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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 04, 2014 05:34AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
This is a thread to discuss Ukraine.

Ukraine (Listeni/juːˈkreɪn/; Ukrainian: Україна, transliterated: Ukrayina, [ukrɑˈjinɑ]) is a country in Eastern Europe.[8] It has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi) — including Crimea, which is de facto controlled by neighboring Russia — making it the largest country entirely within Europe.[9][10][11] Ukraine borders Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively.

The territory of Ukraine has been inhabited for at least 44,000 years,[12] with the country being a candidate site for the domestication of the horse[13][14][15] and for the origins of the Indo-European language family.

In the Middle Ages, the area became a key center of East Slavic culture, as epitomized by the powerful state of Kievan Rus'. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, Ukraine was contested, ruled and divided by a variety of powers. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but Ukraine remained otherwise divided until its consolidation into a Soviet republic in the 20th century, becoming an independent state only in 1991.

Ukraine has long been a global breadbasket due to its extensive, fertile farmlands. As of 2011, it was the world's third-largest grain exporter with that year's harvest being much larger than average.[16] Ukraine is one of the ten most attractive agricultural land acquisition regions.[17] Additionally, the country has a well-developed manufacturing sector, particularly in aerospace and industrial equipment.

Ukraine is a unitary republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continues to maintain the second-largest military in Europe, after that of Russia, when reserves and paramilitary personnel are taken into account.[18]

The country (including Crimea) is home to 44.6 million people,[3] 77.8% of whom are of Ukrainian ethnicity and with sizable minorities of Russians (17%), Belarusians, Tatars and Romanians. Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine; its alphabet is Cyrillic. Russian is also widely spoken. The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has strongly influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.

Source: Wikipedia
Remainder of source article:

and largest city Kiev
50°27′N 30°30′E

Ukraine is divided into administrative divisions called oblasts.

"The system of Ukrainian subdivisions reflects the country's status as a unitary state (as stated in the country's constitution) with unified legal and administrative regimes for each unit.

Ukraine is subdivided into twenty-four oblasts (provinces) and one autonomous republic (avtonomna respublika), Crimea. Additionally, the cities of Kiev, the capital, and Sevastopol, both have a special legal status. The 24 oblasts and Crimea are subdivided into 490 raions (districts), or second-level administrative units. The average area of a Ukrainian raion is 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi); the average population of a raion is 52,000 people.

Urban areas (cities) can either be subordinated to the state (as in the case of Kiev and Sevastopol), the oblast or raion administrations, depending on their population and socio-economic importance. Lower administrative units include urban-type settlements, which are similar to rural communities, but are more urbanized, including industrial enterprises, educational facilities and transport connections, and villages.

Following 2014 Crimean crisis Crimea and Sevastopol became de facto administrated by the Russian Federation, which claims them as Republic of Crimea and federal city of Sevastopol. Internationally they are still recognised as parts of Ukraine.

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 04:58AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Ukraine's Flag:

Ukraine's Coat of Arms:

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:00AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Location of Ukraine:

Map of Ukraine with Crimea highlighted in light green

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:07AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Ethnic groups in Ukraine:
77.8% Ukrainians
17.3% Russians
4.9% others/unspecified

Unitary semi-presidential republic
- Acting President -- Oleksandr Turchynov
- Prime Minister -- Arseniy Yatsenyuk
- Chairman of Parliament -- Oleksandr Turchynov

message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:12AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod

- Kievan Rus' 882

- Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia 1199

- Zaporizhian Host 17 August 1649

- Ukrainian National Republic 7 November 1917

- West Ukrainian National Republic 1 November 1918

- Ukrainian SSR 10 March 1919

- Carpatho-Ukraine 8 October 1938

- Soviet annexation of Western Ukraine 15 November 1939

- Declaration of Ukrainian Independence 30 June 1941

- Independence from the Soviet Union 24 August 1991

- Current constitution 21 February 2014

Go to Wikipedia article - right navigation area for other links:

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:16AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Current President of Ukraine:

Oleksandr Turchynov

Oleksandr Valentynovych Turchynov (Ukrainian: Олександр Валентинович Турчинов; born 31 March 1964) is a Ukrainian politician, screenwriter, and economist. Turchynov is the current Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament and acting President of Ukraine after Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power by the parliament on 21 February 2014. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, does not regard him as the legitimate Ukrainian President. On 25 February Turchynov assumed the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Turchynov is the first deputy chairman of the political party Batkivshchyna (All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland").

Turchynov has served as acting Prime Minister in the past, when he was the First Vice Prime Minister in the absence of a prime minister after Yulia Tymoshenko's government was dismissed on 3 March 2010;[ until the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) appointed Mykola Azarov as Prime Minister on 11 March 2010.

Source: Wikipedia

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:27AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Due to recent events that have unfolded in Ukraine - I think it is imperative that we set up a thread to discuss these situations.

The following guy was allegedly elected President - but the vote was fraught with fraud. It appears he was a Russian plant - he fled to Russia. Here is a picture of this guy:

Viktor Yanukovych

Because of Russia's subversive tactics to infiltrate the government - they have destabilized Ukraine for quite some time - what we are seeing now had its genesis with this fellow for all intensive purposes - a Putin puppet.

