Is this who we want to risk WWIII for?
The brief naval skirmish in the Azov Sea prompted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to declare martial law. It didn't fool many people.
The president’s initial plan was to declare martial law throughout Ukraine for 60 days. With an election scheduled for March 31, this threatened to throw into disarray the campaigns of every candidate except Poroshenko himself. As commander-in-chief, he would be at the center of attention, rallying the nation against the invasion threat.
Poroshenko realized early on, however, that he lacked the votes in parliament to impose 60 days of direct military control. So in his address, he said he would agree to 30 days to allow for the election campaign. That was a major concession. It’s unclear how Ukraine can strengthen its defenses against a Russian attack by handing Poroshenko emergency powers for a month. After that, voters will likely ask themselves what the president had hoped to achieve.
According to a recent poll, nearly 50 percent of Ukrainians won’t vote for Poroshenko under any circumstances. An earlier poll shows that Poroshenko is running in fourth place, just barely ahead of a professional comedian.
Poroshenko is deliberately inflating the Russian threat for his own political advantage.
He said in the debate that he had thwarted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to provoke Ukraine so it would set off a war like the one Georgia fought against Russia in 2008 (and lost).
Putin, however, won’t launch an all-out attack, just as he didn’t in 2014 or 2015, when his army would have easily overrun Ukraine’s weak military. The Kremlin would gain little by invading and, besides, the election provides a much better opportunity for Putin to go on destabilizing and weakening his neighbor.
If that sounds like the moves of a cynical, corrupt government, that's because it is.
The western media left us with the impression that the Maidan Revolution replaced the old corrupt government with a new government.
Moreover, the politicians that came to power after the revolution were not really such new faces: many had served in previous governments and were suspected of corruption themselves.
...Many are bitterly disappointed. Corruption is still rife and no high-level figures have been jailed, either for corruption or their role in the killings on Maidan (most of Yanukovich’s associates fled to Russia). The current government manifestly resists attempts to pass necessary anti-corruption reforms and only caves in under pressure from civil society and the foreign donors that keep the economy afloat.
That isn't just the general impression. It's reflected in the official report from the IMF and World Bank.
“Governance issues – it’s basically a high level of corruption and the rule of man instead of the rule of law –have prevailed in Ukraine.
Just to give you the idea of the levels of corruption, Kateryna Handzyuk, a Ukrainian anti-corruption activist, died last month. She was attacked on the street with a liter of acid three weeks earlier.
Then there is the rise of the neonazis in Ukraine.
They've been busy killing poor members of Ukraine’s Roma communities, an itinerant ethnic group sometimes called Gypsies.
Which is bad enough. But what you may not know about is that the Ukrainian neonazi groups are making connections with white supremacist groups here in the United States.
The Rundo fight has received fresh scrutiny following an FBI criminal complaint against him unsealed last month that preceded his arrest. In it, Special Agent Scott Bierwirth wrote that Azov's military wing is "believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations."
The Azov Battalion flaunts a symbol similar to that of the former Nazi Wolfsangel. (The group claims it is an amalgam of the letters N and I for "national idea.") It has been accused by international human rights groups, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), of committing and allowing serious human rights abuses, including torture.
Following a 2015 deal known as the Minsk Accords that was meant to be a road map to end the fighting but did little more than turn down the intensity, the Azov Battalion was officially incorporated into Ukraine's National Guard and its leadership shifted focus from the battlefield to the political arena.
Does that photo look familiar? It's from Ukraine.
I'm not saying to believe Russia.
I'm saying that Ukraine is as likely to be lying about events there as Russia is.
So before we take any strong stance we should verify the facts independently.
Or don't do anything.