This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Sorting out what is going on in the Ukraine is one of the toughest jobs out there due to its complex history, multitude of ethnicities, neighbors, shifting borders over the centuries, religious squabbles, wars, and age-old resentments. In this regard, it is as complex, or more, than the Middle East.
Trust us, we have spent many an long evening trying to understand this, and the work is reminiscent of looking at a bone which has fractured and splintered in many places, causing great pain.
So we are very grateful for this submission from Mr. Dublanica, who is of Galician descent, and provides some valuable insight into this key part of the puzzle.
It is this extreme complexity that leads us to our opinion, that in the long run, the Russians will beat out the US in the Ukraine proxy struggle, because they understand it better. The US just doesn't have the expertise needed to make the right moves...
Ukraine’s radical right wing element originates mainly in the western province of Galicia, that makes up 12% of the population. 1.000 years ago, Galicia was part of Kiev Rus and was subsequently under Polish or Austro-Hungarian rule until it was liberated by the Red Army in 1939.
The last hundred years are crucial to understanding Galicians. At the end of WWI, Poland was reconstituted after a two hundred year long dismember-ment. The Curzon Line marked the border between Poland and the Ukraine, until Poland’s Marshall Pilsudski attacked during the Russian Revolution and took over Galicia in 1918, a military dictatorship ruling until 1939.
Galicians were repressed to the point of assassinating the Polish Interior minister and other officials, and in a move that would be considered ethnic cleansing today, the government sent hundreds of thousands of Poles into the area hoping to expel the Ukrainians, prolonging a centuries-old Ukrainian/Galician Polish conflict.
A group known as the SZLACHTA ( wealthy Polish landlords) contributed considerably to this conflict, referring to the area as the “PARADISE of NOBILITY and JEWS “. When Galicia was liberated from Polish rule by the Red Army in 1939, the SZLACHTA were eliminated. From the summer of 1941 to 1944, when Galicia was under German occupation, a small group led by Stefan Bandera collaborated with the Germans, hoping to get rid of the Poles and establish an independent Ukraine.
Bandera and other nationalist leaders were sons of Uniate Catholic priests, the religion having been imposed on the Ukraine in 1596 by its Polish overlords. Their liturgy was identical to the Orthodox, the priests were permitted to marry but had to submit to the Pope in Rome. When the Red Army liberated Galicia in 1944, the population became Orthodox just as they had been in Kievan Rus 1,000 years earlier. Radical Ukrainian nationalism is the product of this history.
When in 2014, President Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement to join the E.U., preferring Putin’s association offer, he was deposed by a well-organized mob. The Western (mainly U.S.) powers made it clear that they expected Ukraine to join the E.U. and possibly also NATO, partly because of its resources. (The E.U. is in financial difficulty, especially its southern countries, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.)
In the election of Petro Poroshenko as president, the two most radical parties each got 1% of the popular vote. Not even the population of Galicia, which has remained Orthodox, supported the fascist dictatorship backed by mobs who worship Bandera and his Nazi ideology. (Given that millions were killed to defeat them in World War II, it is a mystery why Europe and the U.S. tolerate such a government.)
Ukrainian radicals have a specific agenda, namely that their country be European and Christian, free of foreign influence . But if that’s what you want, why would you want to be a member of the E.U.?
Remembering and honoring their common history and heritage, Ukrainians would do better to get over their petty differences with Russia, which came to their rescue over the centuries against Poland, Germany, Sweden, Turks and Tatars, since both countries are confronted with much bigger issues. Not to mention that joining NATO could set off WWIII….
Logically, Ukraine should be allied with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the 8,000,000 square mile Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), that groups 220,000,000 people, mostly Eastern Orthodox, its many minorities blending in well. The resources of this area include a well-educated population, the largest reserves of oil and gas in the world, a vast array of mineral resources, self-sufficiency, thanks to about 80% of the world’s “black earth, and finally, thousands of nuclear weapons.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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