Ukraine

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 4th, 2014

History 101

Ukraine is a Nation with Farmland so Fertile it earned the Moniker the ‘Breadbasket of Europe’

All roads may have led to Rome.  But all rivers led to Byzantium.  The city Constantine the Great of the Roman Empire turned into Constantinople.  Modern day Istanbul.  The great city on the Bosporus.  One-time trade crossroads of the world.  Where East met West.  And Europe met Asia.  Where goods from the Far East traveling on the Silk Road passed through on their way to Europe.  And where grain grown in the fertile river valleys of Eastern Europe passed through to feed the great empires.

Rivers created civilizations.  For they provided fertile farmland in their valleys.  And the rivers provided avenues for trade.  Which is why our great cities first appeared on rivers.  Like Kiev.  The Ukrainian capital.  On the Dnieper River.  Which flows from Smolensk through Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.  Emptying into the Black Sea.  Along with the Danube.  The Don.  And via a short portage from the Don, trade flowed to the Black Sea on the Volga, too.  (But the waters flowed into the Caspian Sea.)  And across the Black Sea lay Constantinople.  One-time trade crossroads of the world.

Ukraine is a nation with a lot of fertile farmland.  It is so fertile that it earned the moniker the ‘breadbasket of Europe’.  Making Ukraine some very valuable real estate.  Because of their grain production.  And the access the Dnieper River provided.  Opening trade between Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople.  Providing Ukraine with a lot of north-south movement via the Dnieper.  As well as a lot of east-west movement via land between the Germanic tribes to the west.  And the Turkic people to the east.

To improve Relations with the Rus’ the Byzantine Patriarch converted the Rus’ and the Slavs to Christianity

Kiev was a crossroads.  Varangians (i.e., Vikings) moved south from Scandinavia.  The Greeks from Byzantine moved north.  As they did they bumped into the indigenous Slavs.  And the Khazars (one of those Turkic people).  Kiev was geographically in the Khazar Empire.  But the Varangians ruled Kiev.  As it was on their trade route with the Greeks in Constantinople.  It was the Varangians who ruled Kiev during the Golden Age (11th to early 12th centuries).  Which saw the rise of Kievan Rus’.  Which in time and much change gave us modern day Russia.

As the Rus’ expanded south they encroached on Khazar territory.  The Khazars allied with the Byzantine Empire and fought against the Persians and Arabs.  Who wanted that rich crossroads.  Constantinople.  As did the Rus’.  So there were all kinds of war with all kinds of people.  Which wasn’t good for trade.  So the Byzantines established a division of their empire on the Crimean peninsula on the northern shore of the Black Sea.  Near the mouth of the Dnieper.  The Theme of Cherson.  To ward off those raids by the Rus’.  And to protect the grain coming to Constantinople from the breadbasket of Europe.  The Theme of Cherson became the center of Black Sea commerce.

But to improve relations with the Rus’ the Byzantine Patriarch Photius sent emissaries to convert the Rus’ and the Slavs to Christianity.  In 863 brothers Cyril and Methodius headed north.  They could speak the Slavonic language.  Which was then only a spoken language.  They created an alphabet for them.  The Glagolitic alphabet.  Which became the Cyrillic alphabet.  And gave them a written language.  Translated scripture so they could read it.  And extended the Greek culture of the Byzantine Empire to these lands.  As well as Orthodox Christianity.  Which is why today many of the lands radiating out from the rivers flowing to the Black Sea are Orthodox Christian (Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, etc.).

Russian Migration into Ukraine helped make her less Ukrainian and more Russian

Kiev was one of the largest cities in the world.  Then came the invasions.  First from the Asian steppes to the east.  The Pechenegs in 968.  And then the Mongols in 1240.  Who completely destroyed Kiev.  Then the Lithuanians from the north (1320s).  Then the Crimean Tatars sacked and burned Kiev (1482).  Then Kiev passed to Poland (1569).  Then the Russians took it over.  In the 18th and 19th centuries the city was full of Russian soldiers.  And ecclesiastical authorities.  From the Russian Orthodox Church.  Making the Ukrainian people more Russian.  Some Ukrainians tried to change that in the 1840s but Russia put a stop to that.

The Russian Empire kept pushing south.  For they wanted a warm-water port.  Which they could have on the Black Sea.  All they had to do was fight through the Ukrainians.  Which they did.  By this time the Muslim Ottoman Turks had long conquered the Christian Byzantine Empire.  Which left the Ottomans open to Russian aggression once the Russians took Ukraine.  Of course, if the Russians conquered the Ottoman Empire that would give Russia open access to the Mediterranean Sea.  Where they could threaten the British Empire holdings.  Also, the Russians could free their fellow Orthodox Christians from Muslim rule.

This aggression exploded into one of the bloodiest wars in history.  The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856).  Much like the American Civil War the technology was well ahead of the tactics.  The Russian Empire took on the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia.  Russia lost.  And she lost what she most coveted.  That warm-water port.  But that didn’t last for long.  Changes elsewhere allowed Russia to reject portions of the peace treaty that ended that war.  And built a navy she operated out of the Black Sea port of Sevastopol (first founded in 1783 by Rear Admiral Thomas Mackenzie then fortified by Catherine the Great in 1784).  On the Crimea peninsula.  And the Russians have been there ever since.

