Moldova: Truth, Knowledge And History Of This Eastern Europe Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Moldova

Introduction Formerly part of Romania, Moldova was incorporated into the Soviet Union at the close of World War II. Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a “Transnistria” republic. One of the poorest nations in Europe, Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president in 2001.
History Moldova’s territory was inhabited in ancient times by Dacians. Due to its strategic location on a route between Asia and Europe, Moldova faced several invasions, including those by the Huns, Kievan Rus’ and the Mongols. During the Middle Ages, the territory of Republic of Moldova, that of the Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak of Ukraine, as well as that of the eastern 8 of the 41 counties of Romania comprised the Principality of Moldavia (which, like the present-day republic, was known in Romanian as Moldova). The principality became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. In 1775 the northwestern part of Moldavia was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, and called Bukovina.

In 1812, according to the Treaty of Bucharest between the Ottoman and the Russian Empires, the latter annexed the eastern half of the territory of the Principality of Moldavia, including Khotyn and old Bessarabia (modern Budjak). At first, the Russians used the name “Oblast’ of Moldavia and Bessarabia”, allowing a large degree of autonomy, but later (in 1828) suspended the self-administration and called it Guberniya of Bessarabia, or simply Bessarabia. The western part of Moldavia remained an autonomous principality, and in 1859, united with Wallachia to form the Kingdom of Romania. In 1856, the Treaty of Paris saw two out of nine counties of Bessarabia, Cahul and Ismail, returned to Moldavia, but in 1878, the Treaty of Berlin saw the Kingdom of Romania returning them to the Russian Empire.

Upon annexation, after the expulsion of the large Tatar population of Budjak, the Moldovan/Romanian population of Bessarabia was predominant.[10] The colonization of the region in the 19th century lead to an increase in the Russian, Ukrainian, Lipovan, and Cossack populations in the region; this together with a large influx of Bulgarian immigrants, saw an increase of the Slavic population to more than a fifth of the total population by 1920.[11] With the settling of other nationals such as Gagauz, Jews, and Germans, the proportion of the Moldovan population decreased from around 80%[12] to 52% by some sources[13] or to 70% by others[14] during the course of the century. The Tsarist policy in Bessarabia was in part aimed at denationalization of the Romanian element by forbidding after the 1860s education and mass in Romanian. However, the effect was an extremely low literacy rate (in 1897 approx. 18% for males, approx. 4% for females) rather than a denationalization.

World War I brought in a rise in political and cultural (national) awareness of the locals, as 300,000 Bessarabians were drafted into the Russian Army formed in 1917, within bigger units several “Moldavian Soldiers’ Committees” were formed. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Bessarabian parliament, Sfatul Ţării (October-November 1917), which was opened on December 3 [O.S. November 21] 1917, proclaimed the Moldavian Democratic Republic (December 15 [O.S. December 2] 1917) within a federal Russian state, and formed its government (December 21 [O.S. December 8] 1917). Bessarabia proclaimed independence from Russia (February 6 [O.S. January 24] 1918), and, under pressure from the Romanian army that entered the region in early January, on April 9 [O.S. March 27] 1918, Sfatul Ţării decided with 86 votes for, 3 against and 36 abstaining, on union with the Kingdom of Romania, conditional upon the fulfillment of the agrarian reform, local autonomy, and respect for universal human rights. The conditions were dropped after Bukovina and Transylvania also joined the Kingdom of Romania.[16][17][18][19][20] The union was recognized in the Treaty of Paris (1920),[21] which, however, has never came into force since it was not ratified by Japan.[22] The newly-communist Russia did not recognize the Romanian rule over Bessarabia.[23] A mutual treaty between the Soviets and Romania was not signed due to the former’s claims over Bessarabia. In the Kellogg-Briand Treaty of 1928 and the Treaty of London of July 1933, the Soviet Union and Romania have subscribed to the principle of non-violent resolution of territorial disputes. Transnistria, at the time part of the Ukrainian SSR, itself part of the USSR, was formed into the Moldavian ASSR (1924-1940) after the failure of the Tatarbunary Uprising.

The agrarian (land) reform, settled by Sfatul Ţării in 1918-1919, resulted in a rise of a middle class, as the rural population of the region represented 80%. Together with peace and favorable economic circumstances, it produced a small economic boom. However, urban development and the industry were insignifiant, the region remaining an agrarian rural region throughout the interwar period.[24] The literacy rate grew from 10.5%[25] to 37% by 1930; however the region still remained lagging in the aspect of education, compared to a 60% literacy rate country average.[citation needed] In an attempt to separate the Bessarabian ethnic minorities from the Russian influence, the Romanian authorities allowed education in any language desired; with time, while Romanian replaced Russian in cities, the authorities sought to reduce the number of people in minority-language education and educate them in Romanian instead.

Soviet era

As a result of Ribbentrop-Molotov pact (Article 4 of the secret Annex to the Treaty), Bessarabia was annexed by the USSR, as part of the sphere of influence agreed with Nazi Germany. On June 26, 1940, Romania received an ultimatum from the Soviet Union, demanding the evacuation of the Romanian military and administration from Bessarabia and from the northern part of Bukovina, with an implied threat of invasion in the event of noncompliance.[26] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war.[27][28] On June 28, 1940, these territories were occupied by the Soviet Union. During the retreat, the Romanian Army was attacked by the Soviet Army, which entered Bessarabia before the Romanian administration finished retreating. Some 42,876 Romanian soldiers and officers were unaccounted for after the retreat.[29] The northern and southern parts, which had sizable non-Moldovan communities (of Ukrainians, Bessarabian Bulgars, Bessarabian Germans and Lipovans), were transferred to the Ukrainian SSR as the Chernivtsi and Izmail Oblasts. At the same time, the Moldavian ASSR, where Moldovans were a plurality, was disbanded, and up to 1/2 of its territory was joined with the remaining territory of Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, contiguous with present-day Moldova.

By participating in the 1941 Axis invasion of of the Soviet Union, Romania seized the territory of the MSSR, and reestablished its administration there. Later, the Soviet Army reconquered and re-annexed the area in February-August 1944. In the region known as Transnistria, Romanian forces, working with the Germans, deported or exterminated 300,000 Jews, including 147,000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina. [30]

Under early Soviet rule, deportations of locals to the northern Urals, Siberia, and Kazakhstan occurred regularly throughout the Stalinist period, with the largest ones on 12-13 June 1941, and 5-6 July 1949, accounting for 19,000 and 35,000 deportees respectively. [31] According to Russian historians, in 1940-1941, ca. 90,000 inhabitants of the annexed territories were subject to political persecutions.[32] In 1946, a severe drought, exaggerated delivery quota obligations the Soviet state imposed on farmers, the forced agricultural requisitions employed by the Soviets because most farmers could not meet these, and the absence of a large part of the male work force (most of the Bessarabians enrolled in 1944 into the Soviet Army were not discharged until late 1946) resulted in a famine (1946-1947), which resulted in 216,000 deaths and about 350,000 cases of dystrophy in MSSR alone.[33] Similar events occurred in 1930s in Transnistria.[34] In 1944-53, there were many anti-Communist armed resistance groups active in Moldova; however the NKVD/MGB managed to uproot most of them with arrests and deportation.[35]

After World War II, ethnic Russians and Ukrainians (commonly known as Russophones) immigrated into the new Soviet republic, especially into urbanized areas.

The Soviet government began a campaign to promote a Moldovan ethnic identity, different from that of the Romanians, based on a theory developed during the existence of the Moldovan ASSR. Official Soviet policy asserted that the language spoken by Moldovans was distinct from the Romanian language (see History of the Moldovan language). The Moldovan was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, in contrast with Romanian, which was written in the Latin alphabet (the language had used a different variant of the Cyrillic alphabet before 1860); to distinguish the two, when there is a chance of confusion, Moldovans commonly refer to the former as “the Russian alphabet”. Moldovan Cyrillic incorporated slight changes to the Cyrillic alphabet, most notably the use of the letter zhe with a breve (Ӂ – ӂ) to indicate the sound /dʒ/.

In 1970s and 1980s, the Moldavian SSR received substantial allocations from the budget of the USSR to develop industrial and scientific facilities as well as housing. In 1971, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a decision “About the measures for further development of the city of Kishinev”, that alloted more than one billion Soviet rubles from the USSR budget; subsequent decisions also directed substantial funding and brought qualified specialists from other parts of the USSR to develop Moldova’s industry.[citation needed] This influx of investments was stopped in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Moldova became independent.

Independent Moldova

Along with the other peripheral Soviet republics, Moldova started to move towards independence from 1988 onwards; on August 31, 1989 a language law was passed, adopting the Latin alphabet for Moldovan and declaring it the state language of the MSSR.[36] The first free elections for the local parliament were held in February and March 1990.

After the attempted Moscow Putsch, Moldova declared its independence on August 27, 1991, and in December of that year signed to be a member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) along with most of the former Soviet republics. Declaring itself a neutral state, it did not join the military branch of the CIS. At the end of that year, a former communist reformer, Mircea Snegur, won an unchallenged election for the presidency. Three months later, the country achieved formal recognition as an independent state at the United Nations.

The part of Moldova east of the Dniester river, Transnistria, which included a larger proportion of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, claimed independence in 1990, fearing the rise of nationalism in Moldova and the country’s expected reunification with Romania upon secession from the USSR. This caused a brief military conflict between Moldova and forces supporting the secession of Transnistria in 1992. Russian military stationed in the region (14th Army) intervened on the Transnistrian side; it also remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester after the end of the military conflict, despite signing international obligations to withdraw, and against the will of Moldovan government.[37][38] They still remain stationed in Transnistria. Negotiations between the Transnistrian and Moldovan leaders have been going on under the mediation of the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine; lately observers from the European Union and the USA have become involved.

The March 1994 referendum for a new constitution that stated the independence of the republic saw an overwhelming majority of voters in support.

Since 2001, the country is a member of the WTO.

