Yurii Karabach and I share a house. He is a man of many talents, among them the ability to express himself. On a business trip to Russia a couple of weeks ago – just before Yanukovych fled – he was overwhelmed with questions. Now, with the invasion of Crimea, he writes this in his Facebook post of Sunday March 2, at 2:57 am. This is my translation.
Russian friends: Lately many acquaintances from Russia have been asking, “What’s up with you?”
It is hard to answer briefly, just as it would be hard to summarize “War and Peace” in a few words.
We are not yet at war. Troops, though without Russian insignia, occupy most of the key positions in Crimea. There is no doubt, however, that it is the Russian army. Their weapons, language, and informal conversations all confirm as much.
Ukraine did not suffer a coup. Authority here is legitimate. Everybody elected to parliament remains; they were chosen legally and for long terms. Yanukovych fled because he lost the support of everybody, without exception, even his supporters. He is to blame for the recent massacre in the center of Kiev. After he escaped, Parliament decided to stop the killing. He could have done it also, but he did not, and he did not allow the Parliament to do so. He was relieved of the presidency and declared a fugitive.
The Nazis have not come to power, as above. Several of his cronies fled with Yanukovych. His party deserted him en masse. His cabinet had been dismissed a few days prior, and the former Prime Minister (Azarov) immediately left for Austria. There is now proper procedure in place for forming an interim government, which will hold power until the upcoming election.
There isn’t any harassment of the Russian-speaking population. I am part of it, and I don’t see any problem. Nobody needs to defend us. They tried to nullify the law which gives certain preferences to the Russian language, but the move was vetoed by the President. So the law remains in effect in the various regions in which Russian has a special status, making its use, in effect, even broader than Ukrainian.
Unfortunately, most of the Russian media gives biased coverage to events in our country. That’s a fact. Dmitry Kiselev is the epitome of liars. In Crimea, just over half the population is ethnic Russian, and they mostly watch Russian TV. This distorts their view of reality. What they know about the events in Kiev is just about the same as the average member of the Russian Federation, which is almost nothing. But, unlike members of the Russian Federation, they have been made to fear the arrival of the “Bandera fascists” and other mythical characters. Therefore, they have been led to perceive the Russian army as liberators.
13% of the population of Crimea are Tatars. They actually are the indigenous people of Crimea. They lived there before Russia conquered the peninsula (late 1700s). And they have not forgotten how Stalin deported them en masse during WWII to the hinterlands of the ‘Stans, declaring them enemies of the people. Being once again subject to Russian rule is a prospect they detest. They will fight.
There is not and was not any danger to the Russians in Crimea to justify sending troops. There were no riots, no serious conflicts. The biggest event was a rally of 5,000-7,000 people, in which protests were raised echoing those of Maidan (corruption, theft, criminal governance). Naturally, there were cries of “Russia” and Russian flags, it being Crimea. But nobody was hurt, and nobody called for help.
The Ukrainian army is not up to a war with Russia. This is obvious. They are not in the same category. The Ukrainian troops in Crimea number only somewhat fewer than the forces of the Russian Federation. They are, however, demoralized. They have been split into isolated groups. They cannot open fire; they were ordered not to. However, there are other elements of the Ukrainian army which are not station in Crimea.
One spark, however, could trigger an explosion, turning it into another “hot spot.” There are too many hotheads involved.
In today’s world, wars are primarily fought in the realm of information. Putin will put up a fight only if the half of the population of the Russian Federation supports him. Therefore, please do not support the war. Yes, we have plenty of problems in our country. We just got rid of a potential dictator, and we have just learned to build a dialog between the Russian-speaking and the Ukrainian speakers. But these are problems of growth. We have to tackle them and move on. And a war will not help things.