Ukrainian Crisis: Referendums In Eastern Ukraine

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Credit Here.

The regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, in Ukraine, voted today on whether or not to become independent states. The results just came in, and they are: Surprise, independence.

The question on the ballot in Donetsk was: “”Do you support the self-rule of the Donetsk People’s Republic?” The “official” results from Donetsk are 89% yes, 10% no. The head of the election committee, Roman Lyagin, told reporters after the polls closed, “These can be considered the final results.” These numbers are much different than those which came out of a poll from the Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis, which said that among those asked only 4.7% of Donetsk residents supported independence.

The results for independence in Luhansk were similar in percentages.

The West made sure to pronounce their opposition to the votes. The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “This is the Crimea playbook all over again. No civilized nation will recognize the results. And if Russia takes the next step to re-enact its illegal Crimea annexation in eastern or southern Ukraine and sends more forces over the border, harsh US and EU sanctions will follow.” A spokesperson for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, explained that, “Such a referendum, against the Ukrainian constitution, does not calm things down but escalates them.”

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Credit Here.

The ballot question left it open to different interpretations, which may be one reason for the sky-high unification of the voters. The corruption is in the wording, which could be read as self-rule, autonomy, or independence, depending on the reader. It is also corrupt because of Vladimir Putin’s role in it. He called on the regions to postpone the votes, to begin, “direct, full-fledged dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine.” He said this so that when the regions ask to join Russia he can say that, though he was not a part of it, he must listen to what the people want. This is the way he can get around the illegality of this vote.

These votes and their results are illegal and must not be recognized. It is another step in the wrong direction, and is another one in the path toward Putin’s dream of an Eurasian Union.

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Ukrainian Crisis: Why This Is An Urban War and How To Handle It

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Cossacks Discuss Upcoming Donetsk Referendum. Credit Here.

It is hard to believe that this is my 13th post on the Ukrainian crisis so far, spanning 3 months, reporting in the modern form of journalism. Hundreds of people from over 30 different nations, including the major players in this crisis: the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Russia. So now, I would like to discuss something that must be understood for the general public to understand my solutions to the crisis.

Ukraine is fighting an urban war against Russia. To explain this, let us go back to a few months ago, in March, when the conflict in the Crimean peninsula began. We saw the invasion of sovereign Ukrainian lands by soldiers without any distinguishable markings. The international community was stunned and many of us who understand foreign affairs cautiously warned that it may be the work of the Russian Federation.

It then became obvious that these “Pro-Russian Demonstrators” were in fact Russian troops, possibly part of the FSB, and definitely the Russian Army. By the end of March, Crimea had joined Russia through a corrupt referendum.

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Pro-Russian Soldier Defending A Stronghold in east Ukraine. Credit Here.

The violence then moved to the east, where forces have been fighting for months in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. The fighting has been in the streets of urban cities, some using Molotov cocktails, guns, cobblestones, and other weapons. With this violence, along with the 40K Russian troops on the border armed for the invasion of Ukraine, it proves that it is Putin and his government causing this unrest.

The bulk of the violence has not been in rural areas, with large tanks and weapons of mass destructions as you would expect in an invasion. The violence has been in the cities, with Russian troops disguised as citizen protestors, and really the only typical large weapons of invasion involved are BTR quick-movement armored vehicles and fast-attack helicopters.

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A heavily armed pro-Russian soldier. Credit Here.

So how can we handle this violence? This is a new type of war, one where it is harder for the West to quell the violence peacefully. This is why I propose 3 actions that need to be taken by the US and UK governments now:

1) President Obama Needs To Garner Public Support For Future Actions By The US

    This needs to occur before #2 or #3 can occur. He needs to address the American people in the same way he did in the Syrian conflict, sitting down and talk out what has happened, and why we need to take action upon it to prevent future bloodshed. I fully support every action he has taken so far, and I believe that an informed public will also.

2) Reinstate Anti-Missile Defense Systems In Poland

      Ever since the first sparks of violence in Crimea, I have wholeheartedly advocated for the West to reinstate anti-missile defense systems in Poland, like they were in the Cold War. This will deter Mr. Putin from any movement west, toward the EU. Poland is one of our greatest allies around the world, and it is our obligation to protect them, and the rest of Europe.

3) Supply Non-Lethal Aid To Ukraine

    Ukraine is not a stable economic nation, especially as this crisis is tarnishing its land. It needs help to prevent Russia from taking any more of its land. The fact is, however, the American people are a war-weary nation. That is why I am advocating for body armor, fuel, and food to be sent to the Ukrainians, things that will not cause direct lethal consequences but will help the Ukrainian people survive. It may become necessary for the American government to send light arms to the Ukrainian army due to its lack of equipment but only if this crisis continues, which I unfortunately foresee. That would come if no progress in quelling the violence occurs by the end of May.

