Diplomats and confused retired generals

Innocent people are dying in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Gaza. Enough problems for world leaders to worry about? Yet when Britain’s former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, gave his carers the slip this week and found himself in a BBC studio, he informed the startled interviewer that the current situation in Ukraine is not just a return to the Cold War, it’s a return to the 1930s with Putin playing the part of Hitler. Rather than being told by the interviewer to stay calm – the nice men in the white coats are on their way to take you back to the home, he was listened to in respectful silence. The BBC is, after all, adept at peddling nonsense to which its current paymasters subscribe – it’s been repeating ad nauseam this week the briefings emanating from the US government (or just the hawks in Washington?) that democratic governments in Europe need to cut their social spending and apply it to military spending and meeting their commitments to NATO. As if our social spending had not already taken a beating as a result of the financial crisis triggered by corrupt US banks!

Military spending in general and NATO in particular are not the solution to the problems in Ukraine, they are the problem. NATO ceased to have a purpose following the end of the Cold War and should have been wound up then as part of the peace dividend  – whatever happened to that?  Instead NATO has been allowed to grow, vacuuming up former soviet states as if there will be no tomorrow (as there may very well not be with this policy!) and is now threatening to put its tanks (sorry, our tanks) on the very borders of Russia. The best thing those attending the NATO summit this week could do would be, after reminding themselves that Russia is still a nuclear state, to wind up NATO and instruct our diplomats, not our confused retired generals, to broker a solution to the problems in Ukraine.

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“Anti- Semitism” in Kiev

John Eden 1st March,
The below is from BBC website and is from an Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” Whatever the political line of this paper it shows that some Ukrainian Jews were fighting to overthrow the corrupt regime of Yanukovyich.
The ex-Israeli soldier who led a Kiev fighting unit

‘Delta’ has headed ‘the Blue Helmets of Maidan’ of 40 men and women – including several IDF veterans – in violent clashes with government forces.

                        Delta, the nom de guerre of the Jewish commander of a Ukrainian street-fighting unit, is pictured in Kiev earlier this month.Photo by Courtesy

He calls his troops “the Blue Helmets of Maidan,” but brown is the color of the headgear worn by Delta — the nom de guerre of the commander of a Jewish-led militia force that participated in the Ukrainian revolution. Under his helmet, he also wears a kippah.

Delta, a Ukraine-born former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke to JTA Thursday on condition of anonymity. He explained how he came to use combat skills he acquired in the Shu’alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev’s street fighters. He has headed a force of 40 men and women — including several fellow IDF veterans — in violent clashes with government forces.

Several Ukrainian Jews, including Rabbi Moshe Azman, one of the country’s claimants to the title of chief rabbi, confirmed Delta’s identity and role in the still-unfinished revolution.

The “Blue Helmets” nickname, a reference to the UN peacekeeping force, stuck after Delta’s unit last month prevented a mob from torching a building occupied by Ukrainian police, he said. “There were dozens of officers inside, surrounded by 1,200 demonstrators who wanted to burn them alive,” he recalled. “We intervened and negotiated their safe passage.”

The problem, he said, was that the officers would not leave without their guns, citing orders. Delta told JTA his unit reasoned with the mob to allow the officers to leave with their guns. “It would have been a massacre, and that was not an option,” he said.

The Blue Helmets comprise 35 men and women who are not Jewish, and who are led by five ex-IDF soldiers, says Delta, an Orthodox Jew in his late 30s who regularly prays at Azman’s Brodsky Synagogue. He declined to speak about his private life.

Delta, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s, moved back to Ukraine several years ago and has worked as a businessman. He says he joined the protest movement as a volunteer on November 30, after witnessing violence by government forces against student protesters

“I saw unarmed civilians with no military background being ground by a well-oiled military machine, and it made my blood boil,” Delta told JTA in Hebrew laced with military jargon. “I joined them then and there, and I started fighting back the way I learned how, through urban warfare maneuvers. People followed, and I found myself heading a platoon of young men. Kids, really.”

The other ex-IDF infantrymen joined the Blue Helmets later after hearing it was led by a fellow vet, Delta said.

As platoon leader, Delta says he takes orders from activists connected to Svoboda, an ultra-nationalist party that has been frequently accused of anti-Semitism and whose members have been said to have had key positions in organizing the opposition protests.

“I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team. They know I’m Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me ‘brother,’” he said. “What they’re saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact. I don’t like them because they’re inconsistent, not because of [any] anti-Semitism issue.”

