Monday 26th of October 2020

london and washington knew the crimean question was settled....



London and Washington knew of the overwhelming desire of Crimeans to re-unite with Russia from the early days of Ukraine's independence. UK and US diplomats predicted that Ukraine would split and that Crimea would look to Russia, British Cabinet papers released to the National Archives in London reveal.

In 1994 the British got a chance to learn first-hand about the strength of pro-Russian sentiments in Crimea. A visit by Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd to Ukraine and Russia coincided with a crisis in relations between Kiev and Simferopol, Crimea's capital. In May 1994, the Foreign Office informed Prime Minister John Major that the Crimean parliament, the Supreme Soviet, had "decided to renew the validity of the Crimean Constitution adopted in 1992". This, the FCO memo said, meant ending the legal status of Crimea as part of Ukraine.

Crimea had been an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation; in 1945 it was downgraded to a region within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and was in 1954 transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in what the Foreign Office described as an "administrative fiat of [Communist leader — NG] Kruschev".

The Crimean head at the time was sacked for opposing the move. Most Crimeans never accepted the transfer, which many saw as a "virtual deportation from Russia to Ukraine", and in early 1991 over 80% of them voted in a referendum to restore Crimea's autonomy. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet acquiesced. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Crimeans began a relentless campaign to reunite with Russia. In May 1992, the Crimean parliament adopted the republic's constitution, which declared Crimea's right to self-determination. Kiev threatened to open criminal proceeding against the Crimean leaders and hinted at military action to stamp out "separatism".

The Crimeans had to put their drive for reunification with Russia on ice. But in 1994 they repeated their attempt and elected their own president on a ticket of re-integration with Russia.

Grass Greener in Russia

The British Foreign Office briefed Prime Minister John Major in May 1994:

"Kiev insisted that the Crimean parliament should rescind anti-constitutional measures, particularly attempts to take over the command of interior ministry forces, the security services and demands for dual citizenship — Ukrainian and Russian". [About 70% of Crimeans are ethnic Russians — NG]

"The Ukrainian authorities see these moves as part of a further push for secession by Crimea, or possibly for eventual reunification with Russia.

If the Crimean parliament refuses to back down they could legally seek to impose direct rule…but it is hard to see how they could enforce this on the ground…"

Crimea, the FCO brief continued, "has always had a special status in the Ukrainian constitution and enjoys considerable autonomy under existing legislation". In fact, Crimea had its own constitution that gave the republic sovereign powers.

The Foreign Office saw the potential for even greater devolution for Crimea, particularly on economic matters, which the central government in Kiev had neglected, despite all the financial assistance it was receiving from the West.  

"Crimean demands for autonomy or re-integration with Russia will not go away. 70% of the population are ethnic Russians. They only became Ukrainian by administrative fiat of Kruschev in 1954. Their historic, linguistic and cultural ties are all with Russia and at present Russia looks to have a more prosperous future. The two parliaments may be able to come to a compromise, probably involving Crimea gaining further economic autonomy.

This ultimately is the key to security and stability in Crimea. Unless Ukraine embarks on a serious economic reform programme to stem economic decline the grass will always seem greener on the other (Russian) side".

Negative Security Assurance

While in Ukraine, Douglas Hurd was told that Kiev was open to international help in settling the dispute with Crimea. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) agreed to establish a resident Mission to Ukraine, to be based in Kiev with an office in Simferopol. The Ukrainians have subsequently unofficially claimed that they were able to handle Crimea without the CSCE's help. "Some might see it [CSCE involvement] as internationalizing a purely internal Ukrainian problem", an FCO memo said.

Russia, the FCO observed, was acting responsibly by calling on Kiev and Simferopol to resolve their differences peacefully.

The British Ambassador in Ukraine cabled London:

"Deputy [Ukrainian] Foreign Minister Tarasyuk, said that president Kravchuk had informed president Yeltsin of Ukraine's intention to resolve the situation strictly in accord with the Constitution and to treat it as an internal matter. Yeltsin had raised no objection. This had encouraged the Ukrainians to think that action up to normal law enforcement measures need not necessarily induce a Russian reaction.

Despite these resolute statements Ukraine has few options and is all too painfully aware of it".

The Americans were also doubtful about the chances of a peaceful resolution of the Crimean issue, but what most concerned them at the time was Ukraine's accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ukraine had inherited Soviet-era nuclear weapons, and Washington — as well as London — was eager for it to give them up for good. However, the issue of Crimea threatened to derail the denuclearization of Ukraine.

"Little cause for joy", lamented the US State Department. "Rada probably resistant to reform and effective decision-making. Crimea on a slow fuse. NPT ratification could be delayed".