The reason for his removal:

Yanukovych rejected a pending EU association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia. This led to popular protests and the occupation of Kiev's Independence Square dubbed "Euromaidan" by young pro-European Union Ukrainians. In January 2014 this developed into deadly clashes in Independence Square and in areas across Ukraine as Ukrainian citizens confronted the Berkut and other special police units.[4] In February 2014, Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war, as violent clashes between protesters and special police forces led to many deaths and injuries. Yanukovych claimed on 21 February 2014 that after lengthy discussions he had reached an agreement with the opposition. However later that day he fled the capital for Kharkiv, traveling next to Crimea and eventually to southern Russia. (Source for the above excerpt - Wikipedia)


The parliament had to remove him because he had fled the country (unbelievable) - it would be like President Obama fleeing to Kenya and thinking that he could still be President of the United States.

See article in Wikipedia for more details:

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 02, 2014 10:16AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Clashes in Eastern Ukraine as Moscow Issues New Warnings

Ukrainian soldiers stood guard Friday at a checkpoint near the eastern town of Slovyansk, a pro-Russian stronghold. Credit Baz Ratner/Reuters

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Two days after Ukraine’s interim government declared itself all but helpless to control events in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian military and police forces on Friday resumed their effort to retake this rebel-controlled city, forcing armed separatists from the city’s outskirts with armored vehicles, helicopters and ground troops.

Source: The New York Times

Full Article:

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 02, 2014 07:19PM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Fox News;

Russian separatists down 2 choppers, fighting spreads to Odessa as Ukraine teeters

Pro-Russian separatists shot down two helicopters in a key eastern Ukrainian city, and fighting in the port city of Odessa triggered a fire that killed dozens, as the embattled nation moved closer to the brink of civil war.


I have to say that I love how Putin's spokesperson is saying that hopes for peace are waning when Russia and Putin instigated this whole thing. So sad for Ukraine.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Best quote of the day:(by French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud)

“A pyromaniac fireman situation is what we have here,” French U.N. Ambassador Gérard Araud said. Russia is “screaming in order to make us forget that this path was set long ago, and it’s no longer possible to go backwards.”

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 02, 2014 07:29PM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Ukraine suffers deadliest day in months; 34 killed in Odessa

Putin's rendition of the facts is stunning. I have to say that I agree with the French ambassador

By Simon Denyer and Anna Nemtsova, Updated: Friday, May 2, 6:20 PM E-mail the writer
DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day in nearly three months on Friday, with at least nine people killed when the army launched its first major assault on a rebel stronghold and 34 killed in clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian mobs in the Black Sea port city of Odessa.

The Ukrainian army attacked Slovyansk in the east of the country at dawn, provoking the heaviest military fighting since a pro-Russian uprising began a month ago. The army took control of the major checkpoints outside the city but was unable to force its way into the center, and two of its helicopters were shot down.

Remainder of article:

Source: The Washington Post

message 12: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4261 comments Mod
It looks like the crisis is moving beyond anyone's control, be it Putin or the Ukrainians or the West. I doubt eastern Ukrainians will be as enthusiastic about annexations as Crimeans were. This situation seems much more perilous. Let's hope Putin realizes that as well.

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 04:09AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Jerome - I wish that I could say that I had faith that things would right themselves. The skilled Russian special troops are causing a major disturbance and let us not forget that they have infiltrated Ukraine already and are the ones creating this firestorm - so how can the pyromaniac fireman (Putin) put the genie back into the bottle now. He can't and that is the exact situation he wanted.

He has created such havoc and that is exactly what he set out to do as well as do a land grab - thinking that Europe would not stand up to him nor the US - and that happened too.

The sanctions are hurting him (for sure) - but they are not enough. The Europeans are really listless on this. And I cannot understand how they can forget what the Russians did in Europe or even other countries which did the same thing (do I dare mention Hitler). What Putin and his Russian cronies did in Crimea was a big, big deal.

Putin never should have been lauded on the world stage - he has shown his true colors and it is not pretty. I doubt that anybody outside of Russia (aside from folks being supplied their oil) or the Syrian President have much understanding for this situation - but they do not stand up to him - what he is doing is the same frankly as what a Saddam Hussein did with Kuwait - and he was routed.

Putin just lies and lies and lies and pretends that Russians are not on the Ukrainian border, were not infiltrating Crimea, are not causing disturbances in Odessa or Kiev - but the set of facts speak for themselves.

Daniel Moynihan said: "You are entitled to your own opinion - but you are not entitled to your own set of facts".

Putin does not realize anything I am afraid except what he wants - he is not only a pyromaniac (Gerard's term) but a megalomaniac - his desire for power and control is insatiable right now - he is a prime example of a person being in power too long.

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 04:20AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Ukraine minister: Russia planning invasion
Andrii Deshchytsia, foreign minister, says Russia has infiltrated Ukraine's eastern areas and plans further incursions.

Ukraine's foreign minister has accused Russian troops of infiltrating and destabilising the east of the country, saying Moscow plans to invade and annex other regions.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Andrii Deshchytsia said that Russian "special troops" and intelligence officers were blackmailing and intimidating Ukrainian citizens to create a false impression of popular support for Moscow.