The commanding position of Svoboda in the revolution is no secret, according to Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation think tank.

“The driving force among the so-called white sector in the Maidan are the nationalists, who went against the SWAT teams and snipers who were shooting at them,” Cohen told JTA.

Volodymyr Groysman, a former mayor of the city of Vinnytsia and the newly appointed deputy prime minister for regional policy, is a Jew, Rabbi Azman said.

“There are no signs for concern yet,” said Cohen, “but the West needs to make it clear to Ukraine that how it is seen depends on how minorities are treated.”

On Wednesday, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin said Moscow was concerned about anti-Semitic declarations by radical groups in Ukraine.

But Delta says the Kremlin is using the anti-Semitism card falsely to delegitimize the Ukrainian revolution, which is distancing Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence.

“It’s bullshit. I never saw any expression of anti-Semitism during the protests, and the claims to the contrary were part of the reason I joined the movement. We’re trying to show that Jews care,” he said.

Still, Delta’s reasons for not revealing his name betray his sense of feeling like an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero. But for me it’s better to not reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet,” he said.

Fellow Jews have criticized him for working with Svoboda. “Some asked me if instead of ‘Shalom’ they should now greet me with a ‘Sieg heil.’ I simply find it laughable,” he said. But he does have frustrations related to being an outsider. “Sometimes I tell myself, ‘What are you doing? This is not your army. This isn’t even your country.’”

He recalls feeling this way during one of the fiercest battles he experienced, which took place last week at Institutskaya Street and left 12 protesters dead. “The snipers began firing rubber bullets at us. I fired back from my rubber-bullet rifle,” Delta said.

“Then they opened live rounds, and my friend caught a bullet in his leg. They shot at us like at a firing range. I wasn’t ready for a last stand. I carried my friend and ordered my troops to fall back. They’re scared kids. I gave them some cash for phone calls and told them to take off their uniform and run away until further instructions. I didn’t want to see anyone else die that day.”

Currently, the Blue Helmets are carrying out police work that include patrols and preventing looting and vandalism in a city of 3 million struggling to climb out of the chaos that engulfed it for the past three months.

But Delta has another, more ambitious, project: He and Azman are organizing the airborne evacuation of seriously wounded protesters — none of them Jewish — for critical operations in Israel. One of the patients, a 19-year-old woman, was wounded at Institutskaya by a bullet that penetrated her eye and is lodged inside her brain, according to Delta. Azman says he hopes the plane of 17 patients will take off next week, with funding from private donors and with help from Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.

“The doctor told me that another millimeter to either direction and she would be dead,” Delta said. “And I told him it was the work of Hakadosh Baruch Hu

Anti-Semitic Card being played in Ukraine.

John Eden. 1st March 2014.

Below is an article from Ukraine. In my opinion they are correct in what they say, but I leave it up to you the reader.

Права Людини в Україні
Інформаційний портал Харківської правозахисної групи

Anti-Semitic card and other provocation in time of siege

                       

Yanukovych spoke of “self-defence units”. Most observers call them Russian tanks

Clear attempts over the last two days to provoke violent confrontation in the Crimea, as well as the worst act of anti-Semitic vandalism in 20 years seem to confirm the warnings from authoritative Russian analyst Andrei Illarionov that Putin wants to provoke civil war in Ukraine

Gross anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in Simferopol on the second day of the effective siege of the city by armed Russian-speakers in uniforms without any identifying marks.

The Ner Tamid Synagogue belonging to the Progressive Judaism Community had a foul piece of graffiti daubed on its outer wall. The words “Death to Jews”, with an offensive word used; are surrounded by a swastika, Celtic wolf’s hook and Wolfsangel.

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress points out that the Wolfsangel painted is, in fact, a back-to-front image of the symbol normally used by Ukrainian radical nationalists.

Viacheslav Likhachev, an analyst who has long monitored anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine notes drily that this vandalism has suddenly appeared in a city under the control of unidentified pro-Russian separatists. He cannot recall anything of the kind during the three months of EuroMaidan protests in Lviv, Chernivtsi or Kyiv under Maidan Self-Defence units.

As reported, both the Yanukovych regime and Russian propaganda have tried very hard to present the Maidan movement as “fascist”, “anti-Semitic”, xenophobic and anti-Russian. They have run up against a number of major difficulties, not least the active involvement in the Maidan protests of people who would logically have most to fear if the propaganda hype were true. This includes Jewish people, Crimean Tatars, people from other ethnic minorities. Two of the people who died defending Maidan – Serhiy Nihoyan and Georgy Aratunyan – were of Armenian origin.

