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UKRAINE: US' & RUSSIA'S CORRUPT TARGET
RUSSIA OUTFLANKS THE
U.S IN SYRIA WITH HELP FROM IRAN;
DEMOCRACY IS NOT DOING WELL!
DEMOCRACY IS NOT DOING WELL!
UKRAINE became independent in 1991 when the USSR collapsed, so has made
its own way for the past 25 years. In our World Audit’s 2016 report it ranks
(out of 150 nations) 69th in the world for its overall Democracy, to which
its Press Freedom rank contributed its
85th position and critically Corruption at 114th. It is geographically
European but by these criteria is far behind any comparable European nation.
Whilst its people fit quite comfortably into the European pattern, its
rulers do not. It seems that ‘independence’ to the ruling classes (those
with influence and/or money), meant that the bribes that used to be paid
within Ukraine, back in the Soviet days, the bulk of which had then to be
forwarded to Moscow, could now remain in their entirety, in Kiev. Over and
again there have been changes in leadership, individuals many of whom were
already rich, but were probably richer on leaving office. Sadly, even those
who tried have failed to reform, or meaningfully impact the concept of
public service integrity.
Culturally western Ukraine is inclined to Europe. It is after all an ancient
European state under other names. At one point some six centuries ago
combined with Poland and Lithuania, it formed the largest state that Europe
has ever seen, stretching coast to coast, the Baltic to the Black Sea. Its ruination was being a member of the Russian Empire where it had a
particularly bad time in the 20th Century at the hands of Moscow, under the
USSR’s new communist masters, implanting communist theory by force, into
Ukraine’s agriculture, resulting in mass starvation. Then it, and
neighbouring Belarus, bore the brunt of the enormous land battles between
the USSR and the Wehrmacht in the opening and closing stages of WWII.
It is unlike several other European former Soviet states, Estonia, Lithuania,
Latvia, all of which made a determined effort to shake off the Russian bear.
Ukraine in the east particularly, is Russian speaking and understandably
Russia inclined, with Moscow’s full encouragement; but with Washington
tugging in the other direction. Unfortunately for Ukraine and Europe, the
struggle from the US side was and is led by neo-con officials in the State
Department, to whom Ukraine is a pawn in a global ‘Great Game.’ The Russians
under Putin, have of course relentlessly pursued the Russian interest, which
burst out as we all know, in an ugly unfinished civil war, fought out in the
eastern provinces. The upshot is very close to being a simmering Great Power
There are obvious solutions which we suggested years ago, that the so-called
‘independent Republics’ of Luhansk and Donetsk in contention, should be
given a referendum conducted by OSCE or another international agency, asking
if they wished to be a part of the Russian Federation, or of the State of
Ukraine. It seemed obvious to us that the old Soviet Russia-Ukraine
boundaries were purely administrative, never negotiated; and also from
Kiev’s point of view, that remaining in Ukraine, if what they really wished
was to be in Russia, means that this region would never be an asset to Kiev,
but always a liability.
In this September issue we carry the story forward (from our May edition)
“Ukraine: US’ & Russia’s Corrupt Target State.”
SYRIA is still permanently in the world news as it has been for five years.
It has been covered by us for longer than that period, and it’s story
becomes even more complicated. Russia is now a full-on player and with
domestic Islamicist problems within its own vast territories, has every
reason to seek to close down ISIS, apart from supporting the Assad
government and remaining a ‘player’ in world politics. Turkey after all
these years, has stirred itself by sending military across the Syrian
frontier, not against Syrian troops fortunately, but pre-emptively against
its enemy of choice, the Kurds. After many suspected that Turkey had long
been a not so secret backer of the Islamic State, on account of its open
borders to their people and trade, particularly contraband oil from Syrian
and even Iraqi oil-wells, that financed the Caliphate. Turkey may or may not
react militarily against ISIS where they have thus far seriously dragged
their heels. That remains an open question. But if they were complicit,
Erdogan has been poorly recompensed with IS terrorist explosions in
Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere.
