Updated March 19, 2014 at 20:25 to add daily commentary by author.The Free Republic.]
Current weather notwithstanding, political spring in Crimea is in full bloom. This Sunday, March 16, 2014, was a very important day for a majority of the local residents who participated in referendum which may decide this peninsula’s fate in the years to come. “Ready or not, here we come” – it was, basically, their message to the rest of the world that, in this case, so readily supports the American hostility toward the Russian politics, either on the local or international scene. Remarkably, the turnout in today’s vote was close to 85 percent. To appreciate the scale of excitement and high hopes of the Crimeans, compare this figure to 57.5 percent election turnout in the United States in 2012! Also, according to local press, the Crimean residents’ voting activity was twice higher than in the last elections of people’s deputies of Ukraine in October 2012.
At this historic referendum, there were two questions asked. “1. Do you support reunification of the Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation? 2. Do you support restoration of the constitution of the Republic of Crimea in 1992 and the status of the Crimea as part of Ukraine?” According to exit poll conducted by the Republican Institute for Political and Sociological Research commissioned by the agency “Kryminform,” at more than 200 polling stations in Crimea, 93 percent of voters were in favor of joining the Crimea to Russia. The head of mission of international observers, Mateusz Piskorski (Poland), said: “The referendum was held in accordance with local and international laws. What we saw today, in the Crimea, is no different from a plebiscite in any democratic European country.”
The results are not only impressive, but they are very telling as well. First of all, a majority of the local residents were and are not satisfied with Khrushchev’s decision to hand Crimea to Ukraine as a gift, out of the blue, basically. Secondly, they do not want to be part of the country led by an unelected government, whose current officials fell prey to the American NGOs instigating to overthrow the legally elected president and who are only way too ready to demote the Russian language and throw their cultural traditions and heritage overboard.
Given that ethnic Russians make up 58.5 percent of the peninsula’s population, the referendum results are also not surprising. Obviously, not all the ethnic Russians supported the referendum, but those who did and who chose to reunite with Russia have a very good reason to celebrate. Follow the referendum, there is a festive atmosphere on the entire peninsula, with concerts and the Russian flags posted on houses and attached to the cars. Most of these who celebrate have the feeling, “Finally, now we are going home.” After all, no one asked the Crimeans about their preferences in 1954. As one of the Guardian articles reports:
“Today is the greatest day of my life; we are returning to mother Russia,” said Ludmila Balatskaya, 72, a former deputy in the city government, as she sat on a bench beneath a flag of Sevastopol in a polling station.
“I was just a little girl when they just informed us that Crimea was now Ukraine. Everything fell down around me. We are Russia, we have always been Russian people in our souls here in Crimea, but today that becomes a practical reality again,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
What will happen next? All in all, I just hope on the peaceful resolution for all those directly involved – there is a big portion of Ukrainian as well as the Tatar population in Crimea who worry about what will happen to them now. How to find a solution that will work for all the Crimean residents? Is it even possible? The Crimean events of 2014 brought to my mind a book by Vassily Aksyonov, The Island of Crimea, written in 1979. This book was impossible to buy in the Soviet Union of the end of 1980s, but we were an industrious type per se, and we managed to read every desirable book using SamIsdat, through the black market of course. Well, in this book the Crimea was an independent island, and the U.S.S.R., at the end, annexed Crimea after the island residents requested the invasion themselves. Prior to this annexation, one of the book characters voiced his concerns: “Tell me, can you guarantee that there is not going to be some kind of barbarism, some kind of total occupation? After all, this is not necessary in this case, it is not necessary. Czechs – they are strangers, they wanted to break away, but we are the same [kind], we want to merge. Violent act is not needed here. [We] need some graduality, some tact …” Ironically, the invasion at the end of the book was held under a pretext of having a sports-military festival entitled, “The Spring.” Well, it is the spring time in Crimea, and the big political shift is about to happen there. Will the graduality and tact be shown in nowadays’ reality? This question lingers on the back of my mind.
On the international scene, there is another question all together. How far will the United States and its cohorts go to make their threats to Russia real? In Syria, the U.S. and their allies’ intervention led to the staggering and heart-rending statistics: more than 100,000 people have been killed, at least 10,000 of them children; 2.4 million Syrians have fled the country, while 4 million are internally displaced; 250,000 people are still living in areas under siege, their lives continually at risk. All together, 9.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Obviously, Russia is not Syria, and the Russian government would not allow something like this happen, at least not on territory of Russia itself! Moreover, as one of the political analysts, Feyodor Lukianov, pointed it out, there is a certain change in political line over there. “Russia no longer believes that maintaining good relations with the West is the mandatory element of the policy. If you can [maintain them], it is all good, and if not – well, it’s okay too. And this is all quite shocking [to many in the West]. Because, over the past 25 years, this was not the case. Russia – even in times of crisis, even in periods of tension – felt that we have to somehow find a way out of the conflict.” Nowadays, it seems that the rest of the world, predominantly the Western one, has to find a way out of this predicament. And whatever that way will be, I would just advise, “Your threats would not work. Don’t mess with Russia! Back off the NATO expansion to the East and find a diplomatic and friendly way to deal with Russia.”
