Vladimir Putin is not anybody’s image of a Rotarian. That may be part of his undoing.

The takeover of Crimea was crudely executed. The technique was reminiscent of the way Russia, the Ottomans, and the Austro Hungarians built their empires centuries back. In those days, before widespread trade and communication, individual regions in the hinterlands of Eastern Europe tended to be isolated and self-sufficient. The formula was simple: conquer them, integrate them, and demand tribute.

It is no longer so simple. Crimea’s economy depends on tourists – mostly from Ukraine. It depends on the export of wine – mostly to Ukraine. People in Crimea have enjoyed close and essential connections with the rest of Ukraine. Banks, accountancies, and trade groups operate at a national or multinational level. Putin’s rough seizure of Crimea disrupted all sorts of connections.  The citizens of Crimea have been well connected to Ukraine by roads, railroads, airlines, telephone and the Internet. As free people, they have had the freedom to associate in voluntary organizations, the kind that have characterized the United States since its inception.

This fact came home to me when I attended a Rotary meeting in Kiev last week. There are five Rotary clubs in Crimea. Their members are businessmen and professionals who travel a lot. They have close personal relationships with many of the members of the Kiev clubs. People at the meeting told about their conversations, by telephone or by Internet, with Crimea and club members after the Russian takeover. They are scared. They do not yet know what it means whether businesses, the value of their property, the education that their children will receive and so forth, but the portents are not good. People who are young and mobile are looking for job opportunities anyplace else, starting with Kiev. Those with deeper connections feel trapped.

What can Putin do? It is impossible to shut off all communication between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. Without travel and communication, it would regress to the status of a medieval duchy occupying an arid peninsula isolated from the mainland. On the other hand, if communications remain open, one can be sure that the Rotarians in Crimea will let their brothers in the rest of the world know exactly what is happening. There is no way that the business was Ukraine will approach its former levels anytime soon. Putin has only bad choices. He can let the Crimeans suffer and bellyache. He can push Russia further into debt, supplying subsidies to Crimea to make up for lost business. In the extreme, he could push to conquer the rest of Ukraine. Then he would have the same kind of problem, except with 45 million people instead of merely two million.

The volunteer spirit is one of the things that sets Ukraine apart from Russia. Kiev has six Toastmasters clubs; in all of Ukraine there are ten.  Tiny Moldova has a thriving club. Russia, on the other hand, has only three and they are struggling. The Rotary club in Lviv recently celebrated its 75th birthday, not counting a long hiatus under communism. Rotary appears stronger in Ukraine than Russia; its spirit of mutual support and international brotherhood seems quite at odds with Putin’s view of the world.

I look forward to closely following developments in Russian occupied Crimea. I am sure I will hear stories personally from my Russian speaking friends, and I may be able to follow a few on Facebook. I will not be alone. This simple spread of knowledge, facilitated by friendships develop in business and voluntary organizations, is the kind of threat that Putin cannot contain. It undermined the Arab dictatorships, it undid Yanukovych here in Ukraine, and I have to imagine it will undo Putin himself.

Advertisements

Thoughts on Voltaire, assassination, drones, snipers, Russia and Ukraine

Technology changes the art of war. In Ukraine we have seen an application of the lessons learned in the Arab Spring. The Internet, and social media, are very effective in uniting people against an oppressive government. Governments which were previously able to divide, suppress and hold people in ignorance when no longer able to do so. We now are witnessing the laughable example of Turkey trying to suppress Twitter and Facebook. It simply does not work.

In Ukraine, people from all over the country were able to assemble at Maidan and protest peacefully against an autocrat in the form of Victor Yanukovych. Yanukovych is simply did not understand what he was up against. The Kyiv Post wrote within the last two years that he didn’t even have a computer in his office. He depended for his election on buying votes from older and poorer people in the southern and eastern parts of the country. He used the popular Russian trick of black PR, scaring the daylights out of people with the crudest of propaganda. He had in this he had a lot of help from Vladimir Putin. So he bullied and cajoled people into supporting him. Ignorance was on his side. But the Internet cuts right through that ignorance.

