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The Forum > Article Comments > Ukraine: can anything save it? > Comments

Ukraine: can anything save it? : Comments

By Peter Coates, published 9/5/2014

Ukraine has no easy choices. It canít rely on the West, and Russian treatment of Ukraine in living memory has been close to genocidal.

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This is by far the most balanced mainstream article on the situation in Ukraine I have read. Mostly I have had to go to The Saker and Moon of Alabama and other independent sources like them to find this level of insight.
About the closing question asking if anything can save Ukraine, and I would offer a guarded yes. If both East and West could agree to keep their respective armies out of Ukraine territory and allow Ukraine to operate under a Federalist system with a weak centre and strong regions, then Ukraine might be 'saved'. She could trade her grain and any gas that might be exploited. She could re-open the mines and factories in the eastern part, even if the factories were an integral part of Russia's military/industrial complex.
And accept that Crimea has reverted to Russia, probably forever.
But here's another question: Russia can control the "polite men in green", but can the West control the Right Sector?
Posted by halduell, Friday, 9 May 2014 8:55:48 AM
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Yes, as the first post points out, this article is a balanced and insightful overview of the dilemma confronting Ukraine and its people. The welter of media reporting on the situation there rarely manages to pack so much relevant history into such a small space. Peter Coates has a knack of hitting the nail on the head in this way. Warren Reed, Sydney.
Posted by Warren Reed, Friday, 9 May 2014 10:30:03 AM
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Yes, oil and gas and lots of it, along with the reopening of Eastern state factories.
Sure they are war production oriented!
But the Ukraine needs to boost its military resources now more than ever!
And a federation is the likely way forward, particularly, when two thirds of Eastern Ukraine just doesn't want to reunite with a murderous, genocidal Russia, particularly now, with a power hungry megalomaniac, Stalinist in charge.
If the Ukraine could be assisted, by all possible means, to fully develop its own oil and gas provinces, they could finally end their suicidal dependence on Russia, as could Europe.
These provinces in Putin's hands, would not benefit either him or Russia, without western markets!
A prospect which could plunge an oil exporting economy, which describes Russia, into extreme universal poverty!
Putin has been successful thus far, in using oil/gas as an economic weapon; and about time he learnt, it is a two edged sword!
And by all means possible, including the roll out of any and, to take a leaf out of Scandinavia's book, all available endlessly sustainable oil and gas alternatives!
And then, a genuine referendum could be concluded in the Crimea, that didn't include Russian unbadged special forces, directing how and who should vote, with a rifle barrel; plus, the question needs to include the negative, if only to respect the actual will, of all the people!
And if that then includes reunification, with an impoverished Russia, I for one, would be very surprised!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Friday, 9 May 2014 12:04:02 PM
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I don't see why any Ukrainian government should feel inclined to set up a weak-centre/strong-regions structure. As a sovereign country, under threat from a brutal former overlord, maybe its best bet would be strongly centralise power and strengthen local councils, oblasts, etc., and take power away from 'regions', if anything.

Has Putin, as capo da capo, blinked over referenda in a handful of eastern towns ? If so, he's gone. Watch Lavrov, il consigliere, the puppet-master.

The trouble with 'buffer' zones is that, for Russia, there aren't any between the Carpathians and Germany and eastern Asian forests. Once they started on a strategy of aggression, going back to the seventeenth century, they could only stop at those natural barriers, having made a multitude of enemies. Putin is amazing only for one attribute, his complete lack of originality in that respect. He's riding the moth-eaten tiger of imperialist tradition and can't easily get off.

Joe
Posted by Loudmouth, Friday, 9 May 2014 4:56:16 PM
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Thanks for your comments halduell, Warren and Rhrosty

A Ukraine divided into federal regions may well be the most promising solution. However there seems to be increasing disagreement in eastern Ukraine on whether to:

- remain in Ukraine as a federal region or

- unite with Russia, or

- form a People's Republic of Donetsk (see http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/2014/05/08/21/13/ukraine-rebels-vow-to-hold-referendum )

Such disagreement and fragmentation appears to be increasingly like the Balkans in the early 1990s.

Many in eastern Ukraine want a referendum on 11 May 2014 while there seems to be some agreement between Kiev and Moscow on national Ukrainian elections on 25 May 2014.

In terms of standards of living uniting with Russia may have advantages. Ukraine has a nominal GDP per capita of $3,862 (even lower in eastern Ukraine) while the Russian figure is $14,818.

See right sidebars of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia

The Ukrainian standard of living might take a couple of decades to move from poverty to the Russian level.

Money versus independence?

Pete
Posted by plantagenet, Friday, 9 May 2014 5:10:30 PM
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Hi Joe

Putin is certainly authoritarian in the Russian tradition. He is also an opportunist who sees it important to maintain the Russian grip on Ukraine - in the face of only half-hearted sanctions from NATO (including EU) countries.

He also intensely distrusts the West. Twenty million Russian dead in the last major war against the West (Germany 1941-45) would concentrate or even warp the Russian mind.

Pete
Posted by plantagenet, Friday, 9 May 2014 7:30:48 PM
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