Category Archives: Crimea

What did we do to encourage Russia’s grabbing of Crimea?

When John Kerry refers to international law in his condemnation of Russia for the Crimea secession it’s of course more hilarious than anything that George Orwell could have conjured up. For a country that consistently defies international law when confronted with it by others it’s not just hypocrisy to its nth degree, but politics devoid of all logic. One just has to imagine US being in Russia’s position. Had bombing of Kiev then been a surprise? Hardly.

When Putin says that a spring tightened too hard eventually will snap back, it’s not a far fetched metaphor. He has lived through the largest secession operation in modern history: the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. To top it all he had to watch Boris Yeltsin invite “economic experts” from western countries (among the “experts” a notorious Swede) who manage to engineer the worst social catastrophe in memory, pulverizing half of the Russian industrial capacity and in a decade driving 10 million people to a premature death, mostly men in productive age. (The total Russian death toll in WW2 was just twice as high.)

The guilty advisors creating this virtual genocide have not been held responsible for anything, and Yeltsin was sober enough to demand immunity when he retired as president. (The Swedish hero in that process is today cited as an expert on Ukraine.) The man who put an end to the death epidemic was Vladimir Putin. Just as the millions of dead are unknown to us, Putin’s role in ending the catastrophe is just as concealed. That’s a tribute to our well-educated journalists trained not to disclose the wrong things. In that self censorship lays also an explanation to our surprise that Putin, with all his shortcomings, is reelected time and again.

And it didn’t stop there as we know. The leftovers from the Russian scramble were readily taken care of by western powers under the usual pretext: “democracy and human rights” (if that includes overthrowing of democratically elected governments is of no interest; that just follows a very common procedure). In blunt violation of unambiguous (but vocal) promises to Gorbachev, NATO immediately started to expand eastwards. All in all it was a demonstration of power with no other reasonable aim than to subdue and contain Russia as much as possible.

Western powers have certainly tightened the spring, and now it has snapped back. Provocations are no excuse for a misdemeanor, nor are they an excuse for the actions of the provocateurs. And since the leaders of the western powers are responsible for the provocations, we are responsible for letting our leaders get away with that. The price we pay is an increasing risk of a dangerous war.

(For an enlightening inquiry of the capitalist death crisis in Russia 1990-2000, see for instance David Stuckler & Sanjay Basu The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills (Basic Books 2013)).

Russia: a ghost to scare Swedes with – since centuries

For at least one of our Swedish politicians the Crimea incident has come about particularly handy. I’m thinking of our Foreign minister Carl Bildt, by an American politician portrayed as “a small dog barking like a big dog”. He is supposed to lead our Department of Foreign Affairs, but is usually crisscrossing around the world in airplanes, supposedly working to create some lasting impression of his own person.

Carl Bildt was born with glasses and a right wing manifesto in his hand, from infancy anxious to surpass a string of prominent conservative ancestors. One of his main tools in politics has always been to promote Russophobia. Not that he necessarily is afraid himself, but he knows that Swedes for centuries have been susceptible to this irrational scare of the Russians. And of course he is clever enough to know that one of the simplest and cheapest ways to control people is to alarm them.

It started right off with a Soviet submarine stranded on an islet in southern Sweden in 1981. Bildt was then 29 years old and already a shrewd politician who thus was served an issue that he could profit on many years to come (and still does).

The submarine – U 137 – had gone 8 knots on surface with rumbling diesel engines, heard far away by witnesses, right into a narrow strait too shallow for the submarine to hide in, and impossible to escape from. The speed and the fact that U 137 hadn’t gone by electric motors should be enough to reveal that they had no idea where they were. The best guess would then be that they were incompetent or drunk.

But Bildt, and others who thought they could profit from a different idea, maintained that U 137 had been on a deliberate spying mission. The fact that the crew in such a case must have been not just drunk but complete lunatics has not bothered Bildt & Co.

Given U 137 it was no surprise that a submarine frenzy broke out in Sweden and particularly in the Stockholm archipelago. During the 1980s some 4,000 observations of various kinds were made. It was taken for granted that all of them were about Soviet submarines. The navy and coastal defense gladly participated in the hunting of what some called “budget submarines”. No real object was ever caught on film and the evidences were overall of a circumstantial type. People naturally saw a lot of things that looked like submarines. Eventually it was confirmed that a sound captured by the coastal defense with acoustic equipment, and long presented as evidence, derived from swimming minks.

A first commission to investigate the submarine question issued its report in 1983. It concluded that there was sufficient evidence for submarine intrusion into Swedish waters, and that the Soviet Union was the perpetrator. A second commission stated in 1995 that possibly eight maybe more intrusions had been made, but found no evidence for any specific nationality of the submarines. A third investigation in 2001 claimed with certainty that four intrusions had been made. An investigation team set up by Swedish Television held that the intrusions observed since U 137 were made by NATO submarines.

Regardless of commissions Bildt withheld the politically correct opinion for him, namely that Soviet had offended Swedish waters. As Prime Minister in 1994 he wrote an impertinent letter to President Yeltsin of Russia with this accusation, at first kept secret at home, but eventually disclosed by his Social Democrat successor causing turbulence.

Since 1990 Bildt has been busy trying hard to extract the new eastern European nations from Russian influence and draw them into the EU sphere. The pre-1990 hostility towards the Russians had consequently very little to do with (so called) communism. It’s just a power game on a larger scale and Bildt is more than happy to function as a minor lieutenant in service of the real masters of mankind.

Is Russia breaking international law in Crimea? Definitely! Carl Bildt was a member of a support group for the US war of aggression against Iraq. A war of aggression is the ultimate international crime which entails responsibility “for all the evil that follows” (Nuremberg), i.e. the murderous attacks going on in Iraq right now. Shouldn’t Bildt be put under sanctions?