Sanctuary: Kiev

[ by Charles Cameron — just musing on the old and sacred meaning of the word ]

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From Ukraine’s Black Saturday:

Since this morning, around 200 young men and women have been hiding in the courtyard of the Mikhailovsky monastery, some 1.5 km from the Maidan Square. Frightened and freezing, they were taken in by the monks who have given them refuge. The students have barricaded themselves in the monastery, and have been visited by MPs and other Kyivians. The young activists assert that they want “to stick it out to the end,” but they don’t quite know what the end means; and nobody, unfortunately, can tell them.

The Ukraine, anyone? Kiev? Let’s talk…

9 comments on this post.
  1. Grurray:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/multimedia/photo/clashes-near-president-administation-332762.html

    I’m following @ChristopherJM for coverage

     

  2. david:

    I follow John Schindler @20committee and he is tweeting on this developing scene.

  3. Cheryl Rofer:

    Schindler has some interesting things to say, but he doesn’t name his sources.

    I’ve posted some history for context.  And, sadly, I think that that “not knowing the end” will undo the aspirations of the demonstrators.

  4. Bryan Alexander:

    The majority of Ukrainians aren’t religious these days, says Wikipedia.

  5. Grurray:

    Very good right up Cheryl.
    .
    http://oi41.tinypic.com/1es9dk.jpg
    Of all the former Soviet republics and satellites, Ukraine is still in a sort of post-imperial limbo stuck between its economic and cultural ties to Russia and its desire to join Europe.
    There’s a belief shared around Eastern Europe that EU institutions (and by extension possibly NATO) could be the ultimate key to breaking away from their past problems and especially Russia.
    Ironically, a united Europe is a concept that is looking less and less viable as time passes. Certainly, on a strategic level it looks like the EU got played badly last week by Putin and Yanukovych.
    The one EU member that seems to have shaken out of the Euro-malaise is the UK, and they keep threatening to leave.
    We’re all familiar now with the Lotus-Bennett view on the future of centralized, top-heavy, 20th century statist institutions, and I believe it’s going to be the case soon for the European Union also.
    .
    Hopefully, Ukrainians will recognize that they are really fighting for themselves, and discard the European excuse. I think most actually have. I would disagree that they are not united and leaderless.
    Reports are coming in of protests around the country
    https://twitter.com/TheBlogPirate/status/407230123369197568/photo/1
    and around the world
    and opposition leaders are now stepping up
    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine-abroad/deutsche-welle-ukraine-protest-leader-klitschko-urges-fresh-protests-against-yanukovych-332823.html

  6. omar:

    I have tried to make a rule not to comment on every area of the world as if I am Tariq Ali and therefore omniscient, but from a (great) distance, it does look like short and medium term prospects for Ukraine are all terrible. 
    This will not end well. And it wont end soon. And Europe may be better off letting Russia and Ukraine figure it out (which they will do very very badly indeed..at least in the immediate future).
    Too cynical?
    Please do note the first line. I have NO expertise in this area.  

  7. Grurray:

    Omar,  no one apparently has the right expertise at the moment. If someone did, there would be no mess.
    Depending on who you ask:
    Europe is either the bright bridge transiting the end of history or the guy who doing a really, really bad job of spotting the sucker at the table (so most likely its him);
    Ukraine is either the lynchpin and bread basket of Eurasian Empires or the basket case of a particularly hopelessly backward neighborhood;
    Putin is either the latter day Grand Prince of the Kievan Rus reconquering former Western adversaries who don’t even realize they’re in the game or he’s someone who gambled on bribing his way into his western flank and is about to lose a lot more because he made the mistake of believing his own propaganda
    .
    So let’s here it man. You can’t do any worse.

  8. J.ScottShipman:

    FWIW (and I’m with omar, here, and the cynicism seems warranted), Europe as instantiated as the EU, is hopeless/hapless/clueless (even more so than the US) at/on strategy—much less “grand strategy.” Like the proverbial monkey and football analogy.
    .
    In a word, Ukraine would be exchanging one mess they know, for another they don’t.

  9. larrydunbar:

    “as the EU, is hopeless/hapless/clueless (even more so than the US) at/on strategy—much less “grand strategy.””

    *
    But is that really true?

    *
    Unless I don’t completely understand the situation with the EU (which is entirely possible) the EU is a consensus  form of decision making. Which means that the countries of Europe could be, as Grurray says, “the guy who[se] doing a really, really bad job of spotting the sucker at the table (so most likely its him);”, but that “table” is , because of the consensus, a poker table, and all the countries are players. 

    *
    If it is a “poker table” these European countries are sitting down to, then the whole “game” is about strategy.

    *
    Which means it is a small wonder that Britain wants out, as Conservatives are pretty much dead from the neck up, when it comes to poker.

    *
    Conservatism is based on ideals, so all their “cards” are on the table to be made suckers of. At least the other players at the table know how the Conservative is going to play against their cards.

    *
    A Right-wing Liberal is a much better poker player. All the players at the table may know his “cards”, but they haven’t got a clue how he/she is going to play them 🙂

    *
    So it might not be true that they are, “exchanging one mess they know, for another they don’t.” It might follow that they are choosing who is the best poker player, the EU or Putin.

    *
    From the geospatial position the Ukraine sits they seem to be favoring Putin. To me Putin seems to be the better strategist (and poker player), in that he seems to think strategically, but the Ukraine would be making a big mistake forming a consensus relationship with Russia. They would need to form a coalition, much like the US does with its allies.

    *
    Is that what they are talking about doing, forming a coalition with Russia? If their decision is a coalition, then I can understand their decision, as a Conservative people, not wanting to form a consensus relationship with the EU.

    *
    Poker is not for everyone.