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Ukraine Update: Pierre Omidyar (Glenn Greenwald’s Financial Angel) Helped Finance Coup; Swedish neo-Nazi Milieu of Carl Lundstrom Assisting OUN/B Heirs

Hein­rich Himm­ler inspect­ing troops of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion (Gali­cia), staffed by OUN/B

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COMMENT: With things heat­ing up in the Ukraine, we note two impor­tant devel­op­ments that may not have received the atten­tion they are due.

We have cov­ered the Ukraine coup in pre­vi­ous posts–here, here, here, here, and here. (We are pro­duc­ing pro­grams about the Ukrain­ian cri­sis at the present time.)

“Van­field” informs us that Pierre Omid­yar–Glenn Green­wald’s finan­cial angel–helped finance the Ukrain­ian coup, along with AID. The lat­ter is a fre­quent cov­er for U.S. intel­li­gence activ­i­ties.

We note that Oleh Rybachuk, the recip­i­ent of Omid­yar’s funds, was the right-hand man for Vik­tor Yuschenko in the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. (Yuschenko’s wife–the for­mer Yka­te­ri­na Chumachenko–was Ronald Rea­gan’s deputy direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial liai­son and the head of the top OUN/B front orga­ni­za­tion in the Unit­ed States. After assum­ing pow­er in the Ukraine, Yuschenko named both OUN/B leader Stephan Ban­dera and Roman Shukhevych as heroes of the Ukraine. The lat­ter head­ed up the OUN/B’s mil­i­tary wing, that staffed the Ein­satz­gruppe “Nightin­gale.” Sukhevy­ch’s son Yuriy is a key leader of the Ukrain­ian forces that assumed pow­er in the coup.)

“Pter­rafractyl” informs us that Swedish and oth­er neo-Nazis from oth­er parts of Europe are stream­ing into the Ukraine to join with the Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor fas­cists. The Swedish fas­cists are part of the same milieu as Carl Lund­strom, the finan­cial angel of the PRQ serv­er on which Wik­iLeaks was host­ed.

“Pierre Omid­yar Co-fund­ed Ukraine Rev­o­lu­tion Groups with US gov­ern­ment, Doc­u­ments Show” by Mark Ames; Pan­do Dai­ly; 2/28/2014.

EXCERPT: On Feb­ru­ary 28, 2014 Just hours after last weekend’s ouster of Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, one of Pierre Omidyar’s newest hires at nation­al secu­rity blog “The Inter­cept,” was already dig­ging for the truth. Mar­cy Wheel­er, who is the new site’s “senior pol­icy ana­lyst,” spec­u­lated that the Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion was like­ly a “coup” engi­neered by “deep forces” on behalf of “Pax Amer­i­cana”:

“There’s quite a bit of evi­dence of coup-ness. Q is how many lev­els deep inter­fer­ence from both sides is.”

These are seri­ous claims. So seri­ous that I decid­ed to inves­ti­gate them. And what I found was shock­ing. Wheel­er is part­ly cor­rect. Pan­do has con­firmed that the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment – in the form of the US Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID) – played a major role in fund­ing oppo­si­tion groups pri­or to the rev­o­lu­tion. More­over, a large per­cent­age of the rest of the fund­ing to those same groups came from a US bil­lion­aire who has pre­vi­ously worked close­ly with US gov­ern­ment agen­cies to fur­ther his own busi­ness inter­ests. This was by no means a US-backed “coup,” but clear evi­dence shows that US invest­ment was a force mul­ti­plier for many of the groups involved in over­throw­ing Yanukovych. But that’s not the shock­ing part. What’s shock­ing is the name of the bil­lion­aire who co-invest­ed with the US gov­ern­ment (or as Wheel­er put it: the “dark force” act­ing on behalf of “Pax Amer­i­cana”). Step out of the shad­ows…. Wheeler’s boss, Pierre Omid­yar. Yes, in the annals of inde­pen­dent media, this might be the strangest twist ever: Accord­ing to finan­cial dis­clo­sures and reports seen by Pan­do, the founder and pub­lisher of Glenn Greenwald’s gov­ern­ment-bash­ing blog,“The Inter­cept,” co-invest­ed with the US gov­ern­ment to help fund regime change in Ukraine. * * * * When the rev­o­lu­tion came to Ukraine, neo-fas­cists played a front-cen­ter role in over­throw­ing the country’s pres­i­dent. But the real polit­i­cal pow­er rests with Ukraine’s pro-west­ern neolib­er­als. Polit­i­cal fig­ures like Oleh Rybachuk, long a favorite of the State Depart­ment, DC neo­consEU, and NATO—and the right-hand man to Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Vik­tor Yushchenko. Last Decem­ber, the Finan­cial Times wrote that Rybachuk’s “New Cit­i­zen” NGO cam­paign “played a big role in get­ting the protest up and run­ning.” New Cit­i­zen, along with the rest of Rybachuk’s inter­lock­ing net­work of west­ern-backed NGOs and cam­paigns— “Cen­ter UA” (also spelled “Cen­tre UA”), “Ches­no,” and “Stop Cen­sor­ship” to name a few — grew their pow­er by tar­get­ing pro-Yanukovych politi­cians with a well-coor­di­nat­ed anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign that built its strength in Ukraine’s regions, before mass­ing in Kiev last autumn. The efforts of the NGOs were so suc­cess­ful that the Ukraine gov­ern­ment was accused of employ­ing dirty tricks to shut them down. In ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, the groups were the sub­ject of a mas­sive mon­ey laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion by the eco­nom­ics divi­sion of Ukraine’s Inte­rior Min­istry in what many denounced as a polit­i­cally moti­vated move. For­tu­nately the groups had the strength – which is to say, mon­ey – to sur­vive those attacks and con­tinue push­ing for regime change in Ukraine. The source of that mon­ey? Accord­ing to the Kyiv Post, Pier­rie Omidyar’s Omid­yar Net­work (part of the Omid­yar Group which owns First Look Media and the Inter­cept) pro­vided 36% of “Cen­ter UA”’s $500,000 bud­get in 2012— near­ly $200,000. USAID pro­vided 54% of “Cen­ter UA”’s bud­get for 2012. Oth­er fun­ders includ­ed the US gov­ern­ment-backed Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy. In 2011, Omid­yar Net­work gave $335,000 to “New Cit­i­zen,” one of the anti-Yanukovych “projects” man­aged through the Rybachuk-chaired NGO “Cen­ter UA.” At the time, Omid­yar Net­work boast­ed that its invest­ment in “New Cit­i­zen” would help “shape pub­lic pol­icy” in Ukraine:

“Using tech­nol­ogy and media, New Cit­i­zen coor­di­nates the efforts of con­cerned mem­bers of soci­ety, rein­forc­ing their abil­ity to shape pub­lic pol­icy. “… With sup­port from Omid­yar Net­work, New Cit­i­zen will strength­en its advo­cacy efforts in order to dri­ve greater trans­parency and engage cit­i­zens on issues of impor­tance to them.”

In March 2012, Rybachuk — the oper­a­tor behind the 2004 Orange Rev­o­lu­tion scenes, the Ana­toly Chubais of Ukraine — boast­ed that he was prepar­ing a new Orange Rev­o­lu­tion:

“Peo­ple are not afraid. We now have 150 NGOs in all the major cities in our ‘clean up Par­lia­ment cam­paign’ to elect and find bet­ter parliamentarians….The Orange Rev­o­lu­tion was a mir­a­cle, a mas­sive peace­ful protest that worked. We want to do that again and we think we will.

Detailed finan­cial records reviewed by Pan­do (and embed­ded below) also show Omid­yar Net­work cov­ered costs for the expan­sion of Rybachuk’s anti-Yanukovych cam­paign, “Ches­no” (“Hon­estly”), into region­al cities includ­ing Polta­va, Vin­nyt­sia, Zhy­to­myr, Ternopil, Sumy, and else­where, most­ly in the Ukrain­ian-speak­ing west and cen­ter. * * * * To under­stand what it means for Omid­yar to fund Oleh Rybachuk, some brief his­tory is nec­es­sary. Rybachuk’s back­ground fol­lows a famil­iar pat­tern in post-Sovi­et oppor­tunism: From well-con­nect­ed KGB intel­li­gence ties, to post-Sovi­et neolib­eral net­worker. In the Sovi­et era, Rybachuk stud­ied in a mil­i­tary lan­guages pro­gram half of whose grad­u­ates went on to work for the KGB. Rybachuk’s murky over­seas post­ing in India in the late Sovi­et era fur­ther strength­ens many sus­pi­cions about his Sovi­et intel­li­gence ties; what­ever the case, by Rybachuk’s own account, his close ties to top intel­li­gence fig­ures in the Ukrain­ian SBU served him well dur­ing the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion of 2004, when the SBU passed along secret infor­ma­tion about vote fraud and assas­si­na­tion plots.