————- update added 3/19/2014——–
March 17, 2014
At the Crimean referendum last Sunday, there were present 70 observers from 23 countries who reported the absolute legitimacy and transparency of the referendum, its compliance with international standards, and the absence of violations and any pressure on local people. The results of processing 100 percent of protocols are as follows: in the referendum voted 1,274,096 people, or 83.1% of eligible voters, with 96.77% of voting residents being in favor of entry into Russia. The will of the Crimean people produced impressive and very clear results.
The international response to this legitimate referendum was immediate. The EU and U.S.A. have announced travel bans and assets freezes against a number of officials from Russia and Ukraine. In ridiculous fashion, all those Russian officials on the black list do not have any assets abroad, and most of them do not have anything to do either with Ukraine in general or the Crimea in particular. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, one of the ostracized Russian officials, twitted, “Comrade Obama, but what about those who do not have any accounts or property abroad? Or, you have not thought about it? Finally, the worldwide recognition came to me. Thanks to the Washington Regional Committee!” In his opinion, “some joker” wrote Obama’s sanctions decree.
According to the www.vz.ru site, “Let’s try to understand the logic of the West. What is the general meaning of the introduction of personal sanctions? To make the Russian leadership to change its position? … It is unlikely the West really believes that sanctions against the country’s leaders are able to make it more compliant – rather, it is about trying to save face in front of public opinion. Especially the European [public opinion] – well, if we cannot stop the Russians by military means and, frankly , we do not want to cut the economic ties, still, we need to give some answer, especially because we ourselves instigated the public opinion against Moscow. Another thing is that anti-Russian campaign in Europe has failed – many Europeans do not see the actions of Russia as the threat to European security.
“EU does not want to complicate economic ties with Russia – their relationship with us is much deeper than the Americans [with Russia]. In the event of termination or reduction of these ties, damage to Europe will be even more than to Russia, that is, in fact, they punish themselves. Reorientation of our energy exports to the East would not take a lot of time, and, as a result, Europe would depend on the United States even more. Not just energy-wise dependence but also geopolitical , which, since the end of World War II, reached such a level that many countries in Europe cannot be called truly sovereign.”
Well, at least one of the European politicians was quick in her positive reaction, going against the prevalent tide so to say. National Front leader Marine Le Pen, France, recognized the results of the Crimean referendum on Sunday. She said, “In my opinion, the results of the referendum did not cause any controversy. This was expected. And the people (of Crimea), who lived in fear, rushed into the arms of the country where they were from: as you know it, Crimea is part of Ukraine only for 60 years.”
While this far-right leader’s reaction was reasonable if not surprising, Obama chose to wield the political sword. “If Moscow continued to intervene in Ukraine, he warned, it would ‘achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world.’” This is rhetoric of those who have an inferiority complex, if you ask me. Diminish Russia’s role in the world? Really? And who thus spoken, taking overly righteous stand? In any case, the sword of sanctions was raised by the West, and let’s see what will happen as a result of it. Notwithstanding the threats, it is important to remember though that “sanctions, of course, are a double-edged sword, and for Russia they may well become the case which, at the end, as the saying going, ‘a blessing in disguise.’”
March 18, 2014
While the U.S. vice president and a majority of the western politician condemn lament and condemn Russia’s “land grab,” none of them perhaps know much about the history behind. I would advise Joe Biden and the like to study Russian and Ukrainian history, especially given the fact that they, themselves, instigated the current imbroglio. In today’s televised speech, Putin addressed most of the important political moments concerning Russia, Ukraine, NATO, the politics of the West toward Russia, and the plight of Russian people who – after the U.S.S.R. fall, or 23 years and 1 day ago – found themselves as minorities in former Soviet republics. Thus, “the Russian people become one of the largest divided … nation in the world.”
There were obvious intentions and statements of the Kiev politicians about the entry of Ukraine into the NATO block, as soon as possible. Putin asked, “What this perspective would mean for the Crimea and Sevastopol?” Mind you, Sevastopol has a special place in the Russian history. This city has never become a part of Ukraine, technically speaking. On July 10, 1993, the Russian Parliament passed a resolution declaring Sevastopol to be “a federal Russian city.”The Ukrainian government retained formal control of the city’s life, mostly dealing with taxation and police, but the Ukrainian officials tried to avoid confrontation with the Black Sea Fleet and pro-Russian groups, who were the real authorities in this city. Even before the Crimean referendum last Sunday, ten days prior, on March 6, 2014, Sevastopol unilaterally declared that it would eventually join the Russian Federation as a federal subject. In his speech, Putin said that the perspective of Ukraine entering into the Atlantic military alliance will mean that NATO fleet will be there, in the city of the Russian military glory, and this will impose threat to the south of Russia – “not some ephemeral, but very real” threat.
