– Dad, what’s going on in Ukraine?
– Since when did you become interested in politics?
– Everywhere, on all channels, they only talk about Ukraine, but I missed the beginning and now I do not understand what is going on.
– It is a long and complicated story.
– And you tell me it in the shortest and simplest way.
– Oh well. I’ll try to explain clearly so that even a high school student could understand.
You’ve probably heard about the Soviet Union? So, in 1917 after the revolution, the former tsarist Russia with many nations in its composition became the first socialist state in the world. Its main distinguishing feature was that the public interest was higher than personal interests there. All factories, land and ships belonged to society, that is, to the state. Many believed that this was more just and fair. The rest of the world lived differently. Personal interests were on the first place there. A separate person could earn more than others, so there were rich and poor, unlike the Soviet Union. These two devices of society became the main subject of the conflict in the 20th century. After several wars and constant confrontation, two poles of world political forces were formed: the Soviet Union with its allies and the Western world – the United States and Europe. There were also third forces, such as China, South America, but now it’s not about them.
– Have not you started from far away?
– No, it is okay. Without this, you will not understand the depth of the question.
So, and then in 1986, the Perestroika took place in the Soviet Union, as a result of which the Union fell apart. In my opinion, this disintegration was natural. There was no competition in the socialist planned economy. And this is the main engine of progress. Socialist goods were less qualitative and beautiful than capitalist goods; services were worse, more evil. The planned economy could not develop further, and it died.
During the dissolution of the Union, 15 new independent states were formed: Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, etc. Russia, as the main part of the former Soviet Union, became the successor of many international relations, including taking the role of the only counterweight to the US world domination. Indeed, with the collapse of the USSR, the US felt more confident in the international arena. During this period, there were several conflicts in different parts of the world, where America, for good reasons, as it claims, interfered in the internal affairs of other countries or acted as an arbiter in disputes between countries. And not only in peaceful way.
– Why does the US behave this way?
– Because it is the richest and strongest country in the world. At the same time, it should be recognized that it is more or less responsible for its domination: it does not seize other states. Basically, it “seizes”, so to speak, economically. That is, it helps any country to establish freedom and democracy, and in the economy – market relations. And already in a market economy and with open borders, the US is the strongest member and can simply buy up the entire economy of almost any country. But this is capitalism. The strongest wins. And without the weapons.
– Is this the reason why many people do not like America?
– Yes, America has many enemies around the world. But mostly – they are weak developing countries, which know that under equal conditions they will lose their economies to America. And they are totalitarian countries, where democracy is not welcomed as it can deprive the rulers of power.
The same was true of many countries of the former Soviet Union.
In the history of the confrontation between the USSR and the West, Soviet people under the influence of powerful propaganda developed a strong antipathy for everything Western. The same thing happened in the West. They are alien to everything Soviet.
But with the development of market relations in many republics of the former Union, capitalist attitudes and orientation toward Western values began to prevail: freedom of speech, freedom of entrepreneurship, tolerance for dissent, etc. These sentiments led to a change of power in some of them, for example, in Georgia, in Ukraine. Together with the change of ideology in these countries, foreign policy has also changed. They now began to orient more not to their former patron – Russia, but to Europe. This did not please the leadership of Russia, which by that time was headed by Vladimir Putin.
– Because the entry of the former union republics into European unions and blocs means that the western armed forces, having entered the territory of these republics, will approach to the border of Russia. And Russia still considers itself a counterbalance to the United States. If it comes to international disputes, even if it’s far away, for example, in the Middle East, the two main “world policemen” will begin to measure their muscles. And at that moment the presence of American missiles on the territory of Ukraine, 600 km from Moscow, will certainly be a powerful trump card in the hands of the United States.
– So this is the main reason why Russia is against Ukraine?
– It is right to say not against Ukraine, but against the withdrawal of Ukraine from an alliance with Russia to Europe.
In addition, Ukraine is also a big market for Russian goods. In contrast to the European Union, Russia is trying to create its own common market with its economic partners. Therefore, it gladly picked up the idea of Kazakhstan to create a Customs Union, and tries all the forces to join the former Soviet republics. The final withdrawal of Ukraine towards the European Union, of course, will weaken the Russian economy. Goods that were traded under a simplified scheme between Ukraine and Russia will now be separated by customs borders and duties.
– It’s all about theory. And how did the events unfold?
– Everything that I told you is the main thing, the essence. And the events themselves are already details. They could have happened like this, but they could have happened otherwise. Essentially this would not change. In any event, be able to see the essence.
So, having the following background, in November 2013 the story began. President of Ukraine Yanukovych refused to sign the Agreement with the European Union on integration, thereby showing its’ orientation towards Russia. This outraged many citizens of Ukraine, mainly in its western part, and they organized mass performances in Kiev, on its main square – Maidan, and other cities. Confrontation escalated. Finally, it came to shooting, and people died on Maidan. This was facilitated by mysterious snipers, who cold-bloodedly killed people from the roofs of houses. Many believe that this is the work of Russian special services. Russian experts believe that the entire Maidan was conceived and implemented by Western special services in order to overthrow the pro-Russian leadership of the country and turn Ukraine to the West.
– So where is the truth? How did it really happen?
– We will find it out in many years. Not now. Now the main thing is to win the battle, and the winners are not judged. Unfortunately, this cynical rule works in our days. Now a huge flow of information is pouring from all sides, and there are a lot of lies in this flow.