In 1992, after the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union, Rybachuk moved to the new­ly-formed Ukraine Cen­tral Bank, head­ing the for­eign rela­tions depart­ment under Cen­tral Bank chief and future Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Vik­tor Yushchenko. In his cen­tral bank post, Rybachuk estab­lished close friend­ly ties with west­ern gov­ern­ment and finan­cial aid insti­tu­tions, as well as pro­to-Omid­yar fig­ures like George Soros, who fund­ed many of the NGOs involved in “col­or rev­o­lu­tions” includ­ing small dona­tions to the same Ukraine NGOs that Omid­yar backed. (Like Omid­yar Net­work does today, Soros’ char­ity arms—Open Soci­ety and Renais­sance Foundation—publicly preached trans­parency and good gov­ern­ment in places like Rus­sia dur­ing the Yeltsin years, while Soros’ finan­cial arm spec­u­lated on Russ­ian debt and par­tic­i­pated in scan­dal-plagued auc­tions of state assets.) In ear­ly 2005, Orange Rev­o­lu­tion leader Yushchenko became Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, and he appoint­ed Rybachuk deputy prime min­is­ter in charge of inte­grat­ing Ukraine into the EU, NATO, and oth­er west­ern insti­tu­tions. Rybachuk also pushed for the mass-pri­va­ti­za­tion of Ukraine’s remain­ing state hold­ings. Over the next sev­eral years, Rybachuk was shift­ed around Pres­i­dent Yushchenko’s embat­tled admin­is­tra­tion, torn by inter­nal divi­sions. In 2010, Yushchenko lost the pres­i­dency to recent­ly-over­thrown Vik­tor Yanukovych, and a year lat­er, Rybachuk was on Omidyar’s and USAID’s pay­roll, prepar­ing for the next Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. As Rybachuk told the Finan­cial Times two years ago:

“We want to do [the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion] again and we think we will.”

Some of Omidyar’s funds were specif­i­cally ear­marked for cov­er­ing the costs of set­ting up Rybachuk’s “clean up par­lia­ment” NGOs in Ukraine’s region­al cen­ters. Short­ly after the Euro­maidan demon­stra­tions erupt­ed last Novem­ber, Ukraine’s Inte­rior Min­istry opened up a mon­ey laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Rybachuk’s NGOs, drag­ging Omidyar’s name into the high-stakes polit­i­cal strug­gle. Accord­ing to a Kyiv Post arti­cle on Feb­ru­ary 10 titled, “Rybachuk: Democ­ra­cy-pro­mot­ing non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion faces ‘ridicu­lous’ inves­ti­ga­tion”:

“Police are inves­ti­gat­ing Cen­ter UA, a pub­lic-sec­tor watch­dog fund­ed by West­ern donors, on sus­pi­cion of mon­ey laun­der­ing, the group said. The group’s leader, Oleh Rybachuk, said it appears that author­i­ties, with the probe, are try­ing to warn oth­er non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions that seek to pro­mote democ­racy, trans­parency, free speech and human rights in Ukraine. “Accord­ing to Cen­ter UA, the Kyiv eco­nomic crimes unit of the Inte­rior Min­istry start­ed the inves­ti­ga­tion on Dec. 11. Recent­ly, how­ever, inves­ti­ga­tors stepped up their efforts, ques­tion­ing some 200 wit­nesses. “… Cen­ter UA received more than $500,000 in 2012, accord­ing to its annu­al report for that year, 54 per­cent of which came from Pact Inc., a project fund­ed by the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment. Near­ly 36 per­cent came from Omid­yar Net­work, a foun­da­tion estab­lished by eBay founder Pierre Omid­yar and his wife. Oth­er donors include the Inter­na­tional Renais­sance Foun­da­tion, whose key fun­der is bil­lion­aire George Soros, and Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­racy, fund­ed large­ly by the U.S. Con­gress.”

* * * * What all this adds up to is a jour­nal­is­tic con­flict-of-inter­est of the worst kind: Omid­yar work­ing hand-in-glove with US for­eign pol­icy agen­cies to inter­fere in for­eign gov­ern­ments, co-financ­ing regime change with well-known arms of the Amer­i­can empire — while at the same time hir­ing a grow­ing team of soi-dis­ant ”inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists” which vows to inves­ti­gate the behav­ior of the US gov­ern­ment at home and over­seas, and boasts of its unique­ly “adver­sar­ial” rela­tion­ship towards these  gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions. As First Look staffer Jere­my Scahill told the Dai­ly Beast

We had a long dis­cus­sion about this inter­nally; about what our posi­tion would be if the White House asked us to not pub­lish some­thing…. With us, because we want to be adver­sar­ial, they won’t know what bat phone to call. They know who to call at The Times, they know who to call at The Post. With us, who are they going to call? Pierre? Glenn?

Of the many prob­lems that pos­es, none is more seri­ous than the fact that Omid­yar now has the only two peo­ple with exclu­sive access to the com­plete Snow­den NSA cache, Glenn Green­wald and Lau­ra Poitras. Some­how, the same bil­lion­aire who co-financed the “coup” in Ukraine with USAID, also has exclu­sive access to the NSA secrets—and very few in the inde­pen­dent media dare voice a skep­ti­cal word about it. In the larg­er sense, this is a prob­lem of 21st cen­tury Amer­i­can inequal­ity, of life in a bil­lion­aire-dom­i­nat­ed era. It is a prob­lem we all have to con­tend with—PandoDaily’s 18-plus investors include a gag­gle of Sil­i­con Val­ley bil­lion­aires like Marc Andreessen (who serves on the board of eBay, chaired by Pierre Omid­yar) and Peter Thiel (whose pol­i­tics I’ve inves­ti­gated, and described as repug­nant.) But what is more imme­di­ately alarm­ing is what makes Omid­yar dif­fer­ent. Unlike oth­er bil­lion­aires, Omid­yar has gar­nered noth­ing but uncrit­i­cal, fawn­ing press cov­er­age, par­tic­u­larly from those he has hired. By acquir­ing a “dream team” of what remains of inde­pen­dent media — Green­wald, Jere­my Scahill, Wheel­er, my for­mer part­ner Matt Taib­bi — not to men­tion press “crit­ics” like Jay Rosen — he buys both silence and fawn­ing press. Both are incred­i­bly use­ful: Silence, an absence of jour­nal­is­tic curios­ity about Omidyar’s activ­i­ties over­seas and at home, has been pur­chased for the price of what­ever his cur­rent all-star indie cast cur­rently costs him. As an added bonus, that same invest­ment buys silence from expo­nen­tially larg­er num­bers of des­per­ately under­paid inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists hop­ing to some­day be on his pay­roll, and the under­funded media watch­dogs that sur­vive on Omid­yar Net­work grants. And it also buys laugh­able fluff from the likes of Scahill who also boast­ed to the Dai­ly Beast of his boss’ close involve­ment in the day to day run­ning of First Look.

“[Omid­yar] strikes me as always sort of polit­i­cal, but I think that the NSA sto­ry and the expand­ing wars put pol­i­tics for him into a much more promi­nent place in his exis­tence. This is not a side project that he is doing. Pierre writes more on our inter­nal mes­sag­ing than any­one else. And he is not micro­manag­ing. This guy has a vision. And his vision is to con­front what he sees as an assault on the pri­vacy of Amer­i­cans.”

Now Wheel­er has her answer — that, yes, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary groups were part-fund­ed by Uncle Sam, but also by her boss — one assumes awk­ward fol­low up ques­tions will be asked on that First Look inter­nal mes­sag­ing sys­tem. Whether Wheel­er, Scahill and their col­leagues go on to share their con­cerns pub­licly will speak vol­umes about First Look’s much-trum­pet­ed inde­pen­dence, both from Omidyar’s oth­er busi­ness inter­ests and from Omidyar’s co-investors in Ukraine: the US gov­ern­ment.

“Neo-Nazis Pour Into Kiev” by Michael Moyni­han; Dai­ly Beast; 2/28/2014.

EXCERPT: In ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, Fredrik Hag­berg stood at the ros­trum in Kiev’s City Hall, offer­ing fra­ter­nal and com­radely greet­ings from Swe­den to the sweaty, bruised, and exhaust­ed Ukrain­ian insur­rec­tion­ists scat­tered through­out. The place was fes­tooned with flags—some celtic cross­es, a stray Con­fed­er­ate ban­ner, a stan­dard for the polit­i­cal par­ty Svo­boda, whose mem­bers essen­tially con­trolled the building—reflecting the dubi­ous pol­i­tics of its occu­piers.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary tourists, thrill seek­ers, and para­chute jour­nal­ists suf­fused Kiev. Sen. John McCain, actress Hay­den Panet­tiere, and French intel­lec­tual Bernard Hen­ri-Levy roused mas­sive crowds with paeans to free­dom and nation­al sov­er­eignty, while offer­ing moral sup­port to the oppo­si­tion forces led by for­mer box­ing cham­pion Vitaly Klitschko.

But Hag­berg, a square-jawed and baby-faced mem­ber of the Swedish armed forces, had a dark­er mes­sage.

