Plane Used by Guaido’s Negotiating Team for Barbados Talks Also Carried Moïse’s Assassins – Report
worker | July 21, 2021 | 8:20 pm | Fascist terrorism, Haiti | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/latam/202107211083426894-plane-used-by-guaidos-negotiating-team-for-barbados-talks-also-carried-moses-assassins—report/

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When news broke that Haitian President Jovenel Moïse had been killed by a hit squad, analysts quickly drew parallels to the 2020 “Bay of Piglets” attempt to kidnap Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by hired mercenaries, and revelations by Haitian police that many of the accused men hailed from Colombia only hardened those suspicions.

According to a report by Venezuelan television network La Iguana, the same private jet used to transport some of the hit squad that killed Haitian President Jovenel Moïse earlier this month was also used to transport Venezuelan self-declared interim president Juan Guaido to negotiations.

The aircraft in question is a Cessna Citation Mustang four-seater small business jet with the tail number HI949. Back on May 15, 2020, when the aircraft took off from Maquietta, Venezuela, the aircraft tracking service AeroNoticiasVE noted on Twitter that the same aircraft had transported Guado’s team to Barbados in September 2019 for peace talks with representatives from the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who Guaido has attempted to overthrow.

​This aircraft, it was reported, also transported three alleged members of the commando unit that shot to death Moïse and injured his wife, Martine, early on the morning of July 7 in their home on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. One of them was allegedly Christian Emmanuel Sanon, who Haitian National Police (PNH) have said was the mastermind behind the assassination plot.

The aircraft is owned by Helidosa, an airline in the Dominican Republic. CEO Alex Castillo said in a statement obtained by Haiti Libre that the three passengers “passed all the immigration controls in the airports by which they left and entered and that his company had no means of establishing that those who used his services had criminal ends,” according to the outlet.

 “We are not a security agency, or an investigative agency to be able to know it,” Castillo said. He revealed that his airline was also responsible for transporting Martine Moïse to Florida for treatment after the attack, as well as for transporting former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Cuba last month for emergency COVID-19 treatment. He noted the company has 15 planes and 24 helicopters.

However, this isn’t the first connection between the assassination plot and the Venezuelan opposition: Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Jorge Rodriguez said last week that CTU Security, the mercenary group allegedly contracted for the hit job, was also behind the 2018 attempt to assassinate Maduro with exploding drones during a speech. He added that it was also connected to the 2020 attempt by Silvercorp mercenaries from the US to kidnap Maduro, which was paid for by Guaido’s US-backed ersatz government.

The PNH says they have arrested 20 men connected to the assassination plot, 18 of whom are Colombian and two of whom are Americans. Many of the Colombians have been confirmed to be former military personnel, some of whom received training from the US military as part of their service, while one of the Americans was a former informant for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a federal police agency that also works extensively in Colombia.

On Monday, Claude Joseph, the former acting prime minister who was nonetheless recognized as the de facto leader of Haiti by the United Nations and the US after Moïse’s killing, announced he would step aside in favor of Ariel Henry, who Moïse appointed to replace Joseph just a day before the assassination. Thus, the new government will have a prime minister, but no president until the elections scheduled for later this year.

While in power, Joseph appealed to the US and UN for troops to defend the country’s vital infrastructure, but so far those requests have been denied, in part because of their lack of specificity. However, the US has sent some federal police officials to evaluate how the US can help the investigation.

For months before Moïse’s death, millions of Haitians had been protesting in the streets in spite of deadly police and gang violence, demanding that Moïse step aside in line with a Superior Court ruling that his presidential term had expired. Moïse had ruled by decree since early 2020 after allowing most of parliament’s terms to expire without calling new elections and had planned a new constitutional referendum that critics said aimed to cement his hold on power. Despite this, the US and Organization of American States Core Group continued in their support for Moïse.