The only good news in this article is that Russia is entering into a recession - let us hope that the sanctions become tougher. A lot tougher and be directed at Putin himself.

Source: Al Jazeera

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:34AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Abducted international military observers freed in east Ukraine as crisis spirals
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Nick Paton Walsh and Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 7:21 AM EDT, Sat May 3, 2014

Source: CNN



Good news - observation team released - 4 were Germans

Bad News:

However, there are many other hostages that are still being held by the Russians (aka pro Russian separatists as they liked to be called).

Additionally how do normal citizens (pro Russia or not) get mobile defense systems to shoot down helicopters?

message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 04:55AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Officials: Russian fighter jet provokes U.S. ship

Source: CNN

Good News: There was no incident between them and the Russian jet though provocative allegedly was not armed.

Bad News: It happened (reminiscent of the Cold War) and Brennan is in Kiev.

message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 04:54AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
This one would be funny if it were not so sad - now the Russians who we have seen bulldozing a gate to a Ukranian military installation are now blaming the West for the crisis in Ukraine. Putin is beyond hopeless at this point. No wonder the French UN Ambassador became unglued.

Here is the article:

Russia blames the West for crisis in Ukraine
Moscow accuses the West at a UN Security Council meeting of using double standards when dealing with Ukraine crisis.

Source: Al Jazeera

Good News:

Nobody is fooled by Russia's and Putin's accusations:

The representatives of Western nations at the meeting, including ambassadors of UK, US and France, said they would not be "fooled by Russia", saying that the fact pro-Russian rebels shot down Ukraine's military helicopters was one of the clear indications that they were not civilians.

Meanwhile, Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's interim president, said on Friday that Ukrainian border troops had rebuffed attempts by Russian "armed saboteurs" to cross into Ukraine overnight.

Bad News:

The majority of the article

message 18: by Martin (last edited May 03, 2014 05:29AM) (new)

Martin Zook | 615 comments I think Russia has put themselves in a very bad position.

Economic considerations - the Rooskie economy is teetering on the threshold of a recession. Their bellicose foreign policy only contributes to the down spiral, an invasion would have potentially disastrous effect on the economy.

Economic considerations - the Ukraine/Crimea crisis takes domestic attention away from the faltering economy and channels energy into the war myth, rooted in nationalism. Putin couldn't do a better job of drugging his public if he mandated heroin injections.

It seems the most effective solution is a diplomatic one that includes a package that allows the Rooskie military to back off, while giving some assurances that pro-Russian Ukrainians receive some protection measures or other political bone, and a door is opened to Russia to improve its economic plight - if they behave.

message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Please feel free to discuss Ukraine's situation or any aspect of what is going on. Be civil and respectful and if you cite an author or book - please add those citations.

message 20: by Martin (new)

Martin Zook | 615 comments I am reading War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and the author's contentions about how the myths conjured to support armed conflict are playing out in spades in the Ukraine.

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges by Chris Hedges Chris Hedges

message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 03, 2014 05:48AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Very true Martin - Putin has created a very very dangerous situation and I am worried about a conflict between the United States and Russia due to Putin's megalomaniac tendencies of late. I actually think that Russia getting the Olympics stoked the fire for this making Putin more full of himself. I remember when the team from Ukraine walked in -how the Russian crowd erupted and I thought then - oh oh - they have designs on Ukraine.

According to current reports - Russia has entered a recession.

Here is the quote from the Al Jazeera article:

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday announced a $17bn bailout for Ukraine, while also announcing that Russia was entering into a recession.

Thank you for the add and citation.

Lastly - do you think that it is in Putin's DNA to behave? He now believes that he is synonymous with Mother Russia. One of the most dangerous men for Russia (and the world) since Stalin.

message 22: by Martin (last edited May 03, 2014 07:22AM) (new)

Martin Zook | 615 comments Behave is a relative term at best, no?

I think it's possible to create a context so that he can get out of the corner he painted himself into.

I'm not concerned about armed conflict, for the simple reason it's senseless for us to involve ourselves militarily. We know. They know. Everyone knows. (Course I thought the same thing about Iraq, so never underestimate the stoopidity of our leaders.)

I have no inside knowledge, but reading the tea leaves I suspect the Russian leadership is in the process of realizing an invasion of Ukraine could risk economic disaster.

Of course, one of the problems in conjuring the war jinni is that it's difficult to get the sob back in the bottle. The jinni is able to delude through the illusion of quick and easy conflicts that last much longer, not unlike our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, say.

message 23: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 181 comments Thank you for this. I've been monitoring the situation but have been too busy to study it.

message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
@Aloha - you are welcome - what are thoughts on the situation?

message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 04, 2014 05:16AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Behave is a relative term at best, no?

I think it's possible to create a context so that he can get out of the corner he painted himself into.

I'm not concerned about armed conflict, for the sim..."

Very funny about the Iraq statement. The reality however was not funny at all.

I think we are among the war weary. However having said that - Putin should not be allowed to get away with this and let us hope that the sanctions take hold even though retaliatory strikes will certainly be made against energy companies like Exxon and BP and others. Tit for tat can be expected.

message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 04, 2014 05:35AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
This was an article from the Kyiv Post: - not recent but gives a good idea of what Ukraine is up against.