“I stand before your forces of rev­o­lu­tion to tell you about what your future might be if you fail your glo­ri­ous endeav­our,” he said in flu­id-but-clipped Eng­lish. “I stand here as a Swede. How­ever where I come from is no longer Swe­den.” Hag­berg warned Ukraini­ans that a suc­cess­ful rev­o­lu­tion must chart a path that care­fully avoid­ed the evils of abor­tion and eth­nic mon­gre­liza­tion, one that harsh­ly pun­ished wel­fare abuse and reject­ed the nor­mal­iza­tion of homo­sex­u­al­ity. “Offi­cials in Swe­den like to calls us the most mod­ern coun­try in the world. I say to you, broth­ers, this is what awaits you if you choose to fol­low our exam­ple. You now have the oppor­tu­nity to choose and cre­ate your own future. Do not accept the trap of choos­ing either the West or Rus­sia.”

It’s unclear who, if any­one, invit­ed him, but Hag­berg was speak­ing as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Nordisk Ung­dom (Nordic Youth), a Swedish neo-Nazi group that cel­e­brates “a tra­di­tional ide­al of a bet­ter man, striv­ing for some­thing greater and more noble than his own per­sonal ben­e­fit; an ide­al­is­tic man who fights for Europe’s free­dom.” Vis­i­tors to the group’s Eng­lish-lan­guage web­site are met with with a Bar­bara Kruger-like adver­tise­ment beseech­ing vis­i­tors to “help us to help the rev­o­lu­tion! Sup­port a free Ukraine! Donate Now...” Because Hag­berg is try­ing to pro­voke his fel­low neo-Nazis into trav­el­ling to Kiev to help shape a new, fas­cist-friend­ly Ukraine.

Amongst the fas­cists, ultra-nation­al­ists, and racists in Europe, there has been much grip­ing that the revolt in Ukraine has been over­taken, if not con­trolled from the out­set, by “CIA/ZOG [Zion­ist Occu­pied Government]/Soros-sponsored” forces. The Euroscep­ti­cism of the continent’s far-right move­ments has pro­duced a skep­ti­cism of the uprising’s much-dis­cussed Europhile main­stream.

But Pro-Yanukovych forces and the for­mer president’s Krem­lin allies have heav­ily pro­moted an alter­na­tive narrative—one that Hag­berg and his allies hap­pily embrace—suggesting that the protest move­ment is in fact hon­ey­combed with dan­ger­ous neo-Nazis affil­i­ated with the extrem­ist Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal par­ties Svo­boda and Right Sec­tor. There­fore, West­ern sup­port­ers of the protests, like John Mccain, are agi­tat­ing on behalf of vio­lent Ukrain­ian fas­cism.

It’s a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the Kremlin’s argu­ment against West­ern sup­port for Syr­ian rebel groups, which it says has amount­ed to mate­r­ial sup­port for al-Qae­da-spon­sered ter­ror­ism. And like with Syria—and the Span­ish Civ­il War before it—sympathetic Euro­pean extrem­ists are trav­el­ling to pro­vide sup­port to their ide­o­log­i­cal brethren.

“We just got boots on the ground and are dis­cussing with Svo­boda rep­re­sen­ta­tives and oth­er nation­al­ists what we can assist with,” Mag­nus Söder­man, the neo-Nazi orga­nizer of the Swedish Ukraine Vol­un­teers (Sven­ska Ukrainafriv­il­liga), told me. “Our mes­sage to them is that we will assist with what­ever; clear­ing the streets, secu­rity, mak­ing food.”

On the group’s web­site, stuffed with hack­neyed neo-Nazi pro­pa­ganda, poten­tial vol­un­teers are told that “we do not orga­nize any para­mil­i­tary force because our involve­ment is of a civ­il nature, as aid work­ers. Of course, should vio­lence break out we will make use of our right of self-defense.” (The site advis­es recruits to “improve your phys­i­cal fit­ness” before trav­el­ling to Kiev.) Ukraine, the group says, is fac­ing an exis­ten­tial threat and “we must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and the future of our white chil­dren!”

Accord­ing to the group’s new­ly con­sti­tuted Face­book page, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Swedish Ukraine Vol­un­teers recent­ly “vis­ited the par­lia­ment and estab­lished ??impor­tant con­tacts” amongst local politi­cians, pre­sum­ably those affil­i­ated with ultra-nation­al­ist par­ties Svo­boda and Right Sec­tor. The idea of for­eign vol­un­teers is “a good ini­tia­tive,” said one mem­ber of a fas­cist mes­sage board in Swe­den, “and I give my full sup­port to Mikael Skillt and oth­er par­ty com­rades who are trav­el­ling down to help our broth­ers in the east.”

Mikael Skillt is well-known in Swedish neo-Nazi cir­cles. A spokesman for the vig­i­lante group Stop the Pedophiles and a vet­eran of var­i­ous now-defunct fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions, Skillt is cur­rently affil­i­ated with the Par­ty of the Swedes (SvP), a neo-Nazi group found­ed by mem­bers of the less cam­era-friend­ly Nation­al Social­ist Front. Accord­ing to its web­site, SvP “has good con­tact with [Svo­boda] who were guests at our con­fer­ence Vision Europe just under a year ago.”

When I con­tacted Skillt he was in Moscow, on his way to agi­tat­ing in Kiev. So why does Ukraine need a fas­cist inter­na­tional brigade? “We are scan­ning the needs of the Ukraini­ans, but we will be offer­ing [them] our help in what­ever they need,” he told me. “We have mem­bers with expe­ri­ence in most fields, rang­ing from mil­i­tary to truck dri­vers to jour­nal­ists.”

When I asked if he had can­vassed the opin­ions of Russ­ian neo-Nazi groups while in Moscow, Skillt told me, with pre­dictable oblique­ness, that he had “heard some [Russ­ian] nation­al­ists who have spo­ken of a rev­o­lu­tion inspired by Ukraine.”

So how large is the inter­na­tional brigade of ultra-nation­al­ists? A Euro­pean jour­nal­ist who fol­lows the move­ment of Euro­pean jihadists to Syria—and now fas­cists migrat­ing towards Kiev—told me that there was indeed scat­tered evi­dence that neo-Nazi groups out­side Swe­den were mak­ing pil­grim­ages to Ukraine. When I asked Mag­nus Söder­man if there was a net­work of oth­er Nazis on the ground, he told me that “com­rades from oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries are also prepar­ing to assist if it is need­ed.”

...

Discussion

4 comments for “Ukraine Update: Pierre Omidyar (Glenn Greenwald’s Financial Angel) Helped Finance Coup; Swedish neo-Nazi Milieu of Carl Lundstrom Assisting OUN/B Heirs”

  1. Crimea’s new prime min­is­ter, Sergei Aksen­ov, has moved up the date of a planned ref­er­en­dum on the peninsula’s future sta­tus to March 30. Vot­ers will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on whether “Crimea has state sov­er­eign­ty and is a part of Ukraine, in accor­dance with treaties and agree­ments.”

    It seems extreme­ly unlike­ly that Kiev will rec­og­nize the ref­er­en­dum, but with Russ­ian troops occu­py­ing the ter­ri­to­ry, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it. Crimea, there­fore, seems des­tined to join the ranks of the for­mer Sovi­et Union’s “frozen con­flicts.” Here’s a quick run­down over the oth­er four:

    Transnis­tria

    Also known Trans-Dni­ester or Pridne­stro­vie, the tra­di­tion­al­ly Russ­ian speak­ing region was joined by Moscow to Bessara­bia, for­mer­ly part of Roma­nia, to cre­ate the Mol­da­vian Sovi­et Social­ist Repub­lic after World War II.

    Amid ris­ing Moldovan nation­al­ism dur­ing the break-up of the Sovi­et Union, Transnis­tria declared its inde­pen­dence in 1990. After a short and bloody war, a cease­fire was declared in 1992. The region became de fac­to inde­pen­dent, backed up a sig­nif­i­cant Russ­ian mil­i­tary pres­ence, but it is not rec­og­nized by Moldo­va or most oth­er coun­tries. Transnis­tri­ans have not gained any more enthu­si­asm for the idea of join­ing Moldo­va – Europe’s poor­est coun­try – since that time, and in a 2006 ref­er­en­dum, 90 per­cent vot­ed for inde­pen­dence. There has been some qui­et diplo­mat­ic progress since then, and increased trade between the two sides, but a per­ma­nent solu­tion doesn’t appear like­ly any time soon.

    Nagorno-Karabakh

    Nagorno-Karabakh is a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Armen­ian enclave with­in the ter­ri­to­ry of neigh­bor­ing Azer­bai­jan. The two coun­tries have fought over the region since the 19th cen­tu­ry. It was trans­ferred to Sovi­et Azer­bai­jan by Joseph Stal­in in 1923 and remained part of it through­out the Sovi­et peri­od.

    In 1988, the region declared inde­pen­dence and demand­ed reuni­fi­ca­tion with Sovi­et Arme­nia. Fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union, a bloody war broke out between the two coun­tries in which at least 30,000 peo­ple were killed. A Russ­ian-bro­kered cease­fire was signed in 1994, but the region’s sta­tus has remained unre­solved, and exchanges along the bor­der are com­mon. A long-run­ning medi­a­tion effort by the OSCE has made lit­tle progress.

