Friday, March 21, 2014

Notes on the Ukrainian crisis

The Nuland-Pyatt recording

[The following is an extract, authored by me, from the WikiPedia page on this topic.  My text has been deleted four or five times by someone with a Russian-sounding name, NazariyKaminski, or by a now-deleted user called RedPenOfDeath and other sock-puppets.  So I am placing the text here, for the record.]

2014 Nuland's controversial reference to the European Union

On February 6, 2014,[nb 1] Nuland was alleged to have made an obscene reference to the European Union which caused a diplomatic scandal when one version of her January 28, 2014 telephone conversation with the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, was broadcast on YouTube.[7][nb 2] Nuland was discussing with Pyatt her plans for the role of the Ukrainian opposition leaders in the country’s coming government and the crises in Ukraine. Nuland said Vitali Klitschko should not be allowed into the government because he was too inexperienced, but that the coming PM should talk to him and to Svoboda "four times per week".[9] Subsequently, in one version of the call, Nuland stated that she preferred the United Nations as mediator, instead of the European Union, adding "Fuck the EU" and Pyatt responded, "Oh, exactly ...".[nb 3][10][11][12] "She has been in contact with her EU counterparts, and of course has apologized", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.[13][nb 4] A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stated on the same day that the EU would not comment on a "leaked alleged" conversation.[8][nb 5] The next day a spokeswoman, Christiane Wirtz, stated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel termed Nuland's remark "absolutely unacceptable".[17][20][21][22] Furthermore, the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has also condemned the remark as "unacceptable".[23] Le Monde newspaper has labeled the familiarity with which she referred to the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition ("Yats" for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, "Klitsch" for Vitali Klitschko) as clumsiness and even arrogance.[23]

Multiple versions of the phone recording

There are at least two versions of the audio recording of the Nuland-Pyatt conversation in circulation at YouTube and elsewhere, with quite different meanings.

The wording and syntax of one of them, that was published on 7 February 2014 by GlobalTVz,[24] reveals that Nuland's expletive remark can be understood not as her insulting the EU, but rather as her response to Pyatt's statement that the Russians will try to torpedo the process of increasing EU influence in Ukraine. She is agreeing with Pyatt, and her expletive expresses her agreement with his view that the Russians don't care what the EU thinks or does.

On 4 February 2014, Re Post published a BBC-like version on YouTube. In the version of the audio recording transcribed on the BBC website,[9] location of the F*** phrase is such that it expresses Nuland's own opinion of the EU. This is the version that has been most widely circulated by the BBC and other press sources, and that has caused the diplomatic storm.

It is not presently known which version, if either, corresponds to what Nuland and Pyatt actually said. The fact that various versions of this controversial recording are in circulation has not (as of 28 Feb 2014) been publicly addressed or investigated. It is part of the larger "cui bono" question about who recorded and who released this phone conversation. Nuland herself said that the recordings demonstrated "impressive tradecraft."[25]

Facebook posting

[I posted the following text to FB on 19 March]
I feel impotent saying this, but I'll say it nonetheless. I'm horrified and dismayed by the Russian theft of Crimea. I can scarcely believe that it has happened. Russia's aggression and willingness to invade a neighbouring country seems so archaic, so orthogonal to the direction of contemporary world politics. People go to prison for stealing a car, but Putin and his cabinet have stolen a whole region. The method was so sly, so fast, so relentlessly prosecuted with lies and threats. I wonder if the Russian soldiers felt any shame when their commanders told them to strip off their identifications and patrol the streets without saying they were Russian? I thought this kind of "Russian Bear" behaviour was history. But no, we should still fear Russia, and our governments should prepare for further aggression, bullying and lies. Maybe Crimea will be free again one day, after Putin is dead and a new leader reinstates Khruschev's transfer of Crimea to Ukraine (Khruschev was a Ukrainian himself).

The word "Crimea" is a Tatar word, and Tatars ruled the area from the early middle ages until 1783, the first time that Russia annexed the region. Supporting the Ottoman Empire, France and Britain went to war against Russia in 1854 (the Crimean War), and beat Russia. In the Russian Civil War, after the Revolution, the Red Army murdered 50,000 White Russians in Crimea in 1920, and annexed Crimea again to the USSR the following year. Under Russian rule, Crimea experienced two devastating famines. The first was immediately after annexation, 1921-1922, when the Bolsheviks forced the requisitioning to Moscow of grain and foodstuff from the Crimean countryside. 100,000 Crimean Tatars died of starvation. Only ten years later, the man-made disaster of the Great Famine of 1932-33 was the direct result of the Soviet policies of collectivization and industrialization, and Moscow's policy of exporting Crimean grain at below-market prices in order to destabilize world prices. It killed between six and seven million Ukrainians and Crimeans. Russia started handing out Russian passports to Crimeans in 2008, and promoting its international policy of militarily protecting "Russian citizens" in other countries.

No comments:

Post a Comment