This line was attempted by Viktor Yanukovych at a press conference given to Russian journalists in Rostov on the Don on Feb 28. He claimed that “Crimeans don’t want to obey nationalists and Bandera-supporters. This is the wish of simple people, Crimeans to self-organization, creation of self-defence units which are currently being formed in the Crimea.” Yanukovych did not explain how these “self-defence units” have come by large amounts of Russian tanks and other military equipment, not to mention huge amounts of arms.

Putin’s silence which Yanukovych purportedly found baffling is nothing of the kind, of course, if one considers the clear synchronization of events. Within hours of these supposedly mysterious gunmen who do not seem to have recognized the Crimean prime minister, Anatoly Mohylyov, seizing the Crimean parliament, deputies were allowed in. The latter obligingly voted for a government under Russian Unity Party politician Sergei Aksyonov. His “election” more or less coincided with news that Viktor Yanukovych had emerged with a statement and promised press conference, Despite the former Ukrainian president having been in hiding since abandoning his residence and presidential administration on the evening of Feb 21, Yanukovych has claimed that he remains president and Asyonov that he answers to Yanukovych. Putin is keeping his distance but has refused to accept the new government in Kyiv, recognized by the West. Askyonov is now reported by the Russian Interfax agency as having appealed to Putin “for assistance”. Brotherly, of course…

None of this is presented to Russian television viewers who are constantly fed stories about how the Maidan movement and those now in government are “banderovtsi” [supporters of the controversial nationalist figure Stepan Bandera], fascists etc. This propaganda is widely spread in the Crimea as well. While there are serious grounds for believing Russia to be playing a direct role in the latest conflict, it is true that some ethnic Russian residents in the Crimea have been duped by an endless stream of horror stories about “fascists” and “extremists”. It must also be said that the new government could have been considerably more sensitive over the language issue, given the fact that most residents of the Crimea are Russian-speakers. Instead it immediately revoked the 2012 language law which heightened the role of the Russian language. The law was highly controversial and entirely unconstitutional, but the haste could only antagonize and worry people who were already anxious about the change in leadership.

Returning to the anti-Semitic vandalism, Anatoly Gendin, head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the Crimea, called it the first such case in twenty years. He believes provocateurs are trying to set ordinary citizens against others, inciting them to look for scapegoats for the problems in the country.

The attempt on Thursday night to seize the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, and now this attack, seem very clearly aimed at provoking trouble.

For these and a number of other reasons, while Barak Obama’s clear statement on Friday night about the inadmissibility of military interference in Ukraine is welcome, one can only hope that the US president is being fully briefed on the assessment of important analysts. Once again it is well worth noting the comments of Russian economist and once presidential adviser, Andrei Illarionov. In a blog entitled “Putin’s terrible vengeance against Ukraine”, he writes:

Those who say that Putin wants to fight are not quite right

Putin doesn’t want to fight at the moment.

At the moment he wants fighting in Ukraine.

He wants Ukrainians, Russians and Crimean Tatars to fight

He wants a fully-fledged civil war in Ukraine.

He suggests that all the military maneuvers; seizure of government buildings and airports; the appointment of a new prime minister whose party gained all of 3% of the votes at the last elections; etc; as well as Russia’s protection of “criminal Yanukovych” and more are aimed at starting civil war in Ukraine.

Many of these acts of provocation deliberately and demonstrably insult the Ukrainian state, Ukrainian national symbols, Ukrainian national consciousness – aiming at the inevitable reaction. “

Illarionov warns that a “fifth column of provocateurs” have already become involved, demanding that the new government use force against “the bandits and terrorists”.

The new government must be forced to react, with the aim being any casualties, due to confrontations, and the authorities’ action. Casualties from all sides, all parts of the country; all faiths.

As always, it will be “very good” if there are attacks on Jews and synagogues

The aim is chaos, bloodshed, confirmation of Putin’s words back in April 2008, that Ukraine was not a fully-fledged country, and the bliss of seeing Ukrainians pleading on their knees for Russia to save the day, impose strict order.

This would be Vladimir Putin’s terrible vengeance “against free Ukrainians daring for the second time over the last decade to not only not heed the orders of the Kremlin boss, … but to begin showing the whole world both the riches they’ve plundered, and the tools, mechanisms and techniques for maintaining just such a criminal regime”.

For Ukrainians, he stresses, the main task now is to not let themselves be provoked “into mass suicide”.

The words are very strong but then the stakes could not be higher.