    Abk­hazia and South Osse­tia

    Just three miles from Sochi, Abk­hazia has declared itself inde­pen­dent from Geor­gia since 1999. Inde­pen­dent from the 8th to the 11 cen­turies, the region was part of Geor­gia until both were annexed by Rus­sia in the 19th cen­tu­ry. Stal­in, incor­po­rat­ed it into Geor­gia in 1931. Osse­tia was also absorbed into Rus­sia in the 19th cen­tu­ry. In the 1920s, Moscow divid­ed it into, mak­ing North Osse­tia part of Rus­sia, and South Osse­tia an autonomous region with­in Geor­gia.

    After the break-up, both ter­ri­to­ries found them­selves as part of Geor­gia under the Geor­gian nation­al­ist Pres­i­dent Zvi­ad Gam­sakhur­dia. Osse­tia seced­ed in 1990, prompt­ing an inva­sion by Geor­gian forces that result­ed in a civ­il war result­ing in tends of thou­sands of casu­al­ties and refugees. A cease­fire was declared in 1992.

    Geor­gia sent troops to put down a sim­i­lar sep­a­ratist move­ment in Abk­hazia in 1992, result­ing in anoth­er bloody year-long war with Russ­ian-backed Abk­haz­ian troops. The sta­tus quo, enforced by Russ­ian troops, held for years in both regions after that, though Geor­gia claims the Abk­haz­ian gov­ern­ment car­ried out the eth­nic cleans­ing of the region’s Geor­gian pop­u­la­tion and accused Moscow of exac­er­bat­ing ten­sions by grant­i­ng res­i­dents of the region Russ­ian pass­ports.

    In 2008, after a series of skir­mish­es between Geor­gian and South Osset­ian forces, Gero­gia sent in troops to restore con­trol, prompt­ing a Russ­ian incur­sion into both ter­ri­to­ries as well as Geor­gia-prop­er that like­ly per­ma­nent­ly sep­a­rat­ed both from Geor­gian con­trol. Short­ly after the war, Rus­sia rec­og­nized the inde­pen­dence of both, com­par­ing it to West­ern recog­ni­tion of Koso­vo. Today, they are rec­og­nized as inde­pen­dent only by the odd group­ing of Rus­sia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Van­u­atu, Nau­ru, and Tuvalu.

    Rus­si­a’s actions in Crimea in recent days have been called “ful­ly anal­o­gous with Abk­hazia” by Ukraine’s act­ing pres­i­dent.

    As you can see, all of these con­flicts all have their roots in heavy-hand­ed Stalin’s redraw­ing of nation­al bound­aries as well as post-breakup vio­lence dur­ing the 1990s. Crimea, assum­ing it joins this club, is a some­what dif­fer­ent ani­mal, joined to Ukraine in the Khrushchev era and rel­a­tive­ly peace­ful until now.

    Could a Crimea be the fifth pseu­dostate stuck in a frozen con­flict? Any oth­ers? Maybe a region of Mal­do­va that, itself, is already split in two?

    Radio Free Europe Radio Lib­er­ty
    Mon­day, March 03, 2014
    Moldo­va
    Con­cerned About EU Inte­gra­tion, Moldova’s Gagauz Region Holds Dis­put­ed Ref­er­en­dum

    By Valenti­na Ursu and Diana Raileanu

    Last updat­ed (GMT/UTC): 02.02.2014 16:25
    CHISINAU — With the upheaval in Ukraine show­ing no signs of abat­ing, neigh­bor­ing Moldo­va has become the star of the Euro­pean Union’s East­ern Part­ner­ship pro­gram.

    Chisin­au ini­tialed an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment and a Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Agree­ment with the bloc in Novem­ber — but not every­one is Moldo­va is on board with the coun­try’s aggres­sive Euro­pean-inte­gra­tion pol­i­cy.

    As the pol­i­cy has accel­er­at­ed, the Russ­ian-sup­port­ed break­away region of Trans­d­ni­ester has rum­bled increas­ing­ly loud­ly. Recent­ly it adopt­ed Russ­ian leg­is­la­tion, a clear sig­nal of the region’s pref­er­ence for join­ing a Rus­sia-led cus­toms union.

    And on Feb­ru­ary 2, the south­ern Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia is hold­ing a con­tro­ver­sial ref­er­en­dum, ask­ing locals if they favor clos­er rela­tions with the EU or the CIS Cus­toms Union.

    [Accord­ing to RFE/RL’s Moldovan Ser­vice, the head of Gagauzi­a’s elec­tion com­mis­sion said turnout was at more than 55 per­cent in the after­noon, pass­ing the required one-third to be con­sid­ered valid. A cor­re­spon­dent in Com­rat report­ed long lines at polling sta­tions ear­li­er in the day.]

    In an inter­view with RFE/RL’s Moldovan Ser­vice, Gagauzia Gov­er­nor Mihail For­muzal did not hide his per­son­al pref­er­ences. “I think that for the next 10 years it is in our inter­est to be in the cus­toms union. I think that would enable us to mod­ern­ize our econ­o­my, secure reli­able mar­kets for our goods,” he said.

    “And, at the same time, dur­ing these years we would car­ry out the gen­uine democ­ra­ti­za­tion of our soci­ety to cor­re­spond with the glob­al­ly accept­ed stan­dards and demo­c­ra­t­ic norms of a law-based state. At present, unfor­tu­nate­ly, we do not have this in our coun­try.”

    Defi­ant In Com­rat

    Gagauzia is a geo­graph­i­cal­ly dis­con­tin­u­ous region with a pop­u­la­tion of about 155,000 peo­ple, most­ly eth­ni­cal­ly Turk­ish, Russ­ian-speak­ing, Ortho­dox Chris­tians. Many locals there fear that Chisin­au’s EU-inte­gra­tion agen­da masks an inten­tion to unite Moldo­va with neigh­bor­ing Roma­nia.

    Gov­er­nor For­muzal said this was the main con­cern in his region. “There is a def­i­nite skep­ti­cism as we watch the process­es going on in Europe today,” he said. “The cit­i­zens of Gagauzia are very con­cerned that Euro-inte­gra­tion process­es are being car­ried out in synch with, say, the entry into Europe through Roma­nia. And this wor­ries and fright­ens peo­ple.”

    Moldova’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment has tried hard to stop the Feb­ru­ary 2 ref­er­en­dum, which it sees as a chal­lenge to the coun­try’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty. A court in the Gagauz cap­i­tal of Com­rat accept­ed Chisin­au’s argu­ment that the autonomous region is only allowed to hold ref­er­en­dums on local issues. But Gagauz author­i­ties are pro­ceed­ing with the bal­lot despite the court rul­ing.

    The ref­er­en­dum will ask whether Gagauzia should be able to declare inde­pen­dence in the event that Moldo­va los­es or sur­ren­ders its own inde­pen­dence and whether Moldo­va should pur­sue clos­er rela­tions with the EU or with the CIS Cus­toms Union.

    Reach­ing Out To Gagauzia

    Offi­cials from Chisin­au have rushed to the region in recent days in a seem­ing­ly unsuc­cess­ful bid to stave off the divi­sive vote.

    ...

    Too Late For Dia­logue?

    Ion Tabar­ta, of the Insti­tute of Pol­i­cy Analy­sis and Advice in Chisin­au, agrees that the rul­ing pro-Euro­pean coali­tion has failed to engage with the Gagauz, both about the Euro­pean-inte­gra­tion process and about issues of con­cern to the region.

    “We haven’t been able to inte­grate the Gagauz minor­i­ty into Moldovan soci­ety,” Tabar­ta says. “They had their issues — they were unhap­py with the rep­re­sen­ta­tion they got in the nation­al lead­er­ship, gov­ern­ment, and par­lia­ment. Chisin­au just neglect­ed these prob­lems. So dia­logue now comes a bit late, but I think it can move for­ward.”

    Chisin­au-based polit­i­cal ana­lyst Igor Botan is less san­guine. “It’s more of a polit­i­cal con­flict, since Gagauzia does not have the pow­er of seces­sion that Trans­d­ni­ester did,” he notes. “But they can keep alive this polit­i­cal con­flict: while the Euro­pean Union is pon­der­ing whether to sign an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Moldo­va, they set up obsta­cles and send the mes­sage that they do not agree. And they have the sup­port of the vot­ers and of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion.”

    Russ­ian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dmit­ry Rogozin hint­ed dark­ly ear­li­er this month that “the train called Moldo­va that is chug­ging toward Europe might lose a cou­ple of its cars.” Clear­ly he had in mind both Trans­d­ni­ester and Gagauzia.

    Iron­i­cal­ly, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Gagauz minor­i­ty in Ukraine have endorsed that coun­try’s EU-inte­gra­tion ambi­tions and have called on the gov­ern­ment and the oppo­si­tion to reach a peace­ful set­tle­ment.

    Note that the peo­ple of Gagauzia end­ed up vot­ing over­whelm­ing­ly to join the Russ­ian Cus­toms Union over the EU, although the Mal­dovan courts have rules the ref­er­en­dum ille­gal. So it’s in the fes­ter­ing-phase of an ongo­ing cri­sis with no clear options:

    EU Observ­er
    Gagauzia: A new attack on the East­ern Part­ner­ship?

