In the last few months the news has got so nasty and my sensitivities so raw that just a glance at the news headlines made my eyes smart. I’ve had to switch to waterproof mascara and in lieu of the foetal position take time out in book shops, which sends me briefly to other nicer worlds. I bought two really good escapy books* and read them instead of the newspapers. Newspapers just had me feeling all cold war-ish like it was 1985.
But then there was the impossible to ignore news that Robin Williams chose to opt out. This just added confusion to the mess because he was always a reliable ray of light. “If he can’t laugh anymore, what hope is there for the rest of us?” thought I, as my waterproof mascara ran.
Anyway, I can’t live in nowhere-land forever, and figuring that there’s nothing like a smack of harsh reality to up the gratitude and stop the inner whinge, I thought I should ditch the blinkers. So I have set about to finally catch up on the news (some of it now olds) and share my findings with you in case you are equally emotionally bewildered.
I got so behind that I’ve had to break it up into installments so that I’m not posting one enormous slug of bad news all at once and lose you at hello. So I will bring you four world news installments this week, which I’m afraid makes it a bit of a bad news week. BUT, at the end, in a very special fifth installment I will bring you some GOOD NEWS. Yipee.
So here we go, emerging from the emotional bewilderness with Part One…
CRIMEA GETS MANHANDLED BY RUSSIA AND PUTIN IS A COCKHEAD
Ukraine was part of Russia until 1991, when it gained independence and became a (corruption riddled) democracy with a crappy economy, with a population divided between those who believed Ukraine to be part of Europe and those who believed it is a part of Russia.
Please note: we no longer refer to it as The Ukraine, just Ukraine, as ‘The’ tends to indicate a region as opposed to a country, just to be clear.
The Current Crisis
I briefly outlined this at the beginning of this year but let me repeat myself in case you were among the almost 7 billion people who missed that particular post and need to start from the beginning of the chaos:
(In late 2013) Ukraine was on the verge of signing a trade and political agreement with the European Union, a move that would seem to make good economic sense. But increasing pressure from the Kremlin in Moscow (Ukraine’s former ruling centre) in the form of trade sanctions and other political moves caused the Ukraine government (lead by President Viktor Yanukovych) to turn their back on the EU agreement. Instead it was announced that Ukraine would engage in new partnerships with a competing trade bloc of former Soviet states.
European leaders got suitably crapped off and several hundred protesters gathered in Independence Square in Kiev. Carrying European flags, they chanted, “Ukraine is Europe!”. (This was the first of the “Euromaidan protests”). She was on.
Just after I wrote this post, Yanukovych was run out of the country by pro-West protesters and Vladimir Putin (the peculiarly pointy, paranoid and pervy president of Russia) reacted by invading and taking over the Ukrainian region of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that has long been fought over for its strategic importance.
As Putin reportedly sees it, Crimea is rightfully and historically part of Russia and has been liberated from Ukraine. He evidently feels threatened by the ‘westification’ (my word, not his) of Russia and longs for the old days when Russia was grand and golden. At least, that’s the ideology that seems to be working for him and he’s evidently going to run with it.
Meanwhile in Eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists grew increasingly narky with the Ukraine Government and Ukraine’s divide grew deeper still. Crimean people – in a distinctly fishy smelling pressure cooker election controlled by Russian forces – voted overwhelmingly for their region to become part of Russia. Putin got what he wanted – a strategically important piece of land and the deluded satisfaction that he has saved a bit of his country from the “Evil West”.
Given that he has fabricated and propagated the message that the West is a looming threat to Russia, Putin’s takeover of Crimea met with delight among the Russian people and increased his popularity. It probably isn’t too hard to win over the Russian public either given their general state of dissatisfaction as well as becoming leader on the heels of that embarrassing alcoholic Boris Yeltsin. Putin has discovered that his bad tempered, bully style leadership translates into protectiveness in the minds of the Russians and has hence been lauded and encouraged. This may explain those seemingly out-of-nowhere public warnings he has sent toward the west about the strength of his nuclear power (the stuff that sends me into nuclear winter nightmares).
The west responded to the Crimean take over by slapping some trade sanctions on Russia. Tensions between the west and Russia hit a serious low, exacerbated by the shooting down of Malaysian Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board. Russian-backed separatists initially claimed responsibility and then retracted it. Evidence points directly at them, yet Putin is pointing the finger at the Ukrainian Gvernment. The crash site is still under investigation and the bodies still being retrieved and identified.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Government ignored the Pro-Russian rebel’s calls for a ceasefire and pummeled the bejesus out of them. Russia sent a convoy of trucks on an aid mission into the Crimea, which reportedly ended up being a fake gesture of Putin goodwill for the sake of the west – the trucks were empty. Last week, Putin and the current Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko shook hands and said they were beginning talks. Ah the old talks eh? Another ruse by Vlad Putin to make the UN believe he is making an effort it seems, because this week, it’s looking more and more like full scale war between Ukraine and Russia. The UN has imposed a few more sanctions on Russia but they haven’t seemed to have any effect on The Poot. He’s just enjoying having his ego inflated every time he says something threatening. This is what makes him so dangerous. Eeeek, let’s hope it keeps inflating until he self destructs.
Conclusion: This piece of writing is clearly biased and suspicious but frankly there’s kind of no other tone I can use. I have long held the belief that Putin is an evil sonofabitch more than capable of pushing the red button and blowing stuff up on a large scale. He will go down in history as one of the great villains and could easily be the source of my cold war. Creepy, egotistical little man with Surely Small Doodle.
Rest in Peace MH17 passengers and may their families carry on in peace.
* “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” by Matthew Dicks and “Longbourn” by Jo Baker. Loved both.