Brian Bonner: Ukraine on verge of losing 20 percent of its nation
Print version
April 15, 2014, 3:38 p.m. | Op-ed — by Brian Bonner

If the West and Ukrainians want to save the nation, the time is now. After the Russian annexation of Crimea in March, Ukraine lost nearly 5 percent of its residents and territory.

Now the Russian-backed insurgents and separatists remain on the offensive and on the verge of taking over Donetsk Oblast, with not insignificant support of the local population. Probably the majority still oppose this takeover, but it's hard to argue with masked green men pointing automatic rifles at you.

Our journalists on the ground said that it’s going to be extremely difficult for Ukraine’s military to retake cities such as Sloviansk, a district outpost of 120,000 people, where Russian soldiers have given citizens hundreds of Kalashnikovs to defend themselves -- or shoot anybody coming from Kyiv.

The same sort of arming of civilians appears to be going on in many locations of the oblast, which is home to 4.5 million people, 10 percent of Ukraine’s population of 45 million people.

So, add up Crimea, with up to 2.2 million people, and now Donetsk Oblast, and Ukraine has lost 15 percent of its nation.

Next, Luhansk Oblast is very vulnerable, sitting on the far eastern edge of the nation will a long border with Russia. That’s another 5 percent of the population, or 2.2 million people.

Altogether, we're talking about nearly 9 million out of 45 million people – 20 percent of the nation lost -- including its industrial heartland and its peninsula surrounded by two seas.

This is a staggering loss, and has even led to unconfirmed and officially denied reports that Ukraine has decided to pull back its easternmost military defense of the nation to a north-south line running from Kharkiv to Dnipropetrovsk and then Zaporizhyia oblasts.

And still, Ukraine’s borders with Russia are not closed completely. Ukrainian companies are still doing business with Russia. And the interim Ukrainian government has lost much credibility in failing to launch – or not wanting to launch – a military crackdown, despite promising one since April 11.

As former Security Service of Ukraine chief Igor Smeshko said: “Russia will go as far as we let them.”

This is pretty far, it appears.

Too many in the nation, it is clear, are living as if nothing is happening or they remain indifferent and defeatist. Others, although a distinct minority, support the Russian invasion.

It is still a safe bet that most Ukrainians will fight, if given the means.

But with each passing day and loss of territory, it looks as if the West is not going to ride to the rescue. U.S. President Barack Obama still says he's not going to arm Ukrainians.

The United States and European Union applied such puny sanctions after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Crimean invasion that he felt emboldened to go after Ukraine’s largest oblast. And there’s still no reason for him to stop his march westward.

The West keeps issuing meaningless statements of grave concern and warning Russia not to go any further, otherwise, next time they’ll get tough. And they expect Russia and the rest of the world to take them seriously.

How far west do Russian forces have to go before the democratic West starts helping Ukraine defend itself from the militaristic revival of Russia?

To the Golden Gates of Kyiv? To Lviv? To the border with Poland?

Pro-Russia activists stand in front a so-called Donetsk Republic flag as they guard a barricade outside the regional police building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 15, 2014. Ukraine's acting president accused Russia on April 15 of harbouring "brutal plans" to destabilise the southeast of his ex-Soviet country by backing separatist militants. "Russia had and continues to have brutal plans," Oleksandr Turchynov told a session of parliament. "They want to set fire not only to the Donetsk region but to the entire south and east -- from Kharkiv to the Odessa region." AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV

Source for all of the above:

message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
This is a great article from the Los Angeles Times by Patricia Herlihy about the history of Ukraine

What Vladimir Putin chooses not to know about Russian history

"KGB agents are apparently not taught history, or so it would seem from Vladimir Putin's recent statement that only "God knows" how a portion of southeastern Ukraine ever became part of that country.

The Russian president refers to the region as "New Russia," an old idea that has always been — and remains — an aspiration rather than a fact. Luhansk, Donetsk, Odessa and other New Russian cities have been a part of Ukraine for nearly a century. And even before that, they were never truly Russian.

It was Empress Catherine II who first articulated the ambition that this territory, which she acquired from the Ottoman Turks in the latter half of the 18th century, would become "Novorossiia."

Catherine wanted her subjects to settle the new, mostly vacant land, and she did her best to lure Russian nobles into the area. But few were willing to take chances on "the wild fields," no matter what kind of deals she offered.

Next, she posted fliers in Europe promising cheap land, religious freedom and exemption from taxes and military service to those who would settle in the area. Mennonite and Catholic Germans, Italians, Jews, and some Swiss, among other nationalities, accepted the invitation.

Later, Catherine's grandson, Czar Alexander I, recruited dissidents from the Ottoman Empire — Albanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Moldavians, Greeks, Armenians and even some Turks — to settle in New Russia as an anchor against any Ottoman attempts to reclaim it. Some of the pockets of foreign settlement were even exempted from Russian czarist rule and allowed to preserve their national languages and customs. In the end, Catherine's New Russia became home to many more non-Russians than Russians.