    04.02.14 @ 17:46

    By Salome Samadashvili

    BRUSSELS — With world atten­tion fixed on Ukraine, the ref­er­en­dum on Sun­day (2 Feb­ru­ary) in Gagauzia, a part of Moldo­va which few peo­ple have heard of, did not get much atten­tion.

    The Gagauz — some 150,000 peo­ple, who are Tur­kic-speak­ing Ortho­dox Chris­tians — vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly in favour of join­ing Russia’s Cus­toms Union instead of EU inte­gra­tion.

    EU neigh­bour­hood com­mis­sion­er Ste­fan Fuele had recent­ly vis­it­ed the region.

    He spoke of the poten­tial ben­e­fits of clos­er EU-Moldo­va ties, high­light­ing prospects for EU visa-free trav­el.

    His inter­ven­tion did noth­ing to change the out­come, how­ev­er. As Gagauz envoys explained on a vis­it to Brus­sels last week, they want eas­i­er access to the Russ­ian labour mar­ket instead.

    Sunday’s ref­er­en­dum also had a ques­tion about Gagauzia’s right to declare inde­pen­dence from Moldo­va. Again, an over­wh­lem­ing major­i­ty want­ed the right to secede.

    The ref­er­en­dum has no legal con­se­quences because Moldovan courts have ruled it ille­gal.

    But it does have the poten­tial to revive recent protests against Moldova’s plan to sign an EU asso­ci­a­tion and free trade treaty.

    More dan­ger­ous­ly, it has the poten­tial to enflame sep­a­ratist ten­den­cies.

    Moldo­va already has one break­away region, which has become a de fac­to state and a source of long-term insta­bil­i­ty: Transnies­tria.

    The busi­ness inter­ests of the Transnies­tri­an elite are becom­ing increas­ing­ly tied to the EU, how­ev­er.

    The region has no bor­der with Rus­sia, and it is does not depend on Russ­ian mar­kets or sub­si­dies to the same extent as oth­er break­away enti­ties in the for­mer Sovi­et ter­ri­to­ries.

    If Moldo­va-Transnies­tria rela­tions mend, the Gagauzia ref­er­en­dum is an alter­na­tive source of insta­bil­i­ty.

    ...

    It looks like we’re get­ting a les­son in the con­flicts that can arise when two major eco­nom­ic unions are form­ing right next to each oth­er. Draw a Venn dia­gram with three cir­cles: One con­tain­ing coun­tries that might join the EU. Anoth­er con­tain­ing coun­tries that might join the Eurasian Union. And a third that con­tains coun­tries with regions that don’t real­ly want to be part of that coun­try. That area in the mid­dle is the Venn dia­gram region of frozen con­flict. How we turn that region of frozen con­flict into the region of resolved for­mer­ly unre­solv­able con­flicts — and not the region of doom — is going to be an increas­ing­ly impor­tant ques­tion to answer going for­ward. There are more frozen con­flicts poten­tial­ly on the way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 2, 2014, 7:38 pm
  2. With Russian/EU rela­tions fray­ing in real-time, it’s worth point­ing out that Rus­sia is still the EU’s biggest sup­pli­er of nat­ur­al gas but the com­ple­tion of new pipelines in recent years means Ukraine is no longer a need­ed route for all that Russ­ian gas to EU mar­kets:

    Europe less reliant on Russ­ian gas through Ukraine

    Mon Mar 3, 2014 7:14am EST

    * Europe’s gas stocks are unusu­al­ly full after mild weath­er

    * Weath­er out­look for ear­ly spring is also mild

    * Alter­na­tive sup­ply routes still have spare capac­i­ty

    By Hen­ning Gloys­tein and Michael Kahn

    LONDON/PRAGUE March 3 (Reuters) — A mild win­ter and improved infra­struc­ture mean Europe is less reliant on Russ­ian nat­ur­al gas pumped through Ukraine than in past years, eas­ing wor­ries that the esca­lat­ing cri­sis in Ukraine could hurt sup­plies.

    Rus­sia is Europe’s biggest gas sup­pli­er, pro­vid­ing around a quar­ter of con­ti­nen­tal demand, which at cur­rent dai­ly flows of 270 mil­lion cubic metres (mcm) is worth almost $100 mil­lion a day. Around a third of Rus­si­a’s gas is export­ed through Ukraine.

    Fears for the sta­bil­i­ty of sup­ply to Europe increased over the week­end when Russ­ian forces took con­trol of Ukraine’s Crimea region and Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said he had the right to invade his neigh­bour to pro­tect Rus­sians there after the over­throw of ally Vik­tor Yanukovich.

    Moscow has in the past cut sup­plies to Ukraine when nego­ti­at­ing prices with Kiev, caus­ing short­ages espe­cial­ly in cen­tral Europe, which gets most of its sup­plies from Rus­sia.

    Rus­si­a’s Gazprom said on Mon­day that gas tran­sit to Europe via Ukraine was nor­mal, but it warned that it might increase prices for Kiev after the first quar­ter, rais­ing con­cerns that gas could be used for polit­i­cal lever­age in the cri­sis.

    But ana­lysts said a mild win­ter across Europe had left stor­age inven­to­ries unusu­al­ly high, eas­ing the impact of any poten­tial sup­ply cut.

    They also said improved gas infra­struc­ture meant much of Rus­si­a’s sup­plies could go to west­ern Europe via alter­na­tive routes, such as the Nord Stream pipeline, which goes through the Baltic Sea to Ger­many, or through a pipeline that pass­es Belarus and Poland and also goes into Ger­many.

    “Low util­i­sa­tion means Ukraine’s gas net­work is of less­er impor­tance today than in the past,” Bern­stein Research said on Mon­day in a research note.

    Ukraine’s gas tran­sit monop­oly Ukr­trans­gas has also been increas­ing its gas imports from Rus­sia in recent days.

    HEALTHY STOCKS

    After a mild win­ter, mete­o­rol­o­gists expect ear­ly spring to bring warmer-than-usu­al con­di­tions over most of Europe, imply­ing weak gas demand will con­tin­ue, adding to already high stor­age lev­els.

    In Cen­tral Europe, which relies heav­i­ly on Russ­ian sup­plies and was hard hit by pre­vi­ous cuts, Czech and Slo­vak inven­to­ries are filled between 35 and 45 per­cent, equiv­a­lent to 90 days of demand, and Pol­ish reserves at over 70 per­cent of capac­i­ty.

    ...

    In Ger­many, Europe’s biggest gas con­sumer and Rus­si­a’s largest cus­tomer, inven­to­ries are more than 60 per­cent of capac­i­ty, equiv­a­lent to around 60 days of demand.

    So it sounds like the EU isn’t going to be near­ly as depen­dent as in the past on the pipes run­ning through Ukraine to get its Russ­ian gas sup­plies. And Europe has also had the for­tune of a mild win­ter to buffer its nat­ur­al gas reserves. But what about in the longer run? Might this lat­est con­flict with Rus­sia lead to a renewed com­mit­ment to renew­able ener­gy that isn’t so vul­ner­a­ble to pipelines and region­al con­flicts? Or, maybe, the EU could ditch the renew­ables and start frack­ing:

    Der Spiegel
    Green Fade-Out: Europe to Ditch Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion Goals

    By Gre­gor Peter Schmitz in Brus­sels
    Jan­u­ary 15, 2014 – 02:42 PM

    The EU’s rep­u­ta­tion as a mod­el of envi­ron­men­tal respon­si­bil­i­ty may soon be his­to­ry. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion wants to for­go ambi­tious cli­mate pro­tec­tion goals and pave the way for frack­ing — jeop­ar­diz­ing Ger­many’s tout­ed ener­gy rev­o­lu­tion in the process.

    The cli­mate between Brus­sels and Berlin is pol­lut­ed, some­thing Euro­pean Com­mis­sion offi­cials attribute, among oth­er things, to the “reck­less” way Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emis­sions dur­ing her re-elec­tion cam­paign to pla­cate domes­tic auto­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers like Daim­ler and BMW. This kind of bla­tant self-inter­est, offi­cials com­plained at the time, is poi­son­ing the cli­mate.

    But now it seems that the cli­mate is no longer of much impor­tance to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the EU’s exec­u­tive branch, either. Com­mis­sion sources have long been hint­ing that the body intends to move away from ambi­tious cli­mate pro­tec­tion goals. On Tues­day, the Süd­deutsche Zeitung report­ed as much.

    At the request of Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent José Manuel Bar­roso, EU mem­ber states are no longer to receive spe­cif­ic guide­lines for the devel­op­ment of renew­able ener­gy. The stat­ed aim of increas­ing the share of green ener­gy across the EU to up to 27 per­cent will hold. But how seri­ous­ly coun­tries tack­le this project will no longer be reg­u­lat­ed with­in the plan. As of 2020 at the lat­est — when the cur­rent com­mit­ment to fur­ther increase the share of green ener­gy expires — cli­mate pro­tec­tion in the EU will appar­ent­ly be pur­sued on a vol­un­tary basis.