Geography Location: Eastern Europe, northeast of Romania
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 29 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 33,843 sq km
land: 33,371 sq km
water: 472 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 1,389 km
border countries: Romania 450 km, Ukraine 939 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: moderate winters, warm summers
Terrain: rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dniester River 2 m
highest point: Dealul Balanesti 430 m
Natural resources: lignite, phosphorites, gypsum, arable land, limestone
Land use: arable land: 54.52%
permanent crops: 8.81%
other: 36.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: 3,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 11.7 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.31 cu km/yr (10%/58%/33%)
per capita: 549 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: landslides
Environment – current issues: heavy use of agricultural chemicals, including banned pesticides such as DDT, has contaminated soil and groundwater; extensive soil erosion from poor farming methods
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; well endowed with various sedimentary rocks and minerals including sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone
Politics During the first 10 years of independence, Moldova was governed by coalitions of different parties, led mostly by former communist officials. The 1998 economic crisis in Russia, Moldova’s main economic partner at the time, produced a political and economic crisis in the country. The political flux was cleared in 2001 when elections saw the Party of Communists of Moldova win the majority of seats in the Parliament. Its leader Vladimir Voronin was appointed president. In economic terms, the crisis provoked an emigration of labor, as well as permanent emigration from Moldova. According to the census data, from 1989 to 2004, Moldova has lost about 400,000 inhabitants, or 9% of the population. Analysts estimate that actual emigration could be higher, as many seasonal workers remain registered as living in the country. Over 100,000 people from other former Soviet states have migrated to Moldova in the 10 years after its independence. Ethnically, the dominant group (Moldavians/Romanians) has somewhat strengthened its position, representing 79% outside Transnistria, or 71.5% including Transnistria. In absolute numbers, the Moldovan-Romanian population declined by about 50,000 people compared to 1989, while for Ukrainians and Russians this figure has reached 200,000 of each nationality; most of this change is believed to have occurred between 1998 and 2004.

Relationships between Moldova and Russia deteriorated in November 2003 over a Russian proposal for the solution of the Transnistrian conflict, which Moldovan authorities refused to accept. In the following election, held in 2005, the Communist party made a formal 180 degree turn and was re-elected on a pro-Western platform,[citation needed] with Voronin being re-elected to a second term as a president. Since 1999, Moldova has constantly affirmed its desire to join the European Union,[39][40] and implement its first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of the EU.

People Population: 4,324,450 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.3% (male 361,000/female 341,785)
15-64 years: 72.9% (male 1,528,080/female 1,622,620)
65 years and over: 10.9% (male 174,448/female 296,517) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 34.3 years
male: 32.4 years
female: 36.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.092% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.01 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.8 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female
total population: 0.91 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.5 years
male: 66.81 years
female: 74.41 years (2008 est.)

Netherlands And Australia Hold Russia Partly At Fault For Downing Of Malaysian Jet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(FLIGHT MH17 WAS SHOT DOWN WITH A RUSSIAN MISSILE FROM A RUSSIAN HELD MILITARY LOCATION)

Friday – 9 months of Ramadan 1439 H – 25 May 2018 m
Joint investigation team in Malaysia plane crash offers a shattered missile (Reuters)
Amsterdam: Middle East Online
The Netherlands and Australia have taken responsibility for the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine during its flight MH17 in 2014, officials said on Friday, in a move that could trigger a judicial move.
In a statement, the Dutch government said the two countries “hold Russia partly responsible for the downing” of the Malaysian plane, a day after investigators found that a Bock missile hit the plane while it was flying, moving from a Russian military unit in Kursk. All 298 passengers, mostly Dutch, were killed.

UKraine: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Ukraine

Introduction Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine was able to bring about a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and forced to endure a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two artificial famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although final independence for Ukraine was achieved in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest “Orange Revolution” in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary elections and become prime minister in August of 2006. An early legislative election, brought on by a political crisis in the spring of 2007, saw Yuliya TYMOSHENKO, as head of an “Orange” coalition, installed as a new prime minister in December 2007.
History Early history

Human settlement in the territory of Ukraine dates back to at least 4500 BC, when the Neolithic Cucuteni culture flourished in a wide area that covered parts of modern Ukraine including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian Kingdom, or Scythia. Later, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia, and Hermonassa, were founded, beginning in the 6th century BC, on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and thrived well into the 6th century AD. In the 7th century AD, the territory of eastern Ukraine was the center of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions and the land fell into the Khazars’ hands.

Golden Age of Kiev
Main article: Kievan Rus’

Map of the Kievan Rus’ in the 11th century. During the Golden Age of Kiev, the lands of Rus’ covered much of present day Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia.

In the 9th century, much of modern-day Ukraine was populated by the Rus’ people who formed the Kievan Rus’. Kievan Rus’ included nearly all territory of modern Ukraine, Belarus, with larger part of it situated on the territory of modern Russia. During the 10th and 11th centuries, it became the largest and most powerful state in Europe. In the following centuries, it laid the foundation for the national identity of Ukrainians and Russians. Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine, became the most important city of the Rus’. According to the Primary Chronicle, the Rus’ elite initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia. The Varangians later became assimilated into the local Slavic population and became part of the Rus’ first dynasty, the Rurik Dynasty. Kievan Rus’ was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid Princes. The seat of Kiev, the most prestigious and influential of all principalities, became the subject of many rivalries among Rurikids as the most valuable prize in their quest for power.

The Golden Age of Kievan Rus’ began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who turned Rus’ toward Byzantine Christianity. During the reign of his son, Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054), Kievan Rus’ reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power. This was followed by the state’s increasing fragmentation as the relative importance of regional powers rose again. After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus’ finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav’s death.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north.[7] The 13th century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus’. Kiev was totally destroyed in 1240. On the Ukrainian territory, the state of Kievan Rus’ was succeeded by the principalities of Galich (Halych) and Volodymyr-Volynskyi, which were merged into the state of Galicia-Volhynia.

Foreign domination

In the centuries following the Mongol invasion, much of Ukraine was controlled by Lithuania (from the 14th century on) and since the Union of Lublin (1569) by Poland, as seen at this outline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as of 1619.

“Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire.” Painted by Ilya Repin from 1880 to 1891.

In the mid-14th century, Galicia-Volhynia was subjugated by Casimir the Great of Poland, while the heartland of Rus’, including Kiev, fell under the Gediminas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Battle on the Irpen’ River. Following the 1386 Union of Krevo, a dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania, most of Ukraine’s territory was controlled by the increasingly Ruthenized local Lithuanian nobles as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At this time, the term Ruthenia and Ruthenians as the Latinized versions of “Rus'”, became widely applied to the land and the people of Ukraine, respectively.

By 1569, the Union of Lublin formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and a significant part of Ukrainian territory was moved from largely Ruthenized Lithuanian rule to the Polish administration, as it was transferred to the Polish Crown. Under the cultural and political pressure of Polonisation much of the Ruthenian upper class converted to Catholicism and became indistinguishable from the Polish nobility. Thus, the Ukrainian commoners, deprived of their native protectors among Ruthenian nobility, turned for protection to the Cossacks, who remained fiercely orthodox at all times and tended to turn to violence against those they perceived as enemies, particularly the Polish state and its representatives. Ukraine suffered a series of Tatar invasions, the goal of which was to loot, pillage and capture slaves into jasyr.

In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was established by the Dnieper Cossacks and the Ruthenian peasants fleeing Polish serfdom. Poland had little real control of this land (Wild Fields), yet they found the Cossacks to be a useful fighting force against the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two allied in military campaigns. However, the continued enserfment of peasantry by the Polish nobility emphasized by the Commonwealth’s fierce exploitation of the workforce, and most importantly, the suppression of the Orthodox Church pushed the allegiances of Cossacks away from Poland. Their aspiration was to have representation in Polish Sejm, recognition of Orthodox traditions and the gradual expansion of the Cossack Registry. These were all vehemently denied by the Polish nobility. The Cossacks eventually turned for protection to Orthodox Russia, a decision which would later lead towards the downfall of the Polish-Lithuanian state, and the preservation of the Orthodox Church and in Ukraine.

In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king John II Casimir. Left-bank Ukraine was eventually integrated into Russia as the Cossack Hetmanate, following the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav and the ensuing Russo-Polish War. After the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century by Prussia, Habsburg Austria, and Russia, Western Ukrainian Galicia was taken over by Austria, while the rest of Ukraine was progressively incorporated into the Russian Empire. Despite the promises of Ukrainian autonomy given by the Treaty of Pereyaslav, the Ukrainian elite and the Cossacks never received the freedoms and the autonomy they were expecting from Imperial Russia. However, within the Empire, Ukrainians rose to the highest offices of Russian state, and the Russian Orthodox Church. At a later period, the tsarist regime carried the policy of Russification of Ukrainian lands, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language in print, and in public.

The sparsely inhabited area of the Wild Fields, immediately south of Severia, was traditionally used by the Crimean Tatars and Nogai Tatars to launch annual raids into Russian territories along the Muravsky Trail and Izyum Trail. After a number of Russo-Crimean Wars, the Russian monarchs started to encourage the settlement of the Sloboda Ukraine by the Cossacks who acted as a sort of frontier guards against the raids of the Tatars. After the annexation of the Crimean Khanate by the Imperial Russia (1774-1792) following the Russo-Turkish wars, the region was settled by enserfed peasantry mostly from Ukraine and German settlers as New Russia. The Crimean War in the 1850s caused a major exodus of Tatars. The area that was Little Tartary is currently part of Ukraine.

World War I and revolution

Ukraine entered World War I on the side of both the Central Powers, under Austria, and the Triple Entente, under Russia. 3.5 million Ukrainians fought with the Imperial Russian Army, while 250,000 fought for the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the war, Austro-Hungarian authorities established the Ukrainian Legion to fight against the Russian Empire. This legion was the foundation of the Ukrainian Galician Army that fought against the Bolsheviks and Poles in the post World War I period (1919–23). Those suspected of the Russophile sentiments in Austria were treated harshly. Up to 5,000 supporters of the Russian Empire from Galicia were detained and placed in Austrian internment camps in Talerhof, Styria, and in a fortress at Terezín (now in the Czech Republic).

