Published on 3 Mar 2014

Is ‘big nasty Putin’ really as bad as he’s made out to be?

So we sit here today with William Hague telling us Ukraine is the biggest crisis of the century. That’s the same William Hague – foreign secretary – who led a campaign to arm the Syrian rebels of such flimsiness that even his own Foreign Office latterly commuted it into non-lethal support and now says scarcely anything about it at all.

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Has he misread this situation too? Has he misread the extraordinary scenes played out in the centre of Kiev which have led to the current reaction in eastern Ukraine and Crimea?

The trouble with Kiev was that so much of the coverage was so completely one-sided. I mean literally so. The bulk of TV news coverage was filmed from the protesters’ side in the square.

Their point of view, physically. Literally – western viewers were on the side of the protesters far more than the government forces.

When they were brutally and inexcusably wounded and killed by gunfire we saw that and incredible footage it was. “Our side”, at least physically, was getting slaughtered.

Read more: inside Ukraine… praying for peace in the shadow of war

But we saw rather less – a lot less in fact – of gunmen on the protesters’ side.

We saw very little of security forces shot by then. More often than not western cameras just weren’t on that side.

No doubt there are good reasons for this but the net effect should trouble us.

We saw riot police captured and rounded up by the rebels and offered cigarettes as they were lined up for the media and paraded as prisoners (an illegal act in terms of warfare and the Geneva Conventions) but note that we saw nothing of what happened to them after that.

Read more: could Russia invade Ukraine?

The response to the protesters was terrible of course. But there was violence on both sides, very obviously so. Troublingly, a democratically elected government was arguably overthrown by force in Kiev itself.

When the cameras reached the deposed president’s lavish house and private zoo we were invited to make comparisons with history’s maniacal despots – Mobutu, Bokassa or Ceausescu nearer to home. That should cause us in the west to pause more than we do.

Vladimir Putin is an easy bogeyman. He is everything we want a “Big Bad Russian” to be. In his shirt-removing, animal hunting absurdity he is too easy to pigeon-hole.

But faced with provinces in Crimea and perhaps beyond where the hefty majority is ethnically Russian and has seen their government democratically elected, toppled by violence, should we be surprised by Mr Putin and is the easy demonising of him into silly cold war imagery really accurate or reasonable?

Read more: Russia behaving ‘like 19th century power’ – Kerry

Mr Putin has simply done precisely what I predicted he would do when I reported on this the day before the move into Crimea happened – used special forces to spearhead a defence of his own ethnic people. Think Georgia in 2008 though this time with – as yet – mercifully no violence at all.

That could change. Or a deal could be quickly reached for a democratic way out.

Clearly the people of Crimea are welcoming the Russians to at least some degree. Crimeans need to have the choice – by vote – about which country they wish to live in and Ukraine and Russia need to abide by that.

Mr Putin is no salesman for democracy – he is a semi-dictator in image, style and action.

Read more: can a divided west take a stand against Russia?

But however the west may gag on it – the democratic edge in this stuggle may well lie with Moscow at the moment.

Has Mr Putin burned that in sending in regular forces after the special forces made their initial move?

That is the more difficult question to weigh. But for now “big bad Russia”, “big nasty Putin” and “poor heroic Ukraine” looks a little too simplistic to me.

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42 reader comments

  1. Alan Bishop says:

    The same rings true for the Syrian crisis – very biased reportage in favour of terrorists who are hell bent on destruction of another secular Arab country.

  2. Philip Edwards says:

    Alex,

    The parallels with Venezuela are more than uncanny. The same Western media and political tactics are all over both.

    Remember when the CIA instigated a failed coup attempt in Caracas? It was spontaneously foiled when the people rose up. Then video evidence emerged of the coup-makers firing on a crowd and trying to blame it on the Hugo Chavez government. All this while hate-filled Yank politicians and media were openly calling for the assassination of Chavez. Now there is a diluted version of the same criminality.

    Hague of course is a droning hypocrite of the worst type, as are Cameron, Milliband and Clegg. Unfortunately you won’t find him or his ilk ever arraigned in front of the International Criminal Court. For them to talk of “sovereignty” after their support of international invasions is sickening.

    I have no doubt Putin’s government is well out of kilter with Western propaganda. That’s what he gets for going along with the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church and its medieval superstitions. Western Christian churches are little different. There is no doubt the Berkut fired on protestors, but of course Western propaganda has failed to ask what triggered it. Why be surprised when Britain still hasn’t resolved the murders of innocents in Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday?

    It is absurd hypocrisy for anyone in Britain to attack Russia for trying to protect its people in Eastern Ukraine. What do you think British soldiers were doing in Northern Ireland, plaiting sawdust? And what of the invasions and mass murders in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yank military attacks in Central and South America?