The area's major cities also had distinctly non-Russian roots. Luhansk was founded in the late 1700s by an Englishman, and Donetsk was established in 1865 by a Welsh entrepreneur, who built a steel mill and opened coal mines. For almost a century after its founding, the settlement was known as Yuzkovo (as close to the name of its founder, John Hughes, as the residents could manage) before being changed to Donetsk in 1961.
Early European governors of Odessa, New Russia's largest Black Sea port, helped by the czars, did much to develop its economy and welfare. But by the mid-19th century, Russia was suspicious of the city because of its foreign population. Greeks, Bulgarians, Poles and Ukrainians formed secret societies. Jews made up an increasing percentage of the population. And Nicholas I, who ruled from 1825 to 1855, called Odessa "a nest of conspirators."

Even in Soviet times, Odessa was a city low on the pecking order. Again, as in czarist days, its residents weren't given to taking edicts from the Russian government all that seriously. One never could be quite sure of Odessa's Marxist orthodoxy — after all, this was where Leon Trotsky had gone to school and where Mensheviks flourished before 1917. After the 1917 revolution, it took several years for the Bolsheviks to subdue the city.

The Soviet regime increased Russian presence in the region, but Odessa never fully embraced Moscow, and it remained a poor cousin to other Soviet cities. Food and goods were in shorter supply than elsewhere, and first-rate opera and ballet companies rarely played the gorgeous Opera House designed by Austrians in the 1880s.

On Easter Sunday this year, a Russian Orthodox group in Odessa proclaimed the formation of a Novorossiia Republic centered in Odessa. The small band named Valery Kaurov, head of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine, president of this imaginary, religion-based republic. Taking refuge in Moscow because Ukrainian authorities have launched a criminal investigation of him, Kaurov addressed the group assembled in Odessa by Skype, imploring them "to promote this historical name, to say and write that … our land is Novorossiia — an important part of the Holy Russia."

Ironically, in the 19th century when there actually was a Novorossiia, Odessa was known for its ungodly ways. There were fewer Orthodox Churches per capita there than in any other large city in the Russian empire. And the members of a Jewish synagogue there shocked more pious Jews by installing a pipe organ. A Yiddish expression held that the fires of hell burned around the city for its lack of piety. Worldly, materialistic, commercial, impudent, entrepreneurial and ethnically diverse, Odessa was an exceptionally cosmopolitan and non-Russian city.

It's easy to understand why Putin would covet and wish to annex Odessa and other southeast Ukrainian cities, but calling them Russian cities evokes a history that never was. In the 1920s, when Vladimir Lenin made the region officially a part of Ukraine and granted the Ukrainian Socialist Republic a veneer of autonomy, he said he was doing so "to avoid Great Russian imperialism and chauvinism." Vladimir Putin clearly sees nothing wrong with these traits.

Patricia Herlihy is a professor of history emerita at Brown University and an adjunct professor at the Watson Institute for International Studies. She is the author of "Odessa: A History, 1794-1914" and "Vodka: A Global History."

message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Odessa A History, 1794-1914 by Patricia Herlihy Vodka A Global History by Patricia Herlihy both by Patricia Herlihy (no photo)

message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Canada imposes further economic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine crisis
OTTAWA — The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, May. 04 2014, 11:09 AM EDT
Last updated Sunday, May. 04 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

Ottawa says it is imposing economic sanctions on 16 more Russian “entities” over that country’s actions in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement Sunday saying Russia’s “illegal occupation of Ukraine and provocative military activity” remains a serious concern.

Harper says the latest measures should increase the economic pressure on Russia and “those responsible for the crisis in Ukraine.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Activist investor chased out of Russia explains how to really hurt Putin
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, May. 03 2014, 10:58 AM EDT
Last updated Saturday, May. 03 2014, 10:58 AM EDT

Bill Browder used to get treated like a crank when he asked governments to put economic sanctions on Russian officials. Now they ask his advice.

The CEO of Hermitage Capital was an activist investor chased out of Russia for disturbing the country’s billionaire oligarchs. He mounted a campaign for sanctions against the officials who persecuted his late lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.

Now, Mr. Browder is no longer in the wilderness – he’s in the mainstream. And he argues that western sanctions against just a hundred or so oligarchs and advisers would push Russian President Vladimir Putin back from the brink for his incursions in Ukraine.

It would work, Mr. Browder argues, because Mr. Putin is a kleptocrat who has grown wealthy with money stashed for him by oligarchs – and because freezing the businesses of oligarchs will shake the pact between them and Mr. Putin.

“He cares about his money in the West. So this gives us an opportunity to seize it, or freeze it, or to make it less valuable,” Mr. Browder said in an interview at an Ottawa hotel this week.

But European nations are balking at broad sanctions that might disrupt trade, especially supplies of Russian energy. The U.S., EU, and Canada have placed sanctions on a number of Russian officials and some oligarchs. Mr. Browder notes that the head of energy giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, isn’t on the list. Obvious targets, some prominent global citizens and owners of famous sports franchises, aren’t either. Those drawing up the lists, he said, seem naïve or cynical.

There’s a reason governments are asking this investor about who to sanction. He built a business on finding how Russian oligarchs squirreled money away.

His grandfather, Earl Browder, was the leading Communist in the U.S., who twice ran for president against Franklin Roosevelt. He rebelled against the family culture, and set out to become the “biggest capitalist in Eastern Europe.” By 1996, he had his own Russian stock fund, Hermitage. It became a $4.5-billion fund, Russia’s biggest.

