Standing with Ukraine

It is almost a month since former president Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia. Ukraine remains in peril. Events unfolding in Europe’s largest country are of extraordinary importance—not only for Ukraine’s 46 million inhabitants but for the entire Eurasian region. Suppositions about an either/or fault line for Ukraine—a turn toward Europe or back to the USSR are simplified and overstated. Ukraine’s future lies in Europe and Eurasia. But a democratic Europe and Eurasia. It has been and always will be a bridge to both.

In the 23 years since the Soviet Union imploded, we have not seen a moment this significant. If events go sour—if there is increasing repression—relations between Ukraine and Russia will be profoundly impaired as well as those between Russia and the West.

The annexation of Crimea is now accepted by most as a given. Despite the peninsula’s historic relationship with Russia, the loss remains a deep shock for Ukrainians. While attention outside of Ukraine has turned to President Putin’s ambitions elsewhere in the region, we must not forget about Crimea, especially its minority groups such as the Tatars. Seventy years ago in May, the Soviet Union began the deportation of more than 200,000 Tatars from Crimea to present-day Uzbekistan. Forced to work in labor camps, nearly half of the deportees died from starvation and disease, according to some estimates. The Tatars are now particularly vulnerable as they oppose the annexation.

The Open Society Foundations have helped the people of Ukraine work toward a society that is just, fair, and respects the rights of all citizens for over 20 years. We are committed to continuing this work throughout Ukraine. Whether documenting human rights abuses in Crimea, pushing for reforms in Ukraine’s new government to fight corruption, or providing legal aid for those who have suffered injustice. Ukraine must do all it can do to help itself, and Open Society will be there to support this work.

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You may not remember me but we actually know each other.

I would like to dispel several very common and very important misconceptions about Crimea:

1. Malenkov, not Khrushchev, transferred Crimea to Ukraine.

2. Voroshilov signed the decree on the transfer dated February 19, 1954.

3. Russia received in exchange Taganrog and some other fertile black soil areas that were equal to the territory of Crimea (Minutes of the meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU No. 49, January 25, 1954).

4. As a result of the transfer, Ukraine faced the following problems:

-- It had received dry salty steppe areas in Crimea

-- The territory had no agriculture or industry

-- There were no sources of energy or water

-- Vast unpopulated areas with no infrastructure

5. The Soviet government set the task for Ukraine to develop industry and agriculture in Crimea in a very short period of time, and to organize the area as a resort zone for the citizens of the USSR.

6. The funding for all this development was to come from the budget of Ukraine.

I hope you can see what the problem is and who really has rights to this territory and why.

All best,


Thank you for your struggle for democracy in Post-Soviet Countries! Thank you for your support of Ukrainian people in their aspirations to live in transparent democratic state!

"Russia received in exchange Taganrog" ??? Wow.
Taganrog IS Russian city since 1924 year.

In the Internet there are video demonstrations Ukrainian neo-Nazis. Prior to the referendum in the Crimea. Neo-Nazis chanting slogans: "Russian execute" (in Ukrainian "Moskalyaku on Gilyaks"), "Slaughter Russian." The new government in Ukraine does not prohibit these neo-Nazi rallies. Frightened inhabitants of Crimea Ukrainian neo-Nazis. In addition, the standard of living in Russia is 2-3 times higher than in Ukraine.

I saw so many videos on Internet...Right Sector attacking people with Russian ribbon, neo Nazis chanting slogans you mentioned...if you really look closer, all is staged, played, propaganda. And who cares Russian are living better than Ukrainians, Russia/Putin violated international law. Please do not forget this, and if in Ukraine live people from another planet, it's not your problem, Putin violated international law, and this is the whole world's problem!

You translated "Moskalyaku on Gilyaks" as "Russian execute", but you're wrong. "Moskal" is not Russian, "Moskal" is the protege of Moskow or a officer of KGB.

We have many leaders looking at their own TV screens at them selves and yet their very important roles are left vacant as they are actors acting out a fantasy of being great, and yet they do not listen or care, they only care about them selves, and their greatness and how they look, on television, at the theatre, as they review again and again their well crafted speeches, that they know will impress every one.

There is no chaos or lawlessness in Ukraine since the overthrow of Yanukovych, EXCEPT where Russian provocateurs in SE Ukraine have been involved and in Crimea since the Russians invaded it. Ukrainians of Russian descent and Russian speakers of all ethnicities are in no danger. The Far Right is rapidly wearing out its welcome. And by the way, I live here in Ukraine.

thumbs up, totally agree with you. And then, Putin violated international law, and if green, blue or black they live in Ukraine that is Ukrainian thing and NO PUTIN's

Where Gennady might be challenged on his points 1,2 and 3 his points 4,5 and 6 are spot on. And, during recent years Russia has established strategically important naval and military bases in Crimea. When Viktor Yanukovych was run out of Ukraine by the pro-western faction of their population it became evident that Russia would have to reassert its ancient relationship with Crimea. This is evident to the educated in the West and, of course, to Obama. Noise is made for political reasons and none other, providing the land grab does not extend to Ukraine itself. Were the annexation effort to project into Ukraine itself the noise would require a reinterpretation. It would then be interpreted, looking backwards, as a warning.