With the collapse of the Russian and Austrian empires following World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Ukrainian national movement for self-determination reemerged. During 1917–20, several separate Ukrainian states briefly emerged: the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the Hetmanate, the Directorate and the pro-Bolshevik Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (or Soviet Ukraine) successively established territories in the former Russian Empire; while the West Ukrainian People’s Republic emerged briefly in the former Austro-Hungarian territory. In the midst of Civil War, an anarchist movement called the Black Army led by Nestor Makhno also developed in Southern Ukraine. However with Western Ukraine’s defeat in the Polish-Ukrainian War followed by the failure of the further Polish offensive that was repelled by the Bolsheviks. According to the Peace of Riga concluded between the Soviets and Poland, western Ukraine was officially incorporated into Poland who in turn recognised the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1919, that later became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the Soviet Union in December, 1922.

Inter-war Soviet Ukraine

The revolution that brought the Soviet government to power devastated Ukraine. It left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. The Soviet Ukraine had to face the famine of 1921. Seeing the exhausted society, the Soviet government remained very flexible during the 1920s. Thus, the Ukrainian culture and language enjoyed a revival, as Ukrainisation became a local implementation of the Soviet-wide Korenisation (literally indigenisation) policy. The Bolsheviks were also committed to introducing universal health care, education and social-security benefits, as well as the right to work and housing. Women’s rights were greatly increased through new laws aimed to wipe away centuries-old inequalities. Most of these policies were sharply reversed by the early-1930s after Joseph Stalin gradually consolidated power to become the de facto communist party leader and a dictator of the Soviet Union.

Starting from the late 1920s, Ukraine was involved in the Soviet industrialisation and the republic’s industrial output quadrupled in the 1930s. However, the industrialisation had a heavy cost for the peasantry, demographically a backbone of the Ukrainian nation. To satisfy the state’s need for increased food supplies and to finance industrialisation, Stalin instituted a program of collectivisation of agriculture as the state combined the peasants’ lands and animals into collective farms and enforcing the policies by the regular troops and secret police. Those who resisted were arrested and deported and the increased production quotas were placed on the peasantry. The collectivisation had a devastating effect on agricultural productivity. As the members of the collective farms were not allowed to receive any grain until the unachievable quotas were met, starvation in the Soviet Union became widespread. In 1932–33, millions starved to death in a man-made famine known as Holodomor. Scholars are divided as to whether this famine fits the definition of genocide, but the Ukrainian parliament and more than a dozen other countries recognise it as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

The times of industrialisation and Holodomor also coincided with the Soviet assault on the national political and cultural elite often accused in “nationalist deviations”. Two waves of Stalinist political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union (1929–34 and 1936–38) resulted in the killing of some 681,692 people; this included four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite and three quarters of all the Red Army’s higher-ranking officers.

World War II

Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became reunited with the rest of Ukraine. The unification that Ukraine achieved for the first time in its history was a decisive event in the history of the nation.

After France surrendered to Germany, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina, and the Soviet-occupied Hertsa region. But it ceded the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. All these territorial gains were internationally recognised by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.

German armies invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, thereby initiating four straight years of incessant total war. The Axis allies initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kiev, the city was acclaimed as a “Hero City”, for the fierce resistance by the Red Army and by the local population. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one quarter of the Western Front) were killed or taken captive there. Although the wide majority of Ukrainians fought alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground created an anti-Soviet nationalist formation in Galicia, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942) that at times engaged the Nazi forces; while another nationalist movement fought alongside the Nazis. In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians that fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million to 7 million. The pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated to number at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944; with about 50 percent of them being ethnic Ukrainians. Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s figures are very undependable, ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as much as 100,000 fighters.

Initially, the Germans were even received as liberators by some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939. However, brutal German rule in the occupied territories eventually turned its supporters against the occupation. Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the population of Ukrainian territories’ dissatisfaction with Stalinist political and economic policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported others to work in Germany, and began a systematic depopulation of Ukraine to prepare it for German colonisation, which included a food blockade on Kiev.

The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front, and Nazi Germany suffered 93 percent of all casualties there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half a million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.7 million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians. So to this day, Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.

Post-World War II

The republic was heavily damaged by the war, and it required significant efforts to recover. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages were destroyed. The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–47 caused by the drought and the infrastructure breakdown that took away tens of thousands of lives.

The nationalist anti-Soviet resistance lasted for years after the war, chiefly in Western Ukraine, but also in other regions. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, continued to fight the USSR into the 1950s. Using guerilla war tactics, the insurgents targeted for assassination and terror those who they perceived as representing, or cooperating at any level with, the Soviet state.

Following the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of the USSR. Being the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukrainian SSR in 1938-49, Khrushchev was intimately familiar with the republic and after taking power union-wide, he began to emphasize the friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian nations. In 1954, the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav was widely celebrated, and in particular, Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Already by the 1950s, the republic fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production. It also became an important center of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev, who would later oust Khrushchev and become the Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, as well as many prominent Soviet sportspeople, scientists and artists.

On April 26, 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history. At the time of the accident seven million people lived in the contaminated territories, including 2.2 million in Ukraine. After the accident, a new city, Slavutych, was built outside the exclusion zone to house and support the employees of the plant, which was decommissioned in 2000. Around 150,000 people were evacuated from the contaminated area, and 300,000–600,000 took part in the cleanup. By 2000, about 4,000 Ukrainian children had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer caused by radiation released by this incident. Other Chernobyl disaster effects include other forms of cancer and genetic abnormalities, affecting newborns and children in particular.

Independence

On July 16, 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The declaration established the principles of the self-determination of the Ukrainian nation, its democracy, political and economic independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law on the Ukrainian territory over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR. This started a period of confrontation between the central Soviet, and new republican authorities. In August 1991, a conservative faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party’s power. After the attempt failed, on August 24, 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence in which the parliament declared Ukraine as an independent democratic state. A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on December 1, 1991. That day, more than 90 percent of the Ukrainian people expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk to serve as the first President of the country. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on December 8, followed by Alma Ata meeting on December 21, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Orange-clad demonstrators gather in the Independence Square in Kiev on November 22, 2004

Ukraine was initially viewed as a republic with favorable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union. However, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, Ukraine lost 60 percent of its GDP from 1991 to 1999, and suffered five-digit inflation rates. Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as crime and corruption, Ukrainians protested and organised strikes.

The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. Since 2000, the country has enjoyed steady economic growth averaging about seven percent annually. A new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted in 1996, which turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticized by opponents for concentrating too much of power in his office, corruption, transferring public property into hands of loyal oligarchs, discouraging free speech, and electoral fraud. In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then Prime Minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which had been largely rigged, as the Supreme Court of Ukraine later ruled. The results caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who challenged the results and led the peaceful Orange Revolution. The revolution brought Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, while casting Viktor Yanukovych in opposition.

Geography Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east
Geographic coordinates: 49 00 N, 32 00 E
Map references: Asia, Europe
Area: total: 603,700 sq km
land: 603,700 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries: total: 4,566 km
border countries: Belarus 891 km, Hungary 103 km, Moldova 940 km, Poland 428 km, Romania (south) 176 km, Romania (southwest) 362 km, Russia 1,576 km, Slovakia 90 km
Coastline: 2,782 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate continental; Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast; precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast; winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland; summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south
Terrain: most of Ukraine consists of fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus, mountains being found only in the west (the Carpathians), and in the Crimean Peninsula in the extreme south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Hora Hoverla 2,061 m
Natural resources: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber, arable land
Land use: arable land: 53.8%
permanent crops: 1.5%
other: 44.7% (2005)
Irrigated land: 22,080 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 139.5 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 37.53 cu km/yr (12%/35%/52%)
per capita: 807 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; air and water pollution; deforestation; radiation contamination in the northeast from 1986 accident at Chornobyl’ Nuclear Power Plant
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds
Geography – note: strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia; second-largest country in Europe
Politics Ukraine is a republic under a mixed semi-parliamentary semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state.

Ukraine’s legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister.

Laws, acts of the parliament and the cabinet, presidential decrees, and acts of the Crimean parliament may be abrogated by the Constitutional Court, should they be found to violate the Constitution of Ukraine. Other normative acts are subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court is the main body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction. Local self-government is officially guaranteed. Local councils and city mayors are popularly elected and exercise control over local budgets. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the president.

Ukraine has a large number of political parties, many of which have tiny memberships and are unknown to the general public. Small parties often join in multi-party coalitions (electoral blocs) for the purpose of participating in parliamentary elections.

The European Union offered an Association Agreement with Ukraine in September, 2008. The country is a potential candidate for future enlargement of the European Union.

