No one will tell you the reality about Ukraine and Crimea.

For weeks the world has been talking about the Ukraine. Everybody has an opinion, almost never based on the reality.

First there were protests against a democratic elected but corrupt President. Soon it got ugly and protesters were killed. Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the Country and Ukraine got a new Government that however, only represented the Western Pro-European part of the Ukraine. Russia was afraid to lose influence in the Country that used to be part of the Soviet Union and all of a sudden Russian troops were all over the place in Crimea, an autonomous Republic in the Ukraine. It was called an invasion although not everybody agrees on that because Russian troops are legally allowed to be there

Everybody uses events in Ukraine for her or his own good.

The media loves it and is preparing everybody for a war because that is good for ratings. It’s not realistic though. The Ukrainian army has no chance whatsoever against the Russians and also appears to be divided. Several Generals already said that they would never fight against Russia. The International community will never get involved in an armed conflict with Russia. No matter how much the media loves to talk about it, this will never be a war.

Republicans use the situation to criticize President Obama. They don’t seem to know on what though. Some complain that he is too tough and others say he’s not tough enough. Their criticism appears to be part of a political game and is therefore not to be taken too seriously.

Self-proclaimed transparency fighters like Wikileaks, had some help from Russia lately and therefore now only focus on what’s wrong with the Ukrainian opposition. A minority of the Ukrainian opposition is right wing fascist but suggesting that they’re all Nazis has nothing to do with reality. Arguments that an oligarch like former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is no better than who used to be in charge, may be valid, but suggesting that they’re all like that is just not right. The far left may have some points but they generalize too much and their silence when unarmed protesters were killed speaks volumes. They also play a political game.

Most liberals, including myself, have been criticizing circumstances in Russia for a long time. There is not enough freedom for the media and there are no equal rights. We criticize Russia for good reasons. But those issues may also have influenced the way we look at this situation and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

In the end we all use this to make our own point and no one really seems to care what the actual situation is.

As irrelevant as a blog post may be, I will try to give some perspective. And while doing that I will ignore my own ideas about Russia and equality issues on which I’ve heavily criticized their Government. This will only be about Ukraine and more specific, about Crimea.

I have lived in Russia. Eight years ago I started my first project abroad for which my company sent me to Moscow. I’ve lived there for three years and while there I‘ve been to Crimea several times. Crimea is not only important for the Russian army, it’s also a fantastic holiday paradise, where many Russians spend their vacation.

Even though recent events came as a surprise to me, they shouldn’t have. I have been warned. I vividly remember people in Crimea predicting this would happen one day. Something about Crimea just didn’t seem to be right. It was Ukraine yet it felt like it was Russia.

Crimea has been Russian for centuries, the majority of the people are Russians and Crimea officially belonged to Russia for a very long time. The only reason why Crimea became a part of Ukraine is that Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, who was Ukrainian, on a night in 1954 when he was reportedly drunk, decided that Crimea would from then on belong to the Ukraine.

A strange decision that didn’t make any sense, but it also didn’t really matter. It was still unthinkable that the Soviet Union would ever fall apart so the only thing that changed was the name of the part of the Soviet Union that Crimea belonged to. But you can call an apple a banana, it’s still an apple. The majority of the Crimean people have always felt they belonged to Russia and Russia has always seen it as theirs.

This became a real problem when the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90’s and Ukraine became a sovereign State. Russia argued that just because one man once decided that Crimea was Ukrainian, it shouldn’t mean that they would have to say farewell now. It had always been Russian and the majority of the people wanted it to be Russia. A vague deal was made. Crimea would be a part of Ukraine although Russia could pretty much use it for whatever it wanted. It has been like that ever since. Russian troops can legally be in Crimea so technically we can’t even call this an invasion. The number of Russian troops however, suggests otherwise.

To solve a problem it’s important to understand it first. That is something that the world should realize and especially the EU failed to do so. After months of protests in Kiev a compromise was made three weeks ago. They would have elections and till then there would be an interim Government that represented all parts of Ukraine. This was meant to unite Pro-European Ukrainians in the West, The Russians in the East and a huge part where both groups are mixed and live together with other minorities. If this compromise would have happened, the world would have never heard of Crimea.

But EU politicians, totally ignorant of the historical reality, urged the protesters to not take the deal. This resulted in a new Government that only represented the Pro-European Ukrainians. The other half was not represented by anyone.

In my opinion this may be the dumbest thing the EU has ever done. I disapprove of how Russia responded but the EU almost asked for it. If we think democracy is the way to go, we can’t just ignore half of the people, just because they are not Pro-European Ukrainians but Russians who are Pro-Russia. If we don’t acknowledge them as part of Ukraine, they may as well secede.

It’s also almost unfair to expect that Russia will just say farewell to what they still consider to be a part of their own Country. We can’t expect Russia to just give up the only naval base they can use during winter. By ignoring the historical reality, the importance it has to Russia and half of those who live in Ukraine, the EU created this mess. The only thing that could have kept Ukraine together was a Government that represented all the people. Instead they helped establish a Government that only represents those who prefer the EU over Russia.