I am deeply concerned with Europe as a whole. As the US draws down its bases there, European countries don't seemed concerned about replacing them, even as Russian troops are at their door in Ukraine. When will Angela Merkel be alarmed by those troops, and what will she do? France has just changed its government. The UK seems more interested in protecting their oligarch's money in the city than anything larger, though they talk a good game. And an aide to Putin pointed out that he could reduce NYC to a pile of smoking ashes. Just after we New Yorkers get over 9/11.


I bet US tax payers don't pay any money for keeping US bases in Europe, but Europeans do. US military bases are also much harder to remove than any Russian army through the history. Also, with no extremism in Europe, there is no danger from Russia, Russians were beaten so many times before - they learned every lesson. But there is another nation in the world, so arrogant that acts like nothing in the universe can stop it! And the justice/humanity is not its agenda. It might be a problem for the world.

International law comes to our mind only when Russia acts on events such as annexation of Crimea with its people's mandate and it is alleged it is invalid. When revolts and overthrowing of leaders with the help of the US and the West occurs we lament. I would say, there was fair dealing by Putin with his treaty and peaceful interference to save Russian population and Crimea from being a haven for violence like what happended in Iroq, Libya and what is going on in Syria. Negotiations are still a possibility if the people so wish and foreign dictat for selfish ends of the West and the US adds legitimacy to Russia to take its stand in a strategic way as its role earlier was very passive and now it is emboldened in the international scenario. Ukrain Has its way if decided is path with fairness.

The problem with historic claims is deciding when history starts: before the Russians it was conquered by Tartars, before that the Huns, the Romans at some point the Greeks. We know where Putin and it seems most of Russia, thinks history starts. The point is that the Crimea has a rich multicultural history. This diversity was not appreciated under Ukrainian or Russian flags and would be stomped on as readily by current Ukrainian as by Russian ultra-nationalists.
Nations and regions should have a right to self-determination as long as there are adequate safeguards for minorities, is regard for legal obligations and other shared arrangements and there is a solid commitment to upholding human rights. This is a vexed issue in any context – consider Chechnya, Catalonia, Kosovo and Scotland – and is determined as often by military muscle as democratic decision.
Aside from the nonsense of the historic claim, the invasion of Crimea is illegal under international law. Russia shows little concern for any standing arrangements between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine, is likely to impose a hegemony that betrays Crimea’s multicultural heritage, has scant regard for human rights, and limited capacity to bring development to the peninsula. It must retain its hold, therefore, with increasing repression. The invasion and annexation of Crimea, as are all ultra-nationalist reactions, is ultimately a sign of weakness, not strength.

One has the sense that Washington has only a very
limited understanding of Russian and Ukrainian history,
let alone the Tatar and earlier factors.

And one also has the sense that, if it did, the Obama
team would not know how to move in any effective
manner. Since we amateurs feel this, Putin must do
so in spades, and acts accordingly, all to the detriment
of of international law (for what that is worth) and the
West and the populations affected.

Just some thoughts.

Crimea has been part of Russian Republic for centuries and Kruschev gifted Crimea to Ukraine Republic in February 1954 both part of erstwhile Soviet Union. After disintegration of Soviet Union in 1992, Ukraine managed to retain Crimea Mr. Kremlin tell to world Crimea give in Gifted its legal?

It will be accepted by the US, after "talks"... but I guess is part of the bigger plan to torn apart federal multinational Russia later, using the same excuse and Crimea precedent...

Two issues are at stake here. One is whether the international community will accept the key concept of Russian foreign policy that divides Europe into spheres of influence and leaves even countries as big as Ukraine without agency of their own. Moscow now tells Ukraine what kind of local governance system it should have (federalism), how it should treat its national minorities (Russian as the second state language), and what should be its foreign policy (permanent neutrality). What about 45 million Ukrainian citizens? Does their opinion about running their own country matter? Europe travelled down the path of assigning countries to bigger patrons in the 1930s and we know how it ended.

The second issue is historical revisionism -- hence Russian claims how long Crimea was part of Russia and how it was given Ukraine as a gift. Saying Ukraine received Crimea as a gift is like saying collective farms were also a gift to the Ukrainian people (7 million starved to death in the famine in 1933). Nothing that the Soviet government gave or did was ever a gift. Huge chunks of territories and groups of people were reassigned, forcibly moved, or exterminated for political, economic, and ideological reasons. In the post-Soviet space any attempts to play with maps by identifying where one ethnic group used to live and how the current borders correspond to that invites a disaster of incomprehensible proportions. Think of Yugoslavia, multiply by 15 (former Soviet republics) and add nuclear weapons, Islamic radicals, and nationalists.

The biggest loser from the annexation of Crimea is Russia that has opened itself up in the long term to territorial challenges in the North Caucasus and Far East.

I still cannot understand how members of right sector and neo Nazis will integrate in EU...what will happen if they are in large multicultural city like London(for example) and having the same thoughts/behave.

Despite Obama's efforts to impose economic sanctions on Russia, today in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, pro-Russian separatists seized government buildings, declared the creation of the Donetsk People's Republic and called for a referendum on May 11 seeking to join Russia. Vladimir Putin embodies the legacy of KGB and interests of the Russian Oligarchs.

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