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Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis

 
Arch~Angel
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06/05/2006 11:01 PM
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Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
Ukrainian opposition lawmakers have demanded the dismissal of the country's foreign and defense ministers, blaming them for allowing a U.S. naval ship to enter the port of Feodosiya in Crimea last week without the required parliamentary authorization.

Feodosiya residents have blockaded the port, protesting what they see as an unwelcome NATO intrusion into Ukrainian territory.

The U.S. cargo ship "Advantage" anchored in Feodosiya on May 27, bringing what Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko described as U.S. "technical aid." Seamen offloaded construction materials to build barracks for Ukrainian sailors at a training range near the town of Staryy Krym, not far from Feodosiya.

Two days later, Feodosiya residents, mobilized by local chapters of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, the Natalya Vitrenko Bloc, as well as the Russian Community of Crimea, began to picket the port. Displaying anti-NATO slogans written in Russian, they are continuing to block the U.S. cargo from getting to its destination.

"Advantage" has also reportedly left a group of U.S. servicemen in Feodosiya to guard the unloaded cargo, but their presence has not been officially confirmed.

Opposition And Anger

The situation has angered many Ukrainians. According to the country's constitution, the deployment of foreign troops on Ukrainian territory must be approved by the parliament for each individual case.

The Party of Regions, led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, has said in a statement that the disembarking of the U.S. naval ship in Feodosiya was an example of "brutal contempt" for the constitution manifested by the government. A group of opposition deputies has drafted a resolution to dismiss the Ukrainian defense and foreign ministers over the Feodosiya incident.

But Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk on May 31 denied that the government breached the law: "The authors of this political provocation claim that there has been a violation of the law about foreign military units crossing into Ukrainian territory. But there are no such units."

The government is planning to hold six separate military exercises in Ukraine in 2006 with the participation of foreign troops, including the multinational Sea Breeze 2006 exercise with a sizable NATO contingent. However, an authorization of these exercises by the Ukrainian parliament is still pending. In February, the previous Verkhovna Rada rejected a presidential bill on allowing foreign troops to take part in the maneuvers planned for 2006.

Tarasyuk assured journalists on May 31 that the government will obtain permission from parliament.

"The government will do everything necessary to ensure that the parliament, when it resumes its work, considers a bill allowing foreign troops into the country for taking part in military exercises," Tarasyuk said.

The newly elected Verkhovna Rada will resume its work on June 7, when the three allies in the 2004 Orange Revolution -- the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine, and the Socialist Party -- are expected to come up with a coalition accord to run a new government.

A potential parliamentary debate over the Feodosiya incident will most likely complicate the formation of a ruling coalition. It could set additional hurdles to approving the planned multinational military exercise in 2006, and exacerbate political divisions within the new legislature.

'Russian Hand'

There are commentators in Ukraine who clearly see a "Russian hand" behind what is taking place in Feodosiya. Historian Mykhaylo Kyrsenko told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service earlier this week that people in Feodosiya have been lured into anti-NATO protests by pro-Russian political forces to further Russian interests in Ukraine.

"Those who reject or block this [U.S.] aid are opposing Ukraine's interests and serving another country. Which country? It is not difficult to guess, once you see in what language they write their posters with," Kyrsenko said. "Therefore, I would make a distinction between these hapless, deceived people and the organizers of this provocation."

Foreign Minister Tarasyuk suggested that the anti-NATO demonstration in Feodosiya may be a cover for problems connected with the deployment of a Russian naval force in another Crimean port, Simferopol.

"I have one piece of advice for the initiators of this provocation -- they should turn their attention to the disgrace of the free use of land plots and buildings by units of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in violation of Ukrainian law and bilateral agreements," Tarasyuk said.

NATO Chances

In a broader perspective, the Feodosiya protest may impair Ukraine's chances for a significant advance this year on its path toward NATO membership.

Some officials in Kyiv, including Foreign Minister Tarasyuk, hope that, at the NATO summit in Riga in November, Ukraine will be offered a Membership Action Plan. Action plans usually precede an official invitation to join the alliance. The outburst of anti-NATO sentiments in Feodosiya will hardly make NATO members more supportive of this advancement idea.