A Tale of Two Countries
worker | July 20, 2021 | 8:12 pm | Cuba, Haiti | No comments

A new posting –

A Tale of Two Countries

 – from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/


Haiti and Cuba have the same enemies. They are victimized by the same opportunistic politicians, the same jaded journalists, and the same spies, who all work to maintain or turn both into neo-colonies... To read more, please go to: https://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2021/07/a-tale-of-two-countries.html

Mobilization for National Improved Medicare For All now in over 50 Cities, Sat. July 24, 2021
worker | July 20, 2021 | 8:11 pm | Action, Medicare for All | No comments
A new coalition has come together to celebrate Medicare’s 56th birthday and to renew the push for Medicare For All (M4A) in this time of the pandemic.  There will be marches or rallies in over 50 cities this Saturday, July 24.  We urge our readers to participate in your city or a city near you.  You can click on the list of cities below for local details.   We have reproduced below the call of the new coalition organizing these marches.
Help Celebrate Medicare’s Birthday, This Saturday, July 24th, in Your City or A City Near You
A coalition of groups has come together to march for Medicare for All.  Who is in that coalition depends on which city you are talking about.  There is no one single group behind this.  The list seems to grow every day. Some people are even politically homeless and simply focused on doing what they can to move #M4A forward.  We are nonpartisan, but some local parties have joined in the fight!  We are proud to say that this type of coming together hasn’t happened in recent memory, if ever.
Our movement was founded from a place of compassion and love.  We came together out of frustration with the lack of action from the powers that be.  Many of us have our own personal stories as to why we are in this fight.  All of us know that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.  It is a basic freedom.  How can we have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system.
One illness can ruin your life, even if you have insurance.  The industry can always say no.  We need a big fat yes!  Whatever you and your doctor decide is best for your health should be what is done.  No more pre- authorizations, deductibles, out of pocket expenses etc. etc.  These are all barriers to the care we deserve.  Nearly 70,000 times a year or more, someone dies because of these barriers to care.  This is unacceptable.
Join the Mobilization for National Improved Medicare for All now in over 50 Cities.
Find a list of actions below.

                                             Actions:

Washington, DC
11 am to 5 pm, Lincoln Park, 12th Street and East Capitol Street. Click here for more details.
Alabama
Birmingham – 10 am to noon, Railroad Park Foundation, 1600 First Ave. S. Click here for more details.
Huntsville – 3 pm to 5 pm, Madison County Courthouse Steps, 100 North Side Square. Click here for more details.
Montgomery – 11 am to 1:30 pm, Alabama State Capitol, 600 Dexter Ave. Click here for more details.
Arizona
Phoenix – 10 am to noon. Biltmore area, East Camelback Road & North 24th Street. Click here for more details.
Arkansas
Fayetteville – 11 am to 2 pm, 280 N. College Ave. Click here for more details.
Little Rock – 9 am to noon, Steps of the State Capitol Building, Woodlane Street & West Capitol Avenue. Click here for more details.
California
Irvine – 11 am to noon, City of Irvine City Hall and Bill Barber Memorial Park, 1 Civic Center Plaza. Click here for more details.
Los Angeles – 11 am to 5 pm, Hollywood Blvd at Highland Blvd. Click here for more details.
San Diego – 10 am to 1:30 pm, Balboa Park Boulevard and Presidents Way Lawn, 2000 Presidents Way. Click here for more details.
San Francisco – 10 am to 1 pm, Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Building. Click here for more details.
Colorado
Denver – 10 am to noon. Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax Ave. West Steps. Click here for more details.
Salida – 9 am to 1 pm, 410 W. Rainbow Blvd. Click here for more details.
Connecticut
Bridgeport – 1 pm to 3 pm, 45 Lyon Terrace. Click here for details.
Florida
Tallahassee – 10:30 am to noon, Florida Historic Capitol Museum, 400 S. Monroe St. Click here for more details.
Orlando – 10:30 am to noon, Marco Rubio’s office downtown Orlando, 201 S Orange Ave #350. Click here for more details.
Tampa – 10 am to 11:30 am, 4144 N Armenia Ave. Click here for more details.
Georgia
Atlanta – 2 pm to 5 pm, Hurt Park, 25 Courtland St SE. Click here for more details.
Hawaii
Honolulu – 9 am to 11 am, Ala Moana Regional Park, 1201 Ala Moana Blvd. Corner of Ala Moana and Atkinson. Click here for more details.
Illinois
Chicago – 11 am to 2 pm, Chicago Federal Plaza, 230 South Dearborn Street, Dearborn St. between Jackson & Adams St. Click here for more details.
Elgin – 1 pm to 2 pm. Click here for more details.
Kentucky
Louisville – 11 am to 2 pm, Romano L Mazzoli Federal Building, 600 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Pl. Click here for more details.
Maine
Portland – 10 am to noon, Lincoln Park, Congress Street & Pearl Street. Click here for more details.
Massachusetts
Boston – 11 am to 5 pm, 115 Boylston St. Click here for more details.
Michigan
Detroit – noon to 3 pm, 800 Woodward Ave. Click here for more details.
Minnesota
Benmidji – 5 pm to 7 pm, 303 Railroad St. SW. Click here for more details.
Missouri
Kansas City – 10 am to 8 pm, J C Nichols Memorial Fountain, 47th Mill Creek Pkwy. Convene street side, on 47th, between Main & Broadway, south of fountain. Click here for more details.
Nebraska
Omaha – 4 pm to 7 pm, 11th and Howard. Click here for more details.
Nevada
Las Vegas – 7 pm to 9 pm, City Hall, 495 S Main St. Click here for more details.
Reno – 10 am to noon, City Hall Plaza, 10 North Virginia St. Click here for more details.
New Hampshire
Manchester – 3:30 to 5 pm, Pulaski Park, 128 Bridge St. Click here for more details.
New Mexico
Albuquerque – 9 am to 11 am. We will rally in front of UNMH on the cross streets of Lomas Blvd and Stanford Dr. 2211 Lomas Blvd NE. Click here for more details.
New York 
Binghamton – 1 pm to 3 pm, location TBA. Click here for more details.
New York City – 11 am to 4 pm, Washington Square East & Washington Place. Click here for more details.
Rochester – 11 am to 12:30 pm, location TBA. Click here for more details.
North Carolina
Greensboro – 11 am to 1 pm, care-a-van. Click here for more information.
Sylva – 11 am to 5 pm, Bridge Park, 76 Railroad Ave. Click here for more details.
Ohio
Columbus – 12 noon to 4 pm, Ohio Statehouse, One Capitol Square. Click here for more details.
Oregon
Central Oregon – 11 am to noon, Peace Corner, Bend 1077 NW Wall St. Bend, OR 97701. Click here for more details.
Corvallis – 11 am to 2 pm, Benton County Court House, Northwest 4th Street & Northwest Monroe Avenue. Click here for more details.
Medford – 10 am to noon, Vogel Plaza, 12 S Central Ave. Click here for more details.
Pennsylvania
Philadelphia – 4 pm to 6 pm, Philadelphia City Hall, 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd. Click here for more details.
Pittsburgh – 10 am to noon, Schenley Plaza, 4100 Forbes Ave. Click here for more details.
Tennessee
Nashville – noon to 2 pm, Public Square, 1 Public Sq. Click here for more details.
Texas
Austin – 11 am to 2 pm, 1100 Congress Ave. Click here for more details
Utah
Salt Lake City – 2 pm to 5 pm. Capital Hill, 350 State St. Click here for more details.
Washington
Olympia – 1 pm to 3 pm, Washington State Capitol Building, 416 Sid Snyder Ave SW. Click here for more details.
Seattle – 1 pm to 5 pm, 400 Pine St. Click here for more details.
Wisconsin
Madison – 11 am to 12:30 pm, 118 State St.,  Corner of State Street and N Carroll S. Click here for more details.
Milwaukee – 11 am to 2 pm, McKinley Park, 1750 North Lincoln Memorial Dr. Click here for more details.
For further information: Visit M4M4All.org. https://m4m4all.org/
 