Ukraine had signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty but its parliament was delaying ratification, demanding extra security guarantees from nuclear powers, on top of the standard negative security assurance offered by established nuclear powers to states that had joined the NPT regime.

negative security assurance is a guarantee by a state with nuclear weapons that it will not use or threaten to use them against a non-nuclear state. Unlike a positive security assurance, it does not require a state with nuclear weapons to come to the aid of a non-nuclear state if it is attacked by another state with nuclear weapons.

The Ukrainians insisted on positive security assurance, but neither London nor Washington was prepared to offer this.

In April 1994, the British Foreign Office reassured Prime Minister John Major that the negative security assurances that Britain, alongside the US and Russia, had agreed to give Ukraine in return for her giving up nuclear weapons "does not bind us to any significant new commitments".

"A new paragraph which states 'the sides will consult in the event this situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments' does not require us, we believe, to go beyond the steps which we would anyway wish to take in such a situation"

The assurance was less than the Ukrainians would like, the FCO admitted. Kiev had repeatedly asked for a legally binding treaty, something which London and the other depositaries of the NPT had firmly resisted. To counter Ukraine's pressure for more binding guarantees, the US suggested offering the same common assurance to Kazakhstan and Belarus. Both had agreed to get rid of their share of Soviet-era nukes and ratified the NPT in exchange for national guarantees given separately by each of the NPT depositary states. But Ukraine was insisting on a joint guarantee by all three depositaries [Russia, Britain and the US], hence this post-dated offer of a joint guarantee to Kazakhstan and Belarus was designed to "serve as an example to Ukraine" and "help persuade doubters in the Ukrainian Government that this is really the best offer they are going to get".

The FCO advised the PM that a joint assurance to Kiev would add "nothing in substance" and would not "open the flood gates to similar demands from other states".

London and Washington were so worried that Ukraine would have second thoughts about agreeing to give up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal that they were looking for ways of luring Kiev into ratifying the NPT by promising partnership with the EU.

EU Commissioner for Trade Sir Leon Brittan went to Ukraine to discuss a Ukrainian request that President Kravchuk sign a Partnership Cooperation Accord with the EU in Brussels in the end of May or early June 1994. The request was clearly linked to the timing of the snap presidential election in June-July 1994 [which Kravchuk lost to Kuchma — NG].

Sir Brittan "had been obliged to reply that some member states wanted accession to the NPT [in other words, getting rid of nuclear weapons — NG] before the PCA was signed".

The trade commissioner admitted that such strict conditions might be hard to accept, but it was apparently the only way forward to ratify the NPT and then move on to a PCA with the EU.

Finally, Western efforts bore fruit and in November 1994, the Ukrainian parliament ratified the NPT, albeit with "awkward provisos" in the view of British diplomats. Nevertheless, London and Washington told the new president, Kuchma, that they considered Ukraine's accession to be unconditional. Ukraine was given a joint negative security assurance by Britain, the US and Russia at the Budapest CSCE summit in early December 1994.

Splitting Ukraine

Once the NPT was out of the way, London channelled its efforts into luring Ukraine away from Russia.

The British Secretary of State of Defence Malcolm Rifkind wrote to Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd:

"…the situation in Ukraine merits particular attention and it is in the clear interest of the West for us to make every effort to promote Ukrainian independence and stability. This is a major security interest for the UK, perhaps second only to what happens in Russia. We must take a long term view of our interests".

Kiev took its own view of the way forward having obtained the security assurance by the nuclear states. Four months after the Budapest summit, it unilaterally abolished the 1992 Crimean constitution and deposed the popularly elected president of Crimean Republic, Yuri Meshkov.

His supporters claimed that Ukraine had effectively annexed Crimea through a coup d'etat. They made further attempts to uphold their constitutional rights in 1995, 1998 and 2006, but to no avail. However, as British diplomats opined in 1994, Crimean demands for autonomy or re-integration with Russia would not go away.

An American forecast for the long term developments around Crimea turned out to be prescient: "Ukraine could eventually split into more than two parts", the State Department predicted in 1994. Fast forward to 2014, and it looks like Washington knew all along what would happen if Ukraine was forced to make an existential choice between the East and West.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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get the russians to build trump's wall....

While certain politicians are still having difficulties getting their walls built, Russia has announced it had finished a border barrier between Ukraine and Crimea. Construction took just over a year and less than $3 million.

Bids for building the two-meter tall, 60-kilometer long fence separating the peninsula from Ukraine opened in September 2017. The Federal Security Service (FSB) announced the project’s completion on Thursday. The contract was estimated at approximately 200 million rubles, or $2.87 million at current exchange rates.