Sociological surveys in recent years show that Ukraine's official aspirations to join NATO are firmly supported by some 15-20 percent of Ukrainians and firmly opposed by some 55-60 percent of them.

There seem to be an informal consensus at present between the administration of President Viktor Yushchenko and the opposition that Ukraine's potential NATO entry should be approved in a nationwide referendum. But opinions differ on when such a plebiscite should be held.

The Russia-leaning opposition forces would like to stage it as soon as possible, when Ukrainians are more likely to say "no" than "yes." President Yushchenko says the referendum should be held in "due course" but does not specify any date.

Moscow, which officially does not object to Ukraine's NATO aspirations, would hardly remain unmoved if Kyiv was actually accepted by the alliance. Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin was quite explicit about this on May 30.

"When a neighboring country becomes a member of the North-Atlantic military bloc, then I'm sorry -- then this strategic partnership [with Russia] should be viewed from a different angle and [it should be reviewed] whether this strategic partnership relationship should continue to exist at all," Chernomyrdin said.

Making Ukrainians like NATO rather than fear it seems to be only a part of the tricky job President Yushchenko has to do in order to fulfill his ambitions of Euro-Atlantic integration. A no less tricky task will be to persuade his compatriots that NATO membership for their country does not necessarily mean a disastrous break with Russia.

[link to www.globalsecurity.org]

______________________


Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition parties on Tuesday railed against President Viktor Yushchenko’s government for allowing a U.S. Navy ship to enter a Ukrainian port, calling it a threat to the nation, The Associated Press reported.

The arrival of USS Advantage in the Crimean port of Feodosiya this weekend sparked protests and left the government scrambling to explain that it was coming as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and was only bringing equipment for exercises this summer in the Black Sea.

Yushchenko wants Ukraine, formerly part of the USSR, to join NATO, but the military alliance remains deeply unpopular in the country, particularly in the largely Russian-speaking east and south.

Natalya Vitrenko, leader of a political party influential on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accused Yushchenko of ignoring legislation which requires parliamentary approval before any foreign military troops or ships enter Ukrainian territory. She also noted that parliament had earlier this year voted to bar foreign troops from participating in military exercises in Ukraine.

“On May 27, an act of high treason was committed by Ukraine’s top officials,” Vitrenko said.

The larger pro-Russian Party of the Regions called the ship’s arrival “an attempt to infringe on Ukraine’s sovereignty and national security” and urged punishment of those who had approved it. The opposition Social Democratic Party (United) also slammed the government.

Ukraine Navy spokesman Mykola Nedohipchenko said the ship came to participate in the Sea Breeze peacekeeping exercises, which Ukraine has been conducting annually since 1997. He said it had delivered construction facilities to help Ukrainians update their training-ground, bulldozers, lifting cranes, and medicines. The exercises are to take place in July and August for up to 45 days and will involve 17 countries, including the United States.

“The protest is just a political game aimed at causing unrest in Crimea,” Nedohipchenko said.

The Crimean peninsula has a large ethnic Russian population and its main port, Sevastopol — 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Feodosia where USS Advantage visited — is home to both the Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea fleets.

The Defense Ministry said it would ask parliament to approve the training when lawmakers reconvene next month.

The U.S. ship left the port a day after it arrived. Natalia Vitrenko, who is known for her anti-American stance, accused NATO of plotting to construct a special permanent military base in Crimea. Ukraine’s NATO office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In a separate development, an anonymous bomb threat was called in against U.S. soldiers in a Ukrainian port city on Tuesday as anti-NATO protests by local residents continued. A Ukrainian bomb squad team inspected a dormitory housing 120 U.S. service personnel in the Crimean provincial capital Simferopol after an unidentified man informed authorities of an intention to detonate the device.

The caller made no demands but said NATO troops should stay out of Ukraine, according to a police report. Ukrainian sappers searched the building, but found no explosives. No U.S. service personnel were injured, the Interfax news agency reported.