The people I know in Kiev, whom I might add are uniformly Russian speaking, and uniformly detest Vladimir Putin, are extremely active on the Internet. Their impressions from Kiev were disseminated throughout Ukraine and Russia. There was a great divide between what people elsewhere were hearing on the distorted media and what they were reading from their friends here in Kiev. Russia has a history, going back through the Soviet Union to czarist times, of massive propaganda and lies through their media. Her citizens are quite willing to believe that the Russian media are telling lies. It helps when people are able to confirm the truths from outside sources.

The Internet is thus a very powerful tool simply for information.  The Internet is a valuable tool of war in another means. The United States is able to manage drone warfare from locations in the heart of the United States, from which they launch unmanned aircraft against targeted individuals in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries. It is long-distance assassination. Target the individual, figure out where that individual will be at a certain point in time, and send a drone to kill them.

So far the United States is the only state actor to have mastered this art of distance killing. However, one can assume that others will manage it as well. I would like to take the thought a little bit further. The amounts of money involved in running such a program our not so vast that it could not be undertaken by private individuals.

Drone aircraft are already fairly widely used in police work, agriculture, and other industries.  Their cost starts in the low thousands of dollars.  It does not take too much of a leap to assume that these cheap drones might be armed for use in all military or political applications.  It seems just a matter of time before drones are used for political assassination.  As ubiquitous as drones are, plausible deniability will be increasingly easy for even a state actor practicing assassination.

Assassination of politicians has been on the decline over the past the century. It was quite a popular undertaking in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The Archduke’s assassination started the First World War. Several United States presidents have been assassinated, the last of them a half century ago.

Since Kennedy’s time, security details and gotten better.  However there is always a balance between offense and defense. As defenses get better, offenses gain strength as well. What we have not seen is application of the new offensive powers that appear to be fairly clearly available, starting with drones.

There is another kind, low technology tool for assassination. Sniper rifles, conventional rifles equipped with proper scopes and properly built and properly equipped with scopes, are accurate now at distances up to a mile or mile and a half. That offers a tremendous opportunity for a sniper, a lone gunman with a weapon the costs perhaps $10,000, take out a high-value individual target. He simply has to anticipate when that individual will be visible and within range, and he has to figure out how to position himself and his weapon into position to take advantage of it. So far this has not been done, but my guess is that it is a matter of time before somebody is assassinated with the kind of sniper weapon that the US has used in Afghanistan.  After the first, given the copycat nature of the human animal, it will probably be done repeatedly.  Political assassination may again come into fashion, like aircraft hijackings, flash mobs, and the knockout game.  Its reappearance may instill some caution in world politicians.  Voltaire wrote that “The ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination.”  Have we gotten out of balance?

It is interesting how passive people are. They can be bought off to put up with very imperfect governments. But they reach a breaking point. Analysts say that Russia is able to use natural resource revenues to placate its citizens through enough government handouts that it does not face open rebellions. Ukraine’s gross national product per capita is about a quarter that of Russia. Perhaps the problem in Ukraine was that the people really are quite hard up, and they were therefore less willing to put up with the dictatorship of Victor Yanukovych. This could probably be said as well of the northern African countries that we build in the Arab Spring.

A question that comes to mind then is how much Putin will be able to put upon the Russian people before they also rise up.  The Russian economy depends on the export of natural resources. The Soviet Union did a very bad job of building technologies, of inventing things and manufacturing anything besides heavy equipment. This problem persists in the Russian Federation, which retains the cumbersome, centralized, oligarch-owned model of heavy industry.  The engines of wealth in Europe have been small to midsized businesses whose skilled employees are able to respond quickly to marketplace demand.  The oligarchs, on the other hand, use more autocratic management styles.  They do not trust intelligent employees. Workers are not inclined to question the boss, and the boss is not inclined to accept suggestions for improvement.  There is little improvement in business processes.  Russia (and Ukraine) have quite primitive economies for their natural resources and the intelligence of their people.