The fence is also reportedly equipped with high-technology surveillance devices, from vibration sensors to night vision cameras.

Russia’s ability to build a fence so quickly and at a fairly low cost has already prompted some snarky commentary about US President Donald Trump and his inability to even start construction of his wall on the border with Mexico.


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a wall that's a fence that's a barrier...

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly says US President Donald Trump has backed away from his campaign pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Key points:
  • Mr Kelly says he should be judged on the things Mr Trump did not do while he was chief of staff
  • He says he has "nothing but compassion" for illegal immigrants
  • Mr Trump was always well-informed before making decisions, he says


Mr Kelly, who will leave his post on Wednesday after 17 months in the job, made the admission in an extensive interview with the Los Angeles Times.

He said the President was now pushing for a steel slat structure, rather than a concrete wall.

"To be honest, it's not a wall," Mr Kelly said, adding the mix of technological enhancements in the President's new preferred design resulted from conversations with law enforcement professionals on the ground.

"The President still says 'wall' — oftentimes frankly he'll say 'barrier' or 'fencing', now he's tended toward steel slats.


Mr Kelly's statement marked the starkest admission yet by the President's inner circle that Mr Trump's signature campaign pledge, which sparked fervent chants of "build that wall" during rallies, would not be fulfilled as advertised.

When asked about security concerns at the border, Mr Kelly admitted America had an "immigration problem".

A former Homeland Security secretary, Mr Kelly is well versed in the complexities of immigration and border security and his views seemingly contrast with Mr Trump's harsh rhetoric on migration.


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obama's wall...

Trump on Sunday referenced reports of a privacy “wall” built around Obama's Washington, DC home, comparing it to the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Trump tweeted that the brick structure that was reportedly put up last year along the Obamas' Kalorama home was “totally necessary for their safety and security” and that the US “needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”


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obama's wall is not a wall...

Trump claims there’s a 10-foot wall around the Obamas’ D.C. home. Neighbors say there’s not.

The 8,200-square-foot house has several security features but is completely visible from the street.

evidence of disbelief...


By James O’Neill

In the Lyrical Ballads, a collection of essays and poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the latter coined the phrase “the willing suspension of disbelief.” It enabled the reader to overlook the logical improbabilities or fanciful concoctions to achieve “poetic faith”.

A modern equivalent might be “magical realism,” a term conceived by the German writer Franz Roh in 1925. Magical realism was a style of fiction that painted a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.

Both terms are appropriate when one considers modern journalism, especially as applied to some of the major stories of 2018. Four events during that year illustrate the point.


Although not strictly speaking a 2018 story, it nonetheless ran strongly through 2018, blending a number of sub stories, all with the common element of Russia bashing.

Following the United States inspired and financed Maidan coup in February 2014, the Crimeans decided to hold a referendum as to whether or not they would remain part of Ukraine (to whom they were ‘gifted’ by Khrushchev in 1954 after hundreds of years as part of Russia), or revert to being part of what was now the Russian Federation.

A referendum overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia. Although the process was far more democratic than was the case with Kosovo leaving Serbia (which the West supported) the Crimean move has been consistently referred to in the western media as an example, variously, of a “Russian invasion,” or “Russian aggression.”

Contrary facts are simply ignored. A similar inability to distinguish fact from fiction was also applied to the Ukrainian shooting down of MH17, or the manifestly staged provocation in the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.

Actual evidence in respect of these matters is simply not reported in the western media. It is a phenomenon George Orwell would readily recognise where only “newspeak” is allowed, and dissenters and “unpersons” never seen or heard.


The second illustration is the ongoing war in Syria and western media allegations that Syria’s President Assad used chemical weapons against the civilian population. The White Helmets, a British led group of fake emergency responders feature prominently in multiple Syria related stories, but never portrayed for what they really are. On the ground independent reporters such as Vanessa Beeley are simply ignored.

The alleged chemical attack at Douma on 7 April 2018 was immediately used to justify the bombing of Syria by United States, United Kingdom and French military forces before there had even been an inquiry, much less a finding adverse to the Syrian government.

When the OPCW released their interim report on 17 July 2018 they concluded “no organophosphate nerve agents or their degradation products were found.” There was no apology from the US, UK or France. No compensation was paid to the victims of their bombing.

Instead, there was a media blackout, just as one can never find in the mainstream media any articles arguing that the US led “Coalition” fighting in Syria is there in violation of international law.