[link to www.mosnews.com]

__________________________-


The post-election crisis of Ukrainian state institutions may undermine President Viktor Yushchenko's and the Orange forces' goal to bring Ukraine into NATO during their term of office. Amid a growing deficit of effective governance, pro-Russia groups find unprecedented leeway to frustrate Kyiv's policies on this and other issues affecting Ukraine's overall orientation.

The Verkhovna Rada has not yet managed to vote the legally required approval of the entry of troops -- in this case, from the United States and other NATO countries -- for the planned joint exercises in Ukraine. Exercise preparations were planned in advance and were due to have started in the Crimea by late May. However, with Yushchenko seemingly content to delay the parliament's opening long after the March elections, and a twice-released caretaker government lacking authority, anti-NATO political forces feel tempted to try interfering with the holding of exercises.

Anti-NATO protests have been underway in the Crimean port of Feodosiya since May 27 and turned into a round-the-clock, open-ended rally in the port on June 1. Protesters aim to disrupt preparations for Sea Breeze-2006, a major naval and ground-force exercise. On May 27 the U.S. transport ship, Advantage, brought military equipment and personnel to Feodosiya to prepare that exercise. The ship was unable to unload the equipment or land the technical personnel during three days amid local protests. Led by the Party of Regions and leftist pro-Russia groups, protesters claimed that the preparations were unlawful in the absence of parliamentary approval for the exercise. On May 30, the equipment -- including arms and ammunition, Humvees and other military vehicles, container-type structures, and construction materials -- was finally ashore, but the accompanying technical personnel had to turn back with the ship. Pickets blocked all exits from the port to prevent the equipment from being moved to its destination at the Staryy Krym training range.

By June 1 the rally had swelled with delegations from eastern and southern cities of Ukraine and Communist veterans joining the local Russian nationalist youth organization Proryv. At least two Russian Duma deputies arrived that day and made inflammatory remarks, instantly broadcast by Russia's state television to drum up support for the action (Russian TV Channel One, June 1).

While Ukrainian marines are securing the equipment in the port against misappropriation, the presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Crimea, Henadiy Moskal, failed to persuade the protesters to lift the blockade. As seen in televised footage, Moskal had to promise that the equipment would be turned over to the Ukrainian state and the Feodosiya municipality, if the parliament in Kyiv does not authorize the holding of this year's Sea Breeze exercise (Inter TV [Kyiv], Center TV [Moscow], May 30).

An emboldened Feodosiya municipal council -- dominated by the Party of Regions -- has adopted a decision that declares the city a "NATO-free zone," banning access by ships and personnel from NATO countries. Although the council has no jurisdiction on such issues, its decision perturbs the atmosphere around the planned exercises and creates political complications in Kyiv. The Feodosiya decision follows a pattern that has emerged in recent weeks in eastern and southern Ukraine on language issues, whereby oblast and city councils grant official status to the Russian language, although they have no jurisdiction on this matter. Such extralegal decisions indicate that those local councils sense weakness in the central authorities.

Ukraine's Defense and Foreign Affairs ministries have responded belatedly with statements that the Advantage is a commercial vessel, not a naval one, therefore not requiring legislative consent to enter Ukraine (if so, that distinction does not address the military equipment and personnel aboard the U.S. vessel). The ministries' statements point out that joint exercises with NATO countries enhance the Ukrainian forces' readiness, interoperability with NATO allies, and opportunities to participate in international operations; and that some of the equipment shipped in and infrastructure created for the exercises is handed over to Ukrainian forces afterward. Thus, according to these ministries, anti-NATO protesters are "politicking" against Ukrainian interests while ignoring the Russian Black Sea Fleet's unlawful use of many land tracts and facilities in the Crimea (Interfax-Ukraine, May 29-31).

The U.S.-led Sea Breeze-2006, involving personnel from 17 NATO member and partner countries, is the largest of several annual exercises scheduled to be held, mostly in the Crimea, between June and September of this year. The other annual exercises include Cossack Steppe (Ukrainian-Polish-British), Tight Knot (Ukrainian-British), and Combined Effort (Ukrainian-U.S.).

