Financial Times last week that “if Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war. They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia.”

But a military intervention by Moscow into any part of Ukraine – as it did in Georgia in 2008 – would be a serious miscalculation. In fact, the only thing that would unite Ukraine more than dislike of Yanukovych at this point would be the introduction of Russian troops. Putin is a consummate realist and is not likely to risk his other projects in the near abroad with such a foolhardy venture. But serious economic austerity measures or further political missteps – like the repeal of a language law that mandated the use of two official languages wherever the minority population exceeded 10 percent – could nevertheless pull at the seams of the country.

One possible way of preserving territorial integrity would be decentralization – giving more autonomy to the different regions of Ukraine. Although federalization is seen in Kiev and western Ukraine as a step toward ultimate partition, it could in fact help hold Ukraine together, writes Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Center in Moscow. With more financial and cultural autonomy, the countrys diverse regions could more easily live and let live, and keep one another in check.” Not even Yanukovych was willing to put federalization on the agenda. But with Crimea increasingly restive and Turchynov calling separatism a serious threat, such options should not be dismissed out of hand.

Political instability, economic ruin, and territorial disintegration: these are the three fires that Ukraine, having leapt from Yanukovychs frying pan, now faces. Russian intervention is a remote threat – and Putin as the devil in the Ukrainian details has been wildly overblown, as Stephen Cohen has pointed out at The Nation. At the same time, although some genuine fascists lurk among the protestors in the Maidan, they too are a distinct minority. Like Tahrir Square, the Maidan movement has represented the full range of civil society, from LGBT activists to Ukrainian nationalists.

Now we get to the role of the United States. Two very different views have emerged in the media over the last few weeks. The first is of a largely helpless observer. As things were spiraling out of control between government and opposition, Fareed Zakaria opined at CNN that there really wasnt much that Washington could do, since military intervention was clearly off the table and economic sanctions against Yanukovych would have been counterproductive.

Ah, but then what to make of the notorious phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt? The call made headlines for its profanity, not its profundity, as Nuland dismissed the diplomatic efforts of the EU with a dismissive F-bomb.

But as Foreign Policy In Focus contributor Patrick Smith points out, the actual content of the phone call is actually far more interesting. The American plot revolves around manipulating various figures in the opposition, backing the fortunes of some, keeping others from the table, and thereby inducing a friendly, post Yanukovych government of one kind or another, compromised from its very conception, he writes in Nuland: The Message Beneath the Vulgarity.

Now that Yanukovych is out and we arent privy to any more high-level State Department chats, its difficult to know exactly how much influence Washington continues to wield in Kiev. Certainly the United States is doing what it can to keep Russia to its non-interference pledge. Some kind of economic package is being assembled, though its not likely to be of Marshall Plan proportions. And no doubt Ambassador Pyatt and colleagues are backing a horse in the race for leadership (Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at least according to the aforementioned phone call).

Ukraine is part of the Great Game left over from the Cold War that the United States is still playing, a game that consists of keeping the Russians down, NATO in, and the oil and gas flowing outward. But the 21st-century chessboard is now very different. The EU is playing a major role, perhaps even the dominant one – and thus the vehemence of Nulands dismissal. Russia may well talk tough and spend considerable sums on reviving its military – and the Sochi Olympics elevated Moscows international cred a couple notches – but it is a shadow of its former Soviet self. And the United States might privately like to style itself as puppet master – or kingmaker – but these are not the glory days of the 1950s for the CIA and the State Department. Washington cant even control the airing of its dirty laundry, from Wikileaks to Snowden to the Nuland phone call. The United States, particularly in these cash-strapped times, has nothing on the order of EU membership to hold as both carrot and stick over Kiev.

The very fact that Ukrainian protesters can oust their leader and plunge their country into political uncertainty testifies to the diminished influence of the major international players trying to control outcomes in Kiev. But ouster is easy compared to rebuilding an entire country the size of Ukraine. In this ongoing struggle between the street and the elite, lets hope that the Ukrainians manage an outcome considerably better than their Egyptian, Libyan, or Syrian comrades-in-protest.

John Feffer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.

Read the original article at

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Analysis & Review, Politics, Russia.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , .

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's happening big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale".

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally IU know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know people in court at the moment for the content they had on their secret private group. Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer if you need to or buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA to hack into if you are that paranoid.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering bollox) then I could do with some. Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why/


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent
false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material. Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and #altnews alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.