This is a very interconnected world. Russia is demonstrating that it is not a reliable business partner. The West he has come to depend on Russian energy exports, gas and oil, as well as other minerals such as palladium. However, none of these materials are indispensable. There are substitutes and alternative sources for almost all of them. It seems very likely that the European Union will be looking hard at substitutes for Russian energy in particular. They can accelerate their programs for shale gas, for one thing. They can accelerate building port facilities to import liquefied natural gas – which the Emirates are more than willing to sell.  For another, they can rethink the nuclear moratorium, and keep their nuclear reactors online, and even build a new generation of nuclear reactors in order to become self-sufficient in the energy sphere.

If this happens, Russia will find that it’s that the engine of its economy, natural resources, no longer has as much value in the West. Putin will find that he has overplayed his hand, and in five years or so, with less income from natural resources, the amount of wealth that he can redistribute among the citizens for fall. That will lead to less satisfaction on their part, and with the Internet, one can envision that Putin will face the same kind of popular uprising that unseated Yanukovych in Ukraine.  Yanukovych got out alive.  What will the climate be like when Putin has to leave?

How much should Ukraine let itself be squeezed?

China is now demanding repayment of a $3 billion advance to Ukraine against to the delivery of commodities. Russia is demanding back payment for gas amounting to $16 billion dollars. These two authoritarian regimes are putting increased pressure on Ukraine.  Putin actively undermined the demonstrators at Maidan.  When that failed, he took the fleeing Yanukovych and in short order annexed Crimea.  This demonstrated the West’s inability to oppose him on his own turf.  Russian propaganda, sadly echoed by many conservatives in the West such as Paul Craig Roberts, attempts to justify seizing Crimea.

Among other things, propagandists are denying the legitimacy of Yanukovych’s ouster as President. They claim that he was freely elected. That was not exactly the case. There was, as always in Ukraine, a great deal of actual fraud during the election itself, and of course Russia spent a massive amount on propaganda and dirty tricks to sway the election. One cannot, however, claim that the United States was clean either. We can only say that the Russians were more effective. The electorate here, like every place, is relatively simpleminded.  They could be bought.  Yanukovych won a supposedly fair election. He then proceeded to do as he had done throughout his career, plunder his constituents. After three years, the country rose up in rebellion. It was rather like the French Revolution. When the tyranny becomes unbearable, you do away with your masters.

Needless to say, just as in the French Revolution, the neighboring autocrats – Putin above all – are worried about the emergence of freely elected governments. The West has its own concerns. The authoritarian, bureaucratic regimes of Western Europe are hardly democratic, although they call themselves that. The problems with democracy have been described by a number of authors, among them Trenton Fervor in The Myth of American Democracy and Frenchman Alain Benoist with “The problems of democracy.”  They would rather not see something in the form of a democracy emerge unless they can somehow shape and control it.  If it turned out to be truly representative and free of debt, quel horreur!

On March 20 Europe extended to Ukraine the first step toward joining the EU, a partnership agreement. This is simple. It doesn’t cost them anything and it makes a statement against Russia. On the other hand, have been slow in coming up with money to bail Ukraine out.

It’s increasingly clear that Europe and the US themselves are bankrupt. They had really nothing but newly printed money to offer, and their citizens are skeptical of their ability to help abroad when things are falling apart at home.  A background issue is that Ukraine is really not part of modern Europe and is not likely to be. They maintain traditional values in the face of the hypermodern values of Europe and do not show much appetite for change.

While Europe is in fear of the Russians, they are perhaps in fear of an alternative to the European model of authoritarian bureaucratic socialism, the welfare state. Ukraine thus represents an anomaly in the modern world. A modern, educated country that has shown a genuine desire for democracy. A modern, educated country that is still economically backward because it has suffered under years of oppressive governments.   One might add that Ukraine has developed a culture that hinders economic development.  The Ukrainians still generally lack the level of trust needed to come together into associations such as the joint stock company which enabled the Great Britain and the Netherlands first to become rich about three centuries ago.   However, the Maidan demonstrations which overthrew their corrupt government were a major manifestation of the mutual trust that comes of desperation.  Maybe there is hope.