Responding to the Feodosiya situation, a May 31 statement by NATO Headquarters in Brussels points out that Sea Breeze is not a NATO exercise, but rather a Ukrainian-U.S. exercise in which NATO countries participate; and that delivery of equipment is a bilateral U.S.-Ukrainian matter, in which NATO as such is not involved. While impeccably accurate for a Western audience, those distinctions will only sound like defensive casuistry to anti-NATO groups in Ukraine, where propaganda from Moscow and local misconception traditionally paints any Western forces with the broad black brush as "Natovtsy." For its part, official Kyiv correctly links the exercises with NATO and the goal to strengthen Ukraine's relations with the alliance. Meanwhile, the public approval rating of NATO in Ukraine is said to be steadily declining (Kyiv Post, May 18).

This situation underscores the urgent need for an information campaign about NATO for the Ukrainian public. However, driven by short-term electoral calculations, Orange leaders (with the notable exception of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Rukh party leader Borys Tarasyuk) have avoided addressing the public forthrightly on this unpopular issue. Without an early start to a public information campaign, the Orange leadership's goal for Ukraine to be invited into NATO by 2010 cannot be successful -- and might even become moot if Yushchenko is swayed into opting for a coalition government with the Party of Regions.

[link to www.jamestown.org]
"It was not my intention to doubt that the doctrines of the Illuminati, and the principles of Jacobinism, had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am."

~George Washington, 1782
Anonymous Coward
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06/05/2006 11:18 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
There are a multitude of political parties in Ukraine and it is difficult to keep track of who is who (My ancestors came from Ukraine).

Some parties are controlled by the "Russian Mafia" and many political conflicts in Ukraine need to be understood with this in mind.

gangup
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06/05/2006 11:20 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
My guess is that the majority of supporters of the 'Orange Revolution' were only looking for closer ties to Europe. Now they're beginning to realize its REAL PURPOSE is to provide a backdoor for US Imperialism into Russia's sphere of influence.Looks like the Oranges are about to get squeezed...
Anonymous Coward
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06/05/2006 11:42 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
Sorry, you dont know what you are talking about.

The Oranges are more afraid of "Russian Imperialism."
Arch~Angel  (OP)

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06/05/2006 11:47 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
Constitution of Ukraine

Article 17

To protect the sovereignty and territorial indivisibility of Ukraine, and to ensure its economic and informational security are the most important functions of the State and a matter of concern for all the Ukrainian people.

The defence of Ukraine and the protection of its sovereignty, territorial indivisibility and inviolability, are entrusted to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Ensuring state security and protecting the state border of Ukraine are entrusted to the respective military formations and law enforcement bodies of the State, whose organisation and operational procedure are determined by law.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations shall not be used by anyone to restrict the rights and freedoms of citizens or with the intent to overthrow the constitutional order, subvert the bodies of power or obstruct their activity.

The State ensures the social protection of citizens of Ukraine who serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and in other military formations as well as of members of their families.

The creation and operation of any armed formations not envisaged by law are prohibited on the territory of Ukraine.

The location of foreign military bases shall not be permitted on the territory of Ukraine.

[link to gska2.rada.gov.ua:7777]
"It was not my intention to doubt that the doctrines of the Illuminati, and the principles of Jacobinism, had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am."

~George Washington, 1782
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06/05/2006 11:50 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
>>>Sorry, you dont know what you are talking about.

The Oranges are more afraid of "Russian Imperialism."

1rof1
Arch~Angel  (OP)

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06/05/2006 11:58 PM
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I hope you two realize you are saying the same thing, but with different perspective.
"It was not my intention to doubt that the doctrines of the Illuminati, and the principles of Jacobinism, had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am."

~George Washington, 1782
Anonymous Coward
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06/06/2006 01:28 AM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
they are wise to distrust Russia/NATO
Arch~Angel  (OP)

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06/06/2006 05:54 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
they are wise to distrust Russia/NATO
_____________________

I wonder who they trust the least.

I bet its us....
"It was not my intention to doubt that the doctrines of the Illuminati, and the principles of Jacobinism, had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am."

~George Washington, 1782
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06/06/2006 06:35 PM
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Re: Ukraine Conflict: NATO Exercise, Protesters Blockade US Troops, Constitutional Crisis
yakPUKE ON ARCH ANGEL THE TROLL 1rof1





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