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  1. #1
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Default Ukraine (closed; covers till August 2014)

    I've been here for a year with one to go. Just wondering if anyone on this board is out here or if anyone knows anyone who is...Not that I'm lonely, but am just curious. Political situation here is interesting and I'm always looking for fresh perspectives on it.

    By the way, this probably slipped by (as it's largely rumor) most people, but an interesting story potentially linking recent assasination to Yuschenko poisoning. Story is full of "funny" information...

    http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle...a13000365.html

  2. #2
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Default anniversary of the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army

    On Sunday, Ukrainian partisans celebrated the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) on the main square (the Maidan) in Kyiv despite attemps by the Socialists and Communists to prevent them. This anniversary is the first time that UPA has been able to celebrate with the full approval of the Ukrainian government. Previous celebrations devolved into violence, but a large police presence provided for a more peaceful celebration this year...Full story at:

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g...5VStwD8S9BTO00

    More interesting is the debate over whether the UPA are patriots or traitors and whether they should receive full social and medical benefits (equal to veterans of the red army, for example). President Yuschenko is in favor of providing them full benefits. Anyway, it's an interesting history. For more information, check out:

    Wikipidia UPA page
    Chronicles of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army


    UPA Appeal Poster

  3. #3
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Default Ukraine government falling apart

    Several stories in major news sources about pending collapse of government in Ukraine. Not a new story, in many ways, since the government always seems to be on the verge of collapse and the current coalition was weak to begin with. It is a bigger story with the situation in Georgia, the Black Sea Fleet parked in the crimea, the large Russian and Russia-leaning population in Ukraine and the Prime Minister Tymoshenko and former PM and opposition leader Yanukovych kow-towing to Russia. Where does that leave Ukraine? Victor Yuschenko seems to be the only person still openly and fully supporting Western ties (NATO, EU, etc) but he has limited and dwindling power.

    I've heard through friends that several ministers have resigned and that Tymoshenko is trying to strengthen her position as Prime Minister through making changes to the Constitution. Meanwhile, Yuschenko's own party is voting to leave the coalition government. In addition, GasPutin has pressured Turkmenistan to increase the cost of gas to Ukraine, further pressuring the leadership into concessions.

    Still not clear if the US has a plan to respond and if so, what it is. EU is pouring money into Ukraine and working on changing laws, standards, etc but that's a slow process and the Ukrainians can string that out as long as they like. Not a pretty picture.

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    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    And to make matters worse, the Ukrainian military is buying Geely-brand cars from China because they are "economic and mobile" but also the "kitting-up, equipped with special sound and light signals". Hmmm....in the crash test world, it's called the "death vessel". The automobiles are being made in the Kremenchuk Automobile Assembly Plant (KrAAP). Says it all

  5. #5
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
    And to make matters worse, the Ukrainian military is buying Geely-brand cars from China because they are "economic and mobile" but also the "kitting-up, equipped with special sound and light signals". Hmmm....in the crash test world, it's called the "death vessel". The automobiles are being made in the Kremenchuk Automobile Assembly Plant (KrAAP). Says it all
    Interesting, Estonians are driving their old USA and European cars to Odessa via Moldova, selling them at some flea market, and taking the train back after a weekend on the Black Sea.

    Other than the descriptions of life on the beaches , I can think of little reason to even go to The Ukraine.

    You should'a never left... Look what happened
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Go Ukraine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Other than the descriptions of life on the beaches , I can think of little reason to even go to The Ukraine.
    I would differ. I've had two excellent holidays there, once in Western Ukraine, centred on Lviv / Lvov (an old Polish city, with pre-1914 architecture) and then the Crimea - where Sevastapol is all new build since WW2. Loads of history, much of it grim alas; friendly people and good food in privately owned places. Yes, the lack of hot water in a hotel can happen.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Stan had the unfortunate luck to visit Ukraine in the 90s when things were a bit hairier and a little less friendly. I tried to get him to come visit when I was there, even tried to entice him with the opportunity to blow things up, but he held his ground. Then again, if you're going to take a vacation, I wouldn't go to Ukraine, either. In fact, when I had the chance, I left Ukraine. It has a lot to offer, as you mentioned Mr. bfpo, but for the cost and hassle, there are a lot of other better choices.