    Cli­mate Lead­ers No More?

    With such a pol­i­cy, the Euro­pean Union is seri­ous­ly jeop­ar­diz­ing its glob­al cli­mate lead­er­ship role. Back in 2007, when Ger­many held the Euro­pean Coun­cil pres­i­den­cy, the body decid­ed on a cli­mate and ener­gy leg­is­la­tion pack­age known as the “20–20-20” tar­gets, to be ful­filled by the year 2020. They includ­ed:

    * a 20 per­cent reduc­tion in EU green­house gas emis­sions;

    * rais­ing the share of EU ener­gy con­sump­tion pro­duced from renew­able resources to 20 per­cent;

    * and a 20 per­cent improve­ment in the EU’s ener­gy effi­cien­cy.

    All of the goals were for­mu­lat­ed rel­a­tive to 1990 lev­els. And the tar­gets could very well be met. But in the future, Euro­pean cli­mate and ener­gy pol­i­cy may be lim­it­ed to just a sin­gle project: reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions. The Com­mis­sion plans also set no new bind­ing rules for ener­gy effi­cien­cy.

    Wel­come, Frack­ers

    In addi­tion, the author­i­ty wants to pave the way in the EU for the con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice of frack­ing, accord­ing to the dai­ly Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung. The report says the Com­mis­sion does not intend to estab­lish strict rules for the extrac­tion of shale gas, but only min­i­mum health and envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

    The plans will be offi­cial­ly pre­sent­ed next Wednes­day ahead of an EU sum­mit meet­ing in March. Observers, how­ev­er, believe that a deci­sion is unlike­ly to come until the sum­mer at the ear­li­est. But action must be tak­en this year: At the begin­ning of 2015, a cli­mate con­fer­ence will take place in Paris at which a glob­al cli­mate agree­ment is to be hashed out.

    The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is unlike­ly to be pleased with the Com­mis­sion’s plans. Just at the begin­ning of Jan­u­ary, a strong par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty vot­ed to reduce car­bon emis­sions EU-wide by 40 per­cent by 2030 and to raise the por­tion of renew­ables to at least 30 per­cent of ener­gy con­sump­tion.

    Ger­many’s Ener­gy Goals at Risk

    The Com­mis­sion’s move fur­ther iso­lates Ger­many. Merkel’s gov­ern­ment, a “grand coali­tion” of her con­ser­v­a­tives and the cen­ter-left Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (SPD), seeks to increase the share of renew­ables in the coun­try’s ener­gy mix to 60 per­cent by 2036. As report­ed in the lat­est issue of SPIEGEL, Sig­mar Gabriel, SPD chair and min­is­ter of ener­gy and eco­nom­ics, recent­ly urged Cli­mate Com­mis­sion­er Con­nie Hede­gaard and Ener­gy Com­mis­sion­er Gün­ther Oet­tinger to put forth manda­to­ry expan­sion tar­gets for renew­able ener­gy in the EU by 2030. Europe “can’t afford to pass up this oppor­tu­ni­ty,” Gabriel wrote.

    But with­in the Com­mis­sion, the ambi­tious project has long been con­tro­ver­sial. The same goes for EU mem­ber states, as Gabriel recent­ly dis­cov­ered. Pri­or to Christ­mas the min­is­ter, togeth­er with eight col­leagues from through­out the EU, called for a “renew­ables tar­get” in a let­ter to the Com­mis­sion. But some coun­tries, such as France, joined the appeal only hes­i­tant­ly at the time. Paris might pre­fer instead to rely more heav­i­ly on nuclear pow­er in order to meet strin­gent car­bon emis­sion require­ments.

    Ener­gy Com­mis­sion­er Gün­ther Oet­tinger, a Ger­man from Merkel’s Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union, has also shown reluc­tance. Rather than set­ting clear goals for the share of renew­ables, he wants fixed tar­gets only for the reduc­tion of car­bon emis­sions — and he is skep­ti­cal even of the 40 per­cent tar­get pro­posed by Cli­mate Com­mis­sion­er Hede­gaard.

    ...

    Yeah, Ger­man Ener­gy Com­mis­sion­er Gun­ther Oet­tinger’s com­ments on the over-ambi­tious­ness of the EU’s renew­able ener­gy goals did­n’t go over well in ear­ly Feb­ru­ary. With It will be inter­est­ing to see how the con­flict in Crimea changes that in com­ing months.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 3, 2014, 9:03 am
  3. His­to­ry does­n’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes:

    Slate
    March 1 2014 5:44 PM

    A Tour of the Pseu­dostates of the For­mer Sovi­et Union

    By Joshua Keat­ing

    Crimea’s new prime min­is­ter, Sergei Aksen­ov, has moved up the date of a planned ref­er­en­dum on the peninsula’s future sta­tus to March 30. Vot­ers will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on whether “Crimea has state sov­er­eign­ty and is a part of Ukraine, in accor­dance with treaties and agree­ments.”

    It seems extreme­ly unlike­ly that Kiev will rec­og­nize the ref­er­en­dum, but with Russ­ian troops occu­py­ing the ter­ri­to­ry, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it. Crimea, there­fore, seems des­tined to join the ranks of the for­mer Sovi­et Union’s “frozen con­flicts.” Here’s a quick run­down over the oth­er four:

    Transnis­tria

    Also known Trans-Dni­ester or Pridne­stro­vie, the tra­di­tion­al­ly Russ­ian speak­ing region was joined by Moscow to Bessara­bia, for­mer­ly part of Roma­nia, to cre­ate the Mol­da­vian Sovi­et Social­ist Repub­lic after World War II.

    Amid ris­ing Moldovan nation­al­ism dur­ing the break-up of the Sovi­et Union, Transnis­tria declared its inde­pen­dence in 1990. After a short and bloody war, a cease­fire was declared in 1992. The region became de fac­to inde­pen­dent, backed up a sig­nif­i­cant Russ­ian mil­i­tary pres­ence, but it is not rec­og­nized by Moldo­va or most oth­er coun­tries. Transnis­tri­ans have not gained any more enthu­si­asm for the idea of join­ing Moldo­va – Europe’s poor­est coun­try – since that time, and in a 2006 ref­er­en­dum, 90 per­cent vot­ed for inde­pen­dence. There has been some qui­et diplo­mat­ic progress since then, and increased trade between the two sides, but a per­ma­nent solu­tion doesn’t appear like­ly any time soon.

    Nagorno-Karabakh

    Nagorno-Karabakh is a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Armen­ian enclave with­in the ter­ri­to­ry of neigh­bor­ing Azer­bai­jan. The two coun­tries have fought over the region since the 19th cen­tu­ry. It was trans­ferred to Sovi­et Azer­bai­jan by Joseph Stal­in in 1923 and remained part of it through­out the Sovi­et peri­od.

    In 1988, the region declared inde­pen­dence and demand­ed reuni­fi­ca­tion with Sovi­et Arme­nia. Fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union, a bloody war broke out between the two coun­tries in which at least 30,000 peo­ple were killed. A Russ­ian-bro­kered cease­fire was signed in 1994, but the region’s sta­tus has remained unre­solved, and exchanges along the bor­der are com­mon. A long-run­ning medi­a­tion effort by the OSCE has made lit­tle progress.

    Abk­hazia and South Osse­tia

    Just three miles from Sochi, Abk­hazia has declared itself inde­pen­dent from Geor­gia since 1999. Inde­pen­dent from the 8th to the 11 cen­turies, the region was part of Geor­gia until both were annexed by Rus­sia in the 19th cen­tu­ry. Stal­in, incor­po­rat­ed it into Geor­gia in 1931. Osse­tia was also absorbed into Rus­sia in the 19th cen­tu­ry. In the 1920s, Moscow divid­ed it into, mak­ing North Osse­tia part of Rus­sia, and South Osse­tia an autonomous region with­in Geor­gia.

    After the break-up, both ter­ri­to­ries found them­selves as part of Geor­gia under the Geor­gian nation­al­ist Pres­i­dent Zvi­ad Gam­sakhur­dia. Osse­tia seced­ed in 1990, prompt­ing an inva­sion by Geor­gian forces that result­ed in a civ­il war result­ing in tends of thou­sands of casu­al­ties and refugees. A cease­fire was declared in 1992.

    Geor­gia sent troops to put down a sim­i­lar sep­a­ratist move­ment in Abk­hazia in 1992, result­ing in anoth­er bloody year-long war with Russ­ian-backed Abk­haz­ian troops. The sta­tus quo, enforced by Russ­ian troops, held for years in both regions after that, though Geor­gia claims the Abk­haz­ian gov­ern­ment car­ried out the eth­nic cleans­ing of the region’s Geor­gian pop­u­la­tion and accused Moscow of exac­er­bat­ing ten­sions by grant­i­ng res­i­dents of the region Russ­ian pass­ports.

