A Follow-Up to the Viktor Yanukovych Post (Or, More Thoughts on Ukraine)

A pretty photo of Sevastopol to distract, at least temporarily, from the problems Ukraine is having.
A pretty photo of Sevastopol to distract, at least temporarily, from the problems Ukraine is having.

On February 22, I wrote a post called “Yanukovych Legally Still Is President of Ukraine.” To put it mildly, it kind of went viral. I don’t mean viral as in millions of views (I’ve never had that many views before!), but I had a substantial number of views on this post. Heck, I even made it to the front page of Google News the day I published it. So my first order of business is to thank everyone who shared it. You know who you are. Mark shared it on his blog (twice, I think). A commenter by the name of Rob shared my post on a few forums. Other hits came in through Facebook, so at least one person shared it on there. Again, thank you so much for sharing and reading. It really means a lot to me.

As a lot of events have happened since February 22, I thought I’d post an update with my thoughts on Ukraine. So here goes:

  • I stand by what I said in the aforementioned post, i.e. that Yanukovych was illegally deposed. You can love him or hate him, but the fact remains that his ouster was not legal.
  • Yanukovych was fairly elected in 2010. This fact caused controversy on Twitter about a week ago when I mentioned it. I was accused of being “ignorant” and worse. This is not an opinion, though—at least, it’s not my opinion. International observers said the election was free and fair. Again, if you don’t agree, that’s okay. Just don’t blame me for saying it. Take it up with the international observers.
  • I wouldn’t support Yanukovych in a future election. Yes, it may be surprising, but I actually think it’s better for Ukraine if he goes. I just wish it had been done legally. For a fledgling democracy such as Ukraine, it is important to elect leaders and remove them in accordance with the law. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a constitution if one is going to ignore the rule of law on certain occasions?
  • The protestors were not peaceful. A lot of people in the West try to paint them as martyrs murdered by a dictatorial regime. This is patently untrue. The news just broke today that those snipers so condemned by the international community were, in fact, acting on the protestors’ orders, not Viktor Yanukovych’s.
  • The old government was corrupt, but the new government won’t be much better. That is the main reason why I am so disgusted with Ukrainian politics. It’s corrupt to the core. Do you really believe Tymoshenko or Yatsyenyuk will be any better for the country? Corruption runs so deep over there. It’s really depressing if you sit down and think about it.
  • There are troubling anti-Semitic elements in the protest movement. The main culprit is the Svoboda [Freedom] party, led by Oleg Tyagnibok. Tyagnibok has a history of making anti-Semitic statements, such as: “They were not afraid and we should not be afraid. They took their automatic guns on their necks and went into the woods, and fought against the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”* What a lovely individual, right?
  • There was Western involvement in the protests. As in, the EU and the US supported the protestors.
  • I have deeply mixed feelings about the Russian incursion into Crimea. I don’t want there to be a war or anyone else dying. The main question for me is: does Crimea want to join Russia? Technically, if the Crimeans want to secede, it’s hypocritical for the West to condemn that because of our record on supporting Kosovo’s secession. Right now, what I’m most unsure of is whether there is a majority in Crimea in favor of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia.

That’s all I have for now. Honestly, I am just so annoyed about what’s going on over there and the shoddy coverage in our media. It frustrates me immensely.

*Original text: Вони не боялися, як і ми зараз не маємо боятися, вони взяли автомат на шию і пішли в ті ліси, вони готувалися і боролися з москалями, боролися з німцями, боролися з жидвою і з іншою нечистю, яка хотіла забрати в нас нашу українську державу. Found here. Aside from insulting Jews, he also insulted Russians—Moskali is an insulting word in Ukrainian that refers to Russian people.

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7 thoughts on “A Follow-Up to the Viktor Yanukovych Post (Or, More Thoughts on Ukraine)

  1. Hi Natalie,

    I’ve been following the crisis in Ukraine as well and I think it’s now safe to say that the Kiev gov’t will have at most nominal authority over Crimea and the southern and eastern regions. The referendum has already been scheduled for Crimea and support for autonomy or union with Russia is overwhelming. I don’t think the status quo can be maintained in the east or the south either, some kind of “federal” Ukraine is likely to be necessary to keep those regions.

    I think the pro-Western coalition overplayed its hand – there was simply no way they were going to drag all of Ukraine into the EU. I think they may have underestimated Putin as well. Putin has been more than willing to endure being vilified in western media and putting troops in Crimea was exactly the kind of calculated risk that’s acceptable to him. I really wonder if Yatsenyuk, Tyahnyboh, Klitschko, Yarosh, etc, really thought that they could execute a coup and have Crimea and the Donbass quietly fall in line behind them on the way to European integration. The sheer instability of that coalition also makes for weakness. Politics is politics and I don’t think the new gov’t in Kiev will be able to maintain a united front for long. Tymoshenko is bound to become a player again and the new government is not fully agreed on the issue of joining the EU. And of course, Russia’s economic leverage over Ukraine was, is, and will continue to be the most important issue.

