Why Now?
Friday, November 26, 2004
  Ukraine on the Edge

The Ukraine is once again on the tipping point between Europe and Russia. The election and its aftermath are swirling around this question.

The conventional story is that the nation of Russia was founded in 862 when the Viking leader, Ryurik, was elected as the prince of Novgorod. This notion and the date are based of the annals of Novgorod, the oldest surviving records. Archaeology shows that Keiv, the capitol of the Ukraine, is the oldest city, and was the center of early Russia. When Ioann IV became the first Tsar of all the Russias in 1547 the capitol was Moscow. The Mongol invasion and destruction of Kiev pushed the center of power to Novgorod, and then Moscow.

There were three recognized divisions: the Great Russians, the White Russians, and the Little Russians. The Great Russians are now known simply as the Russians, the White Russians use the Slavic version, Belarus, and the Little Russians are the Ukrainians. The languages display their common roots, but they have separated over the centuries.

When the Mongols were evicted, the Ukrainians came under the power of their Lithuanian and Polish neighbors, but eventually rejoined the Russian Empire in 1654 under Tsar Alexis.

When the Soviet Union broke up in the early 1990's not everyone was thrilled. There are elements in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine who want to form a confederation, as well as no small number who think the Russian Empire should be re-united. They enjoyed being a superpower, and want to return to that status.

Lukashenko of Belarus and Putin are on-board with a confederation, Lukashenko believes he will be the leader of the confederation and Putin knows that he will control it. This leads to the Ukrainian election.

The apparent winner, Yanukovich, is Putin's man and will lead the Ukraine into the new confederation. The opposition candidate, Yushchenko, wants the Ukraine to become a full-fledged member of the European Union.

The keys to the Ukraine are the opinions of the Military and the Security apparatus. The model for the governments of the former members of the Soviet Union is this troika: Party-Army-KGB, the Russian version of checks and balances. If the Party, represented by the current President Kuchma, can get either the Army or the KGB to back him in a confrontation with the opposition, Yanukovich takes over. If both back Kuchma, the protests will be put down and the current government officials can continue looting the country. If only one backs Kuchma there will be violent struggles. If both back Yushchenko, there will be trouble, but it is possible that a new, fairer election will be held.

Currently it looks like both the military and security are sitting out the problem, but the "Orange" [Yushchenko's opposition supporters] are ramping up their protests. The Ukrainian supreme court has put things on hold pending an investigation of voting "anomalies" and could order a new election.

Another problem is the ethnic mix: ethnic Ukrainians tend to live in the West, while ethnic Russians live in the East. There are also major groups of Rumanians, Tatars, and Kazaks living in the Ukraine. The country is torn down the middle.

If a new election is held and determined to be fair, that doesn't automatically mean that Yushchenko will win. The Ukraine is a divided country and the result will depend on voter turn-out. Whoever wins, nearly half of the population will be diametrically opposed to their policies. The legislature is evenly split with opposition parties holding a small majority.

Putin is on the path to becoming Rasputin. Vladimir is apparently more interested in ruling the world, than being a peaceful ruler.

More can be found at LIVE at the Nuke Free Zone.

[edited for an egregious swap of directions.]

 



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