Distributed by:
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care
P. O. Box 17595
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
07/19/21
Jarvis DeBerry: Louisiana is a safer place for Big Oil than Louisiana’s people
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:39 pm | Local/State | No comments

https://www.nola.com/opinions/article_3edfa350-e5ac-11eb-948a-5f09b024ff69.html

Jarvis DeBerry: Louisiana is a safer place for Big Oil than Louisiana’s people

Our Drowning Coast: Left to Louisiana's tides, Jean Lafitte fights for time
Oil industry infrastructure in wetlands south of Lafitte. (William Widmer, The New York Times)

State Rep. Danny McCormick’s attempt during the Legislature’s session to have Louisiana designated a “fossil fuel sanctuary state” would never have passed constitutional muster. The state can’t just up and decide that its laws take priority over the country’s. But in calling out the absurdity of the Oil City Republican’s legislation, there’s a chance that some of us lost sight of the reality that Louisiana — to our great peril — has long been a fossil fuel sanctuary state.

No, the state can’t protect Big Oil from the feds, but it protects it from everybody else — especially Louisianians who want the industry held accountable for its damage to the coast and its toxic effects on our air. And as accurate as it is to say that the state’s capitulation to the oil industry will destroy us, it’s even more accurate to say it has already destroyed us plenty.

Referring to the 1920s and ‘30s, Horowitz writes, “Southern Democrats like (St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes’ District Attorney Leander) Perez, icons for almost an almost fascist level of government power, used that power in the service of the owners and shareholders of Standard Oil, Freeport Sulphur, and other transnational corporate interests. Working with local government, these firms rewrote Louisiana’s constitution and redistributed its mineral wealth. Even as Governor Huey Long promoted quasi-socialist reforms to make ‘Every Man a King,’ and Perez boasted of his parish’s ‘Utopia’ with full employment, they were transferring huge amounts of public resources to private markets. Once they yielded influence to the oil interests, local politicians never regained the reins of power.”

Have Louisiana politicians ever demanded those reins? Even now, many act as if it’s important that Louisiana be thankful and deferential to those oil companies lest they storm off in a huff and leave oil in the ground. That deference dooms us.

 Should Louisiana be a ‘sanctuary state’ for oil and gas? This bill would make it so

As Horowitz writes, Louisiana politicians signaled generations ago that they’re OK with private companies getting the profit from oil exploration and the public paying the cost.

That cost includes the destruction of wetlands that previously dampened the blow of incoming hurricanes.

One could argue that the Perezes of the world didn’t know that giving the oil companies carte blanche in Louisiana would make Plaquemines Parish, as The New Yorker puts it, “among the fastest-disappearing places on Earth.”

But today’s officials can’t plead ignorance. They have seen what has happened and what is yet happening. And they’ve certainly been told that oil and gas exploration bears the lion’s share of the blame for our land loss.

But the oil industry’s legacy of destruction gives them no pause. They remain willing to cater to the industry’s every whim.

Although the legislation naming Louisiana a sanctuary state for fossil fuels didn’t pass, legislation making it easier for natural gas companies to avoid penalties after leaks did. There’s also a new law that gives industrial facilities the ability to self-report environmental violations to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, in exchange for reduced fines and the right to keep the public from knowing about the violations for two years. Lawmakers also passed laws against the solar energy industry, which doesn’t cause air pollution, and gave the go-ahead to chemical recycling, which reportedly does.

 Katrina’s 15th anniversary brings a pair of books that look back through different lenses

Together Louisiana, Louisiana Budget Project, the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice have given the Louisiana Legislature an ‘F’ for its stewardship of Louisiana’s air, land and water. Erin Hansen, who helped create the score card, said that “it feels like we’re moving backward at a time when science tells us we can’t do that.”

Oh, we can do it; we just can’t do it and survive.

Horowitz looks at the 90 years of decisions that preceded Hurricane Katrina’s destructiveness to challenge the common idea that the disaster was an acute, out-of-nowhere event or that it counts as an “act of God.” We’d do better to think of it as the consequences of allowing an industry to tear up the coast with impunity.

And to be sure, there are yet consequences to come. Because the state’s leaders continue to make Louisiana a safer place for oil companies to operate than for human beings to live.

