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To understand the west’s inanity over the ‘Ukraine issue’, one must examine the founding and break-up of Yugoslavia.
In 1918 The Kingdom of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes formed in the Balkans. It was an attempt to create a young state from the ashes of war and centuries of foreign occupation. In 1929 this became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after 1945, the partisans who fought valiantly and bravely against fascism formed the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.
In its various guises, Yugoslavia was always a multi-ethnic state. Its federative composition after 1945 was designed to ensure that each group which made up Yugoslavia, had an equal say in the country’s destiny and for a very long time, Yugoslavia became one of the most successful states in Southern Europe and one of the most successful socialist republics in the world.
In 1974, a new Yugoslav Constitution was introduced by Yugoslav statesman Josip Broz Tito. The constitution gave an autonomous status to two regions of Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina. However, no such status was offered to regions of other Yugoslav republics that were overwhelmingly Serbian in terms of demography.
This led to a growing discontent among Serbs who felt the 1974 Constitution disproportionally favored the autonomy of non-Serbs in Serbia whilst ignoring Serbs in other Yugoslav republics, such as Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
1986 saw the publication of the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in which Serbs protested their unequal treatment under the then current constitution.
Although Communist Party officials including Slobodan Milosevic tried to quell tensions and ultimately rejected the demands of the Memorandum, Serbs felt increasingly boxed into a corner.
In the 1990s the west pounced, with countries like Germany and later the United States funding and encouraging violent separatist movements throughout Yugoslavia and later in Serbia itself when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, killing civilians and destroying the Chinese Embassy, all in the name of supporting the Albanian terrorist group KLA, which was operating in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
The west spun a narrative that Yugoslavia was an illegitimate state. This was not the case, it was a state forged in the 20th century on an openly multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic basis and until the west became involved in destroying it, it functioned remarkably well, far better in fact than its many small successor states.
But this was supposed to be about the Ukrainian issue. Indeed, unlike Yugoslavia which claimed a contemporary mandate rather than historical legitimacy, the fascist regime in Ukraine claim historical legitimacy when it has none.
The current borders of Ukraine are a mixture of historically Russian (before that Turkish in some regions) and Polish (before that Austrian and before that Polish-Lithuanian) regions that have nothing in common.
But the fascists rule the entire region in the ideological interests of a narrow faction from mostly the former Polish regions, whilst passing discriminatory laws on former Russian regions. In the case of the Russian region of Donbass, they are waging total war. Economically, the country does not function in the interests of anyone.
Yet this historical anathema called Ukraine is something that many in the EU and US seem to want to fight for, even at the risk of war with Russia.
It beggars belief that they were eager to destroy the cohesive and economically successful Yugoslavia which admitted it had no ancient or modern historical basis, yet they’re willing to risk what could amount to a world war for a state that no one wants, that cannot cope economically and one which makes war on those who exercise their democratic self-determination.
To paraphrase British statesman Aneurin Bevan’s remarks to then Prime Minister Anthony Eden, if western leaders don’t understand the Yugoslav-Ukraine parallel, they are too stupid to engage in geopolitics. If they do understand it, they are too wicked to engage in geopolitics.
Sean Spicer’s remarks about Crimea which has been Russian ever since the end of the Ottoman-Crimean Khanate in 1783, are patently irresponsible and profoundly insulting. Unless one wants to revive the Ottoman Empire and have another Russo-Turkish war (I hope Erdogan doesn’t see this), Russia is the only state with any historical legitimacy over Crimea.
Between 1991 and 2014, the Crimean people wanted nothing to do with this state of Ukraine. In 2014 they ended what many rightly felt was an illegal and certainly immoral occupation. They did so using democracy rather than violence. If America believes in democracy so much, they ought to praise rather than condemn this.
The supremely insulting and illogical irony is that countries like the US recognise the Serbian province Kosovo as a state, in spite of the fact that Kosovo is the historical heartland of Serbia. Kosovo still has a significant Serbian population, although many were killed or driven out by NATO backed KLA terrorists.
Crimea, by contrast, is Russian in every sense and has no historical basis as part of a Ukrainian state which itself has no basis in history. This is not only a double-standard but it demonstrates that the western bloc has no collective understanding of what makes nations cohesive, functional units.
Crimea’s return home was peaceful, democratic and as a result, Crimea is now peaceful and happy. By contrast, Kosovo’s illegal separation from Serbia was created through an illegal invasion of Serbia on top of a localised terrorist war. Kosovo is ruled by renegade mafia elements which include the most disturbing kinds of organised crime in Europe. Such is the legacy of western involvement in the region.
I shall end by returning to another country that gets a lot of air time in American political debates, Mexico.
In 1848, the US and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which gave the US most of what are now its western states.
Imagine if Demetri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman said that America must give California back to Mexico. Would that make Donald Trump happy?
What Sean Spicer said was even worse as Crimea was happily part of Russia when Los Angeles was little more than a remote and desolate part of Mexico.