“Tens of thousands of people turned up to protest President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to snub a potentially historic deal with the EU and focus on ties with Moscow, after immense pressure from Russia.”
Durak,,, you don’t see this as Russia trying to control the countries that once comprised the old Soviet Union, and a return to the old ways?
I’m one that never believed that the “Cold War” really ended,,,,, it’s just taken a different disguise, a different course. I think if allowed, Russia would return to the USSR.
Yes, I agree fully that Putin wants to reconstitute the USSR as a Russian-dominated empire. This has been evident in his policies for at least ten years.
Putin does his best to keep his stooges in charge of the newly independent former republics. He occasionally punishes former republics when they show too much independence, mostly economically (famously, repeatedly cutting the supply of natural gas to Ukraine), and in the case of Georgia militarily as well.
His concept of the "old ways" includes the maximum extent of Russia's empire; it doesn't include socialism, Leninism, or atheism. His preferred social and economic order seems to be an updated version of pre-revolutionary tsarist Russia.
I agree that in a way, the Cold War has continued. Some years ago, I saw a western "Russia expert" on a TV program who has made that his thesis. Because Russia's influence is less, the conflict seems to have much less at stake, and it doesn't seem likely that Putin's plan will get far.
But at this moment, he's winning the battle in Ukraine. Who knew that Yanukovich -- Putin's picked man to run Ukraine -- would kowtow to Russia?
"In American politics these days, people incorrectly use "socialism" to mean a welfare state."
No. That is just part of it. It is government control of private enterprise. With that, "American politics" is not far fetched.
When President Obama announced the nuclear deal with Iran, it is one of the rare times he made a speech not advocating government control of businesses through taxes and regulation. While he cannot get away with it completely, he is certainly going towards that.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukraine's refusal to sign a trade pact drawing it into Europe's orbit marked a victory for Vladimir Putin, winning him time to lure Kiev into a project for a trade and political bloc stretching from the frontiers of China to the edge of the EU.
The Russian president sees his "Eurasian Union", in which Ukraine would play a central role, as a future rival to China, the United States and the European Union. Some say he sees it as the president's personal political legacy - a strong force emerging from the ashes of the old Soviet Union.
"The Eurasian Union is a very important project for Putin. Without Ukraine, he will lose all enthusiasm for it," said Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin spin doctor who has also worked in Ukraine. "Without Ukraine, Putin's project is impossible."
Putin also hopes to woo several other former Soviet republics that were being courted by EU leaders at a summit in Lithuania on Friday. But none is more important to Putin than Ukraine, a huge market and the cradle of Russian civilization.
The opposition-minded Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta described the situation as a love triangle in which Ukraine was a cheating husband, the EU an attractive mistress and Russia an angry wife. Who would win out in the end was unclear.
For Putin it may be a question of exercising the kind of 'soft power' that comes to a nation as vast as Russia.
Putin is widely thought to have offered Ukraine lower prices for gas supplies and threatened crippling trade sanctions if it signed the planned trade pact with the EU in Lithuania, although he denies this.
President Viktor Yanukovich may also have been 'shopping around' for the best finance deal to rescue his country. Russia has clearly offered him better terms than the 600 million euros the EU has put on the table. He urgently needs money to meet scheduled debt repayments of more than 8 billion dollars next year if he is to secure re-election in 2015.
Yanukovich, for whatever reasons, may have backed away from signing a trade accord at the EU Vilnius summit; but there is no guarantee his country of 46 million will now follow Putin's declared will in joining a Moscow-led customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan - a precursor of the Eurasian Union which the Russian president envisages.
Certainly, at home there have been protests against the turn away from the West.
The Eurasian Union is intended to recoup potential lost when the Soviet empire collapsed 22 years ago and to group like-minded states against any meddling by the West or China.
Putin showed his intent by adopting a decree on the first day of his new presidency last year making it a priority to develop ties with the former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - the very loose association of states created after the Soviet collapse.