People Population: 45,994,288 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.9% (male 3,277,905/female 3,106,012)
15-64 years: 70% (male 15,443,818/female 16,767,931)
65 years and over: 16.1% (male 2,489,235/female 4,909,386) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.4 years
male: 36.1 years
female: 42.5 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.651% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.55 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 15.93 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.51 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.23 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.48 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.06 years
male: 62.24 years
female: 74.24 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.25 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 360,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 20,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Ukrainian(s)
adjective: Ukrainian
Ethnic groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 census)
Religions: Ukrainian Orthodox – Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox – Moscow Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2% (2006 est.)
Languages: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9% (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.2% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 6.3% of GDP (2006)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Ukraine
local long form: none
local short form: Ukrayina
former: Ukrainian National Republic, Ukrainian State, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Kyiv (Kiev)
geographic coordinates: 50 26 N, 30 31 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (oblasti, singular – oblast’), 1 autonomous republic* (avtonomna respublika), and 2 municipalities (mista, singular – misto) with oblast status**; Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Chernivtsi, Crimea or Avtonomna Respublika Krym* (Simferopol’), Dnipropetrovs’k, Donets’k, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmel’nyts’kyy, Kirovohrad, Kyiv**, Kyiv, Luhans’k, L’viv, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Poltava, Rivne, Sevastopol’**, Sumy, Ternopil’, Vinnytsya, Volyn’ (Luts’k), Zakarpattya (Uzhhorod), Zaporizhzhya, Zhytomyr
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 24 August (1991); note – 22 January 1918, the day Ukraine first declared its independence (from Soviet Russia) and the day the short-lived Western and Central Ukrainian republics united (1919), is now celebrated as Unity Day
Constitution: adopted 28 June 1996
Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Viktor A. YUSHCHENKO (since 23 January 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Yuliya TYMOSHENKO (since 18 December 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr TURCHYNOV (since 18 December 2007); Deputy Prime Ministers Hryhoriy NEMYRYA and Ivan VASYUNYK (since 18 December 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers selected by the prime minister; the only exceptions are the foreign and defense ministers, who are chosen by the president
note: there is also a National Security and Defense Council or NSDC originally created in 1992 as the National Security Council; the NSDC staff is tasked with developing national security policy on domestic and international matters and advising the president; a Presidential Secretariat helps draft presidential edicts and provides policy support to the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); note – a special repeat runoff presidential election between Viktor YUSHCHENKO and Viktor YANUKOVYCH took place on 26 December 2004 after the earlier 21 November 2004 contest – won by YANUKOVYCH – was invalidated by the Ukrainian Supreme Court because of widespread and significant violations; under constitutional reforms that went into effect 1 January 2006, the majority in parliament takes the lead in naming the prime minister
election results: Viktor YUSHCHENKO elected president; percent of vote – Viktor YUSHCHENKO 52%, Viktor YANUKOVYCH 44.2%
Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme Council or Verkhovna Rada (450 seats; members allocated on a proportional basis to those parties that gain 3% or more of the national electoral vote; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 30 September 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party/bloc – Party of Regions 34.4%, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 30.7%, Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense 14.2%, CPU 5.4%, Lytvyn bloc 4%, other parties 11.3%; seats by party/bloc – Party of Regions 175, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 156, Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense 72, CPU 27, Lytvyn bloc 20
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court
Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Union [Volodymyr STRETOVYCH]; Communist Party of Ukraine or CPU [Petro SYMONENKO]; European Party of Ukraine [Mykola KATERYNCHUK]; Fatherland Party (Batkivshchyna) [Yuliya TYMOSHENKO]; Forward Ukraine! [Viktor MUSIYAKA]; Labor Party of Ukraine [Mykola SYROTA]; People’s Union Our Ukraine [Viktor YUSHCHENKO]; Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs [Anatoliy KINAKH]; Party of the Defenders of the Fatherland [Yuriy Karmazin]; People’s Movement of Ukraine (Rukh) [Borys TARASYUK]; People’s Party [Volodymyr LYTVYN]; Peoples’ Self-Defense [Yuriy LUTSENKO]; PORA! (It’s Time!) party [Vladyslav KASKIV]; Progressive Socialist Party [Natalya VITRENKO]; Reforms and Order Party [Viktor PYNZENYK]; Party of Regions [Viktor YANUKOVYCH]; Sobor [Anatoliy MATVIYENKO]; Social Democratic Party [Yevhen KORNICHUK]; Social Democratic Party (United) or SDPU(o) [Yuriy ZAHORODNIY]; Socialist Party of Ukraine or SPU [Oleksandr MOROZ]; Ukrainian People’s Party [Yuriy KOSTENKO]; United Center [Ihor Krill]; Viche [Inna BOHOSLOVSKA]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Committee of Voters of Ukraine [Ihor POPOV]
International organization participation: Australia Group, BSEC, CBSS (observer), CE, CEI, CIS, EAEC (observer), EAPC, EBRD, FAO, GCTU, GUAM, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MONUC, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Oleh V. SHAMSHUR
chancery: 3350 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 333-0606
FAX: [1] (202) 333-0817
consulate(s) general: Chicago, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador William B. TAYLOR Jr.
embassy: 10 Yurii Kotsiubynsky Street, 01901 Kyiv
mailing address: 5850 Kiev Place, Washington, DC 20521-5850
telephone: [380] (44) 490-4000
FAX: [380] (44) 490-4085
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of azure (top) and golden yellow represent grain fields under a blue sky
Culture Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Christianity, which is the dominant religion in the country. Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in raising children than in the West. The culture of Ukraine has been also influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, which is reflected in its architecture, music and art.

The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine. In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree “On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations”. This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted.

The tradition of the Easter egg, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine. In the city of Kolomya near the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in 2000 was built the museum of Pysanka which won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action.

The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh and pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes include varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese or cherries), borscht (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots and meat). Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake. Ukrainians drink stewed fruit, juices, milk, buttermilk (they make cottage cheese from this), mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.

Economy Economy – overview: After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Shortly after independence was ratified in December 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements. A dispute with Russia over pricing in late 2005 and early 2006 led to a temporary gas cut-off; Ukraine concluded a deal with Russia in January 2006 that almost doubled the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas. Outside institutions – particularly the IMF – have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine’s large shadow economy, but more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, and improving the legislative framework. Ukraine’s economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president until mid-2008. Real GDP growth reached roughly 7% in 2006-07, fueled by high global prices for steel – Ukraine’s top export – and by strong domestic consumption, spurred by rising pensions and wages. The drop in steel prices and Ukraine’s exposure to the global financial crisis due to aggressive foreign borrowing has lowered growth in 2008 and the economy probably will contract in 2009. Ukraine reached an agreement with the IMF for a $16.5 billion standby arrangement in November 2008 to deal with the economic crisis. However, political turmoil in Ukraine as well as deteriorating external conditions are likely to hamper efforts for economic recovery.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $359.9 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $198 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.3% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $7,800 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 31.7%
services: 58.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 21.71 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 19.4%
industry: 24.2%
services: 56.4% (2005)
Unemployment rate: 2.1% officially registered; large number of unregistered or underemployed workers; the International Labor Organization calculates that Ukraine’s real unemployment level is nearly 7% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 37.7% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 25.7% (2006)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 31 (2006)
Investment (gross fixed): 23.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $65.02 billion
expenditures: $68.48 billion; note – this is the planned, consolidated budget (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 10% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 25% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 8% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 13.9% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $35.97 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $41.51 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $87.13 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $111.8 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, vegetables; beef, milk
Industries: coal, electric power, ferrous and nonferrous metals, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food processing (especially sugar)
Electricity – production: 182.4 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 148.1 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 12.52 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 2.082 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 48.6%
hydro: 7.9%
nuclear: 43.5%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 102,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 344,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 190,500 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 441,200 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 395 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 19.5 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 84.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 4 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 65.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 1.104 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$14.22 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $64.89 billion (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, food products
Exports – partners: Russia 23.3%, Turkey 7.9%, Italy 5.8% (2007)
Imports: $82.52 billion (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: energy, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports – partners: Russia 23.9%, Germany 11.8%, China 8.5%, Poland 8.1%, Turkmenistan 5.4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $409.6 million (1995); IMF Extended Funds Facility $2.2 billion (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $31.92 billion (1 November 2008)
Debt – external: $82.07 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $44.08 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $1.13 billion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): hryvnia (UAH)
Currency code: UAH
Exchange rates: hryvnia (UAH) per US dollar – 4.9523 (2008 est.), 5.05 (2007), 5.05 (2006), 5.1247 (2005), 5.3192 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 12.858 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 55.24 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: Ukraine’s telecommunication development plan emphasizes improving domestic trunk lines, international connections, and the mobile-cellular system
domestic: at independence in December 1991, Ukraine inherited a telephone system that was antiquated, inefficient, and in disrepair; more than 3.5 million applications for telephones could not be satisfied; telephone density is rising and the domestic trunk system is being improved; about one-third of Ukraine’s networks are digital and a majority of regional centers now have digital switching stations; improvements in local networks and local exchanges continue to lag; the mobile-cellular telephone system’s expansion has slowed, largely due to saturation of the market which had reached 100 mobile phones per 100 people by early 2007
international: country code – 380; 2 new domestic trunk lines are a part of the fiber-optic Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) system and 3 Ukrainian links have been installed in the fiber-optic Trans-European Lines (TEL) project that connects 18 countries; additional international service is provided by the Italy-Turkey-Ukraine-Russia (ITUR) fiber-optic submarine cable and by an unknown number of earth stations in the Intelsat, Inmarsat, and Intersputnik satellite systems
Radio broadcast stations: 524 (station types NA) (2006)
Radios: 45.05 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 647 (2006)
Televisions: 18.05 million (1997)
Internet country code: .ua
Internet hosts: 524,202 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 260 (2001)
Internet users: 10 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 437 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 193
over 3,047 m: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 53
1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 95 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 244
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 217 (2007)
Heliports: 10 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 33,721 km; oil 4,514 km; refined products 4,211 km (2007)
Railways: total: 21,852 km
broad gauge: 21,852 km 1.524-m gauge (9,648 km electrified) (2007)
Roadways: total: 169,422 km
paved: 165,611 km (includes 15 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,811 km (2007)
Waterways: 2,176 km (most on Dnieper River) (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 189
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 141, chemical tanker 1, container 3, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 11, roll on/roll off 7, specialized tanker 2
foreign-owned: 2 (Luxembourg 1, Russia 1)
registered in other countries: 204 (Belize 7, Cambodia 34, Comoros 8, Cyprus 4, Dominica 4, Georgia 18, Liberia 25, Lithuania 1, Malta 30, Moldova 5, Mongolia 1, Panama 10, Russia 11, Saint Kitts and Nevis 9, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 11, Sierra Leone 10, Slovakia 12, Tuvalu 1, unknown 3) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Feodosiya, Kerch, Kherson, Mariupol’, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Yuzhnyy
Military Military branches: Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (Viyskovo-Povitryani Syly), Air Defense Forces (2002)
Military service age and obligation: 18-25 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation – 18 months for Army and Air Force, 24 months for Navy (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 11,457,562
females age 16-49: 11,767,357 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 7,141,814
females age 16-49: 9,428,876 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 288,605
female: 276,324 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: 1997 boundary delimitation treaty with Belarus remains un-ratified due to unresolved financial claims, stalling demarcation and reducing border security; delimitation of land boundary with Russia is complete with preparations for demarcation underway; the dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov remains unresolved despite a December 2003 framework agreement and ongoing expert-level discussions; Moldova and Ukraine operate joint customs posts to monitor transit of people and commodities through Moldova’s break-away Transnistria Region, which remains under OSCE supervision; the ICJ gave Ukraine until December 2006 to reply, and Romania until June 2007 to rejoin, in their dispute submitted in 2004 over Ukrainian-administered Zmiyinyy/Serpilor (Snake) Island and Black Sea maritime boundary; Romania opposes Ukraine’s reopening of a navigation canal from the Danube border through Ukraine to the Black Sea
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for CIS consumption; some synthetic drug production for export to the West; limited government eradication program; used as transshipment point for opiates and other illicit drugs from Africa, Latin America, and Turkey to Europe and Russia; Ukraine has improved anti-money-laundering controls, resulting in its removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) Noncooperative Countries and Territories List in February 2004; Ukraine’s anti-money-laundering regime continues to be monitored by FATF