    I think it’s also misleading speak of the EU as a single entity on this issue. Poland clearly wants Ukraine in the EU more than Germany, with Radek Sikorsky personally present at Maidan. One can better speak of Poland, the Baltics, and Sweden trying to head off Russian influence in Central Europe with a Western leaning Ukraine. Of course, none of those states want to take on the burden of bailing out the Ukrainian economy. These states, and the US, all want Ukraine as a buffer against Russia but aren’t eager to pay the price, literally.

    Finally, I think events forced Putin into action, not the other way around. His image and credibility as a leader would have been shattered if he had done nothing in Crimea. After the humiliations of the 90’s and Putin’s cultivation of an image as a great restorer, he had to do something. And this isn’t Central Asia, the Baltics, or Serbia – the Order of Nakhimov is still a Russian naval decoration named after an admiral who defended Sevastopol! As Danila Bagrov says in Brat 2, «Русские на войне своих не бросают». That sentiment has been germinating for years and this is its expression.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Toby. I agree with you. Though to speak to your statement about the EU: sure, it’s not a single entity, but I do feel that Germany and Poland especially have taken the lead in this situation with Ukraine and man of the other EU countries are indifferent about the situation.

    2. “Finally, I think events forced Putin into action, not the other way around. His image and credibility as a leader would have been shattered if he had done nothing in Crimea.”

      No, no, no, no, nooooooo.

      Sevastopol is not Kyiv – and it’s “Kyiv”, “Kiev” is the old Russian transliteration and not the Ukrainian transliteration. Kyiv or troll 😛 – and the events in Kyiv didn’t threaten the naval base. There was an agreement that the base would be leased out to Russia and it wasn’t even close to running out. Crimea wasn’t under threat, Donetsk wasn’t under threat, Luhansk wasn’t under threat. There was a minority of people who took advantage of the situation to lambaste the Eastern “ethnic Russians”, which historically they may have warranted but there was no action being taken against them. That move by Putin was preemptive, and the problem with preemptive moves is that they before the provocation.

      There was nothing to suggest that Ukrainian military forces would attack Sevastopol, primarily because people aren’t that stupid. Not that being a base automatically makes it Russian, nor does a Russian majority. Unless you are saying Stalin’s deportation of the Tatars doesn’t matter? But that’s an aside, the move by Russian forces into Crimea occurred prior to Ukrainian forces attacking Russian bases. My opinion only of course, and what would me or my relatives know since we’re obviously German and not Ukrainian, but events forced the publics hand and nothing so far has said that the protests and removal of Yanukovych have been wrong. The move by Russian military into Crimea simply strengthens that perception since Putin looks to be forming the USSR 2.0. Which is an interesting move against the German backed EU to say the least, but entirely his hand forcing everyone else.

      As for your vote for secession:

      http://www.rferl.org/content/interview-crimea-vote-ukraine-russia/25288146.html
      http://www.rferl.org/content/fear-among-crimeas-minority-tatar-population/25289577.html

      RFE/RFERL were pro-Russian till their journalists ended up in hospital, now I think there’s a slight anti-Russian lean, but it’s still more reliable than RT or Fox News.

      1. RFE/RL has always been quite anti-Russian! I’m not sure where you got the opposite idea. It was formed in the days of the Cold War and has always retained a neutral to anti-Russian stance, at least in the articles I’ve read on there. (Not that I’ve read every single article, of course.)

        Kiev and Kyiv are both correct spellings. Honestly, I don’t care which one people use. Personally, I use Kiev because I am a Russian speaker and to my mind, that is the most logical transliteration. What I don’t like is when the users of Kyiv try to force everyone to use that spelling. It’s ridiculous. What’s next—calling Brussels Bruxelles instead?

  2. Frankly, Natalie, I am completely stumped by the whole issue–I just don’t know who to believe. And with that–it is impossible to form an opinion. There is so much disinformation out there. At the moment I am quite convinced that both sides have blood on their hands and I support neither side.

    As a citizen from a tiny nation surrounded by much bigger ones, I have to say that Ukraine–rather than Russia or the West–is at fault for creating this environment where this situation emerged from. They were too reliant on other nations or allies to help them, and did not do much in building their own nation. If the Orange Revolution brought nothing, then what will? When it came down to it, they had to choose: the West, or Russia. Either way, Ukraine will lose because damned if they do, damned if they don’t. They shouldn’t have to make such a decision, but they created this situation where they had to choose, and either choice would have huge repercussions. This is the price that will, and already has, been paid in blood. By both pro-Russian and anti-Russian Ukrainians.

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