All of Ukraine’s open warfare scenarios are vastly asymmetric. In a conventional war between Russia and Ukraine, Russia would hold all of the advantages. They have a bigger, better funded, more experienced, more modern, and better equipped military.  Ukraine could not put up a resistance by itself.

If the west were to arm Ukraine, the country could well suffer the same kind of debacle as Georgia. There, the Russians captured a lot of expensive Western hardware after a minor struggle. Ukrainians could not be trained how to use hardware in time to use new equipment, and the United States could not afford or provide enough hardware to make a difference in a realistic frame of time.  Therefore, the only condition under which Ukraine could even consider engaging the Russians would be with the guarantee of substantial NATO and US support. Given the United States’ recent track record, they would be wise not to believe any such promises even if these parties were to make them. The West simply does not have the stomach for war.

At the end of the day, Ukraine has only passive defenses available.  Invading Ukraine would totally rupture relations with the West.  Completing its snatch of South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008 caused some ripples.  Taking Crimea has made a major dent in diplomatic and trade relations.  Further dismemberment of Ukraine would severely curtail trade and force the lazy Europeans to look elsewhere for energy.  Western public opinion is the first passive defense.

Moreover, even with the benefit of full information control and tight borders, the Soviets were never able to bring the Western Ukrainians to heel.   They do not like anything that smacks of Russia.  There is no fifth column to support Russia if they were to invade.  The world would see Russians for the brutal conquerors that they are, and the Ukrainians could be expected to fight them every step of the way.  The Russians would face a hard choice: seal the borders to both trade and information, as in Soviet times, and force all of Russia into self-sufficiency, or suffer insurgencies, smuggling, and all the ills that already beset the unwilling Russian fiefdoms of Chechnya and Dagestan.  Call this second passive defense the hedgehog defense.  A victory in Ukraine would not be worth cost.

Ukraine has to recognize that if Russia wanted to invade, they would make a pretext and do it.  The only thing restraining them is what it would do to their standing with the rest of the world.  Ukraine should not act out of fear; if the Russians are coming, they cannot be stopped.  But they probably won’t come.  In that case the first priority should be laying the foundation for a healthy country, starting with proper institutions such as honest courts, free elections and a logical delegation of power.  They should not roll over in the face of Russian and Chinese demands for payment.   Money isn’t the issue.

What might possibly be good in this crisis?

Putin has flexed his muscles.  He has shown Western threats to be hollow.  We can send the fleet hither and yon, and talk of sanctions, but we can’t do much to inflict economic damage on Russia.

Time to resort to a time-proven strategy.  Let them do themselves in.  The Russians have a long history of self-defeating strategies.  Tell McCain and Nuland to go home to their bunkers, and wait.  Send a note to the armaments industry that the US military budget, 39% of the world total, hasn’t won any wars and doesn’t even seem to prevent provocations from uppity Islamists and now Russians.  It’s time to try something else.  Actually, the massive, peaceful protests of Maidan appear to me to be the wave of the future.

The Russians took Crimea with their typical subtlety – none at all.  They grabbed it, and it is theirs.  They had a historical claim.  Crimea had only been annexed to Ukraine in 1954, long after the 1922 establishment of the Ukrainian SSR under the Soviets.  Ever since it has been designated as an “Autonomous Republic” and maintained its ethnic Russian majority.  Russian media predominated, and it carried pro-Russian propaganda.  A fair percentage of the population was known to have Russian sympathies.

The mechanics of the takeover were crude.  Invade the place with soldiers without insignia, take over the legislature by force, and declare an election.  Print the ballots themselves, with no favorable option, select their own poll observers, and count the ballots themselves.  Surprise, surprise!  They got a Stalinesque 97% of the vote.  The Russians clearly didn’t trust the people of Crimea enough to allow an honest election.

The Crimean Tatars have been a model Muslim minority, but Muslim nonetheless.  Fertile, and different.  Stalin deported them en masse to the hinterlands of the USSR in 1944.  Many of them died of the hardship, and their lands were stolen by the time they returned.  The question of restitution has been an ongoing issue for the Ukrainian government.  Now it is Russia’s problem – and the Tatars make up an eighth of the population.  One hears that they have friends in Dagestan and Chechnya.