Lost World Of Shipwrecks Have Been Found In The Black Sea Off Of Bulgarian Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIME’S, SCIENCE SECTION)

An image of the well-preserved medieval ship found at the bottom of the Black Sea, one of more than 40 wrecks discovered. Photogrammetry, a process using thousands of photographs and readings, produced a rendering that appears three-dimensional.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

The medieval ship lay more than a half-mile down at the bottom of the Black Sea, its masts, timbers and planking undisturbed in the darkness for seven or eight centuries. Lack of oxygen in the icy depths had ruled out the usual riot of creatures that feast on sunken wood.

This fall, a team of explorers lowered a robot on a long tether, lit up the wreck with bright lights and took thousands of high-resolution photos. A computer then merged the images into a detailed portrait.

Archaeologists date the discovery to the 13th or 14th century, opening a new window on forerunners of the 15th- and 16th-century sailing vessels that discovered the New World, including those of Columbus. This medieval ship probably served the Venetian empire, which had Black Sea outposts.

Never before had this type of ship been found in such complete form. The breakthrough was the quarterdeck, from which the captain would have directed a crew of perhaps 20 sailors.

“That’s never been seen archaeologically,” said Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, an expedition member at the Center for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, in Britain. “We couldn’t believe our eyes.”

A photogrammetric image of a ship from the Ottoman era that most likely went down between the 17th and 19th centuries. The discoverers nicknamed it the Flower of the Black Sea because of its ornate carvings, including two large posts topped with petals. Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

Remarkably, the find is but one of more than 40 shipwrecks that the international team recently discovered and photographed off the Bulgarian coast in one of archaeology’s greatest coups.

In age, the vessels span a millennium, from the Byzantine to the Ottoman empires, from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Generally, the ships are in such good repair that the images reveal intact coils of rope, rudders and elaborately carved decorations.

“They’re astonishingly preserved,” said Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology center at the University of Southampton.

Kroum Batchvarov, a team member at the University of Connecticut who grew up in Bulgaria and has conducted other studies in its waters, said the recent discoveries “far surpassed my wildest expectations.”

Independent experts said the annals of deepwater archaeology hold few, if any, comparable sweeps of discovery in which shipwrecks have proved to be so plentiful, diverse and well-preserved.

A photogrammetric image of the stern of the Ottoman-era ship showing coils of rope and a tiller with elaborate carvings. A lack of oxygen at the icy depths of the Black Sea left the wrecks relatively undisturbed.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“It’s a great story,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. “We can expect some real contributions to our understanding of ancient trade routes.”

Goods traded on the Black Sea included grains, furs, horses, oils, cloth, wine and people. The Tatars turned Christians into slaves who were shipped to places like Cairo. For Europeans, the sea provided access to a northern branch of the Silk Road and imports of silk, satin, musk, perfumes, spices and jewels.

Marco Polo reportedly visited the Black Sea, and Italian merchant colonies dotted its shores. The profits were so enormous that, in the 13th and 14th centuries, Venice and Genoa fought a series of wars for control of the trade routes, including those of the Black Sea.

Brendan P. Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., said the good condition of the shipwrecks implied that many objects inside their hulls might also be intact.

“You might find books, parchment, written documents,” he said in an interview. “Who knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It’s amazing.”

Experts said the success in Bulgarian waters might inspire other nations that control portions of the Black Sea to join the archaeological hunt. They are Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Dr. Foley, who has explored a number of Black Sea wrecks, said the sea’s overall expanse undoubtedly held tens of thousands of lost ships. “Everything that sinks out there is going to be preserved,” he added. “They’re not going away.”

For ages, the Black Sea was a busy waterway that served the Balkans, the Eurasian steppes, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Greece. It long beckoned to archaeologists because they knew its deep waters lacked oxygen, a rarity for large bodies of water.

The great rivers of Eastern Europe — the Don, the Danube, the Dnieper — pour so much fresh water into the sea that a permanent layer forms over denser, salty water from the Mediterranean. As a result, oxygen from the atmosphere that mixes readily with fresh water never penetrates the inky depths.

In 1976, Willard Bascom, a pioneer of oceanography, in his book “Deep Water, Ancient Ships,” called the Black Sea unique among the world’s seas and a top candidate for exploration and discovery.

A photogrammetric image of a Byzantine wreck, dating perhaps to the ninth century. Superimposed is an image of one of the expedition’s tethered robots that photographed the lost ships.CreditExpedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“One is tempted,” he wrote, “to begin searching there in spite of the huge expanse of bottom that would have to be inspected.”

In 2002, Robert D. Ballard, a discoverer of the sunken Titanic, led a Black Sea expedition that found a 2,400-year-old wreck laden with the clay storage jars of antiquity. One held remnants of a large fish that had been dried and cut into steaks, a popular food in ancient Greece.

The new team said it received exploratory permits from the Bulgarian ministries of culture and foreign affairs and limited its Black Sea hunts to parts of that nation’s exclusive economic zone, which covers thousands of square miles and runs up to roughly a mile deep.

Although the team’s official name is the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, or Black Sea MAP, it also hauls up sediments to hunt for clues to how the sea’s rising waters engulfed former land surfaces and human settlements.

Team members listed on its website include the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology, the Bulgarian Center for Underwater Archaeology, Sodertorn University in Sweden, and the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece.

An illustration of what the research team believes the medieval ship found in the Black Sea looked like during its heyday. Credit Jon Adams/University of Southampton/Black Sea MAP

The project’s financial backer is the Expedition and Education Foundation, a charity registered in Britain whose benefactors want to remain anonymous, team members said. Dr. Adams of the University of Southampton, the team’s scientific leader, described it as catalyzing an academic-industry partnership on the largest project “of its type ever undertaken.”

Nothing is known publicly about the cost, presumably vast, of the Black Sea explorations, which are to run for three years. The endeavor began last year with a large Greek ship doing a preliminary survey. This year, the main vessel was the Stril Explorer, a British-flagged ship bearing a helicopter landing pad that usually services the undersea pipes and structures of the offshore oil industry.

Instead, archaeologists on the ship lowered its sophisticated robots to hunt for ancient shipwrecks and lost history.

In an interview, Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz of the University of Southampton said he was watching the monitors late one night in September when the undersea robot lit up a large wreck in a high state of preservation.

“I was speechless,” he recalled. “When I saw the ropes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still can’t.”

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Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the vessel hailed from the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (today Istanbul), and most likely went down sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. He said the team nicknamed it “Flower of the Black Sea” because its deck bears ornate carvings, including two large posts with tops that form petals.

In an interview, Dr. Batchvarov of the University of Connecticut said most of the discoveries date to the Ottoman era. So it was that, late one night, during his shift, he assumed that a new wreck coming into view would be more of the same.

“Then I saw a quarter rudder,” he recalled, referring to a kind of large steering oar on a ship’s side. It implied the wreck was much older. Then another appeared. Quickly, he had the expedition’s leader, Dr. Adams, awakened.

“He came immediately,” Dr. Batchvarov recalled. “We looked at each other like two little boys in a candy shop.”

Dr. Batchvarov said the wreck — the medieval one found more than a half-mile down — was part of a class known by several names, including cocha and “round ship.” The latter name arose from how its ample girth let it carry more cargo and passengers than a warship.

Dr. Adams said the remarkable color images of the lost ships derived from a process known as photogrammetry. It combines photography with the careful measurement of distances between objects, letting a computer turn flat images into renderings that seem three-dimensional.

He said tethered robots shot the photographic images with video and still cameras. The distance information, he added, came from advanced sonars, which emit high-pitched sounds that echo through seawater. Their measurements, he said, can range down to less than a millimeter.

A news release from the University of Southampton refers to the images as “digital models.” Their creation, it said, “takes days even with the fastest computers.”

Filmmakers are profiling the Black Sea hunt in a documentary, according to the team’s website.

Another part of the project seeks to share the thrill of discovery with schools and educators. Students are to study on the Black Sea, the website says, or join university scientists in analyzing field samples “to uncover the mysteries of the past.”

The team has said little publicly on whether it plans to excavate the ships — a topic on which nations, academics and treasure hunters have long clashed. Bulgaria is a signatory to the 2001 United Nations convention that outlaws commercial trade in underwater cultural heritage and sets out guidelines on such things as artifact recovery and public display.

Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the team had so far discovered and photographed 44 shipwrecks, and that more beckoned.

