Archive for the ‘Georgia’ Category

Far from good enough, Mr. Putin !

By Johan Galtung

History matters, not only law; like how Crimea and Abkhazia-South Ossetia–basically Russian-Orthodox–became Ukrainian-Georgian. Two Soviet dictators, Khrushchev and Stalin, attached to Ukraine and Georgia, so decided, by dictate. The local people were not asked, nor were Hawaiians when the USA annexed their Kingdom in 1898–by dictate.

The first referendum in Crimea was held last Sunday, 16 March 2014: an overwhelming No to Ukraine and Yes to the Russian federation.

Khrushchev’s 1954 transfer of Crimea was within the Soviet Union, and under Red Army control. But the Soviet Union collapsed and the Red Army became the Russian army; the conditions were no longer valid. George W. Bush wanted Ukraine and Georgia to become NATO members, moving the Russian minorities two steps away from Russia. Nothing similar applies to the other Russian minorities in the former Soviet republics. They are people living on somebody else’s land, not people living on their own land.

What happened to Crimea was a correction of what had become a basic mistake. Although Russia moving into eastern Ukraine could be–as the West says–invasion-occupation-annexation. But highly unlikely.

Unless civil war breaks out between Ukraine West and East and the Russian minority in the East–Donetsk–is in danger. Russia will not stand by watching, just as NATO would not if something similar happened close to the Polish border in Lvov.

This simply must not happen; nevertheless it is getting close. Read the rest of this entry »

Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia: The West and Russia

By Johan Galtung

This article was also published and sent out as TFF PressInfo in March 2014

There is much in a name. Ukraine means borderland.

The position of the extreme West–like US neocons–is clear: get all into NATO, encircling, containing, defeating Russia. Some in Ukraine and Georgia share that goal. The less extreme West would focus on EU membership, both being European countries. Some of them, in turn, might focus on loans as there is much money to be made. Thus, Bosnia-Hercegovina had $9 billion debt before the EU take-over as “high authority”; now $107 billion. “Austerity” around the corner.

The position of Russia as expressed by Putin and Lavrov: no way. Crimea will revert to Russia after it was given to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev–himself born in Kalinovka, Ukraine in 1894, his wife a Ukrainian–possibly mainly for economic reasons as his son at Brown University R.I., USA argues.

However, Ukraine is not only a borderland but also two countries between Poland and Russia. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of 1569 and the Austria-Hungarian Empire once covered most of Ukraine; so did czarist Russia and Soviet Union in their heydays. More importantly, the dividing line of the Roman Empire from 395, confirmed by the schism between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity in 1054, is reflected in Ukraine’s extremely complex history. The result is unmistakable: moving east the Catholic attachment yield to the Orthodox and Ukrainian to Russian. When Poland became a member of EU and even of NATO, the handwriting for Ukraine was on the wall; bringing to mind Polish First Marshal Pilsudski’s Odessa-Black Sea ambitions after WW-I. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo: Ukraine – What Would You Like to Know About It?

By Jan Oberg

I’m no expert on Ukraine, haven’t even visited it. Like millions of other citizens, I rely on media reports to understand at least some of what looks like potentially very serious developments.

Why do I feel so frustrated at what I get? Why do I have so many questions still after weeks of coverage? And how much will fellow-citizens who have just a few minutes per day to acquaint themselves with issues such as this understand (except that Putin is a bad guy)?

It’s a conflict, isn’t it?

I would like to know what are the internal Ukrainian dimensions, the regional East-West European and EU/NATO aspects and what has all this to do with global developments e.g. U.S. foreign policy, NATO’s expansion since the end of the Cold War, strategic interests of Russia and Russia-NATO relations. And where is China and BRICS countries in all this?

Internally, I’d like to learn about the ethnic composition and geography, the role of Russians and – not the least the Jews – and the historic relations between Russia and Ukraine.

In a shorter perspective, when did the West begin to see Ukraine as an interesting country? Why did George Bush Sr. and James Baker promise Mikhail Gorbachev that the West would never expand up to Russia’s border – and anyhow NATO began being an issue in Ukraine in 1995.

It would be great to learn from media about how – as everywhere else – economic mismanagement and overall crisis caused both neo-Nazism, rampant anti-Semitism and general dissatisfaction? And why is it that anti-Semitism is covered so little anywhere in the Western press

How come that important background aspects like these so easily translate into simplifying anti- versus pro-Russian attitudes? Read the rest of this entry »

Caucasus leaving the Cold War

By Johan Galtung
Writing from Tbilisi, Georgia

With Georgia (4.5 million) a client of the USA (314 million), fighting its war in Afghanistan; Armenia (3.3 million) leaning towards Russia (143 million); and Azerbaijan (9.2 million) in a bitter conflict over the Armenian enclave Karabagh on much of its territory (less so over the Azeri enclave Nakhichevan on Armenian soil), the stage is set. Add the Russian cultural enclaves in Georgia–Abkhazia and South Ossetia–recognized by few, but some, as states, and visits to Caucasus were a time machine trip back to the Cold War.

But that is not all where Georgia is concerned. There is also the Muslim Adjara enclave bordering on Turkey, and Azeris, Armenians and others, living in the very multinational Georgia, some with strong territorial attachments. People of at least 28 nations live among and around each other in the Caucasus. But modernity demanded clear state borders, also in what became in 1922 the Soviet Union. The state system did not fit the nation system, but states there must be, all over, subjecting dozens of minorities to dominant nations that create illusions by imprinting the three states with their names.

Same as in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »


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