Australia’s politicians pretend to have legal justification, but refuse to release the advice upon which this claim is founded. Similarly, part of the alleged justification for attacking Syria is a supposed invitation from the Iraqi Government, who have has flatly denied any such invitation. None of this is reported in the mainstream media.


The third ongoing farce is the Mueller “investigation” into what is boldly claimed (not alleged, but stated as a fact) Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. That not a shred of actual evidence has been produced to support this claim is again simply ignored. Instead, each indictment brought by Mueller against sundry bit players in the Trump campaign, and individuals who don’t even qualify as such, is treated as ‘corroboration’ of Russian interference.

The careful demolition of the ‘Russia interference’ meme by respected investigative analyst Gareth Porter ( 10 October 2018) is of course completely ignored.


The final illustration is the alleged of poisoning with “Novichok” of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March 2018. This was immediately blamed on Russia, again before an investigation had been concluded, followed by sanctions, the expulsion of Russian diplomats (including by Australia) and a general tirade of abuse against Russia in general and President Putin in particular.

The Skripal case is a classic illustration of Coleridge’s willing suspension of disbelief, Roh’s magical realism and Orwell’s doublethink (the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct) all rolled into one.

Rob Slane ( 9 January 2019) has brilliantly deconstructed the many logical, scientific and political absurdities in the official story. One will wait in vain for the merest hint of this demolition in the mainstream media.

One possible reason for this non-coverage of the actual evidence and instead a non-stop barrage of disinformation, suppression of evidence and manipulation of the public can be found in the activities of a shadowy organisation known as the Institute for Statecraft, and one of its projects known as the Integrity Initiative (sic).

Fresh revelations are emerging about this project on a daily basis and a proper analysis must await developments. Suffice to note at this point that the Integrity Initiative is known to be funded by the United Kingdom government, ostensibly to counter ‘Russian disinformation.’ It is rather a major project to spread falsehoods about Russia through “clusters” of journalists working in mainstream media outlets.

The latter have gone beyond the willing suspension of disbelief and instead actively promote disinformation they know to be untrue. It is not only potential embarrassment that prevents this story getting the attention it deserves. It is a strong suspicion, no more than that at the time of writing, that a D Notice has been issued in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The effect has been to prevent discussion of what is an extraordinary campaign to mislead the public, attack opposition politicians and the alternative media, and generally undermine what used to be regarded as a free press.

That some of the same personnel involved in the Integrity Initiative are also involved in the Skripal matter (itself subject to a D Notice) reinforces the belief that this project has wider tentacles than originally thought.

It seems that Coleridge, Roh and Orwell will continue to be highly relevant through 2019.

James O’Neill is a barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at


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another confirmation vote?...

John Kerry, who served as US Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017, had proposed another referendum on Crimea's reunification with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with RBC.

"I am not going to reveal a big secret here, but former US Secretary of State John Kerry told me about that in April 2014. He told me that he could well understand the result of the vote. "Everything is clear. Everything happened as the Crimean people wanted. But for order, hold another referendum," Sergei Lavrov said recalling what John Kerry had told him. 

"I hope John does not take offense at me. He too has published a few secrets of our conversations with him in his memoirs," said Lavrov.

After the coup in Ukraine in February 2014, the authorities of the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum about the issue of reunification with Russia. More than 80 percent of voters took part in the referendum and more than 97 percent of them voted for reunification with Russia. On March 18, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement to incorporate the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation. The Federal Assembly ratified the document on March 21. Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine refused to recognize the Crimea as part of Russia.

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are the US arming terrorists in crimea?

Russia’s embassy in the US has demanded clarification after an unnamed American official was cited in a report stating that US forces are providing weapons to militant units in Crimea as they launch attacks on Russian troops.

The embassy said it treated the report with “grave concern” in a social media post on Thursday, asking Washington to provide further details as to whether American weapons were being passed to Ukrainian fighters carrying out clandestine operations in Crimea.

“Unnamed US officials speak about their country’s support of terrorist activities in third countries. In this case, they talk specifically about Russia,” the embassy said on Facebook.

“If it is true... we then demand the US side to clarify whether or not Washington directly or indirectly has facilitated the SBU [Ukrainian security services] in organizing terrorist attacks against the people of Crimea.”

Published at NBC News on Monday, the report in question centered on allegations that Moscow had paid “bounties” to Taliban fighters who killed American troops in Afghanistan, a claim that first surfaced in a June New York Times story. However, buried in the article’s 12th paragraph, an anonymous official is cited as saying that US intelligence had assumed a “bounty program” existed, as it believed it was “a proportional response to the US arming of Ukrainian units fighting Russian forces in Crimea.”


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