Will the Russians go for more?  There are good reasons not to.  Crimea is an isolated peninsula.  If Russia were to invade Ukraine, they would have no pretext other than “protecting ethnic Russians,” which is awfully thin.  Half the country speaks Russian, but they have no love for Russia.  Can anybody conceive of Great Britain invading Ireland on the pretext of “protecting the English” just because English is the dominant language in Ireland?

Google “Ukraine Holodomor map” and you find that the people Stalin starved to death in 1932 were mostly Russian speakers.  My wife’s grandparents among them.  There is no love lost between the Russophone Ukrainians and Russians.  Almost all of my friends here in Kiev speak Russian natively, and they loathe the Russians. The language issue is blown out of proportion.  Except for the far west, the country is amazingly bilingual – more so than Canada and Belgium, about on a par with Switzerland.

Going west from the Russian border, the first geographical barrier one encounters is the Dnieper River, which bisects the country.  Downtown Kiev is on the right bank.  I live on the left bank.  Accept my assurances that I and my neighbors, while we speak the language, have no desire to be Russian.  Putin would be stretching his resources very thin to occupy so much hostile population.

World economies, especially those of the USSR, were highly regional at the time of the last world war.  They were largely self-sufficient, and poor.  Now, Europe buys most of Russia’s exports.  Ukraine exports food, machinery and software to Russia and Europe.  The economic impact of war, in percentage terms, would be greater now for all participants.  One can ask if the Russians would still swoon over Putin without a shirt when their standard of living had fallen by half on account of his wars.

Russia doesn’t have much industry.  The economy depends on natural resources exports.  The West has hitherto been too lazy to look for alternatives.  Should they be moved to do so, they could reactivate their nuclear facilities and bring shale gas online more quickly.  They could also turn down the thermostats.   Does anybody remember the privations the English and Germans put up with in WWII?  If Europe showed that level of grit today, the Russians would be out of business tomorrow.

This demonstration of Russian disregard for world opinion is almost certain to cool any ardor for investing in Russia.  BP and other western companies have been burned already in joint ventures intended to modernize Russia’s natural resources industries.  They are unlikely to sign up for more.  Pay close attention to how Shell and others holding drilling leases of the coast of Crimea are treated.

Unlike the case in the wars of the last century, the world will be quite able to observe the treatment of homeowners and businesspeople under the new Russian regime.  They have to be engaged in a fight for the hearts and minds of the Crimean people.  This will limit their scope of action.  It will almost certainly be quite costly, as they have to make whole a Crimean economy which was largely dependent on Ukrainian trade and tourism.  Assuming that Crimeans retain the Internet, Russian missteps in integrating these lost “brothers” will be highly visible.

Putin seems to have been excessively concerned about Ukraine joining NATO.  They took a hard look at NATO about 2007.  What did it offer?  A high financial commitment to modern weapons which would have been useful for fighting the Russians.  A wonderful way to bleed the country dry and lose its young men in service of western interests.  They passed.

Putin was also concerned about Ukraine joining the EU.  Again, it seems far-fetched.  The EU would have made uncomfortable demands on Ukraine with respect to opening its borders and accepting all kinds of diversity which are distasteful to the Slavic palate.  EU non-governmental organs are very busy here beating the drums for gay rights and ethnic minorities, but it should be clear to everybody that the Ukrainians are just not that concerned.  They are happy with things as they are, thank you, and the Ukrainians would generally support Putin’s positions with respect to homosexuality and Muslims.  If Putin had just left well enough alone, he might not have been disappointed with the result.

The loss of Crimea represents the loss of two million Russian speaking voters whose political sympathies generally lay with Russia.  It is almost certain to scare and alienate many Ukrainian voters who were not so sure before.  While Ukraine will have a pluralistic government, one can expect it to be at least marginally more pro-Western.

