Monday, March 3, 2014

Crimea for the Crimeans

By Justin Raimondo

Americans do not learn from history because they don’t know history, either their ownor anybody else’s. That’s why they are so ready to swallow the narrative now being sold to them about what, exactly, is occurring in Ukraine.
According to the Official Version, the Brave People of Ukraine are holding off the voracious Russian Bear in the person of Stalin Vladimir Putin, who wants nothing more than to corral the long-suffering Ukrainians back into a post-cold war equivalent of the Warsaw Pact – the somewhat sinister-sounding "Eurasian Union." The "pretext" – a Russian majority population in Crimea, which wants out of Ukraine. What should be the US position in this latest overseas crisis?
The near universal view, certainly among the political class both left and right, is summed up by Sen. John McCain’s all-too-predictable war cry: "We’re all Ukranians now!" The problem is that we’re not all Ukrainians now, and especially not the key players in this unfolding drama: the Crimeans.
While Western headline-writers are telling us Russian troops are moving into Ukraine, in reality they are moving into Crimea – which is not the same thing. While Crimea is officially an autonomous region formally within Ukraine, it has its own Parliamentand, up until 1995, its own President. The majority of Crimeans are Russian-speakers, and they have voted repeatedly for close relations with Russia.
Crimea’s post-Soviet history is a rocky one. Unilaterally handed over to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 – in a move of dubious legality – Crimea was caught between Russia and Ukraine as the old USSR collapsed. In 1991, the Movement for a Republic of Crimea gathered 180,000 signatures on a petition calling for a popular referendum on Crimean independence, an informal "opinion poll" was held in which the modified demand for close relations with Russia passed overwhelmingly, and the elected Parliament adopted a resolution declaring Crimean sovereignty.
Kiev responded to this with the threat of force, and at that point the bargaining began. The Crimeans, for their part, used the separatist threat to gain some leverage in the negotiations with Kiev: what they wanted – and got – was control over local resources, which were about to be "privatized" by the crooks in Kiev and looted by various Western Ukrainian oligarchs. The local oligarchs took exception to this, and in the end they won out: Kiev basically caved and the resulting compromise kept Crimea within Ukraine, albeit with full economic and political autonomy.
The compromise, however, didn’t last long:

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