Bob Marshall: When do we tolerate socialism in Louisiana? When oil companies benefit.
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:35 pm | Local/State | No comments

https://www.nola.com/opinions/article_22a7ed2e-e4e8-11eb-87c8-b71897b5b2c4.html

Bob Marshall: When do we tolerate socialism in Louisiana? When oil companies benefit.

Fieldwood Energy
An oil platform sits in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Fieldwood Energy)

Has anyone in Louisiana been able to get a home mortgage without first proving their financial worth and then purchasing flood insurance?

Of course not. That’s because lenders need to make sure you could meet the debt — especially if the worst happens. It is just part of doing business in this region and the nation.

Well, unless you own an oil and gas company and want to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In that case, you can get this sweetheart deal: If you go bankrupt taxpayers will help pay to clean up any mess you leave behind, such as polluting wells and corroding pipelines — even if it means less money for their schools, hospitals, roads … well, everything else.

What’s that you’re saying? You’re a Louisiana taxpayer and you didn’t agree to this terrible bargain?

Then you better wake up, because that’s the deal the politicians you’ve been sending to Baton Rouge and Washington have been signing in your name for decades.

The latest example of this con is on view in a Houston federal court where, as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Fieldwood Energy LLC has proposed abandoning as many as 1,715 wells, 281 pipelines and 276 platforms and letting you and previous owners pick up the estimated $9 billion tab for safely shutting down all that potentially polluting property.

But here’s the biggest gut punch for us suckers: This is the second bankruptcy Fieldwood has claimed in less than three years.

By now you’re wondering: How can this happen?

Well, when big oil companies routinely sell declining wells to smaller, less-capitalized companies on federal or state lands, the law says responsibility for properly shutting down that well goes to the new owner. But politicians made sure there were different rules for playing in the Gulf of Mexico to allow smaller, local companies to join the fun. So when leases change hands offshore, the responsibility for cleanup remains with the original owner.

 In Fieldwood bankruptcy, judge ‘freezes time’ on 1,700 Gulf of Mexico oil wells

But those original owners are some of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world, and they often find ways to delay, reduce and absolve themselves of those costs and pass them on to the public. And that’s why industry insiders are not surprised Fieldwood could get a second chance even after its recent first bankruptcy.

An ethical solution isn’t complicated, said Megan Milliken Biven, the New Orleanian who has turned the insider knowledge of the oil and gas business gained while a staffer at the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management into a role as an innovative energy reformer. She says Canada’s Alberta government — the Texas of the North — has proposed a very simple and effective solution to take taxpayers off the hook while protecting the environment. It’s called “Sticky ARO.”

The “ARO” stands for asset retirement obligation. And “sticky” means a portion of the costs of that retirement stays with each of the owners until the property is properly shut down.

“Let’s say a well is owned by Chevron for 60% of its life and two other companies for 20% each. When it’s time for decommissioning they each would be on the hook for that percentage of the costs,” she explained.

“It’s a very fair way of sharing the costs of decommissioning based on the profit each company gained from ownership.”

 Oil firm’s plan to abandon 1,700 Gulf of Mexico wells could mean ‘environmental disaster,’ say rivals

Just as important, of course, is making each owner provide insurance proving they will have the funding to take care of their share before being allowed in the game — something that still isn’t done adequately by U.S. or state agencies.

And don’t let the industry tell you this isn’t a big problem. One federal audit showed between 2009 and 2018 there were 22 corporate bankruptcies in federal waters resulting in $4.3 billion in decommissioning liabilities. This doesn’t include the risks from 18,000 miles of inactive pipelines left behind since the 1960s in violation of federal laws requiring their removal. The same federal audit found enforcement almost nonexistent.

It’s all part of the type of socialism Louisiana and other red states think is fine. They believe businesses should be allowed to privatize profits, but socialize their risks.

Bob Marshall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisiana environmental journalist, can be reached at bmarshallenviro@gmail.com, and followed on Twitter @BMarshallEnviro.


On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians
worker | July 19, 2021 | 6:29 pm | Russia, Ukraine, USSR, Vladimir Putin | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107121083375385-on-the-historical-unity-of-russians-and-ukrainians/

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During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole.