This is the time for the US to take real action in Ukraine. No boots on the ground, but continue to hold military exercises in Poland, as well as reinstate anti-missile systems in Poland and to supply non-lethal aid to Ukraine. We must end this now, before Putin’s dream of a Eurasian Union comes upon us.

Ukrainian Crisis: Death Toll Spikes As Ukraine Is On Verge Of War

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Protestors Tearing Up Cobblestones To Throw. Credit Here.

The crisis in Ukraine so far has been with casualties, but limited in death toll. But as May began, the toll soared as deadly gunfire a fire, and downed helicopters claimed the lives of at least 50 Pro-Russian demonstrators and Ukrainian soldiers.

Odessa, a city in Ukraine near the Black Sea, had been without heavy violence up until Friday. Police reported to the AP that 3 people had been killed and 15 wounded after Pro-Russian demonstrators and Ukrainian soldiers exchanged gunfire in the streets.

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Union Hall On Fire. Credit Here.

A trade union hall was later set on fire, presumed because of Molotov Cocktails, where over 40 people died and 174 were injured. The Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said, “We’re ready to hold talks with protesters or their representatives.” Avakov also said yesterday on the government website as troops surrounded Slovyansk. “But terrorists and armed separatists will only get the inevitable payback.”

As the Ukrainian government recaptured checkpoints outside the separatist city of Slovyansk, 3 separatists were killed and 2 were injured. The Ukrainian government is trying to recapture Slovyansk, along with other eastern Ukrainian cities, as part of its “anti-terror” operation.

Finally, the pro-Western government in Kiev said that 2 Ukrainian Army helicopters were brought down by missiles, killing 2 airmen. This is seen as proof of Moscow being behind this entire crisis.

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Russia, after placing about 40000 troops along its eastern border with Ukraine, proclaimed one again its “right” to invade Ukraine to “protect” Russian speakers in the region. The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations said that Ukrainian authorities are using “heavy military force against peaceful protesters in a criminal misadventure,” while Russia is trying to wind down and end the crisis. He said the U.S. and the European Union should “stop toying with the destiny of the Ukrainian people.”

As Ukrainian elections are right around the corner on May 25th, President Obama warned Russia that if violence continues and the vote cannot be held, “we will not have a choice but to move forward,” with new sanctions. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the election “crucial” and said that she would support economic sanctions if the election is impeded by Russian-induced violence.

Ukrainian Crisis: The Reason Why Putin Calling Eastern Ukraine “Novorossiya” Is Worrisome

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To most, hearing the term “Novorossiya” would elicit a “What?” But in the crisis currently occurring, it is yet another eerie reminder of the Soviet and Czarist Russia age coming back.

For historical background, Novorossiya, or New Russia, was the region encompassing Ukraine and some of its neighbors back when it was conquered by Catherine the Great in the 18th Century. Queen Catherine took it during the Russo-Turkish War, and it was part of Russia until the Bolsheviks granted it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922.

In a nearly four-hour Q&A Thursday, President Vladimir Putin called this region “Novorossiya”, which was a term that had not been used to describe this region in nearly 90 years. “It’s new Russia,” he said, adding,

“Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows.”

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Some voiced worry that Putin freely using this term means that he is embracing the idea of the Eurasian Union as an actual reinstatement of the Soviet Union, as I have been warning for over 2 months now. This includes the Polish Defense Minister, and other officials in NATO and the UN.

Yet, Putin seriously believes that what he is doing is best for Russia. At one time we were promised,” Putin said, “that after Germany’s unification, NATO wouldn’t spread eastward.”

He continued:

“Our decision on Crimea was partially prompted by this. Needless to say, first and foremost we wanted to support the residents of Crimea. But we also followed certain logic: if we don’t do anything, Ukraine will be drawn into NATO sometime in the future. We’ll be told, ‘This doesn’t concern you’ and NATO ships will dock in Sevastopol, the city of Russia’s naval glory.”

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As I have stressed many times before, we need to reinstate anti-missile defense systems in Poland right now. No questions asked, I call on NATO, President Obama, and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to do this immediately. I am talking about the European Intercepter System, which, if Russia feels so inclined to escalate its Eurasian Union goal to take over Poland, will defend our greatest ally in East Europe. For right now, though, they would act as a deterrent to Putin and the Russian Government.

I could of sworn we ended this war yesterday.