Putin has looked for ways to reunite former Soviet republics since becoming prime minister in 1999 and being elected president the following year. He has capitalized on nostalgia for stable prices, predictable government and open borders within the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
He touched a chord among many, mostly elderly Russians in 2005 when he called the Soviet Union's demise "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century". He said "old ideals" had been destroyed, although he dismisses any idea he is seeking any kind of resurrection of the Soviet Union.
Instead, he said, he wants to create a "powerful supra-national union" of sovereign states based on the EU model, connecting Europe and the Asia-Pacific, and on an equal footing with the United States and China.
The aim is to unite economies, legal systems and customs services, as well as military coordination.
The customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, formed in 2010, was a first step to launching the Eurasian Union in 2015. It has a market of about 165 million and covers about three-quarters of the post-Soviet region - the Soviet Union minus the three Baltic states.
The combined gross domestic product of the three economies is around $2.3 trillion. Both Russia and Kazakhstan are oil producers.
Kyrgyzstan and Armenia say they will join but other former Soviet republics such as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, which are being wooed by the EU, have reservations. So do Uzbekistan, a large market of 30 million, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
Despite Putin's pledges, there are concerns in such states that Russia will reassert its control over its "near abroad".
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the planned Eurasian Union last year as "a move to re-Sovietize the region" and added: "We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it."
Some Western states have also noted with concern that Russia is building up its military at the same time as constructing a trading and political bloc. Russia announced last year that its defense budget would rise by about 25 percent, pushing spending above that of France and Britain.
SOFT AND HARD POWER
Putin's determination to keep the former Soviet republics out of Brussels' orbit was evident in the sudden decision by Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan - after talks with the Russian president in September - to join the customs union.
Diplomats suggest Putin threatened to withdraw military support for Armenia that it needs in its territorial dispute with Azerbaijan. Yanukovich was also won round after talks with Putin, and the other ex-Soviet states are well aware that Moscow has ways of turning the screws on them as well.
Moldovan wine imports have been suspended by Russia as Chisinau seeks stronger ties with th
"I do not know how to show news about Ukraine in your region, but I can see how Russian mass media distort information.
On the main square of Kiev (Independence Square) is now more a half million people (peaceful protesters).
This can be seen in a broadcast on Ukrainian independent channels, but when I turn to view foreign channels, they pretend that the streets of small groups of protests and they do not show the reality. It's so strange and sad ..."
Indeed, I saw news reports of 10,000 people protesting Friday when my vk friend said 100,000. Now that I look at pictures, I see her point about the Russian media. I don't know what to believe in that NATO protest in Kiev a few years back. If it was Russian media, it was probably distorted.
Wow. Yanukovych got his minister of education to maintain a list of students who participate in the protests. Those who come to dormitories after the protests are also recorded. School officials who join the protest will be removed. Now, the students will boycott the schools if even one student is removed.
White House petition for the peaceful overthrow of the current government. I don't understand what this can do. I don't believe Obama or Kerry will do anything, even if the signature goals are reached. It looks like it will be reached. The signature goal is 100,000 by the end of the year. It is way past the halfway point in just a couple of days.
More than a million protesters in Kiev yesterday. The Russian press cannot lie about this one. The 100,000 protesters on Friday ten days ago was reported as 3,000 in some news reports. Yet, from the pictures a few days later, there were at least tens of thousands.
So far, two people have been reported killed. The "bad" feeling among the people is there will be more bloodshed before this is over. The protesters have erected a picture of Auntie Yulya, which surely will irritate Yanukovich.
Thanks, LR. Sanctions will only hurt the Ukrainian people. As I said, Obama or Kerry will probably do nothing. Sanctions will only hurt Ukrainians.
Ukraine has an automobile plant. Russia blocks its import. Ukraine deserves that market. The Russian consumer deserves a wider choice in automobiles. It should be a win win situation, but it is not. It is a shame that trade with Russia and EU are not compatible in Ukraine.
The statue of Lenin in Kiev came down, but there is a statue of Lenin in every Ukrainian city, including some small towns. I thought it was funny that the statue of Lenin, who led the Russian communism to power, is just a few feet away from McDonald's in Yalta.
Next Kiev planned demonstration: Sunday, December 15 at noon.