    Where the present crisis is concerned let nobody forget who precipitated this tragedy with a coup against a democratically elected government. We may not like that government or the Russian government but they WERE ELECTED. The present Ukraine “government” is appointed. One of their “ministers” has even called for Ukraine to manufacture and use nuclear weapons.

    The fact is the whole Ukraine tragedy (as in Venezuela) reeks of a plot instigated by the usual “intelligence” lunatics in the CIA and their glove puppets in MI6. The other important fact is that Ukraine nationalism has documented long term roots in fascism and collaboration with the Nazis in their mass murders of Jews and partisans. Both the CIA and MI6 have a long term record in trying to destabilise the country by using the same criminals. Shades of Osama Bin Laden.

    Finally, your blog is the most honest C4 News blog on the Ukraine tragedy. All the rest have been an utter disgrace, a disgusting and shameful plethora of cowardly distortions and outright lies. Most of it would have kept Josef Goebbels and Julius Streicher happy.

    In your case, well done. It was long overdue from C4 News.

    1. Diane says:

      I agree with aiming to take a balanced and objective view of things. However I believe a number of your points are misplaced and some omitted. It pains me when people note how a ‘democratically elected’ president and regime has been deposed by force…. He was elected on a certain manifesto which he & his government didn’t diver on; on the contrary, they ruined the country through corruption and self service. If anything, I think we should perhaps find some inspiration in their revolt as western ‘democratic’ governments are also pretty corrupt, albeit not on the same scale, do and not deliver on the promises they make per-election. The sad thing is that the mainstream population may still not win as their interests are not as well represented politically as those of the more aggressive stakeholders – ie Russion, EU, Anerican and the local extreme right. This seems to be the unfortunate turn of events for all the recent revolutions across the globe – the legitimate protest of the mainstream population is hijacked by unscrupulous national and international interests. I can only hope that this is at least the first step on a long journey to a more fair and just society.

  3. adil says:

    I wonder how much of this is spurred by GazProm? I believe rather major pipelines transport gas to Europe through the Ukraine. Perhaps a strongly pro-Europe Ukraine would have an impact on this? So, perhaps using the argument of supporting peoples that feel themselves to be Russian is an attempt to show the Ukraine that Russia will not tolerate disobedient neighbours?
    The Russians are clever people and I suspect they will quickly realise such an approach serves nobodies interests. I am sure they see they can score significantly over the west by allowing the Ukraine to determine its own path.
    The Ukraines are also clever and can most likely see that ensuring all the peoples of the Ukraine are properly represented in Government would address the existing concerns.

  4. Peter says:

    Dear Alex,

    How refreshing to read your coments on this crazy situation in the Ukraine. So far all the media and goverments of the USA, UK and EU have been blasting Russia for getting involved but you seem to be bringing some common sense into the debate.

    I have long been a fan of C4 News and have always found you not be frightened to go where other news channels fear to tread, as in the case of the Iraq war, when you had Alistair Campbell running into your studio spitting fire about WMD and the sad death of Dr David Kelly. You did a great job at bringing them to book over this whole sordid affair but things have changed and now you don’t seem to challenge or question the alternative view so much.

    I am particularly appalled and horrified to see the way in which the UK government have effectively supported the unlawful overthrow of the legitimate Ukrainian government. It beggar’s belief that we should even become involved, let alone apply sanctions against a legitimately elected government.

    Clearly a democratic route would have been the answer, by having the elections that were intially agreed upon. This way all the people in the Ukraine would have a voice and not just those who use force.

  5. Philip says:

    I largely agree on the substance. But sending your troops into another country is an illegal act of invasion. What evidence is there – other than Russian propaganda smears – of a threat to any Russian living in the Crimea or Eastern Ukraine? It seems to me that this is an act of revenge, pure and simple. Putin didn’t like the deal the Ukraine was going to sign with the EU, so he effectively bribed & cajoled his corrupt protégé to annul it. When the Ukrainian people objected and demonstrated, it was Yanyshkovych who started the use of force. The fact that he couldn’t maintain his position in Kyiv caused him to flee and produce a power vacuum which has been filled by people who aren’t under Putin’s control and threaten to take the country at least partly out of his sphere of influence.
    There were lots of things he could have done to deal with this problem – not least on the money & energy supply front, as well as waiting until what is probably an unstable coalition in Kyiv fell apart. Instead his wounded ego demanded a “tough guy” response, which has probably served to unify the Ukrainians (as opposed to Russians living in the Ukraine) far more effectively that anything else anyone could have done.
    Putin is a semi-democratic despot who brooks no dissent within Russia and has all the psychological profile of a little boy who feels he was bullied as a child and now he’s grown up & is bigger than most of those around him, feels he needs to redress the balance.
    (I also think it’s unwise to make the sort of comment about the riot police who had been rounded up. (a) is what happened in Kyiv covered by the Geneva convention? (b) you have no evidence that “what happened to them afterwards” was bad in the way you phrase it suggests).