For investors, Russia in the 1990s was the Wild West. He found management was stealing billions from companies in which he owned shares, so his fund researched how oligarchs stole, and exposed it. “We created a whole business model around its Wild Westness,” Mr. Browder said. “If we could expose the bad stuff, it would sometimes stop. And if it stopped, then the value of our investments would go up.”

Mr. Putin, who pledged to clean things up, ended up working with the oligarchs. He crushed the richest, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, so the others, Mr. Browder believes, made a deal to share wealth with Mr. Putin. Instead of being a welcome gadfly, Mr. Browder was expelled from Russia in 2005.

More than a year later, Russian authorities raided Hermitage’s Moscow office and law firm, seizing corporate documents. Hermitage’s tax lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, investigated and testified that officials used the documents to steal $230-million in taxes. Mr. Magnitsky was arrested, pressured to recant, held in jail for 358 days, and refused treatment for pancreatitis and gall stones. He died in jail in 2009, after a beating, at 37.

Mr. Browder led a campaign to have western nations impose sanctions on officials involved – and in 2012, the U.S. passed the Magnitsky Act, prohibiting them from entering the U.S., or using its banks. But most countries, including Canada, didn’t follow suit. They sympathized, Mr. Browder said, but didn’t want to pick a fight with Mr. Putin.

If they had, Mr. Browder, believes, Mr. Putin wouldn’t doubt the West’s will to impose sanctions now. He believes Mr. Putin’s real interests are his money.

“It’s easily findable. It’s too much money not to find,” he said. His firm located most of the $230-million from the Magnitsky tax case, so U.S. intelligence agencies could easily find Mr. Putin’s money, held by wealthy “oligarch trustees” on his behalf. Mr. Browder said that if he was drawing up sanctions for Ukraine, he’d hit Mr. Putin’s cabinet ministers, and about 80 per cent of the oligarchs.

Yes, they could move money to China, but once they are on the U.S. Treasury sanctions list, he said, they can’t do business with any company that had U.S. interests, or open a bank account. And when the oligarchs are angry about losing money, a paranoid Mr. Putin will start worrying about which one “is going to come after him first.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
G7 to discuss Russia, Keystone XL
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 02 2014, 9:16 PM EDT
Last updated Friday, May. 02 2014, 9:20 PM EDT

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford will use a G7 energy ministers meeting next week to highlight the global importance of Canada’s vast oil and gas reserves, and urge the U.S. to approve the stalled Keystone XL pipeline to enhance energy security.

Against the backdrop of a deepening crisis in Ukraine, the minister will travel with Group of Seven colleagues to Rome on Monday to discuss measures to counter Russian dominance of European energy markets, and eastern Europe in particular.

Mr. Rickford will meet separately with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and will again lobby for quick passage of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline project. The State Department has delayed the decision, pending a court decision in Nebraska over whether the state violated its own constitution when it approved the pipeline route.

“I’m not going to lose an opportunity to raise it,” Mr. Rickford said, adding that the crisis in Ukraine illustrates the importance of energy security not just in North America but around the world. “Energy security is the cornerstone of national security, economic prosperity and global stability.”

In the short term, there is little the G7 can do to wean Eastern Europe off its dependence on Russian energy. Ukraine and Slovakia have agreed to reverse the flow of a pipeline to bring gas from Western Europe east, but the volumes will be small.

Ukraine depends on Russia for almost all its imported gas, most of its crude oil and all the enriched uranium needed to run its nuclear power plants. Last month, Moscow’s OAO Gazprom announced an 80-per-cent increase in the price it will charge the former Soviet republic, which it formerly subsidized.

Mr. Rickford said ministers will look for ways to diversify Eastern Europe’s energy supply, but will also encourage countries to use their existing energy supplies more efficiently.

And he said Canada has a prominent role to play over the longer term. Crude pipelines heading east, west and south could bring more Canadian oil onto world markets, while British Columbia is gearing up for more development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

Energy experts told a Commons committee this week that Canada has a serious “infrastructure deficit” that will take up to seven years to address – and that assumes an aggressive, problem-free building program for projects that face significant political opposition. In a declaration signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in March, the United States and European Union said they would “redouble trans-Atlantic efforts” to diversify energy sources.

Source: The Globe and Mail

message 32: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen It really concerns me what is going on in the Ukraine. As past history of the world has shown us, small "incidents" in different parts of the world have the potential to explode in far bigger problems. What is the solution I'm not sure but I do feel people ought to educate themselves on what is happening so it doesn't happen again. BTW, Bentley, love your profile pic. Is that your dog?

message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Yes, Doreen it is.

I agree - the World Wars and how they started speak volumes.