  8. #8
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Default Eggs and smoke bombs in parliament?

    Yes, it's Ukraine and it would be funny if weren't also sad. I like the fact that the speaker had an umbrella with him to shield him from the eggs....

    I do think the opposition is right, though. Yanukovych is selling the country out. The USG is so behind the curve. Russia has been buying up land and businesses in crimea for years. They've also been distributing propaganda and encouraging russian nationalism. In 2008, the USG figured out that it might be smart to put some money in and engage in crimea in an attempt to balance the equation somewhat (heading up to the election). They channeled existing and new project funds to crimea and attempted to show a good american face down there. People still voted en masse for Yanukovych and the russian option and now I'm sure the USG is kicking themselves for sitting on the sidelines for so long.

    Secondarily, I wonder whether recent events in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan and current realities in Ukraine (bad economy tentatively propped up by the IMF) might push people to respond with violence (beyond the usual paid mobs and such)? Time will tell, I guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
    Yes, it's Ukraine and it would be funny if weren't also sad. I like the fact that the speaker had an umbrella with him to shield him from the eggs....

    I do think the opposition is right, though. Yanukovych is selling the country out. The USG is so behind the curve. Russia has been buying up land and businesses in crimea for years. They've also been distributing propaganda and encouraging russian nationalism. In 2008, the USG figured out that it might be smart to put some money in and engage in crimea in an attempt to balance the equation somewhat (heading up to the election). They channeled existing and new project funds to crimea and attempted to show a good american face down there. People still voted en masse for Yanukovych and the russian option and now I'm sure the USG is kicking themselves for sitting on the sidelines for so long.

    Secondarily, I wonder whether recent events in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan and current realities in Ukraine (bad economy tentatively propped up by the IMF) might push people to respond with violence (beyond the usual paid mobs and such)? Time will tell, I guess.
    Lets not forget the large Russian diaspora in the Crimea and the fact that legally speaking Khruschev's reorganistion of the Republic boundaries during the 1960s had dubious legality even by the Soviet constitutional standards of the day. Prior to his incorporation of the Crimea into the Ukraine the Crimea was a province belonging to the Russian SFSR. To this day the controverial move still rankles Russian lawmakers and politicians who inherited the Soviet constitution and its political problems. Indeed, the legal situation is roughly analogous to the status of Chechnya within the Russian Federation; the original conflict began when Dudayeav asserted the right of Chechnya to seced from the RF based upon the claim that Chechnya had been accorded Republic status according to the 1990 Soviet constitution which was repealled, adopted, abolished and then partlty incorporated into Russian law (Checnya was now an Autonomous region again though with certain Republic-like powers). The Russian diaspora, like the one in Kaliningrad, is hardly an illigitimate matter for the Russians to be concerned about and neither is their ability to acces a warm water port. IMO the Ukrainian's need to show maturity rather than, as you claim the Russians are doing, of turning it into a nationalist issue with which to contest the recent elections. Of course, it would hurt for the Russian's to think-out-of-the box and show some maturity too
    Last edited by Tukhachevskii; 04-28-2010 at 03:19 PM.

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    This is all of the Ukraine's making. If previous Ukrainian governments had bit the bullet and weaned the country's energy usage and rconomy off cheap Russian gas, they would be in a better bargaining position. Instead the government had its hands tied as the country is still dependent on cheap Russian gas. The oppositionm, fall all its attacks, is just as responsible as the present government for this situation.

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    First deaths in the Kiev clashes. Obviously that blood spilled into the snow is bad news, as a line has now been crossed.

    The ongoing fighting between demonstrators and riot police has been ferocious, but limited; hostilities have been restricted to a small corner of the capital near the government building, and the two sides observe many breaks in clashes.