Ukrainian Crisis: Turning Point In Eastern Provinces

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Armed Pro-Russian Demonstrators Sunday. REUTERS

Ukraine announced that it will deploy troops to the eastern provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv today, April 13th, if pro-Russian demonstrators do not surrender. It is being called a “large-scale anti-terrorist operation” to push back attacks by pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine by Ukraine’s Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov in an address.

After the speech, the ousted former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych accused the CIA of setting up the planned operation. The CIA Director John Brennan straight up denies the accusation, with his spokesperson saying the “claim that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false.”

Sunday morning, Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists exchanged fire outside a city in eastern Ukraine, leaving one security officer dead and 5 wounded. This is the first deadly encounter in the eastern oblasts, which comes after armed separatists took multiple government buildings last week.

These “pro-Russian demonstrators” are outfitted the same exact way as the ones who took over Crimea, which then Russia annexed. The State Department (@StateDept) tweeted “Militants in eastern Ukraine were equipped with Russian weapons and same uniforms as those worn by Russian forces that invaded Crimea.” The international community is worried that this may end up the same way.

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REUTERS

To address this situation, the UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting at 8 PM April 13th. The US Mission to The UN (@USUN) tweeted, “@AmbassadorPower and the @UN Security Council to hold emergency consultations on #Ukraine at 8 p.m. ET tonight.” This will be an open meeting in New York. Previously to this Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, had his spokesperson issue a statement. “The Secretary-General stresses that further disturbances will not serve the interests of any side. He therefore appeals to all sides to work towards calming the situation, adhere to the rule of law and exercise maximum restraint,” said the statement.

Vice President Biden will also be traveling to Kiev on April 22nd. Biden “will underscore the United States’ strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path,” the White House said in a statement.

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REUTERS

Russia has 40K+ troops ready for an invasion into eastern Ukraine at a moment’s notice. If this occurs, it would become undifficult for Putin to take Kiev, and the entire nation. As I have stressed in previous articles, an action needed to be taken by NATO would be to reinstate Anti-Missile Defense Systems in Poland along its Russian and Ukrainian borders.

We must wait and see how this will play out. If the pro-Russian demonstrators do not surrender by 1 AM EST Monday, the anti-terrorism operation will occur, under orders of Kiev. This may be met with Russian aggression, and, in my predictions, these oblasts may either schedule votes or be militarily taken by Russia by Wednesday.

An Original Short Story By Nassem Al-Mehairi Set In Modern Ukraine

This is a short story inspired by the current events in Ukraine. It was written by the author of this blog, Nassem Al-Mehairi.

Kapma

All I ever was, was a doctor.

At least, that is what I had always thought.

My childhood was one of pain, suffering, and poverty. I was born in 1990, in Kherson. My father, forced to fight in the Red Army against his will, was there when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. My mother always told me my father died bravely, taking fire while saving his fellow soldiers, but, for some reason, I always doubted her.

My mother, born in Krakow, Poland, in 1965. She is a Pole to the bone, hating the Soviets, wanting to smash my father’s head in when he died for them. Her father, Andrzej, was in the Polish Army. He survived the German Invasion in 1939, only to be sent to a German prison camp.

My grandfather was Jewish. He worked at a grocery, handling produce, in Krakow. When the Germans seized Poland, he had to become a card-carrying member of the Nazi Party to protect his family. When it got so bad, where people were being lined up against the fences and shot, crimson blood flowing down the street wherever you went, he sent his child, a son, to Kiev. In 1944, a betrayer gave up Andrzej to the filth Gestapo, and he was sent to Bergen-Belsen. He told me stories of his time there, of the suffering, he having to see women be stripped and raped at the will of young Nazis from Berlin. When the British liberated the camp, you could see his ribs, the obvious oppression these, these dirt, caused on my grandfather. A few weeks before the camp was liberated, Andrzej, he told me once, met a young girl who wrote a diary of her hiding in a “secret annex” in Amsterdam. She died only a few weeks before the freeing of the inmates. After the war the only option left to him was to become a poor farmer in Ukraine, and had his daughter, my mother. His life was taken in 1969, when he was brutally run over by a tractor by his own wife. My grandmother, distraught over her killing her husband, shot herself the year after. The destruction, she set fire to her house before it, and when the flames reached her room, she put the barrel to her temple and pulled the trigger.

My mother was an orphan at the age of 5, and her only option was… Wait, I must be boring you with all this bland family history. Well, I am so sorry. I’ll just get to the part that sells.

I was born on May 4th, 1990. I lived for but 2 years in the Soviet Union, and do not remember any of it, but it would affect my life until the end.