These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time.

But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the “national question” and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

Russia Putin Direct Line
© SPUTNIK / SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV
Russia Putin Direct Line

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, “Let it be the mother of all Russian cities”.

Kiev-Pechora Monastery
© SPUTNIK / SERGEY PYATAKOV
Kiev-Pechora Monastery

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and “boyar” clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

Monument chapel near church of Alexander Nevsky in Ust-Izhora (fragment)
Monument chapel near church of Alexander Nevsky in Ust-Izhora (fragment)

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking “the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar”. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv
Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to Kyiv

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would “detach themselves” from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667.

The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as “Malorossia” (Little Russia).

The name “Ukraine” was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word “okraina” (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word “Ukrainian”, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life.

Kiev-Mohyla Academy and its pupils. Engraving of the XVIII century
© CC0
Kiev-Mohyla Academy and its pupils. Engraving of the XVIII century

This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant.

He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tugay Bey at Lviv by Jan Matejko (1885)
© CC0
Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Tugay Bey at Lviv by Jan Matejko (1885)

Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1872, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context.

These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the “Ukrainian issue” to their own advantage.

I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not.

Such “hypotheses” became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Thalerhof internment camp
© CC0
Thalerhof internment camp

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that “Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation”. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

Theresienstadt concentration camp
Theresienstadt concentration camp

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the “heroes” in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long.

As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that “one government for all of Ukraine” be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania.

The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution.

The USSR state flag and coat of arms at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses
© SPUTNIK / VLADIMIR RODIONOV
The USSR state flag and coat of arms at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses

By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A “parade of sovereignties” followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that “the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed”. By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the “localization policy”, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky during Victory Parade
© SPUTNIK / LOSKUTOV
Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky during Victory Parade

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine “with its ancient motherland, Ukraine” – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external “patrons” prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn “the crimes of the Soviet regime”, listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do.

Poland border
© AP PHOTO / ALIK KEPLICZ
Poland border

At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

detail of rare historic poster accredited to Lenin announcing birth of Soviet Union
YOUTUBE CAPTURE
detail of rare historic poster accredited to Lenin announcing birth of Soviet Union

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever “political arithmetic” of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years.

Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the “aggressor state” is.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of “Ukraine is not Russia” was no longer an option. There was a need for the “anti-Russia” concept which we will never accept.

Ukrainian Azov Batallion members participate in SS veterans' march in Riga, file photo.
© SPUTNIK / OXANA DZHADAN
Ukrainian Azov Batallion members participate in SS veterans’ march in Riga, file photo.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an “anti-Moscow Russia”. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest.

The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new “Maidan” authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the “purification of power”, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on “indigenous peoples” to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate in Kiev. File photo
© AFP 2021 / GENYA SAVILOV
Ukrainian nationalists and servicemen of the Azov battalion demonstrate in Kiev. File photo

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

Troops from the 1st Ukrainian Front in Krakow, Poland, February 1945.
© SPUTNIK / РИА НОВОСТИ
Troops from the 1st Ukrainian Front in Krakow, Poland, February 1945.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives.

Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Ruins of the Saur-Mogila (Saur Grave) Memorial in Donetsk Region where festive events were held to celebrate the Day of Donbass Liberation from Nazi Invaders.
© SPUTNIK / VALERIY MELNIKOV
Ruins of the Saur-Mogila (Saur Grave) Memorial in Donetsk Region where festive events were held to celebrate the Day of Donbass Liberation from Nazi Invaders.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their “full adherence” to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of “unacceptability”. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the “victim of external aggression” and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats.

And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country.

Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military “development” of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on “indigenous peoples” was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a joint news conference following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2017.
© REUTERS / VALENTYN OGIRENKO
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attend a joint news conference following a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev, Ukraine, July 10, 2017.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up.