Which was the most important? Dr. Adams said that for him, a student of early European shipbuilding, the centerpiece was the medieval round ship. He said it evoked Marco Polo and city states like Venice. The ship, he added, incorporated a number of innovations that let it do more than its predecessors had and paved the way for bigger things to come.

“It’s not too much,” he said, “to say that medieval Europe became modern with the help of ships like these.”

Americans Created Russian President For Life: Vlad ‘The Bad’ Putin

Americans Created Russian President For Life: Vlad ‘The Bad’ Putin

 

I’m not very proud of that title, but I do believe it to be the truth. We here on the news that President Putin has an approval rate of 86% in Russia by their countries people. A lot of our American politicians are on the south side of 20%.  If we are to believe the news programs here in the States then the Russian People are being lied to about what President Putin has been doing with Russia’s Sons and Daughters and the Russian People’s money. If what we are being told here in America is the truth this lowers President Putin to the level of George W Bush for being a liar and a War Criminal. O, by the way, we are being told that anti-American sentiment is at an all time high among the Russian People. What would President Putin’s poll numbers be if the Russian People were being told the truth about Crimea, Ukraine, Syria and His 200 billion dollar personal fortune our news programs say he has amassed for himself while he cuts his staff’s salaries and puts the full weight of the International Sanctions upon his people’s backs that he himself has personally caused? But then, we are forced to understand the fact that not everything we here on the news, or the things that come out of politicians mouths is always necessarily the actual real 100% truth!

 

Does your mind ever cross the thought of how someone like Mr Putin was ever able to get into power in Russia in the first place? I believe that Americans (not all of us) are a huge cause of this World Tragedy (Mr Putin coming into power and now gaining power). As you should be well aware of we have a lot of politicians, D.C Talking Heads, Holly Wood Producers, and some Generals who love to put their mouths in front of a microphone. Soon after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 we started hearing derogatory comments, not so much about the Soviet Union, but a lot about the country of Russia itself. We would see and hear comments in movies and hear from the fore mentioned mouth pieces how backward the Russians were, often portraying them as less capable or as less educated as we Americans are. But, one big thing that is still being said today about Russia is how we are the only World Superpower, removing Russia and China from the former “Big Three”.

 

What we have done my friends is we have on purpose bad mouthed this Great Nation of Human Beings, we have been stomping on other Human Beings pride and shoving that stupidity in their faces. We went from being considered as a friendly nation into their perceived arch enemies once again. This arrogance, this ignorance, allowed a person like Mr. Putin the opportunity to come to power in Their Nation, with promising the people that he would bring their swagger back. Through his arrogance, his lies, and his evil KGB Mother Russian style brain he has been successful in doing so. There was and is no excuse for how Our Nations mouth pieces have treated the Russian People since the Soviet Union split up. Any nation who has Nuclear Weapons with multiple available delivery systems is a Super Power! If a country has the ability to wipe another country off the face of the earth, they do not need to have their national pride constantly being stomped on. If we as a Nation had/would have been treating the Russian People as respected friends, Mr Putin and Communist minds like his would never have come into power in the first place in Russia. It’s not just the Russian People we have been acting ignorant toward either, if you haven’t noticed there is a Big Red Star rising in the Far East.

Ukraine Ejects Ex-Georgian President, Deporting Him To Poland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR AND THE BBC)

 

Ukraine Ejects Ex-Georgian President, Deporting Him To Poland

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to the media prior to a scheduled court hearing in Kiev last month.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian authorities have deported Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who has emerged as a vocal antagonist of the government in Kiev. Ukraine’s border agency confirmed his deportation to Poland on Monday, while videos on social media purported to show Saakashvili getting seized by masked men.

“This person was on Ukrainian territory illegally,” the agency said in a statement released Monday, “and therefore, in compliance with all legal procedures, he was returned to the country from which he arrived.”

Representatives of Saakashvili are describing the incident in starkly different terms.

Earlier Monday the populist politician’s Facebook account released a plea for help, saying “unknown people in masks kidnapped [him] and drove him in an unknown direction.” At the same time, the account uploaded several videos appearing to show his “abduction” in a restaurant at the hands of several shouting men.

Hours later, he called reporters from Warsaw with his account of the confrontation: “They broke into the cafe,” he said. “They tried to close my eyes, tie my hands.”

Within hours he had been placed on a plane to Poland.

Saakashvili and his supporters have cast the move as an attempt to remove a prominent threat to President Petro Poroshenko, a former ally who granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship and even appointed him governor several years ago — only to strip him of that citizenship after Saakashvili quit amid a flurry of accusations that Poroshenko was blocking his attempts at reform.

Saakashvili — a populist politician who also faces a three-year prison sentence in Georgia for embezzlement and abuse of authority during his presidency there — lost his rights as a Ukrainian last summer while he was in the U.S. He returned, though, gathering supporters on the Poland-Ukraine border for a climactic push back into the country in September. Since then he has drawn a considerable following in Ukraine, even as Ukrainian officials have condemned him as a provocateur backed by a pro-Russian criminal group.

Earlier this month Saakashvili lost his appeal for protection against the possibility of getting extradited to Georgia to stand charges.

“The Georgian authorities never asked for my extradition when I was in America or in Europe,” the 50-year-old opposition leader told The Guardian last week, when he was still living and working in central Kiev. “They only did it when I returned to Ukraine because Poroshenko asked them to.”

Now, after grappling with Saakashvili for months, Kiev has managed to eject him. Time will tell whether he will stay out of Ukraine or whether, as he did last year, he will somehow manage to return. In the meantime, Saakashvili might be out of the country — but he is not exactly out of earshot.

“This is not a president and not a man,” he said of Poroshenko in a statement after the deportation Monday, according to Reuters. “This is a lowlife crook who wants to wreck Ukraine. All this shows how weak they are. We will of necessity defeat them.”

Read All About It: Breaking News

‘Putin List’: Putin’s Mafia Who Are Financially Raping The Russian People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

It’s been dubbed the “Putin list” — the names of 210 prominent Russians, many with close ties to the Kremlin, released by the US Treasury Department.

The list, which the US administration had been required by law to release, includes 114 senior political figures and 96 oligarchs, all of whom rose to prominence under Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The administration was required to name the companies and individuals and consider whether to sanction them under legislation meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea and ongoing military operations in eastern Ukraine.
The list, which includes senior members of Putin’s Cabinet and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, reads like the US has “simply rewritten Kremlin’s phone book,” said Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev in a Facebook Post.
Here it is in full. (Note: Names, spellings and titles are those provided by the US Treasury Department.)