Writing as a libertarian, it appears to me that Ukraine is more likely to remain free from the dictates of political correctness – diversity and all that – as they follow their own natural inclinations and avoid alliances with the EU which might goad Putin into further action.  This might not be all bad.

Russian disinformation really works! A frightening number of people believe in Fascists

If there were Fascists, I’m quite sure they would have been in evidence over the past three months.  What we have seen are nationalist parties like Svoboda.  They are simply political parties.  Oleg Tyahnybok, founder of Svoboda, said some things a few years back that are utterly mild compared to the early speeches of Strom Thurmond or Robert Byrd.  And it is only words.  The Russians have conjured up images of vast militias organized to shoot helpless Russophones.  Like, presumably, me.  I haven’t yet learned Ukrainian – most of Kiev speaks Russian.

I have composed a general question to pose on message boards in response to people who pass on such drivel about supposed Fascist militias.

In what Ukrainian cities and towns are their military bases?
Where do they train?
Where do they keep their war machines (tanks, APCs, etc.)?
Who funds them?  What is the budget?
Who are the unit commanders?
When did they come into existence?
Why did Yanukovych never discover their existence and root them out?
What color unicorns do they ride, really?

Putin is kaput, he fell into a trap: Ukraine has applied the know-how of modern warfare (original headline)

Here is an article from Ukrainian news source Novaukraina.org expressing pretty much my opinion of how the crisis in Crimea will work itself out.  This is my translation from the Russian.  Thanks to Yuriy Karabach for posting the link to the article on Facebook.

Putin de facto declared war on Ukraine, but got in the process a grandiose headache. Our country has applied defense tactics hitherto unused in world history. It is the peaceful shield exhibited successfully against foreign aggression in Maidan. Now, the whole country has become Maidan!

In response to the invasion of the Crimea, Ukraine is not rattling its saber, but chanting in great masses – on the streets, on TV, in electronic and print media, from the mouths of the central and local authorities, non-governmental organizations: “Hands off of our independent country.” Public figures and artists, the Kiev Patriarchy of the Orthodox Church, and even oligarchs united against this aggression. The whole world is literally pressing the Kremlin with their calls and threats of various sanctions … Putin is trapped.  It is really impossible to fight, otherwise he will stupidly exterminate these peaceful people, and he will no longer hide his propaganda and lies from the Russian people. He needs to retreat, coming up with excuses along the way. In principle, it is already too late …

The counsel for the Kiev metropolitan cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow, Patriarchate Onufry, appealed to Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, requesting the avoidance of bloodshed in Ukraine: “After three months of the socio-political crisis, a bloody confrontation in the center of Kiev and the death of dozens of people, we are now faced with another no less formidable challenge.  On March 1, from the mouths of the officials of the Russian Federation, issued a statement about the possible introduction into Ukraine of a limited contingent of Russian troops. If this happens, the Ukrainian and Russian people will be drawn into a confrontation that will have catastrophic consequences for our country. As the chief counsel of the Kiev metropolitan cathedral, I appeal to you, your Holiness, requesting you to do everything possible to avoid bloodshed in Ukraine. I ask you to raise your voice about preserving the integrity of the territory of the Ukrainian state. ”

According to preliminary data, the governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region will be oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. Last night, thousands joined the Dnepropetrovsk anti-Putin march to protest against the actions of Russian military on the territory of Ukraine. They chanted “East and West together “, “Down with Putin”, “Putin – Hitler”, “Putin is Kaput”, “Ukraine – not Russia,” and so on. Representatives of Maidan Self-defense “right sector” protected the regional administration building and the mayor within barbed wire.

Another less fortunate oligarch, Sergei Taruta, agreed to become governor of the Donetsk region. The Donetsk Regional State Administration was actually occupied yesterday by pro-Russian demonstrators who demanded that Russian troops enter the territory of Donbas. Nevertheless , Taruta said: “I never wanted to work in state government , but today, on the time of danger … my decision is out of a desire to protect our country , in which there is no difference in matters of language and religion, between right and left ,  and where we all Ukrainians and are entitled to a strong and united new Ukraine .”