From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

Activists warm themselves at a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017
© REUTERS / KONSTANTIN CHERNICHKIN
Activists warm themselves at a fire in a camp at Kryvyi Torets station as they take part in a rail blockade that has halted coal supplies in the village of Shcherbivka in Donetsk region, Ukraine, February 14, 2017. Picture taken February 14, 2017

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as “pro-Russian” agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the “right” patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

Opposition supporters on Maidan Square in Kiev where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)
© SPUTNIK / ANDREY STENIN
Opposition supporters on Maidan Square in Kiev where clashes began between protesters and the police. (File)

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories.

Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be “anti-Ukraine”. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

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

‘Save our democracy’: Texas Democrats RUN AWAY to Washington in bid to block state voter reform

https://www.rt.com/usa/529034-texas-democrats-voting-bill-washington/

‘Save our democracy’: Texas Democrats RUN AWAY to Washington in bid to block state voter reform

‘Save our democracy’: Texas Democrats RUN AWAY to Washington in bid to block state voter reform

“My Democratic colleagues and I are leaving the state to break quorum and kill the Texas voter suppression bill,” James Talarico, who represents District 52 in the state House, tweeted on Monday afternoon. “We’re flying to DC to demand Congress pass the For The People Act and save our democracy.”

In a statement, the party said it was “once again making history” by walking out to break the quorum “in defense of voting rights.” Democrats seek to block “anti-voter bills” HB3 and SB1, which are supposed to be considered in the special session called by Governor Greg Abbott.

Described by the Republicans as “relating to election integrity and security, including by preventing fraud in the conduct of elections,” the proposed bills would require identification for voting by mail, prohibit unsolicited mail-in ballot applications, criminalize interference with election observers, and ban drive-through voting. Some or all of the measures that would be prohibited were introduced by Democrat jurisdictions last year, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Democrats have argued the proposals amount to “suppression” of their voters, who they say are disproportionately minorities. Republicans say they are intended to prevent voter fraud. Both have pointed to the case of Hervis Rogers, a convicted felon who was recently arrested and charged with illegally voting while he was on parole.

ALSO ON RT.COMTexas man who famously waited hours to vote in Democratic primary faces up to 40yrs in prison for illegal votingA KXAS-TV reporter shared online photos he was sent by one of the Democrats, showing the lawmakers on a bus to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and then inside the charter plane they were taking to Washington.

The photos showed cheerful Democrats smiling and flashing signs – and not wearing face masks, in apparent violation of a Biden administration mandate, which did not go unnoticed.

One of the photos from the bus showed the lawmakers bringing along a case of beer, for which they were mocked by a spokesman for the Republican speaker of the house.

Democrats walked out “in an attempt to stall election integrity legislation,” Speaker Dade Phelan said in a statement, saying that the move will “put at risk state funding that will deny thousands of hard-working staff members and their families a paycheck, health benefits, and retirement investment so that legislators who broke quorum can flee to Washington, DC in private jets.” 

The House “will use every available resource under the Texas Constitution and the unanimously passed House Rules to secure a quorum,” Phelan added. The last time Democrats left the state – crossing into Oklahoma in 2003 – state troopers were sent to detain them.

While this isn’t the first Democrat walkout, it is the first time they’ve gone all the way to Washington. Appealing to the federal capital fits into the overall strategy of the party to try and to pass federal election legislation, which would make many of 2020’s improvised rules permanent.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak on the topic in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is fundraising off the Texas stunt, urging Americans to donate to the Democrats in “the fight to protect and expand the right to vote.” Ironically, on Sunday she argued that “our democracy is stronger when everyone participates” – but apparently referred to elections, not state legislature sessions.

A number of US states run by Republicans have moved to pass laws regulating election procedures, after a number of new practices were rolled out in 2020 citing the Covid-19 pandemic. GOP lawmakers call them voter integrity laws, while Democrats claim they are voter suppression, and also racist. Biden’s Department of Justice last month sued Georgia over its voter reform bill, alleging much of it was “racially motivated.”

ALSO ON RT.COMBiden DOJ sues Georgia over ‘racist’ voting law, says it will prosecute ‘threats’ against election workers US-wideThink your friends would be interested? Share this story!