    But all this may be about to change. More activists are flooding into Kiev from the west, and crowds are massing at the site of the clashes. As the anger and the number of people mounts, the likelihood of a massive outbreak of violence, from either side, increases.
    The Ukraine is perhaps the most important conflict area right on the borders of the EU. It is always rather obvious that Mr. Putin is trying by many means and with considerable effort to bring this rather large country into the Russian orbit. Western attempts have clearly been less pushy but relied more on the passive but strong pull of attractive elements of the EU and it's countries. It is certainly in the interest of pretty much all EU members to have an Ukraine which does not augment Russian power. 45 Million more on your side and 45 Million less on the other are in general a rather good deal even if it sounds quite crude. In my opinion in the long term the option Europe is as well a far better course for the Ukrainians as a whole then the option Russia.

    Klitschko makes some good points:

    SPIEGEL: Vladimir Putin once said that Ukraine was not a proper state.

    Klitschko: Our neighbors to the east regrettably view the issue of EU integration exclusively from a geopolitical standpoint. But that's not the point: We are not fighting against anyone. We are choosing a road to development for our country. Unfortunately many people in Moscow still view Ukraine as "their zone" -- as part of the Russian sphere of influence. They don't understand that it would also be better for them to have a Ukraine that is a strong neighbor, with a strong economy. A Russian expansion at Ukraine's expense is impossible.

    SPIEGEL: Putin says that the EU -- not Russia -- is actually intervening in Ukraine. Aren't all sides trying to make Ukraine into their sphere of influence?

    Klitschko: We negotiate with Europe as equals; Russia looks down at us. The EU makes us offers; Russia wants to impose its will on us.

    SPIEGEL: Would you tell him that you are striving over the long term for Ukraine to enter the EU?

    Klitschko: The answer is obvious. Just look at the countries that have oriented themselves toward Europe, and those that haven't. In the former East Bloc countries we all had similar starting conditions after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today we see the progress made by countries that have elected to take the European route. They have a high standard of living, better infrastructure, and civil rights are respected. This is the only way for us.
    This Klitschko has always struck me as a smart, disciplined fellow in the couple of interviews I have heard and read before. Obviously he is in a relative weak position compared his opponents who certainly are not playing by the typical European rulebook, but they also have much to lose.
    Last edited by Firn; 01-22-2014 at 11:37 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Limited winter protests get attention

    The protests in Kiev have in the last few days reached a new intensity, but behind the limited BBC reporting, other press reports and some social media it is clear that the violence is very limited to a small part of Kiev - near the parliament. See tonight's BBC report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25843988

    The protesters also appear far more organised, indeed equipped and armed to the extent the rioters and the riot police appear to be one. Some reports indicate the extreme right are in the frontline. I noted tonight one of the dead protesters came from eastern Ukraine, where traditionally the Russian-speaking majority have supported the government.

    In Lviv, a western city, no reported protests - except to block the redeployment of security forces to Kiev. Western Ukraine traditionally has voted against this government - so why the inactivity?

    When you consider the weather that anyone is rioting is amazing. It is minus minus 19C now and was minus 12C during the day:http://uk.weather.com/weather/today/UPXX0486:1:UP

    For several years Ukrainian politicians have failed their nation, remember the 'Orange Revolution' and within years the then elected Prime Minister is ejected by the voters, ending up in prison.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    It is of course difficult to understand why things happen exactly in the way they happen. Maybe the cold does reduce the ability to create mass protests.

    In any case it is difficult to imagine a strong economic development of this large country under the thumb of Russia. A closer integration of it's economy into the European on the other hand should help a considerable amount in the long term.

    There a great amount of graphics showing the aweful performance of it's economy compared to other European countries of the ex-Warsaw Pact. One can argue that in geographic terms* the Ukraine got the shortest stick, being the distant from the economic clusters of the West but by any benchmark the 'progress' has been terrible.