Events Friday night in Kiev

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In Ukraine turbulence, a lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev

By Richard Balmforth

KIEV Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:38am GMT

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Anti-presidential protester Volodymyr Parasiuk addresses the crowd as opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (L) looks on during a rally in Kiev February 21, 2014. When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, 26-year-old Parasiuk who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich’s mind to cut and run. To match Insight UKRAINE-CRISIS/HERO Picture taken February 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vitaliy Nosach

// // // // KIEV (Reuters) – When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, a 26-year-old who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich’s mind to cut and run.

Cars toot a welcome and passers-by press the hand of Volodymyr Parasiuk, a boyish-looking individual who finds it embarrassing to be called a hero.

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He reserves that title for his comrades and other protesters among the 80 or so people killed on the capital’s streets last week in three days of fighting against Yanukovich’s police.

But after opposition leaders had signed an EU-brokered deal with President Yanukovich to end the conflict, it was Parasiuk who commandeered the microphone on Friday night to turn the crowd against it.

With former boxing champion and opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko looking on stony-faced, Parasiuk, from the western city of Lviv, made an electrifying impromptu speech denouncing the opposition for “shaking hands with this killer”.

No-one was going to wait for an election later in the year, he said. Yanukovich had to get out of town by the following morning or face the consequences.

To the dismay of opposition leaders, Parasiuk’s emotional address – he broke down on several occasions as he remembered dead comrades – touched a chord deep within the thousands on Independence Square who roared their approval.

The opposition had failed to sell their achievements to the ‘Maidan’, the name for both the square and the protest movement.

An agreement, painstakingly negotiated with EU foreign ministers over a sleepless night, was effectively dead.

The writing was on the wall for Yanukovich.

He flew out of Kiev by helicopter that night, Ukraine’s acting interior minister said, and on Tuesday was on the run somewhere in Ukraine, being sought for “mass murder”.

“Opposition leaders said they had agreed that there would be early elections in December. This was the Ukrainian people’s last drop of patience,” Parasiuk told Reuters in an interview.

“Emotions were overflowing because we had lost a great number of people. Suddenly these politicians come and say ‘Yanukovich will stay as president and there will be elections.’ I have a clear position. Yanukovich is a terrorist, ‘Terrorist Number One’ for Ukraine,” Parasiuk said.

FLIGHT OF YANUKOVICH

That Friday night, Yanukovich set off on a zig-zag by helicopter and car across eastern and southern Ukraine, looking either for a safe haven or a flight out of the country.

Some believe he may have already decided he was going to flee even before the ‘Maidan’ gave thumbs-down to the agreement.

Ukraine’s opposition, buoyed by the direct intervention of three EU ministers from Germany, Poland and France, had signed an agreement that seemed to meet many of their demands.

It provided for early elections, a national unity government and return to a previous constitution that would take away from Yanukovich control over the appointment of the prime minister and make-up of the government, and return it to parliament.

Almost immediately, the parliament, where Yanukovich’s grip had been weakened by desertions by deputies from his Party of Regions, began voting many of these proposals into law.

Those who saw Yanukovich sign the deal saw an unsmiling figure unhappy about what he was giving away, and aware of the risk he ran in a rapidly-unfolding drama.

“It was as if he knew more about the dire straits he was in. He did not seem as invincible and aloof as he did before. He didn’t look scared but he did not look so sure,” said one witness to the signing.

KLITSCHKO APOLOGY

Either way, when opposition leaders took the deal to the Maidan for definitive approval on Friday night, it blew up in their faces – thanks to Parasiuk’s emotional intervention.

Klitschko and other opposition leaders had already spoken of their achievements in putting a deal together.

But there was a mixed reception from the Maidan. Booing, whistling and cat-calls gave Parasiuk his cue.

As the crowds carried open coffins of victims to the stage where he and opposition leaders stood, Parasiuk, his voice breaking, jumped to the microphone.

“We ordinary people are saying this to the politicians who stand behind us: ‘No Yanukovich is going to be a president for a whole year’, he said to roars of support from the crowd.

“Our kinsmen have been shot and our leaders shake hands with this killer. This is shame. Tomorrow, by 10 o’clock, he has to be gone,” Parasiuk declared.

Yanukovich was, in fact, gone long before that, flying out of Kiev by helicopter that Friday night to the eastern city of Kharkiv, according to acting interior minister Arsen Avakov.

Diplomatic insiders say Yanukovich may already have had doubts about whether the agreement could hold. Benefiting from intelligence on the streets, he knew how the wind was blowing.

