Friday, 28 February 2014

The Inside Story on Ukraine

As you sit and watch CNN....sadly because it's the only newswork left that does significant coverage of international ask yourself several questions over Ukraine....which CNN won't be asking or discussing.

So, this country of the Ukraine....just how big is it?  Well....forty-five million.  Size-wise?  It's Texas.  Yeah, it's kinda big.  Think of it as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana combined.

So, if they were to split into two....would this make sense?

Well, this is where CNN usually drifts off with some foundation dimwit who is a PhD-kinda guy.

Spliting into two equal chunks?  Consider first....only seventeen percent of the forty-five million folks....are of Russians (more than they consider themselves Ukrainians).  The only area with prodiminetly Russian folks?  The far eastern side of the country....which they tend to refer to as the Crimea.

There's this interesting history to the Crimea.  The Crimea is this small chunk of land....hanging off into the Black Sea.  Size-wise?  It's like Louisiana.

Back in the mid-1800s....French and England waged this silly war against the Czar of Russia.....which was mostly to help their great friend and alley of the Middle East....The Sultan of Ottoman Empire.

The Sultan felt....if he could control the Crimea region....then things would be great for the Ottoman folks.  At the time....the Russians kept their vast fleet (nothing to really brag about)....there at the Crimea ports, and for Britain and made sense to contain the Russians.

On the logical side of life....this was a war about nothing important for France or England.....other than waging war.

These battles over the Crimea? wouldn't really remember them, or say much....except then it all comes back.....Alfred Tennyson would write the epic poem of the Charge of the Light Brigade.  A couple of years would pass.....and Rudyard Kipling would write The Last of the Light Brigade.  For literature fans and historians.....the battles over the Crimea are epic moments like Shiloh and Gettysburg.

The end result of this war?  It came to a loser....just dead men. The Russians would lose around 140,000.  The French.....around 100,000 (although half of them were from disease).  The British?  Around six thousand died from the fighting....but they had an additional sixteen thousand men who died from disease.

For fifty years....things are kinda peaceful....until World War I.  The Germans have this fancy idea of taking this entire region.  They were successful....but as the Czar's government fell and peace talks discussed with the new Communist folks.....the Crimea was turned into a free-state.  This was a luxury of sorts....the Soviets ended up dominating them anyway.

By 1941....the Germans had returned....and took the Crimea once again.  WW II ended up with the Soviet government having the Crimea bundled up, and packaged into Ukraine.  The Ukrainians will argue about this detail....but it's a Soviet project from the 1950s be forcibly connected to the Ukraine.

This small chunk of property Russian in nature?  Well....I wouldn't really sit around and say that with the Crimea folks.  They are Crimean in nature....somewhat more friendly with Russians than Ukrainians.  It might serve their purpose right now to pretend to be Russian....but the's Crimean in nature (not Russian).

The break-up possibility?  I'll go beyond the foundation expert on's precisely one-hundred percent.  Nothing will stop that.  The idea of a fifty-fifty split in the Ukraine?  No.  This little chunk of the Crimea will shuffle back and be its own boss.  So figure around twenty to twenty-five percent of the Crimea region will fall into this gimmick.

So now....onto an amusing part of this whole ethnic discussion.

You see.....from this forty-five million population of the Ukraine (including the Crimea).....there's roughly fifty-five different nationalities and ethnic groups.  Yeah....a literal melting pot.  There's the Afro-Ukrainian guys (Africans who came and studied at the university, then stayed on), then the Albanians-Ukrainians.

There's the Alt Danzig folks (the German settlement from late 1700s).

There's the Armenians-Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis-Ukrainians, the Ukrainian-Bessarabian Bulgarians, and the Black Sea Ukrainian-Germans (a second totally separate group of Germans).

There's the Ukrainian-Bulgarians, and the Ukrainian-Chukchi folks (a religious group who believes everything has a holy include trees, grass, goats, etc....the Soviets really hated these guys).

There's the Ukrainian-Crimean Goths (believed to be a bunch of deeply religious German folks who came over two thousand years ago and stayed.....and you notice these three-thousand-odd folks by their Scandinavian-like appearance).

There's the Ukrainian Crimean Tatars....who are identified as half-Russian, half-Greek, half-Turk, and half-Italian.  Yeah, they kinda mingle amongst themselves, or so they say.

There's the Ukrainian-Crymy folks.....who kinda related to the Romanians....but oddly enough....mostly Sunni-Muslim.

Then you got the Ukrainian-Dregovich crowd.....who are mostly a Slav tribe in nature, and their history goes back at least a thousand years.

There's the Ukrainian-Drevlyans folks.....who are another Slavic tribe.....but noted in history as mostly folks who live in the woods.  Some history folks will say that nothing much has been said for the last eight hundred years on this society, but in numbers....they probably amount to something.

There's the Ukrainian-Gagauz folks.  World-wide....there's supposed to be roughly 200,000 of them.....but only 31,000 in the Ukraine.  Their key feature?  They are mostly Christian in nature, and pretty devoted to the Bible.

The Ukrainian-Goryuns?  The best that anyone can say is that they are a sub-sub-sub group of Russians....who really won't claim Russian status....just that they descended from the Russians.

Then you got the Ukrainian-Hungarians, the Ukrainian-Hutsuls, the Ukrainian-Italians, the Ukrainian-Crimean Karaites (who consider themselves non-Jew Jews.....yeah, go figure that one).

I could go on with the last twenty odd groups....but you get the picture.

To make this group of forty-five million Ukrainians have to be pretty broad-minded on laws, religion, culture, respectful of family and neighborhood differences, fit the law into developing circumstances, and just kinda overlook the oddball nature of neighbors, friends, and associates.

So, for this Russian group to stand up and say how the Crimea is so special, and they need their own homeland....well, there's fifty other groups, and we could sub-divide the whole of the Ukraine up into a number of countries.....none able to really manage affairs or conduct business.  So, it'd make more just let things develop as one country.

As the CNN expert tells you the story in sixty can kinda's just not that simple.  And for that matter.....we'd best just look from the distance and not try to spend fourteen hours getting to be experts on the Ukraine.

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