    In 2008, after a series of skir­mish­es between Geor­gian and South Osset­ian forces, Gero­gia sent in troops to restore con­trol, prompt­ing a Russ­ian incur­sion into both ter­ri­to­ries as well as Geor­gia-prop­er that like­ly per­ma­nent­ly sep­a­rat­ed both from Geor­gian con­trol. Short­ly after the war, Rus­sia rec­og­nized the inde­pen­dence of both, com­par­ing it to West­ern recog­ni­tion of Koso­vo. Today, they are rec­og­nized as inde­pen­dent only by the odd group­ing of Rus­sia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Van­u­atu, Nau­ru, and Tuvalu.

    Rus­si­a’s actions in Crimea in recent days have been called “ful­ly anal­o­gous with Abk­hazia” by Ukraine’s act­ing pres­i­dent.

    As you can see, all of these con­flicts all have their roots in heavy-hand­ed Stalin’s redraw­ing of nation­al bound­aries as well as post-breakup vio­lence dur­ing the 1990s. Crimea, assum­ing it joins this club, is a some­what dif­fer­ent ani­mal, joined to Ukraine in the Khrushchev era and rel­a­tive­ly peace­ful until now.

    Could a Crimea be the fifth pseu­dostate stuck in a frozen con­flict? Any oth­ers? Maybe a region of Moldo­va that, itself, is already split in two?

    Radio Free Europe Radio Lib­er­ty
    Mon­day, March 03, 2014
    Moldo­va
    Con­cerned About EU Inte­gra­tion, Moldova’s Gagauz Region Holds Dis­put­ed Ref­er­en­dum

    By Valenti­na Ursu and Diana Raileanu

    Last updat­ed (GMT/UTC): 02.02.2014 16:25
    CHISINAU — With the upheaval in Ukraine show­ing no signs of abat­ing, neigh­bor­ing Moldo­va has become the star of the Euro­pean Union’s East­ern Part­ner­ship pro­gram.

    Chisin­au ini­tialed an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment and a Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Agree­ment with the bloc in Novem­ber — but not every­one is Moldo­va is on board with the coun­try’s aggres­sive Euro­pean-inte­gra­tion pol­i­cy.

    As the pol­i­cy has accel­er­at­ed, the Russ­ian-sup­port­ed break­away region of Trans­d­ni­ester has rum­bled increas­ing­ly loud­ly. Recent­ly it adopt­ed Russ­ian leg­is­la­tion, a clear sig­nal of the region’s pref­er­ence for join­ing a Rus­sia-led cus­toms union.

    And on Feb­ru­ary 2, the south­ern Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia is hold­ing a con­tro­ver­sial ref­er­en­dum, ask­ing locals if they favor clos­er rela­tions with the EU or the CIS Cus­toms Union.

    [Accord­ing to RFE/RL’s Moldovan Ser­vice, the head of Gagauzi­a’s elec­tion com­mis­sion said turnout was at more than 55 per­cent in the after­noon, pass­ing the required one-third to be con­sid­ered valid. A cor­re­spon­dent in Com­rat report­ed long lines at polling sta­tions ear­li­er in the day.]

    In an inter­view with RFE/RL’s Moldovan Ser­vice, Gagauzia Gov­er­nor Mihail For­muzal did not hide his per­son­al pref­er­ences. “I think that for the next 10 years it is in our inter­est to be in the cus­toms union. I think that would enable us to mod­ern­ize our econ­o­my, secure reli­able mar­kets for our goods,” he said.

    “And, at the same time, dur­ing these years we would car­ry out the gen­uine democ­ra­ti­za­tion of our soci­ety to cor­re­spond with the glob­al­ly accept­ed stan­dards and demo­c­ra­t­ic norms of a law-based state. At present, unfor­tu­nate­ly, we do not have this in our coun­try.”

    Defi­ant In Com­rat

    Gagauzia is a geo­graph­i­cal­ly dis­con­tin­u­ous region with a pop­u­la­tion of about 155,000 peo­ple, most­ly eth­ni­cal­ly Turk­ish, Russ­ian-speak­ing, Ortho­dox Chris­tians. Many locals there fear that Chisin­au’s EU-inte­gra­tion agen­da masks an inten­tion to unite Moldo­va with neigh­bor­ing Roma­nia.

    Gov­er­nor For­muzal said this was the main con­cern in his region. “There is a def­i­nite skep­ti­cism as we watch the process­es going on in Europe today,” he said. “The cit­i­zens of Gagauzia are very con­cerned that Euro-inte­gra­tion process­es are being car­ried out in synch with, say, the entry into Europe through Roma­nia. And this wor­ries and fright­ens peo­ple.”

    Moldova’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment has tried hard to stop the Feb­ru­ary 2 ref­er­en­dum, which it sees as a chal­lenge to the coun­try’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty. A court in the Gagauz cap­i­tal of Com­rat accept­ed Chisin­au’s argu­ment that the autonomous region is only allowed to hold ref­er­en­dums on local issues. But Gagauz author­i­ties are pro­ceed­ing with the bal­lot despite the court rul­ing.

    The ref­er­en­dum will ask whether Gagauzia should be able to declare inde­pen­dence in the event that Moldo­va los­es or sur­ren­ders its own inde­pen­dence and whether Moldo­va should pur­sue clos­er rela­tions with the EU or with the CIS Cus­toms Union.

    Reach­ing Out To Gagauzia

    Offi­cials from Chisin­au have rushed to the region in recent days in a seem­ing­ly unsuc­cess­ful bid to stave off the divi­sive vote.

    ...

    Too Late For Dia­logue?

    Ion Tabar­ta, of the Insti­tute of Pol­i­cy Analy­sis and Advice in Chisin­au, agrees that the rul­ing pro-Euro­pean coali­tion has failed to engage with the Gagauz, both about the Euro­pean-inte­gra­tion process and about issues of con­cern to the region.

    “We haven’t been able to inte­grate the Gagauz minor­i­ty into Moldovan soci­ety,” Tabar­ta says. “They had their issues — they were unhap­py with the rep­re­sen­ta­tion they got in the nation­al lead­er­ship, gov­ern­ment, and par­lia­ment. Chisin­au just neglect­ed these prob­lems. So dia­logue now comes a bit late, but I think it can move for­ward.”

    Chisin­au-based polit­i­cal ana­lyst Igor Botan is less san­guine. “It’s more of a polit­i­cal con­flict, since Gagauzia does not have the pow­er of seces­sion that Trans­d­ni­ester did,” he notes. “But they can keep alive this polit­i­cal con­flict: while the Euro­pean Union is pon­der­ing whether to sign an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Moldo­va, they set up obsta­cles and send the mes­sage that they do not agree. And they have the sup­port of the vot­ers and of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion.”

    Russ­ian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dmit­ry Rogozin hint­ed dark­ly ear­li­er this month that “the train called Moldo­va that is chug­ging toward Europe might lose a cou­ple of its cars.” Clear­ly he had in mind both Trans­d­ni­ester and Gagauzia.

    Iron­i­cal­ly, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Gagauz minor­i­ty in Ukraine have endorsed that coun­try’s EU-inte­gra­tion ambi­tions and have called on the gov­ern­ment and the oppo­si­tion to reach a peace­ful set­tle­ment.

    Note that the peo­ple of Gagauzia end­ed up vot­ing over­whelm­ing­ly to join the Russ­ian Cus­toms Union over the EU, although the Moldovan courts have rules the ref­er­en­dum ille­gal. So it’s in the fes­ter­ing-phase of an ongo­ing cri­sis with no clear options:

    EU Observ­er
    Gagauzia: A new attack on the East­ern Part­ner­ship?

    04.02.14 @ 17:46

    By Salome Samadashvili

    BRUSSELS — With world atten­tion fixed on Ukraine, the ref­er­en­dum on Sun­day (2 Feb­ru­ary) in Gagauzia, a part of Moldo­va which few peo­ple have heard of, did not get much atten­tion.

    The Gagauz — some 150,000 peo­ple, who are Tur­kic-speak­ing Ortho­dox Chris­tians — vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly in favour of join­ing Russia’s Cus­toms Union instead of EU inte­gra­tion.

    EU neigh­bour­hood com­mis­sion­er Ste­fan Fuele had recent­ly vis­it­ed the region.

    He spoke of the poten­tial ben­e­fits of clos­er EU-Moldo­va ties, high­light­ing prospects for EU visa-free trav­el.

    His inter­ven­tion did noth­ing to change the out­come, how­ev­er. As Gagauz envoys explained on a vis­it to Brus­sels last week, they want eas­i­er access to the Russ­ian labour mar­ket instead.

    Sunday’s ref­er­en­dum also had a ques­tion about Gagauzia’s right to declare inde­pen­dence from Moldo­va. Again, an over­wh­lem­ing major­i­ty want­ed the right to secede.

    The ref­er­en­dum has no legal con­se­quences because Moldovan courts have ruled it ille­gal.

    But it does have the poten­tial to revive recent protests against Moldova’s plan to sign an EU asso­ci­a­tion and free trade treaty.

    More dan­ger­ous­ly, it has the poten­tial to enflame sep­a­ratist ten­den­cies.