It is this type of situation that could become a tinderbox. The Russians are really afraid of NATO. What happens in any part of the world is important to all of us especially with Russia's history.

message 34: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen The US cannot nor should it be the world's policemen. Everyone needs to take accountability for their own actions.

message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Very true - but during World War I and II - folks realized very soon that they are all in the same boat - and you cannot look away.

message 36: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen Yes you are right in not looking away. My point, that I didn't explain properly, my fault, is that the whole world needs to take notice of what's happening. Today it is the Ukraine but tomorrow it could be another country.

message 37: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Very true Doreen - the world is a much smaller place - and what happens in a foreign shore can come home to roost.

message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Ukraine needs a new and honest narrative of its complex history

Vadim Altskan was born in Ukraine and is a project manager in the United States Holocaust Museum’s International Archival Program, focusing on rescuing the evidence of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union. Sara J. Bloomfield is the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

message 39: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Bush on Putin: "I think he changed". A good interpretation.
Also it was interesting to see how Putin seemed to admire Bush - you can tell with his body language and how he looked at him - I think Putin liked Bush - it is obvious with his body language how he does not have the same respect for President Obama which is a shame. However, Putin may just want to take a different attitude because it suits him now.

This is a video with Jake Tapper and they are talking about Ukraine.

message 40: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 05, 2014 03:36PM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
I have to ask who gave the Pro-Russian separatists their weapons and their other equipment - these are not civilians who are causing this trouble and they will have to be disarmed at one point or another. How this is done is going to be interesting.

They are setting up their bases in civilian areas (outrageous)

Heavy clashes reported as Ukrainian forces tackle pro-Russian separatists
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
updated 2:16 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014

Additionally, NATO has estimated that up to 40,000 Russian troops are now near the border with Ukraine, which has made Kiev's government and neighboring nations wary of invasion.

A senior U.S. official told CNN on Monday that the latest intelligence still showed 40,000 to 50,000 Russian troops on the border.

That is a lot of troops.

Remainder of article and video:

Source: CNN

message 41: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks for briefing us, Bentley, I am really hoping there won't be an invasion, but I am not holding my breathe.

message 42: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 06, 2014 03:10PM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Bryan - me neither - Putin is out of control and thinks that everybody else is weak except for himself of course. And he just does not have the chemistry with Obama - I think honestly he has more chemistry with Merkel!

You are welcome - I was trying on this thread to summarize how Ukraine got into this position.

message 43: by Harry (new)

Harry (harryj) | 81 comments Bentley, first, thank you very much for this thread........your indepth background and review of the history and news has brought me; and I'm sure the rest of the readers/members of this forum up to speed on what is becoming a serious situation. Your reference to Hitler; (in one of your previous comments)is in my opinion right on the money. Don't give Putin the Sudetenland! or should I refer to it as the Anschluss!

message 44: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
You are welcome Harry - I fear that the die is cast - sometimes things are set into motion that cannot be reversed - and how does Putin back down - (if in fact he would ever do that).

Yes, I do worry that I am seeing similarities with other leaders of the past who identified themselves with any of the "isms".

message 45: by Harry (new)

Harry (harryj) | 81 comments Has anyone noticed the great number of Goodread members located in the Ukraine?

message 46: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 07, 2014 04:48AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
No I did not - we do have 170 countries now - if you use your mobile device - the mobile app shows the true number - back in October Amazon servers took over here and the counter cannot count daily visitors on this application. The last new country where we got members was Rwanda no less.

With another program in the way - the daily counts are not showing up - because the counter cannot count. But at least the mobil app shows the new countries being added.

However, in terms of goodreads as a whole - I am sure that there are many. I will look it up.

Update: I did check and I have to agree about the power of the internet! The first Ukrainian visitor (person signing in from the Ukraine) joined our group on February 2014. We got the country flag then - About 54 other new visitors arrived thereafter in the past couple of months.

Our newest country flag is Rwanda - not Vatican City - and we have 170 countries accounted for.

The counter never counts anybody twice - once the IP address is counted the first time - it is never counted again as unique or new. Other new countries are Malawi. We never know any other details whatsoever. And of course once you have been counted you are not counted again.

The counter indicates when a person arrives from a country that has never been counted before and awards a new flag count. It also does regional flags and state flags. Any time a new person arrives from that country - that is also counted.

Unfortunately we cannot count any longer the daily visits from anybody that we use to count before October 2013. However, the mobile device gives latest country. I think Malawi was new as well.

Also, a lot of folks read the site - over 100,000 views and that too mat be much, much more.. So the short answer is yes - there appears to have been an uptick since the start of the Ukrainian situation of late - from Ukraine as you aptly noticed. Like I said the internet is powerful.

message 47: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 07, 2014 05:17AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Back to Ukraine - it is obvious that Russia is trying to control elections in Ukraine and it probably has to do with NATO ties or ties that an incumbent could have with the West. Since Russia's puppet president in Ukraine fled the country and escaped to Russia - it is obvious to anybody who is neutral what is going on.

The elections are supposed to take place on May 25th and Russia is hell bent on trying to delay them. Of course the G7 and Ukraine are not.

Russia is even bent on trying to force a change in the Ukrainian constitution!!!!!

In fact any security concerns are really being caused by the Russians - and they are also the ones calling wolf.

Here is an article from NYT:

As Ukrainian Election Looms, Western Powers and Russia Campaign for Influence

KIEV, Ukraine — Russia and the West maneuvered on Tuesday ahead of a seemingly inevitable clash over Ukraine’s plan to hold a presidential election on May 25 that Western powers view as crucial to restoring stability and that the Kremlin says will be illegitimate, particularly if the government in Kiev cannot first stabilize the country.