Senior Political Figures

Presidential Administration
1. Anton Vayno: Head, Presidential Administration
2. Aleksey Gromov: First Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
3. Sergey Kiriyenko: First Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
4. Magomedsalam Magomedov: Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
5. Vladimir Ostrovenko: Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
6. Dmitriy Peskov: Deputy lead, Presidential Administration; Presidential Press Secretary
7. Vladislav Kitayev: Chief of Presidential Protocol
8. Andrey Belousov: Aide to the President
9. Larisa Brycheva: Aide to the President
10. Vladislav Surkov: Aide to the President
11. Igor Levitin: Aide to the President
12. Vladimir Kozhin: Aide to the President
13. Yuriy Ushakov: Aide to the President
14. Andrey Fursenko: Aide to the President
15. N ikolay Tsukanov: Aide to the President
16. Konstantin Chuychenko: Aide to the President
17. Yevgeniy Shkolov: Aide to the President
18. Igor Shchegolev: Aide to the President
19. Aleksandr Bedritskiy: Adviser to the President, Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues
20. Sergey Glazyev: Adviser to the President
21. Sergey Grigorov: Adviser to the President
22. German Klimenko: Adviser to the President
23. Anton Kobyakov: Adviser to the President
24. Aleksandra Levitskaya: Adviser to the President
25. Vladimir Tolstoy: Adviser to the President
26. Mikhail Fedotov: Adviser to the President, Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights
27. Venyamin Yakovlev: Adviser to the President
28. Artur Muravyev: Presidential Envoy to the Federation Council
29. Garry Minkh: Presidential Envoy to the State Duma
30. Mikhail Krotov: Presidential Envoy to the Constitutional Court
31. Anna Kuznetsova: Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights
32. Boris Titov: Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights
33. Mikhail Babich: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Volga Federal District
34. Aleksandr Beglov: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Northwestern Federal District
35. Oleg Belaventsev: Plenipotentiary Representative to the North Caucasus Federal District
36. Aleksey Gordeyev: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Central Federal District
37. Sergey Menyaylo: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Siberian Federal District
38. Yuriy Trutnev: Deputy Prime Minister, Plenipotentiary Representative to the Far Eastern Federal District
39. Vladimir Ustinov: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Southern Federal District
40. Igor Kholrnanskikh: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Urals Federal District
41. Aleksandr Manzhosin: Head, Foreign Policy Directorate
42. Vladimir Chemov: Head, Directorate for Interregional and Cultural Ties to Foreign Countries
43. Oleg Govorun: Head, Directorate for Social and Economic Relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia
Cabinet Ministers
44. Drnitriy Medvedev: Prime Minister
45. Igor Shuvalov: First Deputy Prime Minister
46. Sergey Prikhodko: Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Government Apparatus
47. Aleksandr Khloponin: Deputy Prime Minister
48. Vitaliy Mutko: Deputy Prime Minister
49. Arkadiy Dvorkovich: Deputy Prime Minister
50. Olga Golodets: Deputy Prime Minister
51. Dmitriy Kozak: Deputy Prime Minister
52. Drnitriy Rogozin: Deputy Prime Minister
53. Mikhail Abyzov: Minister for Liaison with Open Government
54. Aleksandr Tkachev: Minister of Agriculture
55. Vladimir Puchkov: Minister of Civil Defense, Emergencies, and Natural Disasters
56. Nikolay Nikiforov: Minister of Communications and Mass Media
57. Mikhail Men: Minister of Construction, Housing, and Public Utilities
58. Vladimir Medinskiy: Minister of Culture
59. Sergey Shoygu: Minister of Defense
60. Maksim Oreshkin: Minister of Economic Development
61. Olga Vasilyeva: Minister of Education and Science
62. Aleksandr Novak: Minister of Energy
63. Aleksandr Galushka: Minister of Far East Development
64. Anton Siluanov: Minister of Finance
65. Sergey Lavrov: Minister of Foreign Affairs
66. Veronika Skvortsova: Minister of Health
67. Denis Manturov: Minister of Industry and Trade
68. Vladimir Kolokoltsev: Minister of Internal Affairs
69. Aleksandr Konovalov: Minister of Justice
70. Maksim Topilin: Minister of Labor and Social Protection
71. Sergey Donskoy: Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology
72. Lev Kuznetsov: Minister of North Caucasus Affairs
73. Pavel Kolobkov: Minister of Sports
74. Maksim Sokolov: Minister of Transportation
Other senior political leaders
75. Valentina Matviyenko: Chairwoman, Federation Council
76. Sergey Naryshkin: Director, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
77. Vyacheslav Volodin: Chairman, State Duma
78. Sergey Ivanov: Presidential Special Representative for the Environment, Ecology, and Transport
79. Nikolay Patrushev: Secretary, Security Council
80. Vladimir Bulavin: Head, Federal Customs Service
81. Valery Gerasimov: First Deputy Minister of Defense and Chief of the General Staff
82. Igor Korobov: Chief, Main Intelligence Directorate General Staff (GRU), Ministry of Defense
83. Rashid Nurgaliyev: Deputy Secretary, Security Council
84. Georgiy Poltavchenko: Governor of Saint Petersburg
85. Sergey Sobyanin: Mayor of Moscow
86. Yuriy Cbayka: Prosecutor General
87. Aleksandr Bastrykin: Head, Investigative Committee
88. Viktor Zolotov: Director, Federal National Guard Service
89. Dmitriy Kochnev: Director, Federal Protection Service
90. Aleksandr Bortnikov: Director, Federal Security Service (FSB)
91. Audrey Artizov: Head, Federal Archive Agency
92. Yuriy Chikhanchin: Head, Financial Monitoring Federal Service
93. Aleksandr Linets: Head, Presidential Main Directorate for Special Programs
94. Aleksandr Kolpakov: Head, Presidential Property Management Directorate
95. Valeriy Tikhonov: Head, State Courier Service
96. Aleksey Miller: Chief Executive Officer, Gazprom
97. Igor Sechin: Chief Executive Officer, Rosneft
98. German Gref: Chief Executive Officer, Sberbank
99. Oleg Belozerov: General Director, Russian Railways
100. Andrey Kostin: Chainnan Management Board, VTB
101. Sergey Chemezov: Chief Executive Officer, Rostec
102. Oleg Budargin: Chief Executive Officer, Rosseti
103. Boris Kovalchuk: Chief Executive Officer, Inter RAO
104. Aleksey Likhachcv: General Director, Rosatom
105. Nikolay Tokarev: Chief Executive Officer, Transneft
106. Andrey Akimov: Chief Executive Officer, Gazprombank
107. Nail Maganov: General Director, Tatneft
108. Vitaliy Savelyev: Chief Executive Officer, Aeroflot
109. Andrey Shishkin: Chief Executive Officer, ANK Bashneft
110. Ymiy Slyusar: Chief Executive Officer, United Aircraft Corporation
111. Nikolay Shulginov: Chief Executive Officer, RusHydro
112. Sergey Gorkov: Chief Executive Officer, Vneshekonombank
113. Sergey Ivanov (Jr): Chief Executive Officer, ALROSA
114. Roman Dashkov: Chief Executive Officer, Sakhalin Energy

Oligarchs

The US State Department defined oligarchs as individuals with an estimated net worth of $1 billion or more.
1. Aleksandr Abramov
2. Roman Abramovich
3. Aras Agalarov
4. Farkhad Akhmedov
5. Vagit Alekperov
6. Igor Altushkin
7. Aleksey Ananyev
8. Dmitry Ananyev
9. Vasiliy Anisimov
10. Roman Avdeyev
11. Petr Aven
12. Yelena Baturina
13. Aleksey Bogachev
14. Vladimir Bogdanov
15. Leonid Boguslavskiy
16. Audrey Bokarev
17. Oleg Boyko
18. Nikolay Buynov
19. Oleg Deripaska
20. Aleksandr Dzhaparidze
21. Leonid Fedun
22. Gleb Fetisov
23. Mikhail Fridman
24. Aleksandr Frolov
25. Filaret Galchev
26. Sergey Galitskiy
27. Valentin Gapontsev
28. Sergey Gordeyev
29. Andrey Guryev
30. Yuriy Gushchin
31. Mikhail Gutseriyev
32. Sait-Salam Gutseriyev
33. Zarakb Iliyev
34. Dmitriy Kamenshchik
35. Vyacheslav Kantor
36. Sanwel Karapetyan
37. Yevgeniy Kasperskiy
38. Sergey Katsiyev
39. Suleyman Kerimov
40. Igor Kesayev
41. Danil Khachatmov
42. German Khan
43. Viktor Kharitonin
44. Aleksandr Klyachin
45. Petr Kondrashev
46. Andrey Kosogov
47. Yuriy Kovalchuk
48. Andrey Kozitsyn
49. Aleksey Kuzmichev
50. Lev Kvetnoy
51. Vladimir Lisin
52. Anatoliy Lomakin
53. Ziyavudin Magornedov
54. Igor Makarov
55. Iskander Makhmudov
56. Aleksandr Mamut
57. Andrey Melnichenko
58. Leonid Mikhelson
59. Yuriy Milner
60. Boris Mints
61. Andrey Molchanov
62. Aleksey Mordashov
63. Vadim Moshkovich
64. Aleksandr Nesis
65. God Nisanov
66. Aleksandr Ponomarenko
67. Sergcy Popov
68. Vladimir Potanin
69. Mikhail Prokhorov
70. Dmitriy Pumpyanskiy
71. Megdet Rakhimkulov
72. Andrey Rappoport
73. Viktor Rashnikov
74. Arkadiy Rotenberg
75. Boris Rotenberg
76. Dmitriy Rybolovlev
77. Ayrat Shaymiyev
78. Radik Shaymiyev
79. Kirill Shamalov
80. Yuriy Sheller
81. Albert Shigabutdinov
82. Mikhail Shishkhanov
83. Leonid Simanovskiy
84. Audrey Skoch
85. Aleksandr Skorobogatko
86. Rustem Sulteyev
87. Aleksandr Svetakov
88. Gennadiy Timchenko
89. Oleg Tinkov
90. Roman Trotsenko
91. Alisher Usmanov
92. Viktor Vekselberg
93. Arkadiy Volozh
94. Vadim Yakunin
95. Vladimir Yevtushenkov
96. Gavril Yushvayev

Ukraine And Russian ‘Rebels’ Conduct Large Prisoner Swap

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

 

(HORLIVKA, Ukraine) — Ukrainian authorities and Russian-backed separatist rebels on Wednesday conducted the biggest exchange of prisoners since the start of an armed conflict in the country’s east and a sign of progress in the implementation of a 2015 peace deal.

Rebels from the self-proclaimed separatist republics in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions handed over 74 captives, while Ukraine‘s government delivered 233. Some had been held for more than a year.

Larisa Sargan, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, said on Facebook that one of the 74 prisoners released by the separatists indicated she would stay in Donetsk.

Carrying their belonging, the prisoners were turned exchanged in the town of Horlivka and the village of Zaitseve, in an area dividing the separatist regions and Ukraine. One held a cat.

“I’m out of hell. I have survived,” said Yevhen Chudentsov, who served with one of Ukraine’s volunteer battalions in the east and was taken prisoner in February 2015.

Chudentsov said he faced threats and beatings while in rebel custody, and his front teeth were knocked out. He was initially sentenced to capital punishment, which was later changed to 30 years in prison. He said after his release in Horlivka that he would join the Ukrainian military again.

The exchange was supervised by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a trans-Atlantic security and rights group that has deployed monitors to eastern Ukraine.

The OSCE welcomed the swap and urged the two sides to build on the momentum from it.

“Allowing such a significant number of people, who have been held on both sides, to return home before the New Year and Orthodox Christmas is a very welcome development,” said Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, the OSCE chairman. “Today’s exchange is not only a humanitarian act but also a helpful step in confidence-building.”

Ukraine was supposed to release 306 people, but dozens chose to stay in Ukraine or had been freed earlier, said Viktor Medvedchuk, who monitored the exchange on the Ukrainian side.

Many of the captives were not combatants. Some were activists and bloggers who were charged with spying or treason.

Anatoly Slobodyanik, one of the prisoners traded by Ukraine, said he didn’t want to go to the rebel side and would return to his home town of Odessa.

“I’m not guilty of anything and I don’t want to go to the other side,” he said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko praised the Ukrainian prisoners held by the rebels for their endurance.

“I’m grateful to all those who remained loyal to Ukraine in those unbearable conditions,” Poroshenko said while greeting the free captives. “They have shown their adherence to the principles of freedom and independence.”

The Ukrainian leader also hailed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for helping organize the exchange.

Merkel and Macron welcomed the swap, saying in a joint statement that they “encourage the parties to the conflict also to enable the exchange of the remaining prisoners, grant the International Committee of the Red Cross full access and support the ICRC’s search for missing people.”

The simmering conflict between the separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

The 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany and signed in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, envisioned a prisoner exchange, but the two sides argued continuously over lists of captives and only a few dozen had been traded prior to Wednesday. Separatist leaders and a Ukrainian government representative finally agreed to the exchange last week, with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church acting as mediator.

Merkel and Macron emphasized that the exchange and a recommitment to a comprehensive cease-fire “should also serve to build up confidence between the parties to the conflict, also with a view to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.”

Russian News outlet RT has registered as an agent of a foreign government in America

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Why has RT registered as a foreign agent with the US?