    1. charlie says:

      Did the USA and their lapdog The Brits not invade a Sovereign State namely Iraq

    2. Michael says:

      If Philip was aware of the news, he would see that the democratically elected leader of Ukraine was deposed by mob rule because he favoured Russia over EU. That would cause alarm to ANY Russian under Ukraine control, particularly the Crimea where their mayor, ostensibly autonomous had the consensus of his party declared illegal because it was contrary to the mob-elected government.

  6. Joseph Owens says:

    You write this ridiculous claptrap even as an ultimatum to surrender or suffer attacks on troops under siege in their own country is issued by the Kremlin. Would you have apologised for the ‘unfair media bias’ in discounting Hitlers use of the same premise of protecting ethnic nationals in Czechoslovakia? Would you feel different if Russian troops landed in Chelsea because Putin doesn’t like how the borough council treats ethnic Russians? If there was ever a Neville Chamberlin Peace Prize you would be an excellent candidate.

    1. S Richards says:

      @Joseph Owens

      There was no ultimatum issued by the Russian government or Putin. It was either a lie or misinformation provided by many western media outlets or from elements of the Ukrainian government which the media picked up on.

      The proof of that is that the ultimatum has come and gone and, guess what, nothing happened, and strangely the media seem to have conveniently forgotten it.

      All that has apparently happened is the mobilisation of the Black Sea Fleet at the end of February which, as you know, is based in the Crimea. I believe it’s called protecting ones interests as any government anywhere in the world would do. Many Ukrainians in the military have defected to Crimea (and I stress not Russia, in case of confusion). Oh, and there are many Russians in Crimea (about 60% of the population) and following the apparent anti-Russian legislation that has been imposed by the Ukraine interim government (or through abolition of liberal laws such as the language law), which hints of Ultra-Nationalism, and the request of assistance to Russia from the newly instated Prime Minister of Crimea then it’s not surprising Russia now has a foothold there!

      But ultimatums and invasions. No, bit of an exaggeration there.

    2. Yulia says:

      You are so right! Great example re Chelsea! What was that about interview-attack by Cathy Newman 10 min ago? Are people blind or stupid? How on Earth you can justified the invader and think “the democratic edge in this struggle may well lie with Moscow at the moment” ???
      Alex Thomson is wrong about media propaganda, it is Putin who has complete control over media in Russia (not Ukraine as he says in his article) so people there got information which he wants them to know. Putin just stirring s… situation in Eastern Ukraine, but who is “unhappy pro-Russians there”? – the criminals who had recent amnesty just before Yanukovich fled and now paid by Russia and, now finally admitted by Putin, Russian military…

  7. PETER HARVEY says:

    At last some balanced common sense from Channel 4.
    Ukraine still needs all their people to work together, have elections where the result is transparent and has been scrupulously monitored by the United Nations.
    At present neither the Ukrainian nor the Crimean Governments have credibility

  8. Andrew John says:

    Agree with quite a lot, if not everything, that Alex says. Western media may have been physically located with the protesters, but this is no excuse for their one-eyed coverage of the Kiev protests. Media outlets – yes, including C4 News – instinctively sympathise with ‘protesters’. There are understandable reasons for this – those in the street are often the downtrodden or disenfranchised. But there are also selfish reasons: the protesters’ angle is more likely to deliver close-up shots of bloodied faces; the protesters’ agenda is more likely to deliver some form of change that can be reported as ‘historic’ or ‘unprecedented’ etc. In contrast, news organisations have hardly bothered to feed us basic but vital information such as: What are Ukraine’s constitutional arrangements? What is the Ukrainian armed forces’ chain of command? How is Crimea governed? etc. So I for one would like to hear Alex’s ideas of how to achieve more balanced coverage!

    1. Joseph Owens says:

      There is a very good and simple reason for ‘unbalanced’ media coverage. Protests are made by a crowd of people, each one of them there because they think there is a story that needs to be made known. They are willing to speak . Governments give very controlled release of information to the media. Police and military at the ground level are discouraged if not outright forbidden to comment even in countries with established democratic governments. The more headline the regime and delicate the situation the more sparing they are with the release of information. Embedding reporters with police lines requires permission that is rarely given even in western countries with a history of a free press. 10 minutes of footage of a policeman in riot gear staring stonily at a camera might give equal time but serve no real purpose.

  9. Paula White says:

    A terrible article. What a disappointment to see Alex Thomson repeating the ‘defence of his own ethnic people’ canard. Defence from what? Ethnic Russians in Ukraine were and are under no threat. They may not like the transitional government and its political outlook but that’s a different matter. The endless repetition of this ‘justification’ by the Russian government (and the western media) does not make it true.

    And to say that the democratic edge lies with Moscow is bizarre and insulting. Alex is apparently ignorant of Ukraine’s history: that Russia has for centuries regarded Ukraine as its possession and coveted it since it regained independence in 1991.