Every amateur could have known that Russia wouldn’t accept to lose all is interests in what it sees as its own Country. The irresponsible actions of the EU backfired. Russian troops had always been on the naval base in Crimea, but now walk on the streets of the Crimean cities. The Pro-Russian parliament of Crimea all of a sudden decided it wants to be part of Russia. The citizens will do the same in a referendum.

Russia welcomes this and the West calls it unconstitutional. Both are at least a bit hypocritical.

When Slovenia decided in the 90’s that it didn’t want to be a part of Yugoslavia any longer because it had never felt it belonged there, it was also unconstitutional. Back then Russia was against it and the West cheered it and called it democracy. The situation in Crimea is really not that different, except the choice of the people is now not Pro-West but Pro-Russia.

In the end this is all about power and the West, especially the EU, overplayed its hand. Everyone could have known that Russia would have never just accepted their loss. Crimea could have been part of Ukraine with some Russian influence. But the EU wanted it all and now they have nothing. The same EU politicians that promised the Pro-Western part of the Ukraine to have their backs three weeks ago, are now nowhere to be found. Serious sanctions against Russia will hurt the EU and especially Ukraine, just as much as they will hurt Russia. It’s a lost battle. Crimea will be Russian.

What have we learned?

First of all we can’t just ignore historical reality just because we don’t like it. If something has been yours for centuries and is a crucial part of your military, you’re not just going to give that up. We could have known that.

Another important thing is that you can’t promise people to have their backs and then walk away when it gets difficult. Something the EU has done more than once.

But most important is that we need to be consequent about democracy. It’s either always ok if the vast majority of the people decide about their independency or it’s never ok. We can’t agree with the majority if they choose for us and then disagree if they choose for Russia. Democracy gives people the choice. It doesn’t say which choice they should make.

I will continue to criticize Russia on several issues. But if it’s about this issue, the West should get at least as much blame as Russia. Without Western arrogance, fake promises and ignorance of historical reality, Crimea would have continued to be part of the Ukraine. And now it will, probably forever, be part of Russia.

Questions for Snowden, Manning and Greenwald supporters

At the moment there are two groups attacking our President because of the NSA issue. On one side we have Conservatives who started worrying about no matter what from the moment we had a black President on. They are not sincere, I don’t care what they think.

On the other side there is a mostly left leaning group of people that is so focused on transparency that they, as far as I’m concerned, forget to check how transparent their so called whistleblowers themselves are. I believe a lot of people in this group are sincere, that’s why, like others, I ask them a lot of questions, which so far remain unanswered. Often the answer is a returned question or an answer to a question I didn’t ask. It also happens a lot that people just act as if you never asked anything. Also, and this is an update, they start yelling that you don’t get it, but still they can’t answer anything.

Because sincere people should at least try to get it right, maybe there will be someone who can answer them here. They’re about Bradley Manning, Edward. Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. Here I go.

1: Bradley Manning leaked a video in which unarmed people were shot. I understand that he did that because that was just wrong. The problem is he also leaked 100.000’s documents that he never even read himself. How exactly are you a whistleblower if you don’t even know what you’re warning people for?

2: The first document he leaked was about a bank deal between Iceland and the UK. Why was it so urgent and crucial to let the American people know about that deal? Just like in many other documents, America wasn’t even involved.

3: How responsible is it exactly to leak secret documents if you don’t even know what’s in them? Even if he didn’t put lives at risk he could have. He didn’t know what he was leaking.

4: Edward Snowden did know what he was leaking, although not much of it was actually new. The NSA checks a lot of things, it’s actually their job. Knowing that he could get in trouble he fled and back then meant to ask for asylum in Ecuador. Which travel agency told Snowden that the fastest way to go from North to South America was via China and Russia?

5: There are more than 200 countries in the world, why did Snowden have to pick our No. 1 and No. 2 cyber enemies to flee to if there were no anti-American ideas involved?

6: How is it patriotic to warn countries that are far worse than America is, for your own country?

7: How on earth can you claim to fight for civil rights and ask a former spy who is President of a country without any civil rights for help?

8: Anyone noticed how Glenn Greenwald’s career got an enormous boost while Snowden is screwed for life?

9: Since when is investigative journalism the same as publishing stolen documents?

10: Do you know what kind of people can’t stop coming up with conspiracies to attack President Obama? Conservative Tea Party members. As I write this several countries close their embassies in the Middle East because of terrorist threats. Greenwald calls the threats a false flag by Obama to make us feel that terrorism is real and we need the NSA to protect us. Do you believe Obama is lying?

11: If you don’t believe Obama is lying, then Greenwald is trying to scare you off by warning you for the evil Government. Isn’t that exactly what the Tea Party does?

12: Greenwald criticizes America and ignores what happens in Russia and China. Do you agree with him that if you look at the world the way it is, it’s appropriate to attack Obama 24/7 and praise Russia’s Putin as the protector of civil rights?