“We have every reason to believe that the notorious policy of containment of Russia, which took place in XVIII, and XIX, and in the XX centuries, continues today. There are constant efforts to drive us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we defend [this position], because we call the things the way they are… But everything has its limits. And, in the case of Ukraine, our Western partners crossed the line, they behaved rudely, irresponsibly and unprofessionally. They knew all too well that in the Ukraine and the Crimea there are millions of Russian people. They lost their political flair and a sense of proportion if they could not foresee all the consequences of their actions. Russia found itself at the point, from which there is no retreat. If to compress the spring all the way, it will eventually unfold and extend back with the force [being used to push it]. We must always remember this.”
All in all, Putin reiterated, “We are opposed to a military organization being hosted outside of our fence, next to our house, or on our historical territories.”
The open – without any reservations this time – resistance to the expansion of the West has started right now, and the Crimean referendum is the first sign of it. Putin rightly speaks of the “line” that the West crossed without thinking about the consequences, or, rather, hoping this time to push Russia once again. Surprising is not only the impudence with which it tried to do so, but the brazen confidence that Russia will swallow it all. But at least the events of the last year – and especially the current events in the Crimea – clearly demonstrate the opposite, that Moscow has completely got rid of their last illusions about the intentions of the West.
To threaten us is useless, and Putin calls “to stop hysteric tantrums, abandon Cold War rhetoric, and recognize the obvious thing: Russia is an independent, active participant in international life, and, like other countries, it has national interests that must be considered and respected.” At the same time, he thanked China and India for their positions and he specifically addressed to the Germans: “I recall that in the course of political consultations on unification of Germany, … not all countries supported the idea of unification [Britain and France – Thatcher and Mitterrand – in 1990 made an effort to incite the Soviet Union against the unification of Germany]. And our country, on the contrary, clearly supported a sincere, irrepressible desire of Germans for national unity. Sure you have not forgotten it, and I hope that the citizens of Germany also support the aspirations of the Russian world toward the restoration of unity.”
Let’s see what the German government has to say in response to this speech and to Putin’s appeal to support Russia. Meanwhile, the Argentinean president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, unequivocally, condemned the West’s position on the situation in Crimea. I guess, there will be some international support after all, especially from those countries that are not being influenced, or threatened, by the U.S. expansionist politics abroad.
March 19, 2014
Although the United States and other Western countries refused to recognize the accession of Crimea to Russia, a division of the U.S. National Geographic Society, National Geographic Maps, will display the Crimea as part of Russia, according to the company’s chief geographer Juan Jose Valdez. This decision was made impressively quick, don’t you think so? Remarkably, before making their bold move, these U.S. Maps division guys didn’t even think about consultation with Obama– who, by the way, is way behind the National Geographic Society folks, judging by his insufficient knowledge of history, the lack of political wisdom and diplomacy, and the ease with which the president was manipulated toward the U.S.A. being embroiled in this conflict on the Russian borders (as well as in Lybia and Syria, to name a few).
“We represent the map [of the world] de facto, that is, we show the world as it is, not as people would like to see it. As you can guess, sometimes our maps are not perceived positively by people who want to see the world in a different light,” said Valdes, courtesy of USnews.com.
Meanwhile, while the U.S. top political busybodies are scurrying around in condemnation, plotting against the independent Russian stand (how dare they challenge us?!), and trying to come up with the most painful way to punish Russia without damaging own interests, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his hope that, in the light of possible sanctions against Russia, the latter will not abandon the partnership with the United States on a number of key issues of the international community concerning, in particular, Iran and Syria. How naïve is this hope, one may only wonder. I guess, Kerry expects the Christian-like reaction from the Russian side – being slapped on one cheek by the U.S. hegemonic political lords, it is expected that Russia will turn to them the other also. How cute is that?!
As to the current sanctions against a handful of Russian politicians, one of them, Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov, said he is proud of the U.S. sanctions against him. According to him, he believes that it is some sort of a political “Oscar” for Best Supporting Actor. “I had a chance to visit the United States three or four times in my life. Honestly, I do not have any urgent matters over there. So, I think that these are very comfortable sanctions,” said one of the black-list politicians. According to Surkov, he’s planning to visit the Crimea: “I am certainly going to Crimea.”
So far so good, as it seems. The U.S. sanctions are perceived as the comfortable ones and, on a funny note, the Oscar-award like. But this is only a beginning, one might warn… Let’s see what will unfold next in this political game. As Otto von Bismarck once noted about the Russians, “Do not expect that once taking advantage of Russia’s weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian has always come for their money. … Therefore, with the Russian is to play fair, or do not play.” Thus far, the West didn’t even try to play fair. No wonder the consequences that stir up the ocean of political world and rock the Western boat!