A man tries on a VR goggles at the stand of Russia's state-controlled broadcaster RT during the 10th Russian Internet Week in Moscow on November 1, 2017.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image captionA man tries on a VR goggles at the RT stand during Russian Internet week

News outlet RT has registered as an agent of a foreign government in America, after years of accusations that it was a propaganda arm of the Russian government. So what is RT and why has it become the subject of fierce debate in the US?

It was a late February afternoon when millions of Americans’ phones and laptops started buzzing with breaking news from the White House.

“Gen Flynn was fired amid the scrutiny…”

“The White House national security adviser fired…”

President Trump had asked National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to leave the White House, said the reports. Flynn had misled Vice-President Pence about his contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

It was the first resignation in the new presidential administration. But one media outlet, RT, reported it differently: “General Flynn retires as National Security Adviser”

Misleading headlines are only one part of RT’s approach to news, which makes the American government and analysts believe it is just an arm of the Kremlin.

What is RT?

RT, originally Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), began broadcasting internationally in 2005 in English, Arabic, and Spanish as a subsidiary of RIA Novosti, one of three Russian state-owned news broadcasters.

The broadcaster focused on Russia-related news reports and said its goal was to improve the image of the country in the US. At its launch, it promised a “more balanced picture” of what Russia is.

Several years later, it shortened its name to RT and began focusing on US news, positioning itself as an alternative to US mainstream media on both online and US cable television.

In late December 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin dissolved RIA Novosti and transferred all its subsidiaries to a new organization International News Agency Russia Today.

On the same day, Putin appointed a well-known but controversial media figure, Dmitry Kiselev, as the general director of the new organisation.

Dmitry KiselevImage copyrightAFP
Image caption Dmitry Kiselev and three other presenters interviewing Prime Minister Medevey in 2008

Mr. Kiselev was placed on the EU’s individual sanctions list in 2014 for being a “central figure of the government propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine”, including false claims of US State Department involvement.

He is also known for his homophobic views, including saying gay people should be banned from being blood or organ donors.

“In case of car accidents, their hearts must be buried or burnt and never used to save someone’s life,” he told Russian TV show in 2012.

A few American media personalities, the most prominent being Larry King, have presented programmes on RT America’s television network.

What’s the evidence of their Russian government connections?

“The edge between journalism and propaganda is very thin, especially, if we are talking about the media which is founded by the government,” says Lata Nott, the Newseum Institute’s executive director.

“Not all materials of RT are propaganda, but it is very clear that they have only one angle and they have never criticised their own government.”

RT’s major problem, Nott says, “is lack of transparency regarding sources of their budgeting”.

It is all very unclear.

RT uses production companies to produce content for an American audience. The company operates the same way in the UK.

The production company registered with the US government, T & R Productions LLC, is owned by Mikhail Solodovnikov. But a recent report by the Atlantic Council named two different production firms in the US, both owned by Russian-born businessman Alex Yazlovsky.

In the registration, Solodovnikov notes his firm’s funding comes from TV Novosti, and admits the Russian government finances the organization. But Solodovnikov also says he is not “sufficiently aware of who supervises, owns, directs, controls or subsidizes” TV Novosti.

RT doesn’t make its supervisory board public, according to the Atlantic Council report, and while it reports annually to the Russian Ministry of Press on its expenditures, their financial statements are not made public.

American intelligence agencies have a low opinion of the network. Ex-CIA director James Clapper has called RT “a mouthpiece of Russian governmental propaganda,” whose assets and executives are closely tied to Vladimir Putin.

An unclassified version of a January US intelligence report points to RT and Russian-backed website Sputnik as a key part of Russian interference with the US election, arguing the outlet served “as a platform for Kremlin messaging”.

“The Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT’s coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging because of their ideological beliefs,” the report states.

It also details close links between editorial management and the Russian government and cites RT and Sputnik’s ramping up of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton stories around March 2016, including Russian talking points that Clinton’s election would lead to a war between US and Russia.

What happened between RT and Twitter?

Twitter recently banned RT from advertising on the platform, citing the CIA report, said they will invest $1.9m they received from the outlet from advertising to support research into limiting misinformation on the platform.

However, RT Twitter accounts are not banned from Twitter.

Sean Edgett, acting general counsel at Twitter,Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image captionSean Edgett, acting general counsel at Twitter, answered questions in front of Congress last week

RT has accused Twitter of “forgetting to tell the US Senate it pushed RT to spend big bucks on election ad campaign”, sharing an advertising pitch Twitter had made to RT, and accused the platform of being part of a “coordinated attack on Russian media and freedom of speech”.

What’s FARA and why is the US government forcing RT to register?

The US government requires all agencies, individuals and organizations controlled or funded by international governments and undertake a political activity, to be registered with the justice department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara).

Fara began as a reaction to attempts by Nazi Germany to spread propaganda inside the US. In the 1940s, the Soviet news agency TASS and later newspapers Izvestia and Pravda were registered as agents of the Soviet government.

Since the law was enacted, 221 Russian companies have registered as foreign government agents, including a travel agency, a postal service, and numerous financial institutions.

RT claims that it is a “publicly funded” media outlet, similar to the BBC or Germany’s Deutsche Welle and would qualify for an exemption.

But to prove the exemption, the Atlantic Council writes, RT would need to disclose its finances, board members and show evidence of editorial independence from the Russian government.

Other international media outlets are registered as agents of foreign governments, including China Daily, NHK Cosmomedia, and KBS Korean Broadcasting System.

This week, RT decided to register under Fara.

“Between legal action and registration (as a foreign agent), we have chosen the latter,” tweeted RT editor Margarita Simonyan.

“Congratulates the US [on its] freedom of speech and all those who still believe in it,” Simonyan added.

Registering as a foreign agent doesn’t mean RT will be forced to stop broadcasting, but it will need to label all US material “on behalf of” the Russian government.

Related Topics

Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling (Op-ed)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years.

Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was to transform its relationship with Washington and Brussels by disarming an imminent threat to the West after it had hit Russia with sanctions for the Kremlin’s “adventures in Ukraine.”

Days before the airstrikes began, Putin delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a united front against international terrorism, framing it as the modern equivalent of World War II’s coalition against Hitler.

But two years later, Russia’s hopes of winning concessions in Ukraine for its campaign against Islamic State have come to very little. Putin’s strategic alliance with the United States never materialized.

Russia, however, has met two less lofty goals. One was to rescue the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, Moscow’s longtime ally, from the inevitable defeat at the hands of an armed Sunni rebellion.

Moscow leveraged its ties with Iran, another regime ally, to deploy Shia militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the Syrian rebels. This allowed Moscow to send a modest ground force to Syria — artillery and some special operations forces — without a large footprint.

Russia helped Assad recast the civil war and the popular uprising against his regime as a fight against jihadi terrorists by focusing its airstrikes over the last two years on moderate Syrian rebel groups, while paying little attention to Islamic State.

This rendered the conflict black and white — a binary choice between Assad and jihadists. It allowed Moscow to sell its intervention as support for Syria’s sovereignty against anarchy and terrorism. Russia made clear that it saw the path to stability in the Middle East as helping friendly autocrats suppress popular uprisings with force.

At home, the Kremlin sold its Syrian gambit as a way of defeating terrorism before it reached Russian soil. Russia, after all, needed to prevent Russians and Central Asians who joined Islamic State from returning home to wreck havoc at home soil.

Moscow was also able to use Syria as a lab for its newest weaponry.

By workshopping newly-acquired precision cruise-missile strikes, Russia joined the United States in an exclusive arms club. Showcasing military prowess, while keeping casualties figures low — some 40 Russia servicemen died in Syria — it was able to win public support at home for the intervention.

But perhaps most importantly, the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria has reaffirmed Russia’s status as a global superpower which is capable of projecting force far from its own borders.

Andrei Luzik / Russian Navy Northern Fleet Press Office / TASS

While Moscow may have been offended by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s dismissive description of Russia as a “regional power,” it impressed Arab leaders with its unwavering support for Assad, which was important at a time when U.S. commitment to allies’ security and the stability in the region was in doubt.

Moscow’s backing of Assad ensured it had channels with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, despite their support for Syrian rebels. It was even able to convince the Gulf to wind down its support for the opposition as a Russia-led victory for the regime became inevitable.

Russia’s alliances with Jordan and Egypt proved useful in setting up direct lines to armed opposition groups to reach de-escalation agreements. And even as it fights alongside Shia Iran, Moscow has avoided being drawn into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states.

Russia’s most stunning diplomatic coup was to change Turkey’s calculus in the war from a proxy adversary into a major partner in securing the decisive victory in Aleppo. Through the Astana process, Russia alongside Turkey wound down fighting with moderate rebels.

Russia’s victory in Syria was helped by Washington’s decision not to immerse itself into Syria and a war by proxy with Russia. Instead, the U.S. focused its military operations on defeating Islamic State in eastern Syria.

Now, with de-escalation in western Syria, regime forces and Russian airpower are turned to defeating Islamic State, which has brought them into contact with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advancing from the northeast as part of their offensive to liberate Raqqa from Islamic State.

The potential for a U.S.-Russia kinetic collision in Syria with unpredictable consequences is escalating. This highlights the looming endgame in Syria and the choices Moscow and Washington will have to make moving forward.

Washington needs to decide whether it wants to stay in Syria for counterinsurgency operations to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State. It may also decide to block Iran from establishing the “Shia land bridge” from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean.

But this entails supporting the SDF and helping them control sizeable real estate northeast of the Euphrates river and blocking regime forces and Russia from advancing east.

Moscow needs to decide whether it wants to be dragged into Assad and Iran’s strategy of ensuring a complete military victory in Syria and preventing the opposition from exercising any autonomous self-rule. That could see Russia pulled into a nasty proxy fight with the Americans.

Two years after Russia intervened in Syria, the war may be winding down. But the stakes for Moscow and Washington are stacking.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

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