by John-Henry Hill, M.D.
August 9, 2014
Comment re: article“German Handelsblatt Releases Stunning Anti-West Op-Ed, Asks If "West Rabble-Rousers Are On The Payroll Of The KGB"
As an American living in Ukraine since 2009, my sentiment is:"At last a voice of reason from a European nation!"
Lest we forget, the U.S government planned and funded the Maidan Square protests and the February 2014 coup d'etat in Kiev. The sanctions on Russia by the U.S. (and forced upon the EU nations) are KILLING the economies of western Europe. The sanctions are also quickening the demise of the U.S. dollar as the world's "reserve currency", with the BRICS nations rapidly developing an alternate system of currency and credit, separate from the U.S. Federal Reserve, IMF, World Bank and Bank of International Settlements (BIS). And with the rapidly increasing purchases (along with domestic production) of physical GOLD by Russia and China, with significant increases of gold purchases by the people of India, one wonders if a gold-backed currency based on the Chinese Yuan and the Russian rouble is close at hand.
To ZeroHedge readers in Europe and the U.S., I can assure you that, prior to the Maidan Square protests and the February 2014 coup d'etat in Kiev, the vast majority of the people with whom I have spoken throughout Ukraine and Crimea never even considered the idea of seceding from Ukraine, much less annexation by Russia. Of course they viewed the Yanukovitch regime as corrupt, just as ALL previous administrations in Kiev since Ukraine's independence have been corrupt. In Ukraine, such political corruption, though greatly disliked, is taken as the norm. The same oligarchs that bribed the politicians in Kiev immediately following Ukraine's independence, and then seized and "privatized" formerly state-owned industries and properties throughout Ukraine, remain in power today. The people in northwestern Ukraine (the areas closest to the Polish border) were and remain decidedly anti-Russian and pro-European Union. A few years ago on a visit to the western Ukraine city of Lviv during the Spring, my wife and I, along with thousands of Ukrainian people, witnessed a rather astonishing site: a parade down the city's main avenue by men wearing Nazi-like uniforms and carrying NAZI flags and similar regalia. We learned that the march was an annual event in Lviv, honoring the Ukrainian regiments that fought with German troops during World War 2. Indeed, many of the "German guards" at the infamous concentration camps in Poland were, in fact, Ukrainians soldiers from northwestern Ukraine. Consequently, when some news sites on the Internet speak of neo-NAZIs leading the Maidan Square protests in Kiev and currently serving as "special militia" units alongside the regular Ukraine army in eastern Ukraine, they are not far from the truth.
However, the areas in southern and eastern Ukraine (that is, all areas south of an imaginary horizontal line starting from northwestern Ukraine to the area immediately south of Kiev and ending at the Ukrainian-Russian border in northeastern Ukraine) were pro-Russian only in terms of language, customs and culture. It should not be forgotten that Kiev was once the capital of Russia. These people previously had expressed no desire to join the Russian Federation. And if such a sentiment has increased in these areas, it is more out of concern for their own safety from the Kiev regime's troops, rather than any allegiance to Russia.
My personal opinion is that Putin, once confronted by a political take-over of Ukraine by pro-Western forces funded by the U.S., reacted first to protect Russia's Black Sea fleet based in Sevastopol, Crimea. His next greatest fear was probably the further extension of NATO into Ukraine and beyond, as the U.S. and its NATO allies had already broken their promise to Russia NOT to expand NATO following the fall of the Soviet Union. The sole area in southwestern Ukraine and eastern Moldava which has actively sought annexation by Russia for at least a decade is the Transdnestr Republic, also known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR). Transdnestr's strong links to Russia date back to 1792, when Tiraspol became an outpost of the Russian empire following the Russo-Turkish war. The region was subsequently settled by an eclectic mix of ethnicities including Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Bulgarians, Jews and Germans. In the 20th century Transdnestr served as a strategically important military base for the Soviet Union's 14th Army. With a population of about 550,000, it comprises the area east of the Dniester River up to the current western border of Ukraine and extending south to the Black Sea. Its capital city is Tiraspol, located a mere 101 Km (63 miles) from Odessa, Ukraine and 77 Km (48 miles) from Chisinau, the capital of Moldava. The Transdnestr Republic is recognized as an independent state by Russia, but not by any Western nations, who consider it part of Moldava. During the Soviet era Transdnestr served as a strategically important military base for the Soviet Union's 14th Army and consequently was garrisoned by some of the most highly trained and experienced troops within the Soviet military, armed with the Soviet's finest artillery, tanks and missile systems. Had NATO troops ever attempted to invade the Ukraine Republic of the Soviet Union, they would have had only two routes of entry: the first from southern Poland directly south into northwestern Ukraine and/or a second route from within Moldava through a narrow corridor near Tiraspol and Bender in Transdnestr. The territory north of Tiraspol-Bender Transdnestr corridor to the Polish border is blocked by the Carpathian Mountain range. The area south of Tiraspol-Bender Transdnestr corridor to the Black Sea is a quagmire of numerous rivers, streams and extensive marshland. To this day approximately 1500 Soviet troops remain on active duty as "peacekeepers" in Transdnestr. Transdnestr has its own government, currency, passports, police and army. More importantly, the Transdnestr military is extremely well-armed and highly-trained, with an over-abundance of military hardware left behind by the Soviets, with more recent upgrades by the Russian military. In short, the military forces of Transdnestr are no "Mickey Mouse" outfit, in contrast to the Moldavan military. Ofgreat geopolitical importance is that the Transdnestr people declared the region's secession from Moldova in September 1990, followed by referenda held in 2006 and 2011, in which the population of Transdnestr voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Moldova and an eventual union with Russia. Further,Transdnestr is still viewed by many people within Russia as an historic part of Russia and who, consequently, actively support its annexation by Russia.
In contrast to the population of Transdnestr, the vast majority of people in southern Ukraine (especially in the Odessa region) and in eastern Ukraine did not and still do not support the annexation of those regions by Russia. While the people are overwhelmingly Russian by tradition, language and culture, prior to the February 2014 Kiev coup, there was little talk of independence from Ukraine. Even today in the Odessa region, most people apparently favor remaining part of Ukraine, provided that new elections are held, monitored closely by independent observers. The most extreme view I have heard in the Odessa region is semi-independence from Kiev; a loose federation of independent oblasts (similar to states with the U.S., but with a much weaker central government in Kiev). A similar view seemed to hold in the eastern Ukraine following the Kiev coup of February 2014. However, this attitude has changed markedly since the Kiev regime began its military actions against eastern Ukraine, with the destruction of several towns and cities in eastern Ukraine by the Kiev regime’s artillery, missile systems and bombing raids, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties and a mass migration of an estimated one million people or more from eastern Ukraine into Russia and southern Ukraine toward Crimea. From friends living in the eastern Ukraine area and the fact that two cities have declared themselves independent republics, my impression is that the people of eastern Ukraine now favor total independence from Kiev, but NOT annexation with Russia. At most, the people in eastern Ukraine with whom I have spoken recently (including today) favor some type of temporary military and humanitarian intervention by Russia simply in order to survive the current military conflict. A truce might then be enforced by the Russian military and some additional non-NATO military force, followed by referenda conducted separately by each oblast, rather than the eastern Ukraine region as a whole.
Whatever the eventual outcomes of the political and military crises in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, the problem of Transdnestr’s insistence through repeated referenda on annexation by Russia will remain a “thorn in the side” of both the West and Russia.