    Shocking indeed.



    *Poland, a country of roughly similar dimensions, has the huge advantage to be close to Germany (and Souther Scandinavia).





    Just the monthly salaries per oblast, but it indicates that the Ukraine has a reversed economic landscape compared the rest of the Eastern European countries, in which generally the regions closer to the West (plus the capital) are richer. Seems like the rich coal deposits kicked off the economic development based on heavy industry with the usual cluster effects, a bit like the old Ruhr.


    Last edited by Firn; 01-23-2014 at 12:59 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    I did a little bit of research to understand more about the aweful economic growth of the country. In this short time you can get only a very limited and fragmented view, but I found the impact of monopolies and the interactions with politics interesting:

    The Ukrainian Week does as far as I can tell a fine job at covering the economic fallout of concentrated power of the oligarchs and their influence within politics. The combinations of power and money is a very dangerous ones and can result in a vicous cycle in which both push each other. More money means more political power and more political power more money.

    A good example is the position of Rafael Kuzmin, First Deputy Chair of the Antimonopoly Committee, who insists that Dmytro Firtash and Rinat Akhmetov, two Ukrainian tycoons referred to as key Party of Regions’ sponsors until recently, are not monopolists. Meanwhile, independent economists estimate that DTEK, a group of power plants owned by Rinat Akhmetov, controls over 35% of the electricity supply market. Dmytro Firtash’s entities control 100% of facilities producing ammonium nitrate and nearly 50-60% of ammonia and urea production facilities. Meanwhile, Mr. Kuzmin refers to the Privat Group as a monopolist. The group is owned by Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Hennadiy Boholiubov who are still outside the Party of Regions. However, Mr. Kuzmin admitted that the Antimonopoly Committee had no proof of Privat Group’s monopolistic activity because its different companies are owned by various offshore entities.

    Ukrtelecom, a major Ukrainian telephone operator, has recently been bought by a little known company linked to the president’s family, according to The Ukrainian Week’s sources. Prior to being sold to private investors, Ukrtelecom had been on the list of natural monopolies dominating the nationwide markets for local telephone service and telecommunication channel rental. However, it was removed from that list in June 2011 although the company controls nearly 70% of the city landline telephone market and 75% of the intercity and international telephone connection markets.
    Very bad incentives indeed. It should not surprise anybody that the oligarchs have mostly built their empires from heavy industry investments in the east. Of course there are also other players with a similar background not least the famous pro-European prisoner. All in all the situation has become also so dangerous because the control of the state power has become so important to conserve the personal wealth and freedom. I have little doubt that the current president fears that the roles could become reversed. There is likely even enought dirty laundry around to get a lot of political opponents into prison by a fair trial.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 'We are informed enough'

    I noted on Twitter a report that General Michael Flynn had stated there was strategic warning, oddly few have noted this.

    From his interview with NPR, a good section was on Mr Snowden. It starts with:
    I think for easily seven to ten days leading up to the Russian troops as we see them now in Crimea, we were providing very solid reporting on what I would describe as just strategic warning, where we move from one level of sort of a condition of warning, which I would just describe for the audience as sort of moderate, to one where we believe things are imminent. And we did that about a week prior to the events that unfolded really last Friday.
    Shortly afterwards:
    Well, I mean obviously the things that we' re watching in the Crimea, some of the naval activities, you know, up around the key bases — we saw, you know, we see some of what has been referred to as an exercise inside of Russia and we are paying very close attention to any additional activities of some of their key military forces that they do have, particularly in the southern military district that is in that region that we are all concerned about right now. So — there is a lot of activity. What we are trying to pay attention to is: are they being true to their word about it's an exercise versus something else.
    Link:http://www.npr.org/2014/03/07/287037...-michael-flynn

    One of the odder, possible signs I spotted was the arrival in the Black Sea of a Russian Navy amphibious transport - from the Baltic Fleet - which has now unloaded a number of heavy trucks etc.
    davidbfpo

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