But the beating the Russians took led Tsar Alexander II to free the serfs.  And try to advance the backward Russia to be more like the advanced nations that had beaten her.  But it was too late.  For this marked the beginning of the end for Tsarist Russia.  The war left her in great debt.  So much debt that Russia sold Alaska to the United States.  While creating social unrest that would eventually lead to the October Revolution.  And the Soviet Union.  All the while Russian migration into Ukraine continued.  Making Ukraine less Ukrainian and more Russian.  With the Russian language taking over in Kiev and other large Ukrainian cities.  Pushing the Ukrainian language and culture to the country.  Leading to a divided Ukraine.  Under the boot of the Soviet regime.  Until the collapse of the Soviet Union.  When Ukraine finally got her independence.  Which Russian president and former KGB officer of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin, is now currently taking away.

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Russians still on Edge over Missile-Defense Sites despite Obama’s Promise to Please the Russians after his Election

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Apparently President Obama’s whispered words to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to tell incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin not to worry about the missile-defense sites did little to assuage Russian angst.  He told Dmitry to tell Vladimir that he’ll have more flexibility once the 2012 election was over.  Because without having to worry about pleasing the people for yet another election he could act with impunity.  Dmitry said he would tell Vladimir.  And yet the Russians are still really upset over the missile-defense sites.  What, do they think Obama’s going to lose the 2012 election?  Perhaps (see Russian General Threatens ‘Pre-emptive’ Attacks by ANDREW E. KRAMER posted 5/3/2012 on The New York Times).

A senior Russian general threatened on Wednesday pre-emptive attacks on missile-defense sites in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe in the event of a crisis, underscoring the Kremlin’s opposition to the Obama administration’s plans and further undermining relations between the countries…

Mr. Vershbow said NATO interceptors would not be able to be launched quickly enough to intercept a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile as it traveled toward the United States, calling it “a question of science and geography.” He noted that some Russian scientists and policy experts agreed with this assessment.

President George W. Bush proposed the system for Eastern Europe after withdrawing from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty over Russia’s objections. President Obama first stalled the Eastern European program as part of the so-called reset in relations and then revived it in a new format, called the Phased Adaptive Approach.

Russian generals floated a number of objections to the revised plan. General Makarov, in his speech, said the United States was refusing to offer written guarantees that the interceptor missiles directed at Iran would not have the capacity to hit a Russian ICBM in flight as it streaked toward the United States with a nuclear warhead. American officials have said the proposed system will not have that capability.

Remember the days of Ronald Reagan?  When we were working on plans to put an antimissile defense system into space?  Over Soviet protests?  Those were the days.  When we did things to protect the United States.  And not try to be nice to people who weren’t playing nice with us.

The Left called Ronald Reagan a cowboy.  Not in a romantic way.  But as an insult.  The Left said he was too swaggering and putting the U.S. into danger with all of his anti-communist talk.  That we needed to talk to the Soviets.  Like Carter talked to the Russians.  And who, incidentally, caused the Soviets to change their nuclear policy.  Because of Carter’s displayed weakness the Soviets established a first-strike nuclear option.  That they came close to using during the Carter administration.  Because they were sure they could get away with doing it.

The Left didn’t like George W. Bush either.  For the same reasons.  Which is why the Obama administration sent Hillary Clinton to Russia with a ‘reset’ button to reset U.S.-Russian relations.  To undo all the damage George W. Bush, another cowboy, did.  Meanwhile Vladimir is riding around shirtless.  Showing his people, and the world, what a cowboy he is.  But for some reason, the Left doesn’t mind when Putin swaggers.

So apparently cowboys are bad unless they’re Russian cowboys.  And nuclear weapons are bad unless they’re Russian nuclear weapons.  And American and NATO defenses are good when they can’t intercept Russian nuclear ICBMs. 

What is wrong with this picture?

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Mikhail Gorbachev whose watch the Soviet Union Collapsed under attacks Vladimir Putin, A Soviet Union Enthusiast

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 25th, 2011

Week in Review

The last communist leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is publicly criticizing a man he once supported.  Vladimir Putin.  Who is mocking Russian protestors.  In his quest to return to power.  Over the protests of those he mocks (see Mikhail Gorbachev ‘ashamed’ of Vladimir Putin by Andrew Osborn posted 12/23/2011 on The Telegraph).

In his strongest criticism of the Kremlin yet, the father of perestroika said he was shocked and disappointed by the glib way that Mr Putin had reacted to unprecedented anti-Kremlin protests in recent weeks.

“This is shameful. And embarrassing. I, for example, am ashamed,” he said of Mr Putin’s dismissive attitude after the prime minister sarcastically likened the protestors’ white ribbons to condoms.

“I feel tied to Putin in the sense that at first, when he came to power, I actively supported him everywhere, both here and abroad. And now look,” he said in an interview published in Novaya Gazeta, a liberal newspaper he part owns.

Strong criticisms, indeed.  Mikhail Gorbachev may have been the father of perestroika (a little restructuring of the Soviet economy and society to be a little more like that in the West) but he was still a communist.  What he wanted to do was what China did.  And China did what it did by learning the lessons of perestroika.  And why it destroyed the Soviet Communist Party.  A mistake the Chinese did not make.  At least, not yet.

It would appear that Vladimir Putin wants to do what China did.  He is just trying to restore the glory days of the Soviet Union.  A Soviet Union enthusiast.   When people were cowed and feared the police state and did not protest.  Like good little communists.  The kind that he oppressed and disciplined during his days in the Soviet security police.  The KGB.  Similar to the Nazi Gestapo.   So Putin knows a thing or two about Soviet communism.  Tyranny.  And oppression.  Which is perhaps why the Russian people are none too eager to see him return to power.  And return the Russian people back to the glory days of the Soviet Union.

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