Saturday, 22 February 2014

What Are The Ukrainians Protesting About?

Truly sickening scenes coming out of the Ukraine but the whole thing has a feel of a proxy war between the EU, Russia and the USA with Ukrainians stuck in the middle of the conflict.
Reports are of 77 killed so far and the EU have imposed sanctions while the USA are said to be 'actively considering a range of options on how to respond to violence in Ukraine'.
Although it is being painted as a case of the pro-Europeans Ukrainian people fighting to overthrow an anti-EU Government, you would be forgiven for not realising that it is not quite as black and white as is being portrayed.
Like most countries, the Ukraine is in debt and has a £16.5 billion loan from the IMF to pay off and the European Union made an offer of £1bn and closer ties to the European Union although this came with the strings attached of enforcing austerity measures and cutting public spending although the carrot of possible future EU membership was dangled tantalisingly before them.    
Russia then made a counter offer of £15bn and closer ties to the Russian market, joint enterprises in heavy industries with lower gas prices thrown in. The Ukrainian Government left the EU offer on the table and agreed to the Russian deal.
Protests began and here is where the Worlds media looked that way, as the situation deteriorated as the Ukrainian police launch a raid on protesters, arresting 35 who had occupied the City Hall.
Anti-protest laws are passed, the unrest turns deadly as Government offices are overrun by protesters and international pressure is applied. 
All this brings us to today as the Ukraine's parliament votes to oust President Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to pick up the reins which is looking likely to lead to the West besting the East and the Ukraine dusting off the original EU offer and leaving a very irked Vladimir Putin on its Eastern flank. 
I hope i am wrong and it all turns out wonderful but i do fear that the protests on the streets of Ukraine will resurface as this may yet turn out to be a case of being careful what you wish for because what the protesters may have got is the hard slog of IMF austerity foisted upon them and you only need to look at the Greeks to see how that can turn out.
With the Standard and Poors' reducing the Ukraine’s rating to CCC- on the strength that the Russian money will not now be forthcoming, it is already looking like the Ukraine's problems may not be over.


Aaron said...

Looking at these language and electoral maps of Ukraine on Wikipedia, it seems to me like Ukraine is two countires forced into one. In the West, you have pro-Western Ukrainian speakers that largely support Tymoshenko, and in the East you have pro-Russian Russian speakers that largely support Yanukovych.

Germany is out there now saying that Ukraine must preserve it's "national unity," but I'm thinking that when you've had two presidential ousters in ten years, whatever "national unity" you have is not worth preserving.

Why don't they just follow Czechoslovakia's script, draw a line, and call it even?

Nog said...

Lucy -

I think I entirely agree with your unease about this. It's not that I don't like democracy, it's just that I'm not sure that is what is going to result with all of the quarrelsome opposition factions. My worry is that just like with the failure of the Orange Revolution, any failures are going to get pinned on being pro-west, pro-EU, and pro-democracy.

It is also frustrating to see the EU doing such a poor job of advocating for itself. For all of the messiness, corruption, and bureaucracy, a united and strong Europe is good for planet Earth. The EU should make a more attractive offer.

Anonymous said...

Those protestors are bad ass. I can hardly imagine americans doing that


Lucy said...

The dividing up of the Ukraine has been mentioned Aaron. As you say the east of the country is much more aligned with Russia and do a lot of trade that way so they could miss out if Russia decide to 'punish' the Ukraine for not taking their offer.

I don't think the general Ukrainian population has considered the implications nog or are having the full story explained to them. It is not an offer to join the EU, the EU don't want to add another country in debt to its list which is why it is keeping it at arms length. What it will signed up for is the EU running its economy like Greece, Spain and Italy and as we saw there, its first action is austerity and job cuts and in the case of Cyprus, raids on peoples banks accounts. The dangling of the carrot of 'EU Membership' at maybe at some point in the future possibly, perhaps, is being much overplayed by the opposition. At some point the protesters will realise what they have signed up to and it will hurt.

Nog said...

Well becoming an EU member is something that takes years right? So it's not like y'all have to worry about all of their problems being EU problems overnight.

I guess I wish the EU would buck up more to fix messes in Europe. Russia is not the USSR. It's not as big, strong, or scary. If there's any truth to these reports suggesting that Russia might be considering military force, the EU should back them down. There's no reason why the EU should allow a pro-EU government of a country of 45 million bordering the EU to get stomped by a now second-rate power.

And y'all shouldn't be expecting the USA to do this stuff all of the time, especially along your own borders. Excessive American military adventurism may justly earn us some scorn. But Europe's policy of letting madness like Srebrenica happen and then after the killing has stopped setting up some incredibly bureaucratic tribunal to punish the wrongdoers afterwards is just as silly.


Cheezy said...

"shouldn't be expecting the USA to do this stuff all of the time"

OK, I'll tell all my fellow Europeans to stand down re this! They'll be gutted I'm sure.

"Europe's policy of letting madness like Srebrenica happen"

Policy?... Not sure that's quite le mot juste... but it was UNPROFOR and Dutchbat who fell down on the job re Srebrenica.