The middle-eastern chequer board is as complex as ever with Iran more fully
involved, Russia with limited objectives, one of which is to have a seat at
the table that finally decides what post-war Syria might look like. Our
September contribution, “Russia Outflanks the US in Syria with help from
Iran” describes ephemeral geopolitical waves, as of recent events in the
region, (stories of Israeli –Saudi cooperation, moving on from the
theoretical as well as China's involvement in Syria).
Finally, this issue includes “Democracy is Not Doing Well”! - data which
tells that Free Speech, Media Freedom, that fundamental and essential
component of democracy, is in steady decline around the World, as measured
over recent years in the 2016 report of Freedom House (the World’s oldest
NGO). It’s a serious matter when such a key building block of ‘the better
world’ we strive for, or at least should do, to bequeath to our descendants
is proven over several years to be failing.
Will it be up to them to do a better job, or is mankind simply incapable of
sufficiently recognising and promoting unselfishness, over short term
Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor
Ukraine: US' &
Russia's Corrupt Target State
When the Minsk agreements were concluded
by the Normandy quartet, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in
February of last year, there was a general sense that perhaps peace could be
reached in the Ukraine, which has, in the course of the past three years, seen a
violent regime change, the annexation of Crimea, and a bloody conflict in its
eastern parts. The settlement saw warring sides of Presidents Petro Poroshenko
and Vladimir Putin reach an agreement on a withdrawal of heavy weaponry and a
ceasefire. Significantly, the agreement was signed by the leaders of the
pro-Russian self-proclaimed independent republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the
country’s east, where fighting has been concentrated, as the accord promised
that a degree of decentralisation would be offered to the breakaway regions.
June of this year, however, saw a sharp spike in violence, along with a build up
of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and sharpened rhetoric on both sides,
culminating in Petro Poroshenko’s warning on August 18 that he ‘could not rule
out a full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia’ and that if the situation in
Crimea continued to deteriorate, Kiev would have to ‘impose martial law and
order mobilization’. The West has watched the situation keenly, with the media
seeing Putin’s actions in Ukraine as the embodiment of his hawkishness and
However, Washington is far from being a neutral figure in the conflict, having
made clear (largely thanks to the leaked Victoria Nuland phone call of February
2014) that it has its own plans for the state. [continues...]
the U.S in Syria with help from Iran
Russia makes an all-out effort
for Aleppo with help from Iran and …China
When Russian air force Tu-22 and Su-34 bombers took off on August 17 from the
Iranian air base of Nojeh, 50 kilometers north of Hamedan, Moscow sent an
important signal about its goals in the Syrian conflict. With the excuse of
operational advantages, such as a higher number of missions with more bombs to
deploy because the base is only 700 km. from Aleppo rather than 2,000 km (Mozdok
airport), Russia and Iran want to play an even greater role in defending their
Shiite ally, president al-Asad, in Damascus. Meanwhile, as of August 22, the
Russian ambassador to Iran confirmed that at the moment there are no more
Russian planes in Iran.
He, stressed however, that there is no reason why these cannot return in the
It seems Russia was too ‘open’ about its use of the Iranian base, which caused
some minor tremors in the Iranian establishment. The Iranians claim Russia was
asked to leave the base because of ungentlemanly conduct, but the more likely
reason may owe to the frequent internal bickering between various factions of
Iran’s armed forces – the more conservative Revolutionary Guards and the more
nationalist armed forces. There are also historical reasons that cut across all
not doing well!
On a global basis, that critical element
of democracy: Press Freedom data (the key indicator for free speech
in the media and at every level, worldwide), indicate that in the world as a
whole, earlier years’ progress has peaked and is now in decline:
[World Democracy Audit our companion website, works in association with Freedom House
using their Freedom of Speech data to determine the democratic rankings of the
world’s 150 largest nations, in our report.
Key Findings of Freedom House (the world’s oldest NGO)
• Press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years in 2015, as political,
criminal, and terrorist forces sought to co-opt or silence the media in their
broader struggle for power.
• Only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a Free press—that is, where
coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed,
state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to
onerous legal or economic pressures.
• Forty-one percent of the world’s population has a Partly Free press, and 46
percent live in Not Free media environments. [continues...]