It appears that Michael Bolotskih, who served as Chairman of the State Service for Emergency Situations, has agreed to serve as chairman of the Lugansk regional administration.

Meanwhile, in the Crimea, the Russian military has removed some of the weapons seized from Ukrainian military units. There seems to have been no bloodshed.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Security Council Samantha Power, in a speech at the Security Council meeting on the Ukrainian question, said among other things: “International observers should be promptly sent into Ukraine from the UN and the OSCE.” U.S. President Obama delivered a sharper statement: “Further violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russia could negatively affect Russia’s position in the international community. The United States will suspend further participation in the preparatory meetings for the Big Eight. Further violation of international law by the Russians may lead to greater political and economic isolation.” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen appealed to the leadership of Russia, called for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has decided to put the Armed Forces of Ukraine into full combat readiness.  The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has asked the European Union, U.S. and NATO to consider all possible mechanisms to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Parliament voted today with the constitutionally stipulated quorum. It is not possible to exclude imposition of emergency rule. Mobilization has already begun; military conscription requires citizens to report to recruiting stations.

Victor BEREZHNOY,

Update:

Russian hackers “collapsed” the poster of the article: “Putin was trapped – Ukraine applied the know-how of modern warfare ”

After the posting on the real-vin.com web site, the author of the article “Putin was trapped – Ukraine applied know-how of modern warfare “resource was hacked and for more than 2 hours was not available. Judging from appearing on the screen, we can conclude that the people who hacked the site think that the Russian president is right to try to “protect the Ukrainians and Russians in Ukraine” from the brown plague.” (Fascism – translator) The website team was genuinely surprised by this reaction to an objective and balanced article.

Appointing oligarchs to lead Russophone oblasts of Ukraine

Ukraine’s temporary President has acted decisively, bringing in two oligarchs to govern volatile Eastern oblasts.  Thanks to the Kyiv Post for unlocking their content in this hour of crisis – you can read the full thing here.

http://www.kyivpost.com/content/business/oligarchs-step-in-to-save-ukraines-sovereignty-338116.html

The article notes the significance of this move.  The oligarchs have business interests to protect.  They can be expected to defend their own interests as the defend Ukraine.  They certainly know the opinion leaders in the areas they will govern, and this will be a decided advantage.

Not mentioned in the article, but very significant, is the fact that one of the ways Yanukovych lost power was by alienating these men.  Taruta lived up the street from my house.  One night about two years ago the tax police stormed his house, shooting live ammunition, in order to seize his records and place him in some sort of detention.  They went after Kolomoisky’s airline interests in a savage, illegal, and also stupid and clumsy way.  Kolomoisky had time enough to hollow out the company before Yanukovych’s “family” got it.  Passengers were vastly inconvenienced, and they didn’t forget.  Yanukovych lost support of the oligarchs and goodwill among the people.

Kolomoisky is the founder of the European Jewish Union, headquartered in London.  It rather rudely displaces the far better established but less well funded European Jewish Congress.  That’s how things are done here.

In the lawless 90s there was a bloody gang war between Jews and Muslim descendants – Tatars and others.  Read “Abuse of Power – Corruption in the Office of the President.”  The Jewish mafia was pretty much wiped out.  Many Jews, mafia and other, fled to Israel or elsewhere.

The small remaining Jewish community long vacillated, opportunistically supporting whichever thug seemed appropriate.  Vadim Rabinovych touted Yanukovych for a Nobel Prize four years ago.  Yanukovych paid several Jews, notably Alexander Feldman, to stir up fears of anti-Semitism in order to discredit the nationalist Svoboda Party.   There were three editorials written about whether how one Svoboda member referred to Mila Kunis was pejorative or not.

In my opinion, it is a smart political move to appoint a prominent Jew, one abused by the old government, to the new government.  Kolomoisky appears, among other things, to be a bright and capable man.  We know he has the self-interest and the connections.   Maybe, sobered by the treatment oligarchs received at the hands of both Yanukovych and Putin, he has matured into a Ukrainian patriot.   It is in his self-interest, and one hopes, that of Ukraine.