Senior Russian officials have repeatedly referred to the provisional government in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, as an illegitimate “junta.” From their perspective, allowing an election to go forward when no pro-Russian candidate has a real chance of winning would seriously weaken the Kremlin’s influence in Ukraine. It could also help the West coax the country out of Moscow’s orbit.

Russia has made clear that it wants the election to be delayed. Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov pressed the point again on Tuesday, insisting that the interim government end bloodshed and amend the Constitution to devolve power to the regions — and that it do so before Ukrainians are asked to choose a new leader.

Such changes would presumably address the demands by some pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine for a new system that would weaken the central government and expand the authority of regional and local officials.

“Holding elections in a situation where the armed forces are being used against part of the population is rather unusual,” Mr. Lavrov said at a news conference in Vienna, where about 30 foreign ministers met under the auspices of the Council of Europe to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

“The criteria of any process involving citizen choice are well known to all,” Mr. Lavrov said, according to the Interfax news service. “Elections and referendums must be free and fair, and they must proceed in a situation excluding violence and under objective and unbiased international monitoring.”

At the Vienna meeting, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, said that Russian worries about violence were disingenuous as the Kremlin had fed the conflict in Ukraine to undermine the presidential election. “Russia is clearly intent on preventing or disrupting those elections,” he told reporters, according to The Associated Press. He added that the foreign ministers at the meeting supported the vote being held without outside interference.

Further complicating the issue, the Ukrainian Parliament decided on Tuesday not to hold a national referendum at the same time as the presidential election. Some leaders in eastern Ukraine who support the provisional government had proposed holding the two the same day to help defuse tensions.

The Parliament vote to delay the referendum, with some lawmakers citing security concerns, seemed certain to reinforce Russia’s contention that the unsettled circumstances would not allow for a legitimate presidential election.

At a news conference after the special closed session of Parliament, Andriy V. Senchenko, a member of the Fatherland party, said that a referendum could not be held amid the current violence.

“Any referendum should take place when there is a guarantee that the will of the people is not expressed at gunpoint,” Mr. Senchenko said, according to Ukrainian news services.

Mr. Senchenko struggled, however, to explain why the presidential vote could still proceed. He said that while the national result in the presidential election would yield an indisputable victor, a referendum could result in different outcomes in different regions.

“If we have a referendum in that manner, its results can be used for political manipulations by separatists and their coordinators from special intelligence services from the Russian Federation,” he said.

Ukraine’s interior minister said Tuesday that four government soldiers and about 30 pro-Russian rebels had been killed in clashes a day earlier near the city of Slovyansk. Rebels also forced down a Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter, which was later destroyed, in the town of Krasny Liman, near Slovyansk.

Local residents said the pilots landed because one was wounded by ground fire. Another helicopter evacuated them and a third aircraft, described by witnesses as an attack jet, destroyed the helicopter so that it could not be used by rebels. The husk of the aircraft, with one rotor still attached, sat in a shallow swamp on Tuesday and local men scavenged for scrap.

In a little-reported episode on Monday, the Ukrainian security service said it had seized 1.5 kilograms of contraband uranium from a vehicle in the southern region of Chernovtsy. The car had license plates from Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova. Nine occupants of the car were detained, eight Ukrainian citizens and one Russian, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry.

Trafficking of radioactive material has long been a problem in Ukraine, which once housed Soviet nuclear weapons. The amount of material reported to have been seized would have been too small to manufacture a nuclear weapon. The statement also did not say how radioactive or enriched the material was.

The rising debate over the election came as officials in Kiev seemed to be girding for violence ahead of a holiday on Friday commemorating victory in World War II. On Monday, the acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said that checkpoints had been established at strategic points around the capital to guard against potential attacks.

While the central government convened a meeting of regional officials on Tuesday to discuss a “decentralization” plan, which is viewed as a potential political solution to the separatist violence, the deputy prime minister in charge of drawing up the proposal conceded that it would not be ready before the presidential election.

C. J. Chivers contributed reporting from Slovyansk, Ukraine; Alan Cowell from London; and David E. Sanger from Washington.

Source for the above article:

message 48: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 07, 2014 05:14AM) (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Troop Buildups: (There are 45,000 Russian troops on Ukraine's border)

Check out this article:

message 49: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44128 comments Mod
Thank you Mike

message 50: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4261 comments Mod
This Blessed Land: Crimea and the Crimean Tatars

This Blessed Land Crimea and the Crimean Tatars by Paul Robert Magocsi by Paul Robert Magocsi (no photo)


A virtual island in the Black Sea, Crimea is connected to the European continent by only a narrow sliver of land. For centuries it was part of the Ottoman and Russian empires, then the Soviet Union, and today independent Ukraine. But its history goes back even farther, as is evident from a landscape filled with the remnants of cultures and peoples: classical Greeks, Goths, Byzantines, Mongols, imperial Russians, and, most importantly, Crimean Tatars.

An authoritative introduction to this fascinating region, This Blessed Land is the first book in English to trace the vast history of Crimea from pre-historic times to the present. Written by Paul Robert Magocsi, author of A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples and the Historical Atlas of Central Europe, This Blessed Land will captivate general readers and serious scholars alike.

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