By the way, it is from the Maidan that the largest, in my opinion, propaganda campaign of the Russian media for the post-Soviet period has been deployed. It, undoubtedly, will go down in history and textbooks of journalism, psychology and sociology. Russian television channels began to massively introduce into the minds of people that in Ukraine the fascist government came to power, which will oppress Russian citizens. TV channels tore separate episodes of the Maidan, strengthened something, did not mention some facts, and such pictures were played on their air day and night. All of Russia and the entire east of Ukraine, where are mostly Russians live began to believe that the new authorities are going to kill or at best oppress the Russians in Ukraine. Indignation, resentment, and then hatred of the Ukrainians grew and swept Russia, the southeast of Ukraine and many Russians living in the former Soviet republics.
Although it should be acknowledged that radical militant people from such organizations as the “Right Sector” were indeed present on the Maidan. But this is a small layer of radicals. There are such radicals in almost every state. Including Russia. You know, I ran the whole Internet and found no materials that in Ukraine they killed Russians before the war. But try to search “Russian skinheads killed …” and you will find dozens of references about the murders of Caucasians, Asians in Russia.
And then, take into account that Ukraine went to a conflict with Russia in order to enter into an alliance with Europe. And you know what Europe is. We’ve been there. Europe itself would not have accepted the fascist state into its ranks.
In general, I believe that the danger of a threat to the Russian population in Ukraine was deliberately greatly exaggerated by the Russian media in order to justify Russia’s subsequent actions in Ukraine.
And the subsequent actions were like that. The Russian military without identification marks, the so-called “polite people” or “green men”, invaded the military units and government bodies of the Crimea. With their help, the local population, pro-Russians, declared independence of the Crimea from Ukraine, and then about joining Russia. In my opinion, all this was arranged by Russia.
– But I heard that many Russians lived in the Crimea, and that Crimea used to be Russian.
– I am not arguing, the Russian and Russian-speaking population prevails in the Crimea. I do not even argue with the fact that the transfer of the Crimea peninsula in the Soviet period from the Russian Federation to Ukraine raises questions, but all this is not a basis for disguised military invasion of a neighboring country, seizing strategic facilities, and then running the referendums under their control. China can also help some areas of Russian Siberia, which, it is said, are now more populated by ethnic Chinese with Russian passports than Russians, “self-determine” and join China. The northern regions of Kazakhstan are also largely populated by ethnic Russians, and there are many who would like to consider their land to be part of Russia among them. In the south of Kazakhstan there are entire settlements consisting of Uzbeks. In Europe, on the borders of states, everything is mixed too, and often in the territory of one country there are more ethnic groups of another country. This is normal. It would be more strange if people of different nationalities lived strictly according to the borders.
So. I am saying all of this to make you understand that neither international law nor moral right allows anyone to take away land from a neighboring state, even if representatives of another nationality live there. And, finally, the instinct of self-preservation should suggest that tomorrow the same precedent can be used against this country itself.
– And what happened next?
– And then, in April, parts of the two south-eastern regions of Ukraine: Donetsk and Lugansk, where ethnic Russians mostly live, decided to declare their independence to join Russia. Ukraine officially stated that under its Constitution certain parts of the country cannot separate themselves. Consequently, the demands of the separatists were illegal and subject to repression.
And then there was a tragedy in Odessa. That’s how I see it. In the light of the events on the Maidan and in the Crimea, the opposition between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in Ukraine has been growing. Here and there skirmishes broke out. On May 2, a procession of fans of the local football club was held in Odessa. Mostly they were pro-Ukrainian citizens, and they used this march for patriotic and perhaps even nationalistic statements. A pro-Russian group of people collided with this column, and there were even several shots in the crowd. In response, the furious crowd chased them until they retreated, as there were much less of them, and they hid in the building of the House of Trade Unions. At the same time, shots were heard from both sides. Bottles with incendiary mixture were flying out from both sides. The building caught fire. As a result, people died. I believe that in this battle the tragedy was inevitable. If the pro-Ukrainian demonstrators were in the minority and hid in some building, I’m sure that the enraged people would also through them with incendiary mixture. In such a tense situation, the victims on both sides are almost inevitable.
– And where were the authorities and the police?
– This is also a difficult question, the answer to which we will find out later. I saw a video on the Internet, as some civilians shoot in a pro-Ukrainian demonstration hiding behind the policemen’s backs. I myself do not understand this. You know, it is hard to identify who is “yours” and who is “a stranger” in such a mess. The whole nation, including the police, split into two camps. You do not know what to expect from both sides. And the blame for everything, in my opinion, is propaganda that turned Ukraine’s accession to Europe into a life tragedy and betrayal, and split the society into two parts.
– I was watching TV. They showed how a real war is going on in Ukraine. The Ukrainian army is bombing residential areas. Is it true?
– I think it’s true. But this is part of the truth. I understand that the separatists are hiding in residential neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and from there are firing on the soldiers of the Ukrainian army. What do they have to do, how not to shoot back at the same buildings to destroy the militants? Then the militants show civilian casualties. From the outside it looks inhuman. But what remains to be done by the Ukrainian authorities? Leave the separatists in peace and recognize the independence of part of the territory of their country? But this will be a betrayal of the national interests of your country.
– And how will it all end?
– I do not know. Honestly. Too many unknowns in this equation. Too many unpredictable characters.
And finally I’ll give you this advice: do not believe in all that I told you, because this is only my point of view, which can be erroneous. If you want to understand everything yourself, then listen or read another ten people, like me, and look at the situation from different angles. Maybe then you will have a chance to understand something. Comprehend the truth yourself.