    Moldo­va already has one break­away region, which has become a de fac­to state and a source of long-term insta­bil­i­ty: Transnies­tria.

    The busi­ness inter­ests of the Transnies­tri­an elite are becom­ing increas­ing­ly tied to the EU, how­ev­er.

    The region has no bor­der with Rus­sia, and it is does not depend on Russ­ian mar­kets or sub­si­dies to the same extent as oth­er break­away enti­ties in the for­mer Sovi­et ter­ri­to­ries.

    If Moldo­va-Transnies­tria rela­tions mend, the Gagauzia ref­er­en­dum is an alter­na­tive source of insta­bil­i­ty.

    ...

    It looks like we’re get­ting a les­son in the con­flicts that can arise when two major eco­nomic unions are form­ing right next to each oth­er. Draw a Venn dia­gram with three cir­cles: One con­tain­ing coun­tries that might join the EU. Anoth­er con­tain­ing coun­tries that might join the Eurasian Union. And a third that con­tains coun­tries with regions that don’t real­ly want to be part of that coun­try. That area in the mid­dle is the Venn dia­gram region of frozen con­flict. How we turn that region of frozen con­flict into the region of resolved for­mer­ly unre­solv­able con­flicts — and not the region of doom — is going to be an increas­ingly impor­tant ques­tion to answer going for­ward. There are more frozen con­flicts poten­tial­ly on the way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 3, 2014, 5:16 pm
  4. Here’s an arti­cle that lists one big rea­son why Ger­many is like­ly to play ‘good cop’ in any nego­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia over the cri­sis in Ukraine: The ‘bad cop’ role could be real­ly bad for Ger­many busi­ness:

    Bloomberg
    Merkel Eye for Russ­ian Empress Shows Putin Ties Are Com­plex
    By Patrick Don­ahue and Tino Andresen Mar 4, 2014 11:35 AM CT

    Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has a por­trait on her desk of Russ­ian empress Cather­ine the Great, the Pruss­ian-born princess who went on to expand Russia’s ter­ri­to­ry to the west and the south, includ­ing Crimea.

    As Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin tests Europe’s resolve dur­ing the cri­sis over Ukraine, Merkel’s admi­ra­tion for Cather­ine hints at the com­plex ties bind­ing Ger­many and Rus­sia togeth­er that give her sway over Putin yet con­strain her response.

    Merkel, who once told Ger­man tele­vi­sion that Cather­ine had “accom­plished many things under dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances,” has tele­phoned with Putin at least three times in the past week alone. That diplo­ma­cy reflects her role as the key con­duit between east and west.

    Merkel, 59, a Russ­ian speak­er whose polit­i­cal career began with the end of the Cold War, has addi­tion­al lever­age in the con­flict over Ukraine on account of her sta­tus as the leader of Russia’s biggest EU trad­ing part­ner in goods. The same ties make Ger­many the Euro­pean Union coun­try with the most to lose from any esca­la­tion.

    “The Ger­man gov­ern­ment wants to avoid dras­tic EU mea­sures or sanc­tions on Rus­sia,” Fredrik Erixon, direc­tor of the Euro­pean Cen­tre for Inter­na­tion­al Polit­i­cal Econ­o­my in Brus­sels, said in an inter­view. “The main casu­al­ties of such moves would be Ger­man com­pa­nies export­ing to Rus­sia or those in Rus­sia.

    Oba­ma Call

    Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Merkel dis­cussed Putin’s mind­set in a phone call on March 2, a Ger­man gov­ern­ment offi­cial with direct knowl­edge of the con­ver­sa­tion said. Merkel said that she thinks Putin is act­ing very ratio­nal­ly, he sim­ply has a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent view of the world, accord­ing to the offi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because the call was pri­vate.

    Stef­fen Seib­ert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, declined to com­ment on the call at a gov­ern­ment news brief­ing yes­ter­day.

    With 35 per­cent of Ger­man oil and gas imports com­ing from Rus­sia and 6,000 Ger­man com­pa­nies doing busi­ness there, Merkel is con­strained even as her for­eign min­is­ter threat­ened “con­se­quences” over what he called Europe’s worst cri­sis since the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago in Novem­ber.

    EU Sum­mit

    That ambiva­lence will play out at a sum­mit of EU lead­ers on March 6 in Brus­sels, where Ger­many risks being at odds with coun­tries such as Poland, whose For­eign Min­is­ter Radoslaw Siko­rs­ki has said the bloc may impose sanc­tions that hurt Russia’s hydro­car­bon indus­try.

    While Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry threat­ened Rus­sia with pos­si­ble sanc­tions, Merkel appealed for polit­i­cal dia­logue in a phone call with Putin also on March 2. As Russ­ian troops tight­ened their grip on Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry yes­ter­day, Ger­many said there is still a chance to ease the cri­sis. When Ker­ry raised the prospect of eject­ing Rus­sia from the Group of Eight nations, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier ques­tioned that approach, say­ing it would shut down an avenue of dia­logue.

    “The prob­lem will be to get a Ukrain­ian part­ner to the table that Rus­sia will accept,” Ger­not Erler, the For­eign Ministry’s coor­di­na­tor for Ger­man-Russ­ian rela­tions, was quot­ed as say­ing by the Focus Online news por­tal today.

    East Ger­many

    Merkel, who grew up under Com­mu­nism in East Ger­many and made trips to Moscow as a stu­dent, was remind­ed of the risk to exports that pow­er Europe’s biggest econ­o­my yes­ter­day as glob­al stocks suf­fered their biggest drop in a month on Ukraine.

    Sta­da Arzneimit­tel AG, Germany’s biggest gener­ic-drug mak­er, which depend­ed on Rus­sia for 19 per­cent of sales in 2012, fell the most in three months on investor con­cern that the mount­ing con­flict will crimp rev­enue.

    Oth­er Ger­man invest­ments in Rus­sia include Siemens AG, which built the fast train between Moscow and St. Peters­burg, and BASF SE’s Win­ter­shall Hold­ing unit, Germany’s largest pro­duc­er of crude oil and nat­ur­al gas, which said Dec. 23 that it plans to fur­ther increase pro­duc­tion of both ener­gy sources in Rus­sia.

    BASF, the world’s largest chem­i­cal mak­er, agreed in 2012 to trans­fer its gas trad­ing unit to Russia’s OAO Gazprom in return for stakes in two Siber­ian oil fields. More than half of Lud­wigshafen, Ger­many-based BASF’s fuel will come from Rus­sia when the fields go on stream.

    Top Exporter

    Ger­many was the EU’s top exporter to Rus­sia in 2012 with a 31 per­cent share, fol­lowed by Italy at 10 per­cent and France with 9 per­cent, accord­ing to EU data. Putin was the guest of hon­or in April at the annu­al inter­na­tion­al trade fair in Hanover, Ger­many, where Rus­sia was the fea­tured part­ner nation.

    Eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Rus­sia would “nei­ther be desir­able nor effec­tive or imple­mentable,” Michael Harms, head of the Ger­man-Russ­ian Cham­ber of For­eign Trade, or AHK, said in a phone inter­view from Moscow yes­ter­day.

    “Sanc­tions would only wors­en the sit­u­a­tion and in fact hurt Ger­many more than Rus­sia, because it could eas­i­ly replace goods from Ger­many with those from Chi­na,” he said.

    While Merkel and Putin have clashed over top­ics from civ­il lib­er­ties and gas imports to art loot­ed by the Sovi­ets at the end of World War II, they have a shared his­to­ry.

    A Luther­an pastor’s daugh­ter who faced dis­crim­i­na­tion at her East Ger­man school due to her father’s reli­gion, Merkel learned Russ­ian so dili­gent­ly that she won prizes and a trip to Moscow. Putin is a flu­ent Ger­man speak­er who served as a KGB offi­cer in the East Ger­man city of Dres­den dur­ing the Cold War.

    ...

    EU Ties

    Rus­sia stepped into the cri­sis in Ukraine after almost three months of protests top­pled Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who had scrapped plans for clos­er ties to the EU under pres­sure from Moscow.

    As Russia’s mil­i­tary deploy­ment sent glob­al stock index­es and the ruble plum­met­ing, atten­tion in Ger­many turned to any dis­rup­tion of ener­gy sup­plies. Rus­sia is Germany’s biggest nat­ur­al-gas sup­pli­er ahead of Nor­way and the Nether­lands.

    Ger­man gas reserves are “well filled” and Europe’s largest econ­o­my could with­stand short­ages, Econ­o­my Min­istry spokes­woman Tan­ja Ale­many told reporters in Berlin yes­ter­day.

    Even as EU for­eign min­is­ters agreed yes­ter­day to con­sid­er halt­ing trade and visa talks with Rus­sia if there’s no “de-esca­la­tion” in Ukraine, Ger­many was hold­ing back.

    “In decades past we’ve had expe­ri­ence with sanc­tions and they weren’t always good,” Ger­many deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Michael Roth said in an inter­view in Berlin hours before the deci­sion in Brus­sels. “We still see a chance” to resolve the con­flict diplo­mat­i­cal­ly, he said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 4, 2014, 3:53 pm

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