If transparency is what you want and if truth is what you’re looking for then it must not be too hard to give the answers.

What should happen with Assange?

Being a liberal, I have to admit that the, as I call it, Tea disease, has probably also infected some fellow Liberals. With Tea disease I mean the idea of moral superiority, the person who is writing, talking, tweeting is right and everyone who doesn’t agree for a hundred percent is an idiot. Pretty often opinions are treated as if they are facts, even though they are not.

Unfortunately within the Liberal world there are some people who are so convinced about their opinion, that everyone who doesn’t completely agree is either naïve, an idiot, a GOP spy and some will even call you a retard.

All the examples I just gave were yelled at me recently by self-proclaimed Liberals after I tweeted my opinion about Julian Assange. And even though it’s not really Liberal to try to forbid someone a different opinion, I recognize the fact that people are allowed to call themselves Liberal, even though they’re not really behaving like one.

Since he started Wikileaks, Assange is hated by a lot of people and loved by others. And since he is suspected of rape and England was asked to extradite him to Sweden, this whole case got out of control. Those who like him say that his haters try to trick him, those who hate him say that he is using the fact that he is hated as an excuse to get away with rape. I have no opinion.

The Assange case is a difficult one, with a lot of claims of conspiracy. Claims that can’t be disproved but there is also no proof for them, so whatever the opinion about it is, it is an opinion, and people shouldn’t treat their opinion as if it is a fact. And people sure shouldn’t feel so high and mighty as if their opinion is the only option.

It is at least strange how all those people who are against Wikileaks have already decided that Assange is guilty of rape, just like those who support Wikileaks already seem to know that he is innocent. The reality is, we all don’t know. It’s funny and also sad, that with a serious charge like rape, political views seem to decide whether someone is guilty or not.

Assange doesn’t want to be extradited to Sweden because he says he fears that after he dealt with his case there, Sweden will extradite him to the USA for Wikileaks related charges that may follow. And Assange may be right. But on the other hand, does that mean that he is a higher citizen than all the others? Does that mean that if he is suspected of rape, it should not be investigated? Some people don’t take the rape issue seriously because they say it’s all a scam. Could be, but again, we don’t know. And on the other hand, imagine a loved one was raped, and the one who did it gets away with it, just by saying it’s a scam. It’s difficult how to deal with this.

Who knows how serious these claims are? I don’t. And those who talk all high and mighty about it, also don’t know. If Assange is innocent of rape, then this might be a scam, to get him extradited to the USA. If Assange is guilty of rape, then he is using the conspiracy theory to try to get away with it. I don’t have an opinion about him being guilty or not. I do, however, have an opinion about what should happen.

Rape is a very serious crime. And no matter if Assange, the Pope, President Obama or Romney is suspect in a case like that, it’s not an option to just let it go. Claiming that it’s a conspiracy is not enough. He is not a suspect in a littering case, he is suspected of rape. A horrible crime if true, and horrible allegations it they turn out to be false.

Assange offered to be extradited to Sweden as long as Sweden promised to not extradite him to the USA afterwards. A request that is impossible by Swedish law. Those who support Assange say ‘well he offered it, which proves that he is innocent’ but those who don’t support him say ‘he knew it was an impossible offer, therefore it doesn’t mean anything’. Again, we just don’t know.

I think though, that Assange should be extradited to Sweden and I have a couple of reasons for that. First of all as I mentioned earlier, a rape case is such a big deal, there is no way we can just let it go. I’m not saying he is guilty, I’m saying that it should be investigated. Second of all, even the most cynical people who like to see a conspiracy behind every tree, never had anything to complain about Sweden. It is pretty much the most decent country in the world, it is a country with a lot of integrity, it will never and has never been immoral and it will always put it’s principles above anything else. If it wasn’t for this case, Wikileaks would probably declare Sweden the most trustworthy Nation on the planet. And I don’t believe Sweden would join a scam to get Assange extradited to the USA. And if others, wanted to trick Assange, Sweden would be the last country they would ask for help.

There is also a third reason. At the moment Wikileaks is no more. No one talks about it anymore, the only issue is it’s founder. And if he is innocent, then there is only one option for Assange to deal with that. Go to Sweden and let the world find out that he is innocent. He would not only be the moral winner, he would also save Wikileaks. It doesn’t matter what my opinion about Wikileaks is. This was his thing. He thought this was extremely important. And if he ever wants Wikileaks to dominate the news again, the only way to do that is to clear his name. And if that happens, then it’s on. The USA hasn’t charged Assange with anything yet, but if the USA will ask Sweden to extradite him, the whole world will be watching. And people have a lot of power. Sweden will decide whether he can be extradited or not and i’ve never heard a reason why I should not trust the Swedish Justice System.

If Assange is innocent then this is a horrible situation for him. But even then, the founder of Wikileaks has only one option to restore what he started.

If he doesn’t defend himself, Wikileaks and Assange will for always be infected by these allegations. Assange will say he was framed. His opponents will say he framed others. And we will never know.