This is perhaps best article on what actually happened in the Ukraine and Crimea: the story is a little different than what you’ve been hearing on TV or reading in the newspapers, at least if you’re in most of the West. The author does leave out some bits (like the Tatars boycotting the Crimean referendum), but overall it’s accurate.
Meanwhile the new PM in the Ukraine is imposing IMF austerity measures, like removing subsidies on Gas (50% increase) and cutting pensions (50%) cut. He says he’s on a Kamikazee mission. That’s because he’s not elected, so he can do thing that an elected leader could never do.
Which is to say: there is a coup, backed by a popular uprising in the capital, which puts in place an unelected government, which does things that elected governments repeatedly refused to do. The East and South of the country, which voted in the last elected government, is unhappy with this.
It’s really hard to conclude that Crimea didn’t do the right thing for most of their population by joining Russia. 50% increase in natural gas prices and 50% cut in pensions? Would you stand still for that? Oh, and the average pension in the Ukraine is—$160/month. $80 after it’s cut.
The last government may have been a bunch of corrupt assholes, but it’s hard to conclude that taking Russia’s deal of 15 billion dollars and subsidized gas wasn’t, actually, a better deal for most Ukrainians than approximately the same amount of money from the West + IMF austerity. And these are only some of the measures: the civil service will be slashed, the government natural gas company will be privatized (meaning even higher prices down the road), the ban on selling agricultural land to foreigners will be lifted, and so on.
The EuroMaidan’s legacy won’t just be losing Crimea, it will be turning the Ukraine into Greece.
If I were Crimean, I would have voted yes in the election. Russia’s a corrupt oilarchy run by a near-dictator, but it has a stronger economy and better standard of living than the Ukraine, and that’s before the IMF gets through with it.
I don’t know what Putin’s going to do. If NATO membership were truly off the table, he’d be best served by doing nothing more. Let the Ukrainian’s destroy their own economy through IMF austerity, and in a few years, at least the eastern half of the country will be begging to join Russia.
However, if NATO membership is on the table, and it seems to be, Putin may feel he has no choice to invade. Problem is, after the West lied to Gorbachev about not expanding NATO, could Putin believe any Western promises if they were given?
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