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US professor lectures Washington: Crimea is Russian, learn history and stop risking WW3

Lyle J. Goldstein reminded American politicians that Crimea has been Russian territory as long as the US has existed – in fact much longer

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In reminding Americans the crucial historical role of Crimea to Russia, and Russia to Crimea, an American professor teaches us all the importance of history.

Among many things, Professor Lyle J.Goldstein said that:

Russia first acquired Crimea in the same year, 1783, that marked the end of the American Revolution. To put it bluntly, Russians have controlled Crimea for quite a long while now and are extremely unlikely to give it up, so let’s neither hold our breath, nor premise our strategy on absurdly ahistorical, neo-liberal premises. European security specialists have much more pressing issues to address obviously, including primarily the refugee crisis and terrorism. A more thorough knowledge of history could help American policymakers draft more responsible policies to stop the “free fall” in U.S.-Russian relations that now imperils Ukraine, Europe and the entire world.

You can read the Professor’s entire speech here. It’s very important to listen carefully to his advice. A deeper knowledge of history is truly key. While it is unlikely this will change the mind of top American policymakers, it may help the average citizen understand the historical role of Crimea in Russia.

Let’s start at the beginning of Russian history, and take a walk through geography, in order to understand the realities of Ukraine and Russia today. If people better understood this, they would be more equipt to discuss what is really happening.

Russia first emerged as a state called Rus’ or Kievan Rus’ in 862. At that time, Rus’ existed on a shared territory around northwestern Russia, Belarus, and Central and Western Ukraine. Rus’ existed long before the modern borders of the states located there today. Take a look at this map.

You can make out the modern borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia if you look closely. What you will also notice is that Crimea was not part of Rus’. Even if Ukraine wishes to claim to be the only successor of Kievan Rus’, one can see Crimea has NOTHING to do with so-called “Ancient Ukraine”.

By the 1240 century, Kiev would fall to the Mongols, and around 1362, Kiev, along with most of modern Ukraine would be ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the picture below, one can see clearly how Lithuania occupied even parts of modern Russia, for example, Smolensk.

By the 15th century, Lithuania will have joined with Poland into a single commonwealth, ruling most of Ukraine. At that same time, the eastern half of Rus’ survived, and Moscow managed to reuinte almost all of the old territories of Rus’, save for that in the west until later.

In the mid 17th century, Cossacks under the leadership of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, wishing to unite with their Orthodox and Rus(ian) brothers and sisters, accepted the help of the Russian Czar, and with him, restored freedom in the left-bank of the River Dnipro. Contrary to what it would sound like, left bank Ukraine is the right side of the River Dnipro when you look at a map.

The lands in purple above, constituted the heartland of the Cossacks, who liberated the dark green region of Malorossia (little Russia) just above. With the help of Russia, they liberated the upstream territories, however, the lavender lands below, including Crimea were sparsely inhabited still.

Eventually, the Russian Empire continued it’s advance westward liberating the rest of Ukraine. The regions it liberated in the west were called “Little Russia” and constituted many ancient lost parts of Rus’

In the south, they liberated the “Wild Fields”, and under Catherine the Great in the 18th century, they overthrew the Crimean Khanate. Under Catherine, Russia built the great cities of southern Ukraine: Odessa, Mikolaiv, Kherson, and yes, Sevastopol, Yalta, and Simferopol. This land, formerly an empty wild field, filled with Tatar raiders, was called now “New Russia”.

New Russia (Novorossia) was aptly named, because it was…well…new. It was settled by Cossacks, but also by many Russians from the territory of the modern Russian Federation. While cities above such as Kiev, Chernigov, Lviv, Lutsk, Poltava, etc. were built in a time when no one could define what was Russian vs Ukrainian, the southern cities were clearly built by Russia.

Unlike the upper territories, “Little Russia”, where the ancestors of Modern Ukrainians lived for almost 300 years separated from Russians, Novorossia was a new frontier, settled by mostly Russians. Its cities were not ancient principalities of Rus’, they were built in the Early Modern Period by the Russian Empress. There was no civilization there prior to Russia building it, so they belong as much to Russian culture as to Ukrainian. Just because they are located in modern Ukraine, does not make them any less Russian than Siberia or Kuban. Russia literally built them up from empty fields.

Ukraine is a mostly artificial invention. The land is of course, ancient, as are the people, but the name and current borders are contrived. As a matter of fact, many parts of modern Ukraine were added to the nation by Russia throughout history. Some parts of Western Ukraine were part of Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the 20th century, and they were simply stitched onto Ukraine.

This was the case with Crimea, which was a part of Russia simply added to Ukraine by Khrushchev, in as much as all of Ukraine was a part of Russia. Crimea is also crucially important to Russia because it is the site where Saint Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev was baptised Orthodox. Saint Vladimir baptised all Russia into the Orthodox faith in 988, and was considered her greatest King. The place of his baptism is not far from modern Sevastopol, in a Greek colony, so one must understand this land is sacred to Russia. It is not simply a strategic place, it has more meaning than a foreigner could possibly understand.

Saint Vladimir’s Church beside Greek Ruins in Crimea

If someone really wishes to understand Ukraine, which means “Borderland” in the old Slavic language, one must see it less as a united nation or ethnic group, and more like a territory with legal sovereignty and statehood. According to international law, Ukraine, has the right to sovereignty, but it is factually wrong to see this as a separate nation-state with internal ethnic unity. You don’t have to hate Ukraine, or oppose the right of modern Ukraine to exist as a state in order to understand the land and people itself are not homogenous.

The reality is, Ukraine like two different countries split down the centre, and even within that division, there are subdivisions. Every region practically has its own foreign policy, and one is better served talking about Kharkov people, or Lviv people, or Odessa people, or Poltava people, than grouping them together as Ukrainians. Russia and Ukraine began together, and dividing them artificially is not a permanent solution, but it will breed permanent conflict.

The sooner westerners understand this historical and cultural fact, regardless how they feel about the Ukraine crisis, the sooner they can better understand what is really happening in Ukraine.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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