Two of the three main opposition leaders – former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleg Tyahnibok – left the stage quickly after Parasiuk’s speech.

Klitschko returned and apologized for shaking hands with Yanukovich.

ON THE RUN

Though ousted by the fledgling new parliament, Yanukovich, appearing in the town of Kharkiv on Saturday, issued a televised statement saying he was still president. But the new authorities on Monday said he was now wanted for “mass murder”.

Some reports have him hiding in a monastery in Donetsk, though Reuters reporters on Monday saw no sign of unusual activity there. He might be in Crimea. Given Russia‘s Black Sea fleet has a base in Sevastopol, he might even be on a Russian ship, some people theorise.

If Parasiuk had not made the intervention he did, someone else would have, one diplomat opined.

Looking back on that heady Friday night, Parasiuk, who headed a “self-defense” unit with a membership of between 40 and 130 fighters, defended his sharp criticism of Klitschko and the other opposition leaders.

“Everything that had been achieved had been by the people of the Maidan. But they had achieved nothing,” he said in an interview in a restaurant in downtown Kiev.

Parasiuk, a single man with a disarming smile whose girlfriend, Iryna, sat with him, said he had participated “actively” in clashes with police though he declined to say what weapons he had used.

He defended the power of the ‘Maidan’ with the passion of an 18th century French revolutionary.

Asked when Kiev’s barricades would come down, he replied: “If the Maidan disperses, politicians will stop being afraid. We are not going away. We will not allow a repeat of what happened in 2004,” he said.

He was referring to the Orange Revolution of 2004-5 which stopped Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency but produced governments that collapsed amid in-fighting and allowed him to come to power in 2010.

He spelled out a message that Ukraine’s emerging leadership may have to heed carefully as it strives to make a peaceful transition to a post-Yanukovich order.

The new authorities, he said, must understand that the Maidan is the real power, not the 450 parliamentary deputies.

“My declaration from the stage had one aim: to tell the opposition: ‘Understand this. That if you do not fulfill our conditions then things will be as we decide, not as you decide’.”

“We simply told them: ‘Lads, act decisively because if you don’t, we will’,” Parasiuk said.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Giles Elgood)

“Revolution” or “Counter- Revolution” on the Dnieper

John Eden Feb 24th.

          I have today blogged an article from the Guardian, now I want to make some comments on this and other points on the recent events in Ukraine. I agree with the Guardian article that there is no road the Ukraine should pursue that does not involved cooperation with Russia, but as some politicians of the opposition have stated and have even before tried to do, it has to be a cooperation of equals, this as never been the policy of the Russian government, and neither has it been the policy of the European Union, both seek to dominate the Ukraine.

   What united the people of of  Ukraine whether they were from the Western, Eastern or Southern regions of the country, whether they sat at home as the majority did thinking nothing will come of this, because the corrupt will remain in power, so let’s get on with our lives and make the best of it,  through to the activists manning the barricades in Kiev it was the blatant corruption of the elite around Victor Yanukovych and the desire to get rid of him. The non activists thinking either it won’t be possible to get rid of him, and even if we do, he will be replaced by an equally corrupt regime, which as been the pattern over the recent years, and is a most likely outcome, even with the most sincere politicians in charge. Power as to pass to the people and power is nothing if you don’t control the industry yourselves, if if the people are not the  armed state itself, and can’t participate in decision-making. But all the parties who signed the EU sponsored agreement on 21st Feb, which would have left Yanukovych in power to December 2014 think that the road for Ukraine is Capitalism.

            None of the parties involved in the EU agreement could sell the deal to the most strident opponents of Yanokovych and according to Mark Urban of the BBC the most anti EU group on the barricades the right-wing  “Right Sector” Urban says that it draws it support from both Ukrainian and Russian speakers. A spokesmen of theirs on Friday night said they did not accept the agreement and Yanukovych had until 10am next day to go or they would resume the struggle to oust him. Now we know that Yanukovych and his state forces left Kiev during the night. There is no doubt that the political parties of Vitaly Klitschko’s “Punch” the Far-Right Neo-fascist Freedom Party, Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, three of the four signatures to the EU deal were prepared to let Yanukovych remain President until December 2014, the agreed election date to appease the E.U.
It was the action of a few hundred right-wing, now some armed men on the barricades to drive Yanukovich and the special forces out of Kiev. So was it a “Revolution or “Counter-Revolution” in my opinion it was very much the former that contains some disturbing though as yet minor parts of the latter.