I remember, for all of you looking for only the hardship, to laugh at my pain and mock it, the first event that led to my fate was on my computer in November of 2013. The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, was in power, and I had always known he was corrupt, but never truly knew until I visited a secret chat forum. My friend Yuri had told me about it, about how those who opposed Yanukovych could connect with each other to take him down. I was sitting in my living room, in Kiev. As my computer started up, I took out a lighter and flicked it 3 times to light my cigarette. As I inhaled and exhaled the smoke, I typed in the URL Yuri had given me, along with the password. As I scrolled through the sight, I was amazed by what I read. One said,

“The Kremlin is ruling our country. We are Ukrainians, not Russians! We must exterminate the President now!”

One, cooler head, said,

“We must unite together to protest Yanukovych siding with the Russians. We are going to protest in Kiev, and die if we must.”

I was a doctor, working in a Kiev hospital. I knew that, because of the President’s brutality, he would kill anyone who rioted against him.

Until February 19th, there were no real riots in Kiev. But on that day, one that will live in infamy, the city of Kiev turned into a battleground. Molotovs were thrown, and as their blasts woke me in the darkness of night, I ran to the hospital. I knew the day of reckoning was upon us, and as I ran through shotgun fire raining down, I rushed in through the front door of the hospital.

I ran over to the secretary, and said, “Any injuries yet?”

She responded, “Yes, Maksym, but they are outside still. We cannot get them inside.”

I knew what I needed to do. I walked back up to the front door. I looked out, with the night sky illuminated by the fires raging through our historic city. I saw a man, clutching his chest, laying on the ground. I looked to my left, then right, and ran out. I crouched down next to the man groaning, and took his arms. I dragged him into the hospital, and yelled, “Get me a cot!”

As I picked him up, the secretary had set the cot down next to me. I laid the man down on it, and ripped open his Western-made shirt. I took a piece of gauze, and held it to his wound, gushing blood all over my hands. He said, very quietly, “What… what is your name?”

I said, “My name is Maksym Nowak.”

He, spitting up bile, said, “Nowak…What was your grandfather’s name?”

Confused, I said, “Andrzej Nowak. Why?”

Devastated-looking, he said, “My…my grandfather, was your grandfather’s friend. He was the one who gave him up to the Germans. I…I am…sorry for the disrespect my family inflicted upon yours.”

I always knew this would happen. The Soviet Union repaying its sins on this night in Ukraine, and the family who betrayed my grandfather doing the same. I could do nothing but continue, silently, to try to save his life. He died there, with me never knowing his name.

All I could do, was collapse. Karma truly always happened. Even on a dark night as a revolution to change the world was occurring. I went out, my mind occupied on that. As I looked for my next person to save, I felt a bullet hit my throat and throw me to the ground.

I thought, this was karma too. A sin took the man in the hospital, and my father’s sins against the Afghanis killed me. Or was it my mother lying about him? It didn’t matter. I was dead no matter which.

The Path Forward For The New Ukraine

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Ukraine in Europe. Credit Here.

On Saturday, February 22nd, the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, was impeached. This move comes after extreme turmoil erupted earlier last week in opposition of the President’s actions. Over 100 people have been killed in Ukraine, and these protests started because the former President sided with Russia over Europe.

Parliament:

Parliament still exists in Kiev, and it will be the sole place for power in the nation right now. It is democratically elected, and opposed Yanukovych’s corruption. Parliament impeached the President, and placed an acting President in place. The people need to trust in Parliament, and Parliament needs to unify the people.

Prosecution:

Former President Yanukovych and the cabinet members responsible for the protestor’s deaths need to be turned in to the International Criminal Court. Rather than be killed by Ukrainian rebels, they need to be put on trial, and, if possible, be charged with war crimes. The former cabinet and former President have fled Kiev, and their whereabouts are not known. Yanukovych may still be in Ukraine, but also may be in the United Arab Emirates.

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Jubilant Ukrainians During Revolution. Credit Here.

Russia:

The uprising is inspired by the fact that Yanukovych took a $15 billion USD bailout from Russia rather than an integration deal with the European Union. The new government will need to ally itself with Europe, and leave behind the past. Ukraine is a former Soviet state, and because of that needs to end it’s relationship with Russia. Europe offers new possibilities and will successfully help the Ukraine end its very deep economic problems.

Democracy:

Ukraine needs to end the corruption that has plagued it for many years. Yanukovych is accused of poisoning one of his predecessors, and imprisoned another. The people need to unite and work together to solve the problems the country faces. The people were the ones leading the revolution, and must all pitch in and keep government officials accountable. Fair elections are the only path forward that will lead to a new, better, more successful Ukraine.