    It is laughable for Russians to claim mistreatment when for decades, centuries even, they massively oppressed the Ukrainian people – attempting to wipe out the language and culture, deporting thousands, filling all positions of power with ethnic Russians. When it comes to discrimination and oppression Russians were pretty much the experts. Now instead of facing up to their own guilt, they try to project it on others and use it as an excuse for an illegal land grab.

    Ukraine may not be perfect but it has the right to decide its own fate – not have it imposed through brute force. There is no justice at work here, only the law of the jungle.

    1. Joseph Owens says:

      Spot on! This idiot is championing the same arguments and policies which made a human abbatoire of the former Yugoslavia. There has been no confirmed inter ethnic violence reported by any independent source. But you can bet that if this ended tomorrow the dissension and mistrust this invasion has caused will very likely lead to at LEAST discrimination and hostility by all parties for a generation or more.

      And a reporter should know the Geneva Convention governs treatment of foreign troops. It has no bearing on internal policy or practices involving residents of the country. A difference of opinion on a topic of this matter is understandable. To imply impropriety under international treaties by the people under the guns of foreign troops is farcical incompetence of the subject or pure propaganda.

    2. Peter says:

      “Ukraine may not be perfect but it has the right to decide its own fate – not have it imposed through brute force. There is no justice at work here, only the law of the jungle”
      Totally agree that they have a democratic right, so why did the self imposed Ukrainian gov not allow the process of a fair election to be carried out, as per the signed agreement with the ousted president, which was later torn up? My guess is that a free and fair election would not go the way the West and EU want it to go, so they decided to take the course of mob rule. President Putin is only doing what he feels is necessary to stop the flow of the far right/West’s intervention and takeover of a country that has very stong ties with Russia.

  10. Leslie says:

    As I listen to the almost-total Russian government controlled news outlets, I have to agree with Alex that that an alternate view point is critical to minimize the potential for simplistic decisions. I think we should assume that there will be no effective alternate (from State controlled) viewpoints emanating from Russian media for a while, so we must assume that at least one side (and possibly both sides) of this conflict is/are prone to simplicity. Putin was already pissed with the West when he splashed out $50bn for the Winter Olympics and no one turned up. The Ukrainians in Maydan were not so stupid. They knew they had to push the issue before the Winter Olympics were over, because they knew Putin would not stand for their protests once his Sochi party was done. So the real question is how does one react to simplicity? It seems fairly clear that Crimea is not the prize here – Russia already had its naval base there and no one was seriously threatening it. Eastern Ukraine? Now that would be a prize for Russia. Eastern Ukraine has some of the largest shale oil and gas deposits in Europe – enough to get Europe away from Russian gas. Kiev and Western Ukraine? That might cheer the Russia people who have been fed a perverse view of their own history, but Russia has tried to wipe out the Ukrainian people before and lost. Whatever Putin chooses, he will ultimately lose. He should have let Yanukovych sign the EU dea and a Russian deall. EU would have done little as it is uniquely capable of doing. IMF would have imposed changes and ultimately be blamed for the austerity. By 2015, Yanukovych could blame the IMF and likely steal the election for another 5 years. Now Putin has pushed Ukraine firmly west and has awoken the West to accept them. 1979 Afghanistan again. The dangers of the lack of a broad and diverse viewpoint!!!!

  11. Richard says:

    An excellent article, which is a much-needed counterbalance to the blatantly anti-Russia coverage. BBC’s Newsnight has also addressed the imbalance by revealing the role played by neo-Nazis in the recent uprising. Unsurprisingly, far-right groups in Kiev have referred to Ukrainian Jews and ethnic Russians as “non-clean,” so it is no surprise that Putin has cast doubt on the integrity of the revolution. It’s not often that I side with Russia, but in this case it is Russia which is acting in the best interests of the region. The US, meanwhile, is escalating tensions by using inflammatory language and bullying tactics. And let’s not forget that the US recently invaded Iraq on a much flimsier pretext than Russia’s benign “occupation” of Crimea.

  12. Geoff Oates says:

    To my knowledge there has been no threat from the Kiev government that the East of Ukraine have to fear.
    Or, am I wrong?
    The East speaks Russian, and they have done for years. There is nothing wrong in that.
    So, for what reason does Putin have for “coming to help” Russian speakers in the East of Ukriane?
    NONE
    Why is he in Crimea?
    To “defend” his Military Base in Sevastopol.
    Did the Ukraine Military surround this base?
    No !
    Has the Russian Military surrounded the Ukraine Base?
    Yes!
    So, who do you think the aggressor is here ?
    The Kiev Government or President Putin ?
    There can only be one answer !
    Jumped-Up Napoleonic President Putin !

  13. David says:

    I agree with Paula White – a disappointing ill thought out article. There are some basic facts – Crimea is part of Ukraine and it is currently occupied by Russian forces. The ethnic Russian population may for up to 60 % of the total population but I never heard any serious reports it was being threatened or persecuted. What about the other 40%? How can occupying part of another country give ‘a democratic edge’ ? Could the same be said about Mr Hitler and Germany when it occupied the Sudetenland Land in 1938? We know where that led!
    Allowing Russia to get away with this is dangerous – what if the Russian minorities in the Baltic States fancy a visit from Mr Putin? They are officially in NATO.

  14. Graham says:

    Thank you Alex for this thoughtful piece of journalism. I am appalled but not surprised at the overall unbalanced coverage in the media. A number of the new self appointed ministers have well documented backgrounds in extreme right neo nazi parties in Ukraine. The police have disappeared from the streets in Kyiv, to be replaced by unaccountable individuals and groups. Euromaidan supporters are clearly ecstatic, but there are reports of other residents of Kyiv in great fear, particularly Jewish Ukrainians, members and supporters of the Party of Regions and members and supporters of the Communist Party ( a legal party with members of parliament ). If attacks on the police by armed groups and the overthrow of a democratically elected government by armed force are acceptable in the Ukraine, then so much for the mantra about the rule of law spouted by all western politicians in their own countries. As for Crimea, the people must be allowed their own choice by ballot and it is hardly surprising that Russia has taken strong action to protect its own security concerns and to offer support to ethnic Russians. But as of this moment not one shot has been fired. Demonising President Putin is bizarre if comparisons are made with Iraq, Afghanistan and other USA/UK backed wars which have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

  15. Garry says:

    Well done Alex.

    The only bit of balanced analysis I`ve read on the crisis.

    Kerry and Hague are dishonourable in the extreme.

    Putin is more honest than both of them both put together. Which in itself is a sad reflection.

    1. Peter says:

      Very good point. Putin has not gone blasting into countries that are far from his the borders, in the way the UK and USA, have in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, etc but he has simply attempted to secure a situation on his own border, where the legitimate government have been overthrown by mob rule. Good cause I would say. When are we going to see your balanced comments reflected by Matt, Jon, Cathy, Lindsey and Co in the main TV news?

  16. John McLean says:

    I think most people can see this, you’re not a visionary Alex. Really self-congratulatory tone in this article.

  17. DavidP says:

    I would say that Putin’s unwavering support of Assad’s terror campaign against the Syrian people should have been a warning to us.

  18. Alenka says:

    Ok, first the security and the “Majdan” protests. The demonstrations/riots were not limited to Kyiv, but also in other cities like Lviv. From november to begin february, there was NO Berkut security presence. The police was ordinary police and hardly armed, just sticks and under strict order to be passive. They were subject to incredible acts of violence from these so-called “peaceful students” that was not peaceful students but trained militia chanting “world war three”. The Berkut not came in until policeman were besten senseless (to brain damage) and put on fire and driven over with bulldozer! What do the Russian Ukrainian and Crimeans have to fear someone seks here. There are FIVE ministers in this “new government” that are pure fascist by international standard. And according to themselves. The first priority of action, on the first day in power, they outlaw Russian taught in school to Russian children. Everybody must speak Ukrainian. The second is: abolish law forbidding the use of the Wolfsangel, the symbol of once the Galician SS that killed hundred of thousands Russian, Polish, Jews and Gypsies by bullet, burning and suffocating. What have we to fear? The West obsessed with Putin, and stupiditly supporting total scum like they would never ever accept in their own political structures.

    1. Peter says:

      I am amazed that the EU are giving 11 billion euros and so much credibility to this spurious group in Kiev. Brooks Newmark was on C4 News the other day calling for strict sanctions against Russia but I put it to him in an email that I was interested to hear him refer to Russia as “occupying a sovereign nation”. Maybe I have missed something here but did I not witness a band of rebels overthrow the legitimately elected president of the Ukraine and occupy the government offices and place themselves in a position of power by forceful and un-democratic means? Is he actually saying that he is in favour of this? As before any condemnation can be levelled at Russia, surely we should look at ourselves as hypocrites for supporting an un-elected group of thugs, who suddenly appear in Western eyes as the legitimate government of Ukraine. Does he not think they should have been elected in a democratic election process, so that ALL the people of the Ukraine can have their say and not just those who want to impose their own will upon the nation/people, simply because they are looking to become closer to the EU?

      I said I would be interested to hear his view but of couse he did not reply.!!

  19. Diane says:

    I don’t see my comment here from the 5th March. Is this due to an oversight or Russian / Chinese style censorship??

  20. Peter says:

    My heartiest congratulations to the people of Crimea for standing up against the wave of threats from the west. The whole overthrow of the ligitimate government in Kiev by armed gangs has nothing to do with democracy, which the US & EU constantly bangs on about. If anything at least in the Crimea, they had a perfectly legal referendum. They clearly do not like the type of “democracy” handed out by the west and feel safer with Russia and I can’t say I blame them.
    No western news chanel seems to have asked the obvious question about the new self imposed government in the Ukraine, that being how can they be ligitimate when they took power by force and did not put it to the vote of all the people in a “democratic” way? How are we to know the true feelings of all Ukranians, if they did not have a voice, maybe many did not want this up-rising.

    1. Geoffrey Oates says:

      Peter, the first thing is: Crimea belongs to the Tartars. It was taken from them by Joesph Stalin in 1944, and re-populated with Russsians ! The Ukrainians and Tartars have been trying to settle there since the fall down of the USSR !
      The second thing is: There was a deal which was signed by Yanukovych and the Political Opposistion in Kiev. This put the Ukraine back to the old constitution. This also meant that the person who was responsible for arming the Berkut and telling them to shoot civilians could be “brought to book” and face trial. Yanukovych is not that silly, and so he ran away! For days upon days they were trying to find him, and no-one knew where he was. The country was in a shit state, and they had to do something. They put a vote in front of their parliament and a new president was sworn in, followed by a new government. No armed gangs !
      However, in Crimea, an armed gang took over their parliament building in Simferopol the very next day after there was a rally in the square. The Prime Minister of Crimea told the crowd to go home, they are Ukrainians, and they are safe. The very next day and armed gang, some say Russian Special Forces, took over the parliament building in Simferopol, they installed a “New Prime Minister” and “Invited” the Russian Army to “Help” them !
      You will notice that the Russian Army did not wear insignia, and, Putin actually denied that the Forces were Russian.
      So, there was a referendum, under the control of an Armed Force. Most of the Tartars were forbidden to vote, they “did not have the correct facilities to vote in” Most of the Ukrainians vetoed the referendum, and so, we have a 95% vote to join Russia. A 100% legal vote would have been a different result ! I know the Russians, and believe me it would have been a different result !
      Putin wants Crimea for his Navy. He does not have access to the Med if he does not.
      Annexing Crimea now gives him a “Free Naval Base” and he does not have to bargain with the Kiev government to get it !
      PUTIN IS A NAPOLEONIC TYRANT AND SHOULD BE STOPPED !

      1. Peter says:

        Hi Geoffrey, Thank you for an interesting and informative response. I bow to you clearly superior knowledge of the region and things Russian. I have no axe to grind but come at this simply from the perspective that this much troubled country is now in the control of an un-elected government. No matter what you say about President Putin’s aspirations on the Ukraine, you have to admit that it was all developed by gangs of people, the backgrounds of which many question, who surprisingly skilfully constructed barricades and dug up pavements to use as missiles and emptied bottles of beer to refill them with petrol, to make Molotov cocktails. This from a pure outsiders view looked so polished and organised that one has to suspect considerable backing from the west. One Ukrainian soldier to defect to Crimea said that there was a hard core of protesters who were actually Americans.
        The new self-imposed government reneged on the original agreement to have a fair election and just formed a government by force, which despite what you say about the referendum in Crimea being under Russian army occupation, was none the less still a vote open to all people. In Kiev that was not afforded all the people, had it been it would be very interesting to see if this new self-imposed government would have been elected but it is too late for that now. Clearly the EU backed by the USA is still anti-Russian and almost are looking for another cold war, or worse. The fact that the new self-imposed government immediately decided to drop the Russian language, is in my opinion bound to cause great anger among the majority of Russian speaking people living in the Ukraine. So if you are looking for a way to start a war, no doubt this is the way to do it.
        I try to keep abreast of the western news media, ITV,C4,BBC,CNN, etc and also Russia Today and Al Jazeera and as much as both are into propaganda, it is interesting to try to pick your way through to some indications of the truth in the whole affair and I am still doing that.

      2. Geoffrey Oates says:

        Hi Peter, thank you for your reply to my post. I was trying to put forward my viewpoint, and I also have no axe to grind.
        I was married to a girl from the Ukraine, we are now divorced, and I know what it is like to live in Ukraine under a tyrannical government. Leonid Kuchma was the president at the time, and he was WORSE than Yanukovych ! Believe it or not !
        Now your point about an un-elected government.
        Yanukovych ran away, and hid, no-one knew where he was. He now says he was in Karkhov, but why did no-one know he was there then ?
        He says he ran away because he feared for his life !
        CCTV clearly shows him escaping from his house, in a helicopter, loads of stuff that he should not have had, and trucks loads of stuff in a convoy! He actually complained that his convoy was stopped once !
        And so, Ukraine now had no President, he had made powers that made him like Putin, a dictator, so there was no government, as such !
        The mediators sent from the EU and Russia had got him to sign a document which took Ukraine back to where it was BEFORE all the riots ! Of course, this meant that he would be taken to court for crimes against the people ! So guess what ? he ran away !
        A new government was formed in Ukraine parliament, voted in by the parliament. Elected members of the opposition parties, people who HAD been voted for in an election !
        Let me now address the crowds in Independent Square. There has been lots of rumours about these people. I must confess I had not heard the rumour about them being from America until you put it into your post ! There were supposed to be Nazi’s also !
        All kinds of people ! However, I was fortunate enough to be corresponding to one of these “Rioters” on my facebook page. She was telling about what was going off, and how the big the crowds were, when they were big, and when they were small.
        This lady is five feet four inches, a GIANT of a lady ! Please pardon the pun ! She would never hurt a fly, this is one of the people who you say was emptying vodka bottles and filling them to be “Molotov cocktails”
        I will just digress a little to tell you how the name “Molotov Cocktail” came into the dictionary:-
        The name “Molotov cocktail” was coined by the Finns during the so called “Winter War”. Moltov Cocktail is an insulting reference to the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, who was responsible for the setting of “spheres of interest” in Eastern Europe under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939. The pact with the Nazis bearing Molotov’s name, which secretly stated the Soviet intention to invade Finland in November 1939, was widely mocked by the Finns, as well as much of the propaganda Molotov produced to accompany it, including his declaration on Soviet state radio that bombing missions over Finland were actually airborne humanitarian food deliveries for their starving neighbours. The Finns, far from starving and engaged in a bitter war for national survival with the Soviet forces, sarcastically dubbed the Soviet cluster bombs “Molotov bread baskets” in reference to Molotov’s propaganda broadcasts. When the hand-held bottle firebomb was developed to attack Soviet tanks, the Finns called it the “Molotov cocktail”, as “a drink to go with the food”. Molotov himself despised the name, particularly as the term became ubiquitous and generalised as the Soviets faced increasing numbers of cocktail-throwing protesters in the Eastern Bloc in the years after World War II. For example the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. The Russians are famous for “Helping” people in their sphere of influence !

        Now, I will agree with you that trying to find the truth amongst all the propaganda that is coming out of Ukraine is very difficult. But, Putin has got what he wanted. The Russian Fleet is now safe in Sevastopol, and he will no longer have to pay Ukraine for the privilege. A bargain you might say !

      3. Peter says:

        Hi Geoffrey, Thank you so much for this very interesting history of the changing situations in the Ukraine over the years. Your in-depth knowledge is clearly as a result of the lady you were married to. As I said previously I have no axe to grind but find the reactions of the USA in particular very worrying, the friendly chats in the Whitehouse with the new “president” of the Ukraine is almost sickening, hugs and smiles all round. My concern comes in light of their actions in Iraq, Libya and many other places. They are an interfering nation and should keep out of the affairs of sovereign nations. Acting like a police force to the world, imposing their version of “democracy” is not what many want and it is sad to see how quickly the UK are running to their aid. Tony Blair’s deception that Iraq had WMD is just a small indication of the skulduggery the west will get up to, in order to gain a foothold in these countries, often forcing regime change for their own benefit.
        So you see I am suspicious of just what is going on in the Ukraine and who is behind all of this trouble. We have neighbours who are Russian speaking Ukrainians and they say that those who seized power by force in Kiev are simply mad and do not represent the true wishes of many of the people.
        I see what you are saying about Yanukovych and of course he was and still is pro Russia but there must have been a more democratic way to depose him through the ballot box. I dislike up-risings, the so called “Arab Spring” seems to be almost like an epidemic and what do you end up with? Situations like they have in Egypt, where the result was a military coup. Syria is another disaster in the making, although it is already a disaster I suppose. There is more trouble in Iraq and Libya than ever there was under Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, who despite being tyrants, did maintain a semblance of peace and security, as long as you did not step out of line.
        As for the Ukraine, I am praying for peace for the whole region and not for anyone to try to rattle the Russian’s into something catastrophic.

  21. G says:

    I almost totally agree with you this time.
    But, a free vote in Crimea would have been better. Without the gunmen taking over the Administration Center the day before, and without the “Russian Soldiers” although Putin denies they are his soldiers !
    The result would probably have been the same, with the majority wanting to re-join Russian. However the Ukrainians would have voted the way they wanted to, and so would the Tartars, so, it would have not been 95% like Putin and the media keep saying.
    It would have been a true vote and then it should be put to the Ukraine constitution.
    Then, no problem!

  22. Peter says:

    Hi Geoffrey, Thanks for response, it looks like we are meeting on common ground at last. I think the reason for securing the Administration Centre would have almost certainly been because they feared interference for the new self-imposed government in Kiev and the West and therefore wanted to secure their position. I was horrified to hear reports on RT that the US government are feeding, via some woman close to the Whitehouse, whose name escapes me, pure lies about who was behind the shooting of the Ukrainian soldier in Crimea just a couple of days ago. She was actively saying that this was carried out by Russian troops, without any evidence as such and when questioned about it by an RT reporter; she more of less said well it had to be didn’t it? She then brushed her aside and asked are there any other questions. There was also the, alleged, pre-staged action by an RT reporter who live on air condemned Russia for their actions. Again this is said to have been set up by a far right think tank in the USA. The list of reports that never get aired on the BBC, ITV, CNN, etc, is endless. Not to say that they are all true but they need to be heard and investigated and not just swept under the carpet, in the way Katherine Ashton did re the report from the Estonian president that the snipers in Kiev were actually organised by the activists to formed the new government by force. I rest my case.

  23. Peter says:

    Quote from BBC News “Ukraine’s interim President Olexander Turchynov orders withdrawal of military forces from Crimean peninsula” In my opinion he could not order a big mac and fries without Washington telling him to! An illegitimate puppet put there by the west. I wonder what the “Police force to the world” (USA) are going to do about the death sentence handed out by the Egyptian military coup government, on 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, little or nothing no doubt. Someone turned the power off yesterday to the whole of Crimea, which is provided by the Ukraine, they said it’s a power fault, oh yea and the Pope is not a catholic.! ( am I the only person on this blog now?)

  24. Geoffrey Oates says:

    The answer to your question “am I the only person on this blog now” seems to be YES . . . the only reason I am going to respond to your last blog is it is now obvious, to a blind man, that you are definitely “anti-western” The police force to the world comment is about the best you can come up with, and the interim president of Ukraine was not put there by Washington, as you seem to think, he was voted in by the Ukraine Parliamnet. But .. . . . you know my views on this subject, so I think enough is enough . . . .. just final point .. . . . why is the Russian Army still on standby for a war footing? . . .. oooohhhh . . .. maybe some-one else will need their “HELP” ! ! ! !! ! !! ! !

    1. Peter says:

      Hi Geoffrey, Sorry, you sound a bit rattled! First of all let me say that I am a man in his mid-60s, so I’ve been around the block a few times. I am not at all “anti-western” in fact I am quite the opposite, very much a “Royalist” think our Queen and the Royal Family are wonderful and would do a much better job at running things than any government. What I am anti, is corruption, deceit and lies. Now you may immediately say that there is plenty of that going on in Russia and maybe so but I simply feel that this is by no means as cut and dried an issue as you seem to think it is. Maybe I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist but there are a lot of us out there and rightly so. There is a need to think outside the box when you see such atrocities going on as has been happening in the Ukraine of late. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am aware of what is eventually is going to be the end result of this build up to a war footing. It may not happen now but if the west continues to ramp things up, it will happen at some point. As to Russia having troops on the border with Ukraine, I guess they are as worried, with NATO jets flying along their border, as those in Ukraine are about some form of imminent attack. Only time will tell the story.
      It has been a pleasure engaging with you and I will turn the lights out as I leave. May God bless you.

  25. PJ Harvey says:

    Seems that G Oates is a teeny bit anti-Russian himself. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

    1. Peter says:

      Amen Brother! (Or sister) Notice that the main stream news from the west did not report the shooting by Ukrainian police of the far right activist yesterday, who was in the forefront of the overthrow of the Ukraine government but now is surplus to requirements and does not suit the squeaky clean image that the EU and USA want the new self-imposed government to present. Best supress that as best possible. It was on Euronews and RT however.

    2. Geoffrey Oates says:

      Hi Peter, so we are both the same age, and have similar interests. As an ex-soldier the Queen used to be my boss!
      Deceit and lies I can agree are the issue. And it is hard to see the truth with all the propaganda being thrown around. I agree there are bad guys on the Government of Ukraine, it is difficult to get a government together when it is an interim government, and they WILL get it wrong, but, at least, they are trying. Look at our own coalition government!
      The problem with Russian Forces being ramped up is NOT because of NATO jets flying around Russian borders. When I was in the Forces, a long time ago maybe, when it was the USSR against NATO, more or less, the USSR used to send a bomber over to the UK just about every day of the week, and we had to scramble our jets to “escort” it back again, it was a game, a very deadly game, to see who was actually “ready”
      No-one wants a war, certainly not with Russia, the big bang will DEFINATEY end it, and I am also a Christian, so I know what the “end” will be! And lets hope it is a long way off ! The trouble is, Putin does not see it that way ! Little men have a Napoleon streak a mile wide, and his is more than a mile wide! He is an ex KGB Colonel, and I know how they used to be !
      So . . . I will also sign off, and lets hope that the Crimea gets back to its rightful owners, the Tartars, Ukraine will be free, and have a choice of where it wants to be, and, Putin can get back into his box where he came from ! Take care, and best wishes, Geoff
      Oh, by the way, I am NOT ant-Russian as suggested in the previous post. I have a vast amount of Russian speaking friends, as I told you before, I was married to a Ukraine girl from the East, where they all speak Russian! But